Thursday, 9 April 2009

Lime and Lemon

Lemons and Limes are the edible fruits of shrub like trees belong to the genus Citrus (family Rutaceae /orange family) that originated in tropical and subtropical Southeast Asia. The Lemons and Limes are modified form of berry fruit called hesperidium.

A hesperidium has a tough and leathery rind. The peel contains volatile oil glands in pits. The fleshy interior is composed of separate sections, called carpels, filled with fluid-filled vesicles that are actually specialized hair cells. The outer ovary wall becomes the thick spongy layer, while the inner ovary wall becomes very juicy with several seeds.

Unlike most other berries, the rind of hesperidium is generally not eaten with the fruit because it is tough and bitter. The outermost, pigmented layer of rind contains essential oils and is known as the flavedo. When scraped off and used as a culinary ingredient it is called zest. The inner rind (known as pith or albedo) of the lemon is candied in sugar and called succade.

The color of citrus fruits only develops in climates with a cool winter. In tropical regions with no winter, citrus fruits remain green until maturity. The lime plant, in particular, is extremely sensitive to cool conditions; thus, it is usually never exposed to cool enough conditions to develop a color. If they are left in a cool place over winter, the fruits actually will change to a yellow color.For cooler winter areas, lemon and lime trees should not be grown, since they are more sensitive to winter cold than other citrus fruits.

The Lime fruit tends to be smaller and rounder (globular) than the Lemon. It has a thinner rind and a sweeter and more acidic pulp. Limes, actually contain less vitamin C than lemons.LimeLime plants are characterized by a spiny or thorny stem; green and leathery leaves; small and aromatic white flowers; juicy, oval, small and typically green or yellowish green fruits even when mature.

Limes are low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, and high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper. Limes are low in calories. A tablespoon of lime juice contains about 25 calories. Limes have antioxidant properties: they contain flavonoids called flavanol glycosides. These flavonoids have been shown to stop cell division in many types of cancer cell lines, and also to have antibiotic effects. Lime extracts and essential oils are frequently used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy.

Varieties of Lime:There are essentially two species of limes in common use. One is smaller, yellower key lime and other is larger, greener Persian lime. Other limes include the Mandarin lime (Citrus limonia), Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix), the various Australian limes, sweet lime (Citrus limetta), and Palestine sweet lime (Citrus limettioides).

The name lime is also used for some species that are not part of the Citrus genus, such as Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus), wild lime (Adelia ricinella), and musk lime ( X Citrofortunella mitis).


Tahitian Lime (Citrus x latifolia), is the main variety found in American markets. The Tahitian type is known as the Bearss lime in California and the Persian lime in Florida.

It is larger than the Key lime, has virtually no seeds (unlike the Key lime), but it is less aromatic and less flavorful than the Key lime.

Persian lime is generally sold only when it is still a green color (technically it is fully ripe when the skin is pale yellow).

Key Lime:

Key Lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle), is also known as the Mexican Lime, West Indies Lime and Bartender’s Lime.

"Key lime" is an American retronym, as the original fruit known in English as a "lime" was Citrus aurantifolia, derived from the Persian name limu (the fruit was introduced to Europe during the Crusaders).

It is smaller and rounder with a thinner, more leathery skin that ranges from light green to yellow and straw yellow flesh, full of small seeds.

This highly-aromatic Key lime is grown in the Florida Keys, Mexico and the West Indies.

It also has a distinct, tart, but less acid, juice than the Persian lime.

Key limes are more sensitive to cold and need more heat to fully develop their flavor. When conditions are right, the fruit becomes highly aromatic and more intensely flavorful than Persian limes.

Culinary uses of lime:
· The use of lime juice and lime zest (the outer, colorful skin of citrus fruit) to enhance the flavor of rice, potatoes, salads, and cooked vegetables. It is a very common ingredient in authentic Mexican and Southwestern American dishes.
· Lime juice is excellent in marinades, beverages, salad dressings, seafood and barbecue sauces, sorbets, jams, and pie.
· It is rich in Vitamin C.
· Dried limes are used as a flavoring in typical Persian cuisines.
· It is the ingredient of soft drink, Sprite etc.

The Lemon (Citrus × limon) is a hybrid in cultivated wild plants. Lemon juice is about 5% citric acid, with a pH of 2 to 3, which gives lemons a tart taste.

Lemon trees bloom and ripen fruit every month of the year. The most fruit is produced between January and May. Lemons are usually handpicked when they are about 2½ inches in diameter and still relatively green.

The best lemons have skin of an oily, fine texture and are heavy for their size. This type is more apt to be full of juice, with a minimum of seeds and waste fibers.

The top-five lemon producing countries are the United States, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and India. Lemons are more partial to the subtropical in part because they are quite susceptible to disease if grown in wet climates.

Lemons are high in potassium, vitamin B1, and vitamin C. Lemons aid in digestion and can strengthen resistance.

Culinary uses of lemon:
· Lemon juice is used to marinate the meat before cooking. It partially hydrolyzes the tough collagen fibers in the meat, thus helps in tenderizing meat.
· Fish are marinated in lemon juice. The acid present in lemon juice neutralizes the amines in fish by converting them into nonvolatile ammonium salts thus helps to neutralize the odor of fish.
· When lemon juice is sprinkled on certain foods that tend to oxidize and turn brown after being sliced, such as apples, bananas and avocados. The acid acts as a short-term preservative by denaturing the enzymes that cause browning and degradation.
· The grated rind of the lemon, called lemon zest, is used to add flavor to baked goods, puddings, rice and other dishes.
· Lemons are used to make marmalade, lemonade, and as a garnish for drinks.
· Pickled lemons are a Moroccan delicacy. A liqueur called limoncello is made from lemon rind.

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