What to do when life doesn’t hand you limes


The U.S. relies on Mexico to supply 95% of its limes, but severe weather late last year knocked blossoms off lime trees and reduced the current crop by two-thirds. As a result, lime prices have soared by 200%. One damaged harvest isn’t enough to cause more then a temporary spike in prices, but a strain of bacteria that is slowly creeping across Mexico poses serious concerns about the future of limes, according to the New York Times.

Many foods and drinks rely on limes for their distinctive flavor (Key lime pie and margaritas, for example). Some people recommend a blanket substitution of lemons for limes, but would you notice a difference? The folks at Slate  were determined to find out and conducted a taste test to see if people could distinguish between lemons and limes with no visual clues. The results confirm that you probably can’t indiscriminately substitute lemons for limes. However, there are items you can make with lemons that still provide the pucker factor that many people enjoy. Food and Wine offers five lemon cocktails to make when life takes your limes, and the EYB online library tops that with 803 additional cocktails featuring lemons but not limes.

Key lime pie may be out of the question, but lemon pies can take up the slack. Lemon chess pie is one option, as is lemon shaker pie, and of course, lemon meringue pie. Let’s not forget sweet Meyer lemon tarts and silky lemon cream tarts.

A generous dose of lime in guacamole might seem like a necessity, but we found several guacamole recipes that use lemon instead of lime. Most folks appreciate a squeeze of lime in their tacos or fajitas, but there are plenty of meat-centric Mexican dishes that feature lemons as well.

How are you coping with the lime shortage? Have readers outside the U.S. noticed any change in prices?


Post a comment


  • Rinshin  on  April 16, 2014

    I hope this bacteria does not reach the US. We have lime, Meyer lemon, yuzu, sudachi, tangerine, and blood orange. Meyer lemon fruits all year round and bearess lime fruits 2-3 times are year in my yard.

  • Delys77  on  April 16, 2014

    Now I know I'm not alone, I had to go to three stores yesterday to find limes and when I did they were 1.79 per lb. I wonder how long the shortage will last.

  • sir_ken_g  on  April 17, 2014

    SE Asian food is heavy on limes. Lemon is no substitute.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!