Black lime is also known Dried Lime or Black Lemon, is a lime that have lost their water content, usually after having spent a majority of their drying time in the sun. They are used, whole, sliced or ground, as a spice in many international dishes.

Black limes are small, and are just as the name suggests: black. Fresh limes are boiled in salt water, or brine, and then set out to dry in the sun. This process produces a lime with a hard, leathery outer shell that typically ranges from tan to black, with a near black inner pulp; the darker the lime, the more pungent the flavor. The dried citrus has faint lines that run along the dehydrated sections of the fruit. Black limes are unique, offering a tart citrus flavor with a rich fermented aroma. Black limes have an aroma similar to curry powder.

The dried limes usually measure between 2.5 and 4 cm. Their outer skin is marked by dark-colored vertical stripes, and the fruit inside turns from green into a mushy texture that is shiny and black. The best flavor is often found in brown or tan dried limes, while the black ones have a more intense flavor. Proper storage requires protecting the limes from humidity to prevent the development of mold. Black limes should be discarded if mold develops, but with proper storage they have been known to last for two years in a pantry.

Black limes are usually used in legume, seafood or meat dishes. They are pierced, peeled or crushed before adding them to the dish. After cooking they become softer and edible.

The taste is surprisingly sweeter than expected. They’re strong enough to be the only tart component in many recipes. The highly aromatic, somewhat fermented flavor notes in black limes complement chicken and fish particularly well. Surprisingly, one or two pierced black limes in a stew give it a welcome degree of piquancy.

When adding whole black limes to a dish or putting one in the cavity of poultry before cooking, make a few holes with a skewer or the tines of a fork to allow the cooking juices to infuse with the tasty inside.

Black limes may also be pulverized and mixed with pepper to sprinkle on chicken and fish before grilling, as a substitute for lemon and pepper spice blends.

Before cooking, dried limes are to be simply washed well, pierced a couple of times with a sharp knife or a fork, and drop three of four of them into the pot. As the cooking liquid sluices through the limes, they add an evocative tang and a subtle complexity to the entire dish.

Dried limes match well with lamb but also with chicken stew and fish dishes. Dried lime is also used in a powdered form. Like the whole version, powdered dried lime is traditionally used in soups and stews. But it is also great when sparingly rubbed on a well-marbled steak or to flavor broiled shrimps./AgroWeb.org