Tart and refreshing, lemons and limes are both citrus fruits that impart freshness and flavor to foods and beverages. While sometimes seen as interchangeable, these fruits have slightly different flavor and nutritional profiles, and star in their own flavorful recipes. In addition to providing flavor, they are useful fruits that can be enjoyed for their invigorating aromas and antibacterial properties.
Lemons are sunny yellow citrus fruits that are slightly oval in shape. They tend to be slightly larger than limes, at about 1.5 inches in diameter. Limes are bright green fruits that are rounder and somewhat smaller than lemons. Key limes, the limes famous for making key lime pie, are slightly more yellow in color than other limes. They are also slightly smaller than Persian limes, the limes most commonly grown in the United States. Key limes were widely produced in the Florida Keys until they were wiped out by a hurricane in the 1920s and replaced with the hardier Persian limes.
Lemons and limes both impart a refreshing, acidic flavor. Lemons, while sour, have a slightly more sweet, fruity taste than limes. Limes contain less sugar than lemons and may have a marginally bitter taste. Lemons are slightly less acidic than limes, with a slightly higher pH level. Lemonade and limeade both make refreshing summertime beverages, although lemonade is by far the number one choice for children’s sidewalk lemonade stands. A twist of either lemon or lime makes a refreshing addition to a tall glass of ice water on a hot day.