What do you do with a sweet lime anyway?
A couple of my generous fruit suppliers (the ones who gave me hella lemons for Hella Lemons Syrup) also have a sweet lime tree. While they were happy to have me take them, they warned me that the flavor was very mild and not to their taste, and they didn’t know what use they’d be. Never one to shy away from a challenge, nor one to waste good fruit, I picked as many as were ripe, all the same. Then I undertook research about the dismissed fruit, and what I found was fascinating!
The sweet lime is also known as Palestine sweet lime or sweet lemon. Native to South/Southeast Asia, it’s commonly grown in India and Vietnam; in India, it’s interchangeably called lemon and lime because regular lemons don’t really grow in India. The reason it’s sweet is not because it has necessarily more sugar than other citrus fruits, it’s because it has virtually no acid to lend the characteristic puckery bite, though it has tons of vitamin C. It’s also supposed to be very good for remedying morning sickness (pregnant women take note!) and the digestive tract in general.
So that’s fascinating and all, but what do you do with them?
They’re often peeled and eaten out of hand (like an orange) or juiced as a refreshing drink in the hot summers (winters?) typical of south Asia.
Ok, but what do I do with them? Hmm.
I would describe the flavor as floral and quite delicate, pairing it with anything too strong tasting would simply drown it out. It occurred to me that it would make a lovely combination with mulberries (maybe this summer my baby tree will produce more than two!), but it’s hardly the season. Something to keep in mind for later, since sweet limes tend to produce year-round, but not altogether helpful now. Chutney? No, not enough bite for the chutney and the spices would definitely overpower the fruit (I’ll use the Tahitian limes for that). Syrup? No, too cloyingly sweet adding that much sugar and, again, that much honey would overpower the flavor of the fruit.
A nice delicate jelly! That will do nicely. Inspired by the delicate and delightful kudzu blossom jelly that a friend brought me from North Carolina, I’ve decided I shall make a sweet lime jelly and I think I’ll throw in some organic jasmine blossoms from another friend’s yard. Excellent. Now I just have to come up with a clever name. And juice and zest all those sweet limes…