Limes – Origin, Sailors, and Uses




When you think of lemons, the next citrus fruit that comes to mind is Limes.

Limes look similar to lemons in shape but are actually the smallest member of the citrus family. They have a green, thick skin with a tender, seedless yellow flesh. They are less sour than lemons, and can be grown all year round. One single lime is only 20 calories and is similar in vitamins and minerals as lemons, but it also includes some Vitamin K, E, as well as Vitamin B-6.


limes - multiple onesWe find the origination of limes most likely in the Middle East, perhaps Southern Iraq or Persia, but it was first commercially produced in what was once called Babylonia, which is now Iran. Limes spread to Egypt and Africa and by the 1200s were introduced to Spain by the Moors and were then used throughout Europe. As we saw with lemons, Christopher Columbus took limes to the Caribbean in the late 1400’s and were later cultivated in the Florida region by Spanish explorers. They continued to gain interest and spread throughout the Americas.

About 98 percent of limes consumed in the United States today comes from Mexico producing about 530,000 tons annually and the U.S. only producing about 44,000 tons.


During the 19th century British sailors were issued a daily sailing ship picallowance of citrus, lemons at first and then later limes. Because of the effectiveness of combating scurvy, the Vitamin C content for sailors was a godsend. (Scurvy is a skin or gum disease brought on by the deficiency of Vitamin C). British sailors quickly acquired the nickname of being a Limey because of their use of limes when sailing the seas.


Limes or lime juice can be used to purify the breath. Limes also have antibiotic affects and aid in destroying bacteria in the intestines and the mouth. As with lemons, lime juice can be diluted with water and sweetened with honey as a natural remedy for sore throats and colds.

burssels sprouts with limeLimes are commonly they are converted into juice or used to flavor various food dishes and drinks.

We’ve added lime juice in cooking sliced and butter-sautéed Brussels sprouts. It really jazz’s up this unique vegetable.

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