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Jan 12, 2010 10:18 AM

Red limes? Bitter oranges?

On a whim I recently purchased red limes. They have a slight hint of orange and are quite tart. I then got a Spanish cookbook and these limes seem quite similar to the author's description of bitter oranges. Does anyone know if these are the same or similar enough to substitute?

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  1. Red limes are a separate citrus from bitter (sour, Seville) oranges. The limes are a hybrid cross between the Rangpur and the Austrailian red finger lime. From what I've read, they are quite cold-hardy. They are grown in citrus-producing areas in the US, though probably in a very limited crop. Like most citrus, you can grow them in a pot on your patio or in the backyard.
    Photo of red lime tree:
    Photo of bitter orange:

    They look quite similar but are not the same fruit. They make a good marmalade, if that's what you were thinking of subbing them for.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Thanks! Yes possibly for marmalade, maybe in combination with some other citrus. We just moved to FL and I am loving the array of citrus we have.

      1. re: Procrastibaker

        Lucky you. Check the internet for growers in your nab, maybe you could get some citrus growing in your yard.
        The limes are cold hardy to 10F. I could actually grow one here in Brooklyn outside most of the winter.
        I like a combo of sour oranges, lemons and limes for marmalade. Perhaps you could use the oranges and limes with some sweeter grapefruit.
        Have fun!

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          That bitter orange looks exactly like the hardy orange (Poncirus) that I have seen growing in lots of places in Brooklyn (there used to be a whole hedge of them at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden). I'd grow one here in Queens, but I hate the thorns...

          1. re: EricMM

            The Japanese Hardy Orange, with thorns, Poncirus trifoliata. The bitter (seville or sour) orange is Citrus aurantium, not cold-hardy.

          2. re: bushwickgirl

            "a lime tree grows in brooklyn" ;-).

            bushwick girl, you are a treasure trove!

            i'd recommend to procrastibaker that she plant herself a key lime (and if she likes thai, a kaffir lime if she can find one and it is hardy in her zone). the key lime is really only hardy in SOUTH florida, though.

            also, one of the best ever dishes i've ever had is cuban mojo-marinated and slow-cooked pork. awesome. just awesome.