No matter where you find limes on a menu, they always invoke a feeling of freshness with some bite. For far too long, limes have played the second, third, and twelfth fiddle in recipes, but it’s time to shine some light on them.
But not too much light.
Limes of Yore
By now, everyone knows limes prevent scurvy, but it took a surprisingly long time to make that connection. As far back as 1614, the Surgeon General of the East India Company recommended them for their acidity, but for one reason or another, history continued to forget.
By the 1850s, the British Royal Navy gave its sailor’s grog rations (a rum, water, and lime juice concoction) to prevent the disease, giving us the slang moniker of “Limeys." It later evolved to include British immigrants in Commonwealth territories like Australia, and ultimately encompassed any British person.
Nowadays, Americans hurl the term, frequently followed by “bastard."
We wouldn’t know how limes prevented scurvy until 1932 when Charles Glen King made the connection between them, and the ascorbic acid within known as Vitamin C.
First, They’re Sour. Then, They Burn You.
Numerous components of a lime have been found to provide health benefits.
Thanks to its antioxidant and antibiotic qualities, lime juice often finds its way into various skincare products. Companies will press the fruit for its oil, which has been used to kill germs and treat acne, but should be used sparingly in the summer to avoid a rash or second-degree burn.
Phytophotodermatitis or “Margarita Dermatitis” is typically a summertime ailment that occurs when your skin is exposed to the sun after it comes into contact with lime juice or oil from the peel. #NotAllLimes are coming after your skin, but it’s better to be safe and apply some serious sunscreen.
It’s also known to help aid digestion and dysentery. If only those traveling on the Oregon Trail had known.
Stuff Your Face and Your Limes
So don’t be afraid to show those limes who’s boss. Whether adorable Mexican limes or deceptively lemon-like Tahitian limes, you wield the knife with an iron fist.
Mix some fresh lime juice with chili powder and throw it on anything. Stuff your limes with shredded coconuts. Hell, stuff your coconut cake with Key Lime pie and make yourself a margarita.
But seriously, invest in some sunscreen.