Limes have been in the news a lot recently, not because of the flavor or their popularity, especially in the summer months, but because of their price.
I have been hearing about “lime apocalypse” for sometime now, with price reaching as high as 90 cents each. Triple the cost from the usual 30 cents, the new green gold have been profitable for some and a concern for others. Recently, I have been told that the price is stabilizing and consumers are rejoicing and limes have returned to be in high demand.
This made me realize that many people who love the refreshing juice of limes often discard the zest. The zest the outer skin of the lime and is highly concentrated in flavor and when used with the juice, can minimize the amount of limes needed or can boost the intensity of flavor.
There are other citrus here in Japan, such as yuzu and sudachi, which are very seasonal and can be very pricy as well. There is also the standard lemon, which has come down in price in the last decade by nearly half, to less than one US dollar. Another alternative is the lime leaf. Although slightly different in flavor, I often use them in marinades and custards to give a softer, more subtle flavor. In addition, they can be kept in your freezer for months, until needed.
Here in Japan the price of limes hasn’t fluctuated much in the past months, nor has the price changed much in the last ten years. The average price for limes are $2.00 each. Japanese people don’t consider this to be expensive, since they have never been less than this amount, so it becomes the standard price. This being the norm, being resourceful becomes even more important.
So when you grab your limes this summer, don’t forget that half the flavor is on the outside.