Lime is a round shaped citrus fruit, 3–6 centimetres in diameter, grown in the tropical and subtropical countries. Arab traders brought lime trees back from their journey to Asia and introduced them into Egypt and Northern Africa around the 10th century. There are many varieties of lime found all over the world, particularly in the tropical and the Mediterranean climates.
Lime is less sour than lemon but is an excellent source of vitamin C, one of the most important antioxidant, providing 35% of the Daily Value per 100 g of product. It contains also B groups Vitamins, amino acids and traces of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium.
As other citrus trees, lime contains unique flavonol glycosides that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. These compounds are reported to stop cell division in many cancer cell lines, they are interesting for their antibiotic effects.
Lime is consumed throughout the world in the form of sorbet, beverages, refreshing cocktails, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, candies, sugar boiled confections and in cooking to accent the flavours of foods.
The oil extracted from its peel or skin is extensively used in soft drink concentrates, body oils, cosmetic products, hair oils, toothpastes, toilet and beauty soaps, disinfectants, mouth washes, deodorants and innumerable other products. The health benefits of lime include weight loss, skin care, improved digestion, relief from constipation, eye care, and treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, respiratory disorders, gout, gums, urinary disorders, etc.
Dried limes are essential ingredients in the cooking of Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States and are most often added whole to soups and stews. Before getting dried, small limes are boiled briefly in salt brine, and then they are laid out in the sun to dry over the course of several weeks.
Over the weeks, the limes turn black or dusky brown on the outside and lose so much weight that they feel hollow; inside, the juicy green flesh turns a glossy, maroon-tinged black.
Before cooking, dried limes are to be simply washed well, pierced a couple of times with a sharp knife or a fork, and drop three of four of them into the pot. As the cooking liquid sluices through the limes, they add an evocative tang and a subtle complexity to the entire dish.
Dried limes match well with lamb but also with chicken stew and fish dishes.
Dried lime is also used in a powdered form. Like the whole version, powdered dried lime is traditionally used in soups and stews. But it is also great when sparingly rubbed on a well-marbled steak or to flavour broiled shrimps.