Limes (Citrus hystrix, C. aurantifolius, C. latifolia) are members of the Rutaceae (Citrus) Family. Limes are believed native to the Southeast Asia. The word lime is derived from the Arabic lim.
In 1753, the Scottish naval surgeon, James Lind, demonstrated in a controlled experiment, that citrus fruits cured scurvy, a common life threatening ailments for seafarers, who went months without any fresh produce. Still, it took forty-five years and the death of 200,000 more British sailors, for him to be taken seriously. In 1795, The British Admiralty ordered members of the Royal Navy to take daily rations of lemon or lime juice (with a ration of rum) to prevent scurvy hence the nickname “limeys,” attributed to British sailors.
Limes are sour and cooling. They improve energy circulation and stimulate bile production. They are considered antioxidant, antiseptic, and astringent. Limes help improve arthritis, colds, constipation, fever, flu, gallstones, high blood pressure, obesity, phlegm, edema, liver function, and uterine and anal prolapsed.
Limes are high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and potassium. Limes (as well as lemons), especially in the peels, contain compounds called psoralens, which can make one more sun sensitive.
Limes have a shorter shelf life than lemons. Look for firm limes that are heavy for their size. Commercial limes may have a wax coating, so use organic, especially if including a bit of lime peel in a recipe. When limes are left on the tree to fully ripen, they can turn yellow and be even more flavorful.
Limes can be substituted for lemons in most recipes. Adding a squeeze of limejuice helps prevent the discoloration of cut fruits such as apples. Use lime juice to make limeade, salad dressings, margaritas, sorbets, and pies. Key lime is also known as West Indian or Mexican lime. Lime juice can be applied topically to cool the burn of fire coral, when in the tropics.