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Limes in Mexico

Limes in Mexico

In Mexico the limon is everywhere and served with every meal.

by Terry Sovil

June 16, 2019

Two Lime Types Narrative

Do you know the correct Spanish name(s)? I'm used to lime = green acidic fruit and lemon = yellow acidic fruit. But here, in Mexico, a lime is limon, and a lemon is lima. Outside of Mexico their names may switch around.

Where would be without lime juice? In Mexico, the limon is everywhere, except coffee, and for sale in the smallest stores. Limes are considered a necessity here and they are served at almost every meal.

Types of Limes

Two popular limes are the Mexican Key Lime (West Indian Lime) and the Persian Lime (Bearss Lime or Tahitian Lime). Mexico is a major producer and consumer of citrus fruits. When I think of a "Key Lime" my thoughts go back to the Florida Keys where small limes were grown and the Pier House in Key West made their fantastic KEY LIME PIE (see recipe). Our Key limes are mostly consumed here, in Mexico, but exports are increasing.

Mexican Key Lime
Mexican Key Lime (West Indian Lime) Persian Lime
Persian Lime (Bearss Lime or Tahitian Lime)

Key Lime Tree

The Mexican lime tree is slender and grows to 2.0-4.0 m (6.6-13.1 ft). The flowers mature into fruits singly, in pairs or large clusters. The fruit is generally 25-51 mm (0.98-2.01 in) in diameter. The juice is highly acidic, flavorful with a good smell and many small seeds. Mexican limes do well in moist areas. They have a longer shelf life than other limes. The tree came to Mexico via Europeans who had traveled to the Indo-Malay region, to North Africa with Arabs and the Mediterranean with the Crusaders. They are primarily cultivated in Mexico, India, Egypt and the West Indies.

Production

Mexican limes are mostly grown in the southwest (about 60% of the total) and in the southeast of the country (40%). Key limes amount to about 54% of the total lime production and are grown in the southwestern states of Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. Persian limes (about 42%) are grown in Jalisco, Colima, Hidalgo, in northern Veracruz micro-climates and in the southeastern states of Tlaxcala, Chiapas, Tabasco and the Yucatan. The most important lime producing states are Michoacan and Colima. The United States is the main importer of Mexican limes purchasing more than 655,000 tons in 2017.

A Yellow Dragon plague (Huanglongbing de los Citricos or "HLB") has affected Colima limes since 2010. Tecoman, the world's lime capital, was hard hit by the plague and then in 2016 became a battleground with cartels. But the production of limes began to recover in 2017 with 20,000 hectares of limes planted in Armeria, Tecoman and Coquimatlan. There are also over two million seedling lime trees in Colima alone. Mexico exports the juice and lime oil. Mexico exports its limes to 28 countries!

Tecoman Lime Festival Poster
Tecoman Lime Festival Poster

Global lemon/lime production was about 10.6 million tons in 2010 which was about a 15% increase more than 1996-98 levels. There is an estimate of a 1.1% annual growth rate. Mexico, Spain, and Argentina have been the major exporters of fresh lemons. In 2003 Mexico produced 768,000 tons of Key Limes and 235,000 tons of Persian limes. For the 2010/2011 season the forecast was for 1.9 million tons of limes. The consumption of lime in Mexico is expected to increase over the forecast period to reach 1,590,759 tons by the end of 2020.

Lime Selection, Storage and Handling

In selecting limes look for shiny, soft surfaces that are slightly dimpled. Mexican limes that are heavier yield the most juice. The color of the skin should be brightly pigmented and green. The skin is thinner than that of Persian limes so if it gives to a light squeeze it will be juicy. The best way to juice a lime is to roll it on the countertop while you apply a light pressure. Then you can cut it and juice it. To store lime juice pour it into an ice cube tray and once frozen move it to a freezer safe plastic bag. It will stay fresh for 12-14 weeks!

Medicinal

Limes are used as a digestive aid which explains why they are served with most every meal. The carbohydrates in limes are pectin. It can slow digestion which keeps blood sugar stable. Also helps promote good cholesterol levels.

Citric acid and Vitamin C are factors:

  • Limes help a vitamin C deficiency and promote a healthy heart and the vitamin C improves your immune system.
  • Limes protect against kidney stones, citric acid keeps them from forming.
  • Limes can be used on the skin to externally scrub off dead skin cells and to heal rashes. The Vitamin C promotes production of collagen, a protein that prevents skin wrinkles. It can also help acne due to the astringent and antibacterial properties which exfoliates skin and helps prevent clogged pores.
  • Limes are used to treat gout. Those with la gota should drink the juice of half a lime mixed into a glass of water 2 times a day. Lime combats the inflammation as the citric acid breaks down uric acid. Uric acid is the cause of gout pain.

Lime juice is recommended to repel insects and to relieve the sting and itch of a bite. Lime peel oil can be extracted and is used in body oils, cosmetics and a wide range of toiletry items.

Pier House Key Lime Pie Receipe

Use This:

Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter

Pie Filling:
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup Key Lime juice (about 5 medium limes)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind

Meringue Topping:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of sugar

Do This:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • To make the CRUST, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter, mixing with your fingers until well blended and crumbly. Press into 9-inch pie pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool.
  • Readjust oven to 350 degrees.
  • To make the FILLING, beat yolks until light and fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and rind. Pour into cooled graham cracker crust and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
  • Readjust oven to 425 degrees.
  • You can make a meringue topping or just skip to baking and use whipped cream.
  • To prepare the MERINGUE TOPPING, whip egg whites until frothy. Gradually add sugar and cream of tartar, beating constantly until stiff peaks form.
  • To prepare the MERINGUE TOPPING, whip egg whites until frothy. Gradually add sugar and cream of tartar, beating constantly until stiff peaks form.
  • Spread meringue over pie, being sure to cover all the way to the edge, since there will be some shrinkage when it bakes.
  • Bake for five to six minutes, or until meringue is nicely browned. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Serve chilled. Yield: 1 nine-inch pie.

Pier House Key Lime Pie
Pier House Key Lime Pie
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Phone in the USA direct to the shop in MX: 909-266-0271
Phone Internationally to MX: 011-52-314-334-6394
Phone from MX: 314-334-6394
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