Originating in the tropical and subtropical areas of Asia the Citrus aurantifolia is a small spreading tree similar to other citrus bearing plants of the Rutaceae botanical family. Bright, glossy green in color with neon yellow green pulp Limes can either be sour or sweet depending on the soil condition and climate of where they are grown. Limes were introduced to the West Indies via Spanish explorers in 1493, arriving to the shores of America in the 16th century.
Known as to prevent scurvy along with Limes sibling Lemon, the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases document these vitamin rich fruits facilitate the prevention of arthritis.
In herbal folklore Limes are associated with clearing negativity from a space, which might include ones head. For aromatherapy and botanical, natural perfume we have Lime essential oil, steam distilled or expressed from the peel or zest of the fruit. The green to pale yellow, clear essence has a jovial, uplifting quality. Lately I have had a bit of an obsession with Lime in fragrance and flavor. I have a new aromatic item appearing in the E-shop shortly which features this note, stay tuned!
The most valued essence of Lime is the expressed, also termed cold pressed, from the rind of the fruit. Extracts from different varieties and countries exist offering quite a diverse lime palette to the botanical perfumer. In culinary circles lime is used to boost and or bring out the flavors of other ingredients. The same property is also applied to Lime in natural and botanical perfume. Use lime with other citruses to boost and modify the citrus note. Lime also offers nice affects when paired with conifers, coriander, spearmint, rosemary, clary sage and an interesting contrast to an amber base.
For today’s associated DIY project let’s make a Lime Infusion, sometimes called a Phytol. Infusions start with raw plant material, in the case of lime we will use the rind of the fruit where the bulk of the essential oil in contained. Since so many citrus fruits are covered with waxes I suggest obtaining organic fruit to avoid unwanted additives in your phytol and the food chain. Use a zester if you have one, or a grater to remove the skin. Make sure there no water content in the zest. Place the zest into a glass jar. Cover the rind with an oil such as jojoba, sunflower or olive and secure with a tight fitting lid. Place the jar outside in the full sun or next to a sunny window and shake everyday. After one to three weeks, or one full menstrum, strain the oil through cheese clothe to remove the plant matter and wahlah your phytol is now ready to use as a massage oil or a base for other aromatics goodies. If you make this infusion with olive oil it will serve as a delicious addition to salads and/or fresh bread. Store the infusion in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, preferably in a cool dark location.
Lime flavoring in food is used throughout many different cultures including Southwestern dishes of the US, Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand and Persia.