Like lemons, limes are an acid fruit. They tend to be slightly more sensitive to cold and certainly should not be grown in frost prone areas unless some protective measures are taken. Many travellers come back from tropical climes looking to buy a green fruited lime with a strong flavour that they have found in places like Bali and Singapore.
All the limes that grow around the metropolitan area will produce a coloured skin. The West Indian Lime and the Tahitian Lime both are quite bright yellow in maturity and Rangpur is bright orange. The reason for this is that in the tropics there is sufficient cold at night time for the skin to fully colour so even when the limes are fully ripe, the skin is quite green.
Lime trees are principally used to supply sliced fruit and juice for the bar. However the bright acid juice can be used in quite a few dessert recipes as a substitute for lemons.
The West Indian Lime is a small tree with very compact dense growth. It has many small thorns and is extremely intolerant to cold conditions. The fruit remains dark green almost black until it is ready to ripen, it will eventually turn a bright yellow colour. The best time to pick the fruit is when it is a dark green but some patches of yellow are starting to come through on the skin. At this stage it is at it’s most acid. The fruit is small in size, very difficult to peel and can have either a few or many seeds depending on the cultivar. The fruit tends to drop after maturity. This is a highly acid aromatic fruit and very juicy as well. Unfortunately because of it’s climate requirements, it is not particularly well suited to Perth, needing every, very warm spot and quite a deal of cold protection during the Winter. A small growing tree, it is ideal for container planting.
The Tahitian Lime is a larger tree growing about the same size as most ‘Eureka’ lemons, the fruit however is only half the size. Once again this should be harvested at the green, just turning to yellow stage. A vigorous, dense foliage tree, it has some thorns but a lot less than the West Indian Lime. The Tahitian Lime has very few to no seeds and holds quite well on the tree. It is a true acid lime in its flavour and very juicy.
Having a long cropping season which lasts some nine months it’s an ideal lime for growing around the metropolitan area where its requirement for heat is a lot less than the West Indian form. A very beautiful ornamental tree producing fragrant blossoms and very juicy bright coloured attractive fruit. Limes should not be consigned to the back yard but considered as an ornamental for planting in the front garden. While it will grow as large as a lemon, they can be contained by planting in a large tub. Limes look great around the pool side or on a sunny patio.
Rangpur is not a true lime, in fact it is more like a sour orange, a miniature one at that. The tree is medium size, spreading with slightly weeping branches. It is a vigorous extremely productive tree with slender twigs and comparatively few thorns. Very cold hardy plant Rangpur grows very well through the metropolitan area. The fruit is small to medium in size, round with a loose skin, the fruit colour is bright reddish-orange and the flesh is orange as well. It is easy to peel, has many seeds and holds for a good time on the tree making it an ornamental plant of some value. The fruit has a tender flesh and is very juicy and extremely acid. Like the other varieties, it makes a great and colourful tub plant.
For the adventurous, here is an Hawaiian recipe involving a lime marinade, which denatures the fish virtually cooking it in about six to eight hours.
Hawaiian Coral Fish Salad
750 grams of Snapper Fillets. Juice of three limes (or 3 lemons) 112 teaspoon salt
1 small white onion finely sliced green peppercorns, lime slices for garnishing
Remove skin and bones from fillets and slice into thin strips about 1 centimetre thick and 3 – 4 centimetres long. Place in a glass dish, add onion then cover with lime juice and sprinkle with salt.
Marinate for around 6 – 8 hours (you can leave it overnight in the fridge). This denatures the flesh turning it white as if it were cooked. Pour off lime juice and arrange fish over a fresh salad, garnish with green peppercorns and lime slices. That’s right, you don’t actually cook the fish however it is delicious I can vouch for that!