What Is a Black Lime and How Do You Make It?

Updated: Feb. 06, 2023

Tangy, intense and versatile, black limes are a secret ingredient to Middle Eastern cuisine that is making a splash right now.

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With the rise of Middle Eastern cuisine, black limes are now one of the trendiest ingredients. Sour, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter, with a beautiful citrus aroma, black limes can be used whole in soups or in powder form as a rub for meat and chicken dishes.

What Is a Black Lime?

A black lime is a lime that has been blanched in a salty brine and then dried until its flesh and peel have darkened and hardened, according to Food + Wine. This process concentrates the citrus fruit’s flavors and aromas, adding an intensely sour and salty flavor to dishes. They are most often used in Middle Eastern or North African cooking where it is an essential seasoning added to traditional tagines, stews, chicken and other dishes.

How Do You Use Black Limes?

A little goes a long way because black lime powder is quite potent. Use the powder the same way you would use sumac or za’atar. Add it to Moroccan Chicken Thighs, Chicken Tagine or Pear and Pomegranate Tagine. You can even use it to make a black lime salt rim on a margarita!

How Do You Make Homemade Black Limes?

Dried black lime backgroundliorpt/Getty Images

Making black limes is very straightforward. You just need a handful of limes, salt, water ice, a bowl and a pot. You can also find black limes at numerous spice retailers, including Amazon and Walmart.

Ingredients

  • Limes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water and ice for an ice bath

Directions

Step 1: Blanch the limes

Get a bowl of ice water ready that can hold all the limes. Put the limes in a separate pot, cover with water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil on high heat and let the limes sit for 1-2 minutes.

Step 2: Drop the limes in an ice bath

Remove the limes from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice bath immediately to stop the cooking process. Once the limes are cooled, rub them with a towel to make sure any wax or residue is removed.

Step 3: Dry out the limes

If you live in a warm, sunny climate, you can leave them outdoors in the sun for several days. Or, you can slowly dry them in the oven at a low temperature (about 150-175 degrees F) over the course of two to three days. Just turn the oven off when you leave the house or go to bed. When they’re fully dry, put them in a sealed container and store them in a dark cupboard, where you can store them whole for months.

Step 4: Grind them into powder

Place a dried lime on a cutting board and smash it with a heavy skillet. Remove any seeds from the broken pieces, then put broken pieces in a spice grinder or food processor and grind until fine. The black lime powder can be stored in a sealed container for months.

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