Sunday, May 9, 2010

A New Twist for Limes

Limes are naturals in salsas, guacamole, key lime pies and drinks like gin and tonic and just about anything made with tequila.  It’s a key agent in ceviche and a great addition to marinades.  You knew about all of these.  Here are three more places to squeeze a lime for those of us who love the bright taste and sunny look of limes.

Lime’s tart taste can cut your craving for salt and kick up flavor the way salt can.  If you are cutting back on sodium, squeeze lime on grilled chicken and send the salt shaker to the other end of the dining table.

Lime is also corn-friendly.  Squeeze it on unadorned corn or make a lime-spiked mayonnaise with a shake of cayenne.  Try corn salad dressed with olive oil, lime juice and cracked black pepper.

Lime turns cantaloupe into a treat with tropical overtones. Drizzle lime juice over your next wedge of cantaloupe to bring up some of the fruit’s more subtle flavors.  With or without a thin slice of prosciutto, this melon is special. 

Please use the real thing for really true flavor.  A little goes a long way.  It’s not hard to cut open a lime rather than twist off a bottle cap and limes will keep well.  After all the British Navy sailed long distances during the 19th century with them to provide the crew with critical vitamin C, a scurvy preventative . 

Some limes can be less juicy than others and significantly less juicy than lemons.  Here’s the best way to get the most juice possible: roll your lime on a counter pressing down firmly to break down the pulp inside the lime before slicing.  Use a reamer to help extract the juice.  A reamer looks like a decorative wooden pine cone with a handle.  When you twist it into a lime half more pulp breaks apart and the juice runs down the cone’s rivulets. I lost my reamer ages ago and use a fork to help me squeeze out juice.  It is a pretty good substitute.  Some people recommend heating limes and lemons in the microwave on high for 10 seconds to help with juicing.  I haven’t blown up a citrus fruit yet but I expect someone has.  Prick your lime to allow expansion before your first microwave attempt and keep an eye on it.   

Post Script
Lime zest is cut from the thin green layer on the outside of the lime and holds flavorful oils.  A zester is an easy tool to use and a paring knife can also slice away the outer green peel.  Microplaners also make short work of zesting.  Just be sure to only  scrape away the green part and not the bitter white pith.  Zest can be added to fruit salads, baked goods and marinades for an extra punch of lime flavor.  Zest the lime before cutting into it for the best leverage and be sure to scrub the outside of the lime lightly to remove any debris or dirt.  Use a vegetable brush or rub with a little salt and rinse.