Limes are the sharpest in the taste of all the citrus fruits. Dried limes are cultivated from trees before they are ripe. They are boiled in saltwater to sterilise and reduce the bitterness, promoting the brown enzymes. They are typically dried outdoors in the sun until they become hard and brittle. Black limes are limes that have been allowed longer to ferment. The drying process develops a vinegary and earthy quality with slightly smoky notes and a light musty base.
Limes are rich in Vitamin C, and although highly unlikely to be dried limes, British sailors were introduced to limes after lemons in the 19th Century to protect against scurvy. A disease that is the result of lacking Vitamin C, typically noticeable to the gums and skin. The sailors were nicknamed "limey" after their escapades into eating Limes to protect against scurvy. Ironically it has four times less vitamin C than lemons, so they should probably have stuck with lemons in the first place.
Limes are native to Southeast Asia. Arab traders brought dry lime to the Middle East. In the 10th Century, Arab Camelēr’s introduced limes to Egypt and North Africa. Then the Western European Christians bought limes into Europe during the Crusades era.
By the 1500s, limes made it to the Americas, planted in the West Indies by the European explorers. Nevertheless, Oman put dry limes on the cuisine map. It is probably a result of using up unharvested yield that had fermented on the trees.
Dried limes are particularly relevant to Persian cuisine and used in many of their ‘spice mixture’, Advieh.
The Arabian Bedouins used dried lime as a black fabric dye and as a traditional digestive stimulant.
Chief flavour profile
CItral: (citrus and herbal) dry lime is less sharp than its fresh variety. This allows the other compounds to shine through. To add more citrusy profiles, you can add with ginger or cardamom.
Baharat is the garam masala of the Arabian Peninsula. This blend is the perfect combination of sweet and smoky without any spiciness. An all-purpose exotic blend of heady spices this blend packs a punch, so less is definitely more. Used across the Middle East, with each area having a little twist on the basic blend.
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