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How Are Black Limes Used?

Slofoodgroup Team March 18, 2023

Cooking with Black Limes

What do black limes do for food

Dried limes, much like their fresh counterpart, contribute a bright, citrusy tone to dishes they are used in. So why not just use fresh, green limes in your dish? That’s a great question! 

Black limes are not superior to fresh limes, nor are they exactly the same in flavor properties; they are simply different. They add a level of complexity to the dishes they are used in. Because they are scalded in a salty brine prior to being sun-dried, they contain an element of saltiness and even a bit of smokiness. They are also known for being deeply tart, with more concentrated citrusy tones.

We love the way black limes are able to freshen and sour dishes without saturating the consistency with juices. 

What dishes are black limes used in?

Black limes are only recently gaining attention as a flavoring agent across the globe but they have long been an ingredient in many traditional dishes in the Middle East. They are most often used in tea, grated and used as a dry rub for meats and fish, or simmered whole in braises and stews. Here are a few dishes and beverages known for their use of black limes:

  • Ghormeh sabzi
    This traditional Iranian herb, spinach, and kidney bean stew uses black limes to add a bit of tartness to balance the other flavors in the dish. It typically contains lamb or beef, but other meats are sometimes substituted. 
  • Khoresht gheymeh
    Another stew, this Persian dish simmers together split peas, diced meat, herbs, and black limes. It is served over rice and garnished with fried potatoes.
  • Loomi Tea
    Loomi is simply another name for black lime. It is often simmered in water to create a tea, which can be served in its simplicity, or sweetened with honey. Oftentimes, borage, saffron, or other herbs and spices will be added to contribute more flavor 

Can I use black limes whole? 

Black limes are often used whole when used to flavor braises, broths, and stews. In these instances, they are usually pierced with a fork to allow more of the flavor to escape and be incorporated into the dish. Another way to reap the benefits of their unique flavor is to grind them and use them as a rub or stir in to dishes along with other herbs and spices. 

How do I grind black limes?

Black lime powder can be purchased pre-ground but like other flavoring ingredients, it is best to grind your own if you want to really elevate your dish with the volatile oils of the fruit. For grinding black limes, you simply need to remove the seeds and pop them in a spice grinder. It is perfectly acceptable to grind them in a mortar and pestle as well; it just might take you a little bit longer. 

Once you have your dried lime ground into a fine powder, you are probably going to want to start adding it to everything—cocktails, stews, roasted meats, poached fish, and even desserts.