Lime-ageddon, guacpocalypse, mojito-gate … call the looming lime dilemma what you will, but we’re calling it an opportunity to put some new fruits in the limelight, so to speak.
Some suggest that we should be back in limes by mid-spring; but with the way things are looking in Mexican lime growing regions – the source of most of our limes – we’re preparing for the worst.
Lime buyers say that prices have more than quadrupled this year, jumping from $14 a case to more than $100. Bad weather and a tree disease in Michoacán, Mexico, have wreaked havoc on the lime supply, further exacerbated by the mind-boggling influence of drug cartels. (Because apparently when making billions of dollars on cocaine isn’t enough, it’s time to begin shaking down lime farmers.) At this point, the Knights Templar Cartel controls the wholesale distribution center where growers sell limes to the global market, making limes an even hotter commodity.
But we digress; back to more important things like margaritas.
So, the standard advice will most commonly be: No limes? Use lemons. And while you will get an acidic tart taste, any citrus lover can tell you that the two are not the same. Limes are just … limier. Limes have an energetic je ne sais quoi in the finish that lemons lack; lemons are tart, but they’re softer in flavor.
While both lemons and limes have a pH of around 2, other factors contribute to the taste of sourness; both the overall concentration of acid (titratable acidity) and the amount of sugar. Limes are a bit more acidic than lemons and have much less sugar, meaning that if you do a simple swap of lemons for limes in a recipe designed around limes, chances are it’s going to be a bit off. So off as to be bad? Unlikely, but it may be lacking that perfect balance of flavors that makes an eater/drinker murmur an involuntary, “mmmm.”
So with that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite recipes that provide a bright, citrusy pizzazz without the use of limes. May they get you through the crisis.
1. The Salty Chihuahua: Rub the edge of a glass with a little grapefruit juice and dip it in kosher salt to make a salt rim. Carefully add ice to the glass, add one ounce of tequila and two or three ounces of (preferably fresh) grapefruit juice. (Make it a Sweet Chihuahua by rimming the glass with sugar instead of salt and add a little fresh mint.) Swizzle, drink, woof.
2. Tequila + Tangerine with Compari: Consider it a Tequila Sunrise Makeover. Over ice, pour 1 ounce of tequila, 1 ounce of Compari and 1 ounce of tangerine juice; finish with sparkling water, garnish with tangerine slice.
3. The Bees Knees: With its clever use of honey, gin, a bright flash of lemon and optional borage blooms, this drink feels downright curative … and may make you buzz.
4. Strawberry Basil Sangria: Leave it to libation-loving recipe whiz Jerry James Stone to come up with a recipe like this (pictured above); it’s a special thing.
5. Hibiscus and Ginger Sangria: See number 4.
6. Lemon Shandy: This tart and cheery beer cocktail is perfect for a spring (or summer, or autumn, or winter) afternoon.
7. Minty Lemon-cello: It’s lemony, it’s minty, it will make you forget about not having any limes.
8. Watermelon Martini: While a martini may be a counterintuitive stand-in for a margarita, the watermelon adds enough fun factor to make it all OK.
Photo: Enrique Gili
At this point in time, salsa and guacamole have become as American as apple pie … even if they are Mexican in origin. While you can use lemon in both, purists may protest; these twists on the classics have enough spin that the lime won’t be missed.
9. Old-School Guacamole: By most accounts, the ancient Aztec version of guacamole was made with mashed avocados, chili peppers, tomatoes, white onions, and salt. Who needs limes?
11. Asparagus Guacamole: Well isn’t this clever, guacamole that's made with asparagus! And since we all know that asparagus and lemon are practically inseparable, rest assured there are no limes involved.
12. Avocado Hummus: The world’s favorite Mexican-Middle Eastern love child. To a food processor, add: 1 15-ounce can of chick peas; flesh from 1 – 2 ripe avocados; 1/3 cup olive oil; 1/2 cup lemon juice; 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini; and 1 clove garlic, process for three minutes or until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and hot sauce.
13. White Bean and Lemon Dip: This simple and creamy white bean dip with lemon zest actually works quite well for indulging cravings for both bean dip and guacamole. While it doesn’t have avocado, it is nonetheless bright, creamy and rich in a similar way.
14. Kiwi and Jalapeño Salsa: Kiwi’s sassy flavor completely negates the need for citrus. Bingo!
15. Corn and Avocado Salsa: Like salsa and guacamole wrapped into one. Plus corn. And all brought together with sea salt, cilantro and a whole lot of lemon (pictured above).
With a softer, sweeter side than lime, lemon is generally the more popular citrus for use in desserts – but even so, it’s really (really) hard to beat a good slice of Key lime pie. If you need a Key lime pie fix, try one of these instead.
16. Lemon Cheesecake: This sweetie-pie lemon cheesecake is tart, sweet and creamy and will win favor for those with a tangy sweet tooth.
17. Lemon Cream Pie: This recipe for lemon cream pie is not too far off from a Key lime pie; but it’s developed especially for lemons.
18. Honey Lemon Curd: If you have a fierce citrus habit, make this lemon curd and put it on everything; scones, toast, ice cream, crepes, muffins, biscuits, shortcakes, cupcakes, in tarts (like pictured above) or skip all that and just eat it with a spoon. It’s sure to cure any lingering lime blues.
5 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated organic lemon zest
1/3 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg with the lemon juice and honey.
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it becomes pale and thickened, between 7 and 10 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter in until it has melted.
Stir in the lemon zest, cover with wax paper, and let cool to room temperature.
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