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Limes? What am I doing wrong?

I've recently made a few recipes that called for lime zest and lime juice. (Last night it was the tilapia with chile- lime butter from Gourmet Today.)
Anyhow, none of the limes that I have used had anything close to the amount of juice I get out of a lemon. I used my reamer, just like I do with a lemon, and there just was not a lot of juice in the limes.
I am wondering if I am not picking them well, or, it f it is just the nature of the fruit, and they cannot be compared to lemons.
Any thoughts, or suggestions on how to choose a lime?

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  1. I think there must be a world-wide lime disaster ;-) in the last few weeks, I've noticed limes have gotten much more expensive, and the pulp is dried out, producing practically no juice.

    6 Replies
    1. re: danna

      I've noticed that too, I bought a dozen last week and struggled to get juice out of them. My wooden juicer does the trick.

      1. re: danna

        Ditto: I served some lime slices with fish tacos a few days ago and they barely gave up any juice

        1. re: danna

          I'm in the restaurant business and the limes we're getting in New England contain no juice, are bitter, not sour; and they turn brown outside very rapidly. Lemons, same thing to a lesser degree. I've taken to using Meyer lemons.

          In a pinch, zest the lime. Make sure it's at room temperature and juice it (don't ask why, it just works). Then, take the zest and place it in the juice. If you need to cheat by adding a little fresh lemon juice, why not?

          1. re: shaogo

            totally agree. the limes in CT are awful. totally dry. glad im not the only one noticing this

          2. re: danna

            I'll fifth your statement. The limes we've had lately have been drrrrrrryyyyyyyy. Like shaogo, I'm in New England. I prepared a mini-taquiza tonight, and I didn't even bother cutting up any limes for it.

            1. re: Cachetes

              Now that you mention it, the most recent limes I bought weren't flush with juice either.

              As to the original OP, the trick is to pick ones with a thin skin on them. To use cow hide as an analogy, the rind should be a supple like a fine leather rather than a thick, hard leather like on welders gloves.

              Also, bring to room temperature and press down and roll them on the counter to break up some of the pulp and release some of the oils.

              Same rules apply for lemons.


          3. I always look for the heavy, sweet smelling and deep green limes. Give them a light playfull roll and squeeze in your hands. The nice soft plushness and rebound tell you you have a fresh one. Hard will tell you the journeys been long and dry. Happy Sqeezing!

              1. Seems like everyone is experiencing the same problem. After bringing them to room temp, have you rolled them under your palm against a hard surface - relentlessly? I've never tried it, but often, people will put them (an lemons) in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Let them cool for a couple of minutes before cutting/squeezing.

                1. I've had lousy luck with limes lately too.
                  Throw them in a bucket and run hot water over them, then let them sit for 5 min or so. Drain and proceed.
                  This always helps me with lemons, and now I guess I'll try it with my limes too.

                  1. I usually buy a Costco sized bag of limes (3lbs I think) and juice them all and freeze in an ice cube tray. The whole bag didn't even give me two trays worth of juice! Glad it's not just me!

                    1. i'm sure people will balk at the idea, but i routinely use lemons in the place of limes in cocktails and recipes. they are very similar in flavor profile, and lemons are cheaper, more consistent throughout the year, and easier to work with than limes.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: tommy

                        I'll admit that I try to convince people that lemon is just a better flavor. Lime has its place, but even the best of limes tend to have a very strong flavor. That being said I'd never substitute lemons in, let's say, a Margarita or even a good gin and tonic.

                        Now, back in my youth in a restaurant kitchen, I had to zest and juice a whole case of limes nearly every day for sorbet and for the bar. So perhaps I have a long-standing hangup with limes.

                        My favorite use of lime juice is in seviche, where it's just perfect.

                        1. re: shaogo

                          Never in a margarita? Well jeez, Maria's in Sante Fe, which one could argue has held the torch for good margaritas made with good quality ingredients, uses lemons. I use lemons in margaritas and I have done taste tests, blind, and there isn't a whole lot of difference in a cocktail like a margarita. A squeeze over some guac or fish tacos, either.

                          I should try it with ceviche as well.

                          1. re: tommy

                            I only make margaritas with lemons!

                      2. I buy limes,squeeze them and store the juice around this time of year but the price has remained stable so far for around 3/$1.00. Also noticed that the limes are mixed between the dark green thick skinned and the much juicer thin skinned "creole" limes.
                        When shopping I choose the more mottled green limes that has a give when you squeeze them, no give,no buy, also make sure the skins are moist and oily.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Duppie

                          Sorry but you are misinformed the softer the lime, orange, grapefruit or lemmon the less juice inside period. If they have give they are not as fresh as those that are solid ask any chef..............................The hardness comes from more H2O on the inside.

                          1. re: wineman3

                            Grew up with lime trees in the back yard and know my way around a commercial kitchen, when it comes to limes the type and thickness of the skin has to do with the "give". Sorry I may not have explained properly. The limes I look for that offers the most juice IMHO is the thin skinned ones that is indigenous to south Florida and parts of the Caribbean, and if they don't display some give when squeezed then they are dry inside,coupled with the oily sheen of the skin.
                            Again I apologize for any confusion.

                            1. re: wineman3

                              From personal experience, I've found the softer the lemon, the more juice. My bag from costco had a bunch of soft lemons and I got a ton of juice. My limes were hard, I got very little juice.

                            2. re: Duppie

                              That's basicaly what Ive been doinf as well, seeking out the light green, smooth, thin skinned shiny "creole" limes (thnaks BTW for giving me the name, I had never heard it before) Not only are they much jucier the juice tastes so much better (limeade made of the thick skinned ones is NASTY). I use a lot of key/mexican limes as well (but I've been using those for ages anyway)

                              1. re: jumpingmonk

                                I got that name from the Bahamians in south Florida when I lived there,but also heard it called that in Tobago, Barbados and St Lucia.

                            3. "Anyhow, none of the limes that I have used had anything close to the amount of juice I get out of a lemon."

                              That's the nature of a lime though. Even with the best limes, you will never get as much juice out of one as you would a lemon of comparable size.

                              1. WOW!! Thanks for all the responses and confirmation that it isn't just me and my poor choice of limes!!!
                                By the way, I do roll the citrus on my counter and I have juiced lemons and put the juice in ice cube trays to use later.
                                It is unfortunate that limes just aren't juicy this season.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bxgirl

                                  Growing up in an agricultural area leads me to believe that what you are experiencing is an off season situation. All fruits and veggies are seasonal hence lower prices at certain times of the year. If it is off season the product is probably imported which means the fruit or veggie was picked under ripe so that it travels without spoiling. The more sugar in fruits and veggies the less distance they can travel. For example in the winter Strawberries are harder and less sweet as compared to local strawberries in the spring and summer. Yes I grew up on a ranch and farm, proud of it and now am a wine distributor, foodie.

                                2. Yes limes and lemons are becoming very expensive and the limes I've been finding are smaller than usual. My method of selection of both limes and lemons is not to look for the prettiest which but to feel them. Some of the big pretty lemons have really thick skin and little juice. I look for plump fruit that feels heavy, appears to have a thin skin and gives a little with pressure. I find these to be the juiciest

                                  1. Isn't there a thred like this every year? One poster in last year's thread stated that every year, there is a week or two between different lime seasons where the limes are all pretty bad. I'm in Chicago, and haven't come across any bad limes yet, and all of my local fruit mkts are the standard 15 to 20 for a buck. Last year, however, there was a few weeks here when limes were just horrible, and then they were fine again. Wait it out.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gordeaux

                                      Gordeaux, I'm in Chicago too, and the limes we used last weekend were juiceless. Think I bought them at the Jewel but I am not sure, as I tend to rotate my source depending on price.

                                    2. I got a bag of key limes at WF this weekend, and they were very juicy. Not super cheap, but better than big limes w/ no juice!

                                      1. I'm so glad it's not just me! The last couple of times I've bought limes they had not one single drop of juice. They looked normal on the outside, and when cut they still looked normal, but they were bone dry. Nothing got out any juice at all. I had to use lemons (which fortunately worked okay).

                                        Instead of just throwing them away, which I've been doing, if every one of us took them back, maybe something would be done. If nothing else, when a store gets a delivery they should at least check one lime and if they have no juice, not accept them.