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What Are the Difference Between Key Lime and Lime?

Last Updated on April 9, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Limes and key limes are popular citrus fruits used in many different dishes and drinks. Although they may look similar, the two have some key differences. 

If you’re curious about the difference between key lime and limes, keep reading.

Difference Between Key Lime and Lime

  • Size – Key limes are smaller than limes and have a diameter of around 1-2 inches, while limes are larger and have a diameter of around 2-3 inches.
  • Color – Key limes are yellow when ripe, while limes are green when ripe.
  • Flavor – Key limes have a unique, tart flavor that is slightly sweeter than limes. They also have a more floral aroma.
  • Acidity – Key limes have a higher acidity level than limes, giving them a tart flavor.

What Are Key Limes?

Key limes are a type of citrus fruit that is native to the Florida Keys. They are also known as Mexican limes or West Indian limes. 

They are smaller and more acidic than regular limes and have a unique, tart flavor that is essential to many dishes and drinks, including Key lime pie and margaritas.

What Are Limes?

Limes are a citrus fruit that is grown all over the world, including in Mexico, India, and Brazil. They are larger and less acidic than key limes and have a slightly bitter, tart flavor. 

They are commonly used in cooking and for making drinks, such as mojitos and margaritas.

What Are Key Limes Best For?

Key limes are best for making desserts, such as Key lime pie, as well as for making cocktails and other drinks. They can also be used in savory dishes like ceviche or marinades.

What Other Types of Limes Are There?

ripe lime still on its tree

There are many different types of limes, including:

  • Persian limes – these are the most common type of lime and are usually found in grocery stores.
  • Kaffir limes – these limes are commonly used in Thai cuisine.
  • Finger limes – these limes have a caviar-like pulp and are often used in gourmet cuisine.

Do Persian Limes Taste Like Key Limes?

No, Persian limes do not taste like key limes. They are less acidic and have a slightly sweeter, less tart flavor.

Can You Substitute Persian Limes for Key Limes?

Yes, you can substitute Persian limes for key limes in most recipes, but the flavor will not be exactly the same. Persian limes are less tart and slightly sweeter than key limes.

Why Are Key Limes So Expensive?

Key limes are more expensive than regular limes because they are grown in a limited area and are more difficult to harvest [1]. They are also smaller and more delicate than regular limes, which makes them harder to transport and handle.

Do Key Limes Only Grow in Florida?

No, key limes are also grown in Mexico, Central America, and other parts of the Caribbean.

How Do I Make Lime Taste Like Key Lime?

To make lime taste like key lime, you can add a small amount of sugar or honey to the lime juice. This will help to balance the acidity and give it a slightly sweeter flavor. You can also add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor.

Conclusion

Although key limes and limes may look similar, they have some key differences in terms of size, color, flavor, and acidity. Key limes are smaller, more acidic, and have a unique, tart flavor that is essential to many dishes and drinks. Limes, on the other hand, are larger, less acidic, and have a slightly bitter, tart flavor. While key limes are best for making desserts and cocktails, limes are commonly used in cooking and for making drinks like mojitos and margaritas. If you’re looking to substitute one for the other, keep in mind that the flavor will not be exactly the same. However, adding a little sugar or honey to lime juice can help to mimic the sweeter taste of key limes. No matter which type of lime you choose, they are both versatile and delicious citrus fruits that can add flavor and acidity to a wide range of dishes and drinks.

Reference:

  1. https://vinepair.com/articles/lime-prices-sour-bar-owners-bitter/#:~:text=The%20surging%20lime%20prices%20stem,de%20la%20Torre%2C%20and%20Chavarrillo.
Lauren Beck

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