Limes are often said to be very beneficial to the body system and are known worldwide as an additional ingredient for flavoring foods and drinks. Key Lime is another type of lime that is known for its many health benefits and delicious flavor. In this article, you will get a lot more about this beautiful fruit called Key Lime.
What is Key Lime?
Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), also known as Mexican Lime or West Indian Lime, is a type of hybrid citrus commonly grown in the Florida Keys. They are typically one to two inches in diameter. Although they are harvested when green, they begin to turn yellow as they mature.
Key limes have a higher acidity in flavor, which makes them slightly more tart than what we consider “regular limes.” This makes them ideal for pairing with sweeter ingredients, hence the famous Key lime pie. In Mexico, key limes enjoy a year-round season, but they only grow between June and September in the United States (mainly Florida and California).
What Does Key Lime Taste Like?
Key limes are typically sweeter than regular limes. They are said to be on the sweeter side of the bittersweet spectrum. Despite their sweeter flavor, limes have less acidity and a more intense aroma.
The juice of key lime is acidic and a little bit more bitter than a Persian or regular lime, although some people find the taste very bitter and almost caustic. For this reason, key lime juice is often used in very sweet desserts. The bitterness of the key lime balances well with the sweetness of the sugar.
Difference Between Key Lime and Regular Lime
Whether you choose to make a key lime pie or make an expert cocktail, it’s helpful to note the differences between Key Lime and regular Lime.
In general, a key lime will provide an intensified flavor sensation compared to your regular lime. It will also give you a less tart and more floral flavor than any standard lime. But there’s more.
So what’s the difference between a key lime and a regular lime? Let’s share some ways key lime is unlike any other variety of lime stored in your fridge.
The Key Lime is Smaller in Size
One of the most notable differences between regular lime and key lime is the size.
Regular limes are heavier, weighing more than three and a half ounces, three times more than key limes, which weigh an ounce on average. This is why more key limes are often needed to produce the same level of juice as a regular lime.
Key Lime is More Rounded
Key limes often have a rounded shape and softer skin. At the same time, regular limes have a slightly elongated shape. While regular limes have thick, bright green skin, key limes are finer.
The key limes also have a more mottled appearance than regular limes.
Most of the time, key lime is more yellow than regular lime. When unripe, limes are bright green, and key limes are dark green. When ripe, the limes turn yellow, and the key limes turn yellowish-green.
When cut in half, you will also notice that the key lime has a thinner peel and contains more seeds.
Contains More Powerful Juice
Compared to other lime varieties, a key lime will require more limes to produce the same amount of juice. That said, rest assured that the juice you extract will be potent and incredibly aromatic.
While it might take a little more effort, the extra key limes needed will be worth it. After all, big things tend to come in smaller packages!
We all know what someone who has bitten an overly sour fruit looks like. The eyes pucker, the lips tend to pucker, and the face trembles from side to side.
For those who tend to give on the side of acidity, lime isn’t always the first choice for fruit. Besides lemons, limes have the highest citric acid content of all citrus fruits. With a key lime, you can be sure you’re not on the acid side.
Compared to your standard lime, you will notice a massive difference in acidity levels between the two. Comparing the two, regular limes have less PH and higher acidity than key limes.
Much More Tangy
Key Limes have a slightly sweet, sour flavor and are also tangier compared to regular limes, so their inclusion in recipes makes them more precious on the sweet and sour spectrum.
Key lime has a stronger, more intense, and more robust aromatic flavor than regular lime. Key limes are famous for their unique aroma, which gives a unique, spicy, and tangy flavor to dishes, desserts, and drinks.
Its solid aromatic flavor is an understandable reason to produce natural alkaline deodorants, a natural odor against body feces, and unpleasant odors.
The scent of key limes is also longer-lasting, as they often last up to 48 hours on a surface, even after washing.
Nutrition Facts of Key Lime
Key lime juice is high in fiber, which can aid digestion. The juice is also rich in magnesium and potassium.
One fluid ounce contains about 22% of the daily reference intake for vitamin C. In addition to vitamin C, key limes contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which are believed to have anti-cancer, antibiotic, and detoxifying effects.
Though small, key limes are packed with nutrients, particularly vitamin C.
A single key lime (44 grams) provides:
- Calories: 11 grams
- Carbs: 3.7 grams
- Protein: 0.2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0.2 grams
- Vitamin C: 22% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Iron: 0.2% of the RDI
- Calcium: 0.5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 1% of the RDI
Limes also contain small amounts of riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Health benefits of key limes
There are many ways to take advantage of key limes. Being a member of the powerful citrus family, there is a list of benefits that continue to grow as researchers delve into the science behind the fruit.
Eating key lime fruit or drinking key lime juice offers a variety of health benefits. Among its numerous benefits below are a few we have to bring to you:
Good source of antioxidants
Key limes are rich in compounds that act as antioxidants in the body, including flavonoids, limonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and ascorbic acid.
Antioxidants are essential compounds that defend cells from molecules called free radicals. In large quantities, free radicals can damage cells, and this damage has been linked to chronic conditions, including heart disease and even many types of cancer diseases.
Key limes are very rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that can help strengthen the immune system. In test-tube studies, vitamin C helped increase the production of white blood cells, which help protect the body from infection and disease.
In human studies, taking vitamin C helped reduce the duration and severity of colds.
Additionally, vitamin C can help wounds heal faster by reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen production. Collagen is an essential protein that helps repair wounds.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Key limes have several properties that can promote skin health.
First, they are rich in vitamin C, which is needed to make collagen, a protein that keeps skin firm and strong. A study of over 4,000 women found that those who consumed more vitamin C had a lower risk of wrinkles and dry skin with age.
Second, key limes are packed with antioxidants, which can help fight age-related skin changes. Oxidative stress is a condition that results from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. It can cause signs of premature aging.
A study in mice found that drinking a citrus-based drink positively affected some of these signs by reducing wrinkles and increasing collagen production.
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is predominantly the reason for death that happens worldwide. Researchers also say that limes could help reduce most factors for heart failure or heart disease. Daily intake of key limes can be of help to help it out.
Prevents Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are tiny mineral crystals that are often painful to pass. They can form inside the kidneys when urine is highly concentrated or when you have high levels of stone-forming minerals, such as calcium, in your urine.
Citrus fruits such as key limes that are rich in citric acid prevent kidney stones by increasing citrate levels and binding to stone-forming minerals in the urine.
Researchers found that people who ate more citrus fruits had a significantly lower risk of developing kidney stones.
Reduces Risk of Cancers
Cancers are a disease which is characterized due to growth of cell that grows abnormally. In particular, flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, can help stop gene expression that promotes cancer progression.
Additionally, test-tube studies indicate that citrus fruits can inhibit the growth or spread of the colon, throat, pancreas, breast, bone marrow, lymphomas, and other cancerous cells.
Can Fight Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are distinct gaps in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, which produce acid and pepsin in the lumen. This can be pretty painful. Also, for vitamin C, limes contain antioxidant compounds called flavonoids (limonin glucoside), which have anti-cancer, antibiotic, and detoxifying properties that stimulate the healing process of the peptic ulcer.
Helps Improve Digestion.
Key limes have a significant amount of fiber. Fiber stimulates peristaltic movement and increases the secretion of gastric juices, which facilitates digestion, prevents conditions such as constipation, and protects the body from more severe diseases such as colorectal cancer.
Potential Side effects
In general, Key limes are safe to consume with little or no side effects. However, if you are allergic to other citrus fruits, avoid key limes as they can cause food allergy symptoms such as bloating, hives, and shortness of breath.
Some individuals may experience acid reflux from consuming key lime or drinking fruit juice due to heartburn. Other digestive symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. If this occurs, consult a doctor immediately.
Eating lots of limes can increase your risk of tooth decay, as the acid in key limes and other citrus fruits can erode tooth enamel. To protect your teeth, be sure to rinse your mouth under running water after eating lemons or drinking the juice.
In some cases, applying Key lime directly to the skin can make it more sensitive to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and cause inflammation. This is known as phytophotodermatitis.
Uses of Key Limes
There are endless ways to use key limes in and out of your kitchen. They are prized for their juice and the floral aroma of their zest, making them so popular in the world of pastry and cocktail making.
Key limes are preferred for cooking and garnishing because their strong aroma spreads through the ingredients in a dish, and this can make a big difference between a smoothie that is simply sweet or sour or smooth and one that adds a bittersweet profile. That is why they are considered a staple in Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine. Here are few uses of key limes:
- Key limes zest and juice are ingredients in desserts and baked goods, such as ice cream, key lime pie, and cookies.
- This citrus fruit can be used in savory dishes and also to flavor alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
- Outside of your kitchen, key limes are used as a natural cleaner to neutralize odors. Researchers show that they have antimicrobial properties.
- Key lime juice can also be mixed with vinegar and water and used as a surface spray for a non-toxic cleaning option.
In other parts of the world, such as India, limes are often pickled to increase their shelf life and then added to dishes to enhance their flavor.
Next time you go to the grocery store, you might want to consider buying key limes to add a final touch of flavor to your food.
Where does Key Lime grow?
Key Lime trees are grown primarily in Florida, California, and Mexico. They are grown in the warm tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The main producing countries it is well known are:
- Egypt and several Western countries
The Arabs brought the key lime across North Africa to Spain and Portugal. It was brought to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the early 16th century (Ziegler and Wolfe u7). Key lime has naturalized throughout the Caribbean, the east coast of Mexico, Central America, tropical areas of South America, and the Florida Keys.
Commercial production in Florida in Orange and Lake counties was evident in 1883. Subsequently, small commercial plantations were produced in the Florida Keys (1913 to 1926) and Miami-Dade County (1970 to early 2000). There is small or noncommercial production of Key Lime in Florida today, although it remains a famous fruit tree for the home landscape.
Planting A Key Lime Tree
Like the fruit they produce, key lime trees are sturdy and small, almost comparable to a tall bush. They often grow between 6-13 feet and prefer to grow or branch laterally than vertically.
The leaves of the linden are smaller, somewhat darker with rounded edges. The key limes trees also have some sturdy thorns, which sometimes makes picking fruit a nightmare.
Proper planting is an essential step in establishing and successfully growing a solid and productive key lime tree. The first stage is to pick a healthy nursery tree.
Purchase only trees that are certified free from disease propagated under the rules and regulations of the Florida Budwood Certification Program. Commonly, nursery key limes are grown in 3-gallon containers, and the trees are 2-4 feet above the ground. Large trees in small containers can be avoided, as the root system can be “rooted.”
This means that all the available space in the container has been filled with roots to the point that the primary root (s) grow around the top of the container roundly. Root-bound root systems might not grow properly once planted in the soil.
Inspect the tree, usually for pests and diseases control, and inspect the tree trunk for wounds and constrictions. Pick a healthy tree and water it regularly to prepare it for planting in the ground. The preferred time for planting is early spring or summer, although potted trees can be planted at any time in warm places.
Key Limes are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which can offer health benefits.
Eating lemons or drinking juice can improve immunity, reduce risk factors for heart disease, prevent kidney stones, help iron absorption, and promote skin health.
Avoid key limes if you are allergic to citrus. However, for most people, these citrus fruits are a healthy and versatile addition to a balanced diet, so try incorporating limes into your recipes for their impressive health benefits.
About the Author
Lori Bogedin is a health and wellness writer and editor of TwigsCafe.com. She is in the restaurant business since 1999. In 2016 she was named one of the "Top Women in Business" by Northeastern Pennsylvania Business Journal.