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.
Lemons and limes are both great sources of vitamin C. Two tablespoons of lemon juice will provide 15% of the RDA of vitamin C. The same amount of lime juice will provide 10% of your daily allowance of this crucial vitamin. Low in calories, these fruits contain soluble fiber, which promotes good digestive health. They are both sources of the antioxidants that boost immunity, fight inflammation, and prevent cellular damage. Lemons and limes are also sources of folate, important for protein metabolism, red blood cell production, and the manufacture of DNA.
7. Health Benefits
The vitamin C contained in both lemons and limes is critical for wound healing, good immune function and the formation of collagen and connective tissues. It is also a powerful antioxidant, preventing cellular damage from free radicals. Other phytochemicals in these citrus fruits are also potent antioxidants. Antioxidants have been linked to improved heart health and prevention of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Consuming these fruits as part of a healthy diet may also increase blood sugar control and help you lose weight.
6. Household Uses
In addition to adding a refreshing flavor to foods and beverages, both lemons and limes can provide a variety of other household benefits. Both are used in aromatherapy and perfumes. Essential oils made from lemon or lime can be diffused to give your home a crisp, refreshing scent. They are added to dishwashing liquids, soaps, and shampoos for their fragrance and cleansing properties. Lemons and limes both have antibacterial characteristics and can be used in the kitchen or bathroom to clean and disinfect. Their astringent abilities make them ideal additions to facial cleansers or foot soaks.
5. Dessert Recipes
No discussion of limes is complete without a recipe for cool and refreshing key lime pie. The Food Network has a recipe for Key Lime Pie using key lime juice, lime zest, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk in a graham cracker crust. This confection topped with sweet whipped cream for a perfect combination of sweetness and tartness. Meanwhile, lemons are the star of this recipe for Grandma’s Lemon Meringue Pie by Allrecipes. A delicious lemon filling is baked in a pie crust and topped with a golden meringue to make a sweet yet tart treat.
4. Food Recipes
The citrusy tang of lemons or limes isn’t just good in desserts. Lemon can liven up the flavor of soups, salad dressings, and roasted vegetables. The Best Thai Coconut Soup by Allrecipes uses a splash of lime juice to enhance the flavors of curry, coconut milk, shrimp, and vegetables. Either lime or lemon juice can pack a flavorful punch when added to crisp green salads, or to creamy tuna or chicken salad sandwiches. Epicurious has a recipe for a Simple Lemon Vinaigrette using lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and Dijon mustard. Meanwhile, this recipe for Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing makes for a refreshing taste of the southwest.
3. Beverage Recipes
Nothing beats a tall, sweet, icy glass of lemonade on a sweltering summer day. Limeade is a less utilized but still refreshing summertime treat. Allrecipes has a recipe for Honey Limeade that combines honey and sugar with the tart flavor of fresh limes to make an energizing summer beverage. A lemon drop cocktail combines fresh lemon juice with vodka for a refreshing aperitif. Meanwhile, lime and tequila form the foundation of a classic margarita. Citrus beverages can be enjoyed hot as well as cold. Taste of Home’s recipe for a Hot Spiced Lemon Drink packs a citrusy punch that can be perfect for getting a good dose of vitamin C on a cold, wintry day.
2. Household Cleaners
The antibacterial properties of lemons make them useful as household cleaners. Wooden cutting boards can be cleaned with a sprinkle of salt and a good scrub with the fleshy side of half of a lemon. You can give your garbage disposal a healthy cleaning by dropping in leftover pieces of lemons to clean the interior while releasing a fresh, lemony scent. Similarly, limes can be used to clean wooden utensils, shine stainless steel appliances, or clean the inside of your microwave. The Spruce offers this recipe for Clean Everything Lemon-Lime Spray using lemons, limes, distilled white vinegar, and water.Related: 18 Great Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide You Didn’t Know About
1. Skin Treatments
Lemons can also be an invigorating addition to body cleansers, shampoos, and facial treatments. Lemon Lime Adventures has a recipe for an Energizing Sugar Scrub that requires only sugar, olive oil, lemon essential oil, and lemon zest. Lime essential oil is the star in this DIY Coconut Lime Body Wash recipe from An Oil For That. Both lemon and lime juice can aid in fighting acne, lightening dark spots on the skin, and whitening nails.Related: 6 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Lemon Water