Hanging on to summer – preserving limes

Despite the fact that Israel is known for it’s citrus fruits, lime season only lasts about 2 weeks.  I love my limes.  In food and I certainly love a little lime in my cocktails (gin & tonics just aren’t the same without them).  Having ingested a significant number of margarita’s last night and discovering lime prices were at an all time low at the market I went a little nuts and bought too much of a good thing (yes my friends it seems that is possible).  Fearing these precious citrus’ would rot before I had the chance to indulge in their yumminess I scoured the internet for the best way to preserve these scarce treasures.

After some online research the internet told me I wouldn’t like the freezing limes whole method.  While supposedly it works, and it’s obviously easy (place limes in bag, throw in freezer, defrost and use)  the idea of defrosting limes and having them come out mushy made me a little queasy (also, this method only works for the juice and not the zest).  I decided to go for the zesting/juicing/freezing method.

First thing I discovered is that my Ikea cheese grater will not survive another lime season and now know I need a zester for future projects, but had to make due for the time being.  Also, let me tell you, grating a couple of dozen limes is hard work. I snuck in an episode of Top Chef Masters and definitely took my time – but having “fresh” lime zest for the next few months makes it worth it in my mind.  Make sure to keep the limes whole for zesting and avoid zesting the whites part of the limes (bitter!).

After the hard work was done, I spread my lime zest on some parchment (baking) paper and put in the freezer for 3 weeks to dry out. Once dry, store in a cool dry place and voila, lime zest.  I’ve been told this should keep for about 6 months and with time it’s color will fade – but not its taste.

And now for the even harder part – juicing the times.  Ok, ok, it’s not really that much hard work if you have a juicer, a citrus squeezer, stronger thumbs than I have or a lovely spouse.  I started with the thumb method and squeezed the halved limes into a large pitcher (to make sure pouring later on wouldn’t be a problem).  This worked great at first and then my thumbs gave up on me.  Luckily my husband came home and took on the hard labour.

Once juiced, pour into an ice tray and freeze.  I like the ice tray method because you can just pop one out and use it, without having to defrost too much and waste the precious lime juice.  After the juice freezes I store them in Ziploc bags.  Try and defrost these at room temperature so as to preserve the yummy lime flavor – or throw one directly into that Gin & Tonic and enjoy, I know I will!

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