Dried Lime: Uses & Recipes

dried lime
The dried lime spice comes from dehydrated Persian limes. The sun-dried spice has a sour, tart, and tangy citrus flavor with hints of earthiness, smokiness, bitterness, and fermentation. You can use dried limes in chai Noomi, Baharat spice mix, or Bahraini chicken machboos.

What is dried lime?

Dried limes
Dried limes

Dried lime is fresh lime preserved in a specific way. People boil it in salt water before drying it in the sun on a mat of banana leaves for several weeks until rock hard. Then, they turn it into a brown or black golf-sized ball with black insides.

These zesty flavor bombs are also called black limes, Persian black limes, limoo amani in Iran, loomi or limu omani in Oman, noomi basra in Iraq, or black lemons.

Dried limes are primarily made from fresh Persian limes, but sometimes lemons are used. If you use limes from other regions, they won’t have the unique flavor as Persian dried limes, which are sweeter than most other limes.

OriginOriginates from Oman along the Persian Gulf
AppearanceA rough, leathery outer with a brown or black color and black insides
Flavor profileA musky, tart, tangy, sour, and citrusy flavor with bitter, earthy, smoky, and fermentation notes

Origin

Dried lime originates from Oman along the Persian Gulf. Blanching and drying lime started as a food preservation tactic rather than an attempt at creating a unique flavor.

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People only discovered the culinary magic of the limes later, which explains why the spice is rare and non-mainstream in North America. The Slow Food Foundation, which preserves rare food items and creates awareness around them, even lists dried lime on its Ark of Taste.

The use of black lime is on the rise as bartenders now use it as a garnish in cocktails. Famous chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi, Ixta Belfrage, Tara Wigley, and Noor Murad make the spice popular through their Ottolenghi Flavor and Ottolenghi Test Kitchen cookbooks.

Dried limes are a staple in northern Indian, Middle Eastern, and Persian cuisines. It is a common spice in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, and Iran. The spice adds a complex sour lime flavor to soups, rice dishes, stews, meats, and spice blends like Baharat.

Appearance

Dried Persian limes have a rough, leathery outer with a brown or black color and black insides. They resemble golf balls in size or Mexican key limes. The brown ones have been dried and oxidized briefly, while the black ones are dried and oxidized longer.

Flavor profile

Dried limes have a complex flavor profile. They have a musky, tart, tangy, sour, and citrusy flavor with bitter, earthy, smoky, and fermentation notes. Darker dried limes are smokier and more bitter.

These little lime flavor bombs add a sour taste to Persian and Middle Eastern dishes. In the culinary world, Persians are noted for their unmatched love for sourness, which they achieve in recipes using sour food items like pomegranate molasses, black dried limes, sumac, fresh limes, and preserved lemons.

Nutritional Benefits of dried lime

Dried limes contain fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamins B2, B6, C, and D. The vitamin C in the dried fruit can help your body absorb iron from other plant-based foods. Vitamin C also promotes a robust immune system.

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Vitamin D and calcium help strengthen your muscles, bones, and teeth. Potassium helps the body eliminate the compounds and sediments in the bladder and kidneys.

The citric acid in dehydrated limes may help reduce the chances of the formation of kidney stones. The acid can bind the stone-forming minerals like calcium in urine to prevent them from forming stones.

Black limes could also help with digestion issues. They are good for managing diarrhea, lack of appetite, constipation, and cleansing the digestive system naturally. Their ability to enhance digestion is one of the main reasons for making dried lime tea.

What is the difference between dried limes and fresh limes?

Dried black limes are fresh limes blanched and dried to remove moisture content to make them last longer.

Fresh limes are rich in potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin A. These are available in dried limes in lower quantities, as some are lost during the drying process.

You can use dry limes, whole or sliced. To use them whole, pierce a few holes in them with a knife, then drop them into a cooking soup or stew to allow them to release their rehydrated juice. Dry limes are also crushed into a coarse-textured powder or ground into a fine powder. You can also grate them on a Microplane.

On the other hand, you can use fresh limes in dishes if you squeeze out their juice or Microplane their peels.

How to use dried lime?

There are several ways you can use dried lime, either in powder form or whole. For example:

  • To add more flavor to seafood
  • Enhance the flavors of teas, especially black tea
  • Make dried lime sherbet
  • To garnish meats, salads, and pasta
  • Make marinades for poultry
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What are some dried lime recipes?

You can use dried limes in exciting recipes such as:

How do you make dried limes?

Sun-dried Persian limes are easy to make at home. If you can’t find Persian, try any other limes you find. Here’s what to do:

  • Bring salt water to a rolling boil in a pot.
  • Wash the limes to remove dirt on the skin.
  • Blanch the limes in the boiling water for 60-90 seconds (not more).
  • Take the limes out and dip them in an ice bath for several minutes to stop the cooking process.
  • Take out the cooled limes and use a clean kitchen towel to remove the excess water and any remaining waxy coating if you bought them from a store.
  • Place the limes on a drying screen, or banana leaves carpet and dry them in the sun for weeks. Wait until they are rock-hard, lighter, feel hollow, and have no moisture in the flesh when you cut them. Let the peels turn brown or black, depending on your preference.

Alternatively, cut the limes into 1/4-inch slices and dry them in a food dehydrator at 125F for 18-36 hours or in the oven at 170F or the lowest temperature for 3-5 hours. Dry them until the peels turn brown or black.

How to store dried limes?

Condition and store your dried limes in airtight containers like mason jars for up to 18 months in a cool, dry, dark place.

Alex Maina

Since discovering how well spices transform a dish from bland to enjoyable in seconds, Alex became sold on using spices to better three of his major passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. When he is not tending to his spice crops, you'll find him trying a new recipe, writing for the Spice Gourmand, or serving a second helping of his spicy food!

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