Melicoccus bijugatus, the Spanish lime, has many other names, depending on the country in which it grows: chenet, genip, ginep, ginnip, gnep, guaya, quenepa, guinep, kenèp, limoncillo, mamón, mamoncillo and skinnip.
It is not a citrus, but a fruit tree in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is native to a wide area of the American tropics including the Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and Surinam.
The fruit is similar to its cousin, the lychee. The pulp has a gelatinous and glistening appearance, similar to that of a
Spanish lime (photo courtesy Hans B | Wikipedia).
The flesh is called the aril, and can range in color
from salmon-orange to pale yellow. It clings to a large white seed
(sometimes two) at the center of the fruit. The seeds can be roasted and eaten.
Unripe Mamoncillo can be
sour. When are ripe, the
pulp is sweetly acidic and can be compared to a cross between a lime and
SWEET LIME or LIMETTA
Citrus limetta is native to Eurasia and North Africa, and is also cultivated in the Mediterranean region. It goes by many names, including Mediterranean sweet lemon, sweet lemon, and sweet lime and sweet limetta.
In India, it is known as mosambi, mousambi or musamb. The fruit is edible, and contains essential oils. The tree is used for ornamental purposes.
Sweet limes are thought to be a cross between Mexican limes and sweet lemons. They are extremely sweet when ripe. As a sweet variety, they lack citric acid.
They are very aromatic and juicy. and make a wonderfully, edible garnish for iced tea, soft drinks and cocktail (in fact, they make a sweet limeade); and are added to to relishes, sauces ad breads. The citrus in the sweet lime highlights the rich, deep flavors of meat and poultry.
The sweet lime. The skin can be green, depending on the ripeness (photo courtesy Good Eggs).
TAHITIAN LIME or BEARSS LIME
Citrus x latifolia is known as the Persian lime or the Bearss lime after T.J. Bearss of Porterville, California, who created one of the principal cultivars in 1895. The Persian/Tahitian is one of the principal commercial limes grown in the U.S. It is the basic supermarket lime, large and thick-skinned. See the detailed history.
WILD LIME (not a citrus!)
Adelia ricinella, the wild lime, is not a citrus, but a flowering shrub. While called “wild,” it is cultivated outdoors as well indoors, as a houseplant.
The Tahitian, or Bearss, lime is one of the major U.S. supermarket varieties (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE).
Lime Nutrition and Facts
Limes are low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, and high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper.
Limes are an excellent source of Vitamin C (29 mg per 100 grams), but they have even more calcium (33 mg). They also provide 8 mg of folate and 10 mg of vitamin A.
A tablespoon of lime juice has 25 calories; a whole, peeled lime has about 40 calories (depending on size).
Limes have antioxidant properties: They contain flavonoids called flavanol glycosides, including many kaempferol-related molecules. These flavonoids have been shown to stop cell division in many types of cancer cell lines, and also to have antibiotic effects.
They prevent scurvy: In the late 18th century, a Scottish naval surgeon, Sir James Lind, discovered that citrus fruits were the remedy to scurvy, a fatal disease we now know is caused by a lack of Vitamin C. Scurvy had killed more British sailors than any enemy. Along with their daily ration of rum, British sailors were required to consume a daily ration of lime juice, which is how they became known as limeys. Why not lemons? Since Britain was often at war with Mediterranean countries who exported lemons, limes imported cheaply from the British colony of Jamaica became the better choice.
Limes are picked and sold green, yet they will turn yellow if left on the tree to ripen naturally.