Whole Persian Limes: At a Glance
Whole Persian Limes, also known as Limu Omani, are small limes, similar in size to Key limes from Mexico, that have been boiled in salt brine and left to air-dry in the sun. Although not the prettiest of dried spices, whole Persian limes add an exotic complexity to Middle Eastern style food.
About the size of a golf ball, the brined and dried limes turn dark brown after going through the fermentation and drying process. Because the juice has been dried out, the whole Persian limes are lightweight and have a wrinkled appearance to them. When dried, the limes turn various shades of brown, and when cut in half, the dried limes are quite dark inside, and you can still see the membranes and structure of the fruit.
Cooking With Whole Persian Limes
Whole Persian limes are used primarily in Middle Eastern cooking. First developed in the country of Oman, thus the name Limu Omani, dried limes are essential in food dishes of Israel, Iran, Iraq, other Middle Eastern Gulf states, and are occasionally seen in Northern Indian cuisine.
Previously unknown to American cooks, dried limes are beginning to gain in popularity as cooks discover the wonderfully sweet, sour, and tangy addition that whole Persian limes can add to dishes. Due to the brining process, the whole dried limes have a slightly fermented taste to them as well as sweet and sour flavors.
In traditional Middle Eastern cooking, the whole dried limes are simply washed well, and then small holes are pierced into and through the dried skin. These dried limes are then added to soups, meat stews, and tagines. Two or three of the dried limes are added whole to the pot, and as the juices from the other vegetables, meats and spices, sluice through the lime, the sweet, tangy flavors combine with the stew. Whole Persian limes can also be added to the cooking liquid when making rice.
The acidity and flavor profile of whole Persian limes lends well to lighter stews that have chicken or fish, as well as adding a zesty flavor to simpler legume dishes that have lentils or chickpeas.
Whole Persian Limes: History and Origination
Persian lime, sometimes called Tahiti lime or Bearss lime, come from the nearly thornless Rutaceae citrus tree. Most common limes come from this same family. However, the Persian lime is a hybrid citrus, stemming from Oman, and is a cross between Key lime (from Mexico) and citron (from the Mediterranean).
Persian limes were first commercially grown in southern Iraq and Iran, and in the late 1800s, John T. Bearss developed a seedless variety that was cultivated in California. Florida became the largest commercial producer of Persian limes until Hurricane Andrew devastated the Persian lime orchards in 1992. There has been a slight rebound of Persian lime cultivation in Florida again; however, most of the limes are primarily grown throughout Mexico for export to the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Cultivation of Whole Persian Limes
Persian limes have become the second most important export crop from Mexico, just slightly falling behind avocados. Because Persian limes have thicker skins than Key limes, they are more adaptable to a variety of growing conditions. The trees often grow up to 15-20 feet and have nearly thornless, widespread, drooping branches.
The trees generally begin to flower in January and have a slightly purple hue to them. The Persian limes are bright green, to begin with, and when fully ripe, turn a more pale-yellow. They generally have no seeds or very few seeds. Because of the lack of seeds, most Persian limes are grafted onto rough lemon, sweet orange, and grapefruit trees. The limes begin to mature around May and can be harvested through the fall, with the peak of the season being from July through September.
Many backyard gardeners have success growing Persian lime trees in pots and containers. They can be planted in rich, loamy soil, or if growing in pots, half of a whiskey or wine barrel makes a suitable container. The trees will need to be watered about 1-2 times per week. If a cold snap is imminent, the trees must be protected from frost with a burlap or cloth cover.
About Our Whole Persian Limes
Our whole dried Persian limes look lovely inside one of our one-ounce swing-top jars and would make a lovely gift for someone who enjoys Middle Eastern style cooking. For professional cooks or commercial kitchens, our larger 20-ounce and 40-ounce jars can provide a larger supply of these dried limes. Give your Middle Eastern cooking an exotic flavor with whole dried Persian limes from Burma Spice.
If you would like to know more about our whole dried Persian limes and would like ideas for recipes and cooking with them, please feel free to contact us.