Both sweet and tart, the flavor and scent of limes will liven up anything from food to cleansers. I absolutely love limes and use them often when cooking, even more so than lemons. Black beans used to be at the top of my list of least favorite foods but when drenched in lime juice, they’re actually enjoyable every once in a while. Many of my chicken, fish and shrimp dishes end up with lime too. But don’t waste your limes using only their juice. Here are three things you can do with the lime’s zest…
1. Make Coconut-Lime Soap
This is so easy. Spray soap molds with vegetable oil. Molds can be bought at a craft store or found in your recycling bin. Anything plastic will do – yogurt cup, butter tub, whatever works. Melt 1 cup of glycerin in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds to prevent boiling. Once melted, skim the foam off the top and then…you put the lime in the coconut, drink them both up…Not really but that is how I came up with the idea during my soap-making rampage over Christmas. I pulled a bottle of coconut extract from the cabinet and thought what goes with this? Next thing I know, I’m bobbing my head…put the lime in the coconut, then you feel better. Back to the soap…mix in 1 teaspoon of lime zest and 4-5 drops of coconut essential oil into the melted glycerin; add a few extra drops if you’re using coconut extract. Pour into the molds, and spray the top with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol isn’t mandatory, but it will prevent bubbles from forming on the top.
2. Make Lime-Ricotta Pancakes
The lime zest injects an unexpected zip, and the ricotta adds richness to this sometimes boring breakfast standard. This is the original recipe from Epicurious | March 2009:
3 cups pancake batter (such as Aunt Jemima frozen batter, thawed, or scratch batter)
Zest of 2 lemons, 2 limes, or 1 orange
2/3 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
Peanut oil for the griddle
Butter for the griddle and for serving
Warm Grade B maple syrup for serving
Stir the pancake batter and citrus zest together in a bowl. Ever so gently fold in the ricotta cheese, taking care not to destroy its texture. Prepare the griddle. Drop the pancake batter on the griddle according to the instructions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on almost the entire surface of the pancakes. Turn and very gently tap the pancakes with a metal spatula to make them uniform in thickness. Cook until the second side is golden, about 2 minutes, and serve A-side up.
I made my batter from scratch but halved the recipe because it was just John and me. A bonus to this is that I only had to use the egg white as opposed to the whole egg. I also didn’t have fresh whole-milk ricotta or peanut oil, so I substituted half-skim Sargento ricotta and whipped butter. The pancakes were devine and made that much better by their healthful twist. Pancakes are typically a low-protein, high-carb breakfast, but the ricotta pumps up the protein by 20 grams. Top them with pure maple syrup and the pancakes feel like more of an indulgence than they actually are.
3. Use the zest as an air freshener
Place the zest in a small dish or add it to a simmering spice pot. To be honest, I don’t do either. But anytime there’s a funky smell lingering in the kitchen, I crush a lime in the garbage disposal…works like a sweet-smelling charm!
And just because you know I love odd historical tidbits about food, here’s one I found about limes on whfoods.com:
Limes made their way to the New World with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, and were subsequently planted in many Caribbean countries whose hot, humid climates supported the cultivation of this fruit. Centuries later, British explorers and traders, who were readily using the vitamin C-rich limes that grew in their West Indies colonies to prevent scurvy, earned the nickname “limey,” a word that is often still used colloquially for persons of British descent.