Limes are small, round citrus fruits that are green to yellow in color. Its evergreen tree is in the Rue family which also includes lemons, oranges and kumquats.
There are many varieties of limes but those widely available in the United States include Tahiti lime and key lime. Tahiti limes are the ones widely available in grocery stores. It’s larger than key limes and is a hybrid that was developed in the early 20th century to withstand diseases and pests. It’s picked when it’s immature and will turn yellow when it’s fully ripe. Key limes, however, are smaller, yellower on the inside, have a thinner rind and lots of seeds, and taste more sour.
Native to Southeast Asia, key limes originated in Indonesia or Malaysia and were brought to the eastern Mediterranean by Arab traders. Crusaders brought the fruit to the western Mediterranean, and key limes eventually made their way to the West Indies on Christopher Columbus’ second voyage.
Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of folate. They also have unique flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant properties. Vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals that attack healthy cells in the body and is critical in developing a strong immune system.