Thursday, June 14, 2012

FRUITS OF BRAZIL - Other Limes

During the past few days, Flavors of Brazil has been posting articles about those members of the large lemon/lime branch of the citrus fruit family that are present in Brazilian cooking and that can be found in Brazilian food stores.

To wrap up this line-up of limes (for in Portuguese, these are all limes - limão) here are a couple of less common members of the family. Although these fruits can generally be found in produce stores and sometimes in farmers markets, at least here in Fortaleza, Flavor of Brazil's home, they are considered exotic in Brazil, are generally more expensive and there are fewer recipes in Brazilian cookbooks that call for them. But their flavor, acidity and aroma characteristics makes them useful and can add a familiar-but-unkown note to dishes in which they're used. They're worth getting to know, whether you spot them in Brazil, or in some Asian or Latin American market elsewhere in the world.
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Rangpur or Mandarin Lime (limão cravo in Portuguese) - This sharply acidic hybrid cross between limes and mandarins was the subject of a post in this blog back in May of 2011. Click here to read about it.

Palestine Sweet Lime (lima-da-pérsia in Portuguese) - Looking a bit like an oversized, yellow lime, the Palestine sweet lime is the Clark Kent of the lime family - the mild-mannered, self-effacing lime that lacks the punch of most of its cousin limes. The primary difference between this fruit (Citrus × limettioides) and the other limes is its very low acidity, which can be as low as 0.1% citric acid. It can be found in specialty produce stores in Brazil and grows very well in most areas of the country. In other areas of the world, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, it's used to make a refreshing fruit drink, one that doesn't need a lot of added sugar to counteract the acidity. Even though it has less citric acid than most limes, it still has high levels of vitamin C. Because other limes are so assertive, the Palestine sweet lime is sometimes accused of being bland or insipid. It's really not so, it's just that in all sorts of ways it's more subtle than garden variety limes or lemons. It can be used to make a low-acid caipirinha for those who are bothered by high-acid drinks. It's thin skin can also be candied or preserved to make a delightful sweet.

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