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|Mud Creek Ranch|
Castelo limes are round or somewhat elliptical, with a short neck on one end. They are quite small, measuring only around one and a half inches in diameter. The rind is green before it is ripe, and pale yellow after ripening. Inside, the pulp is yellowish-green with few or no seeds, and is hard to separate into segments. The taste is very acidic, more tart than other limes.
Castelo limes are available from mid-fall throughout the winter months.
The Castelo lime is more popularly known by many other names—key lime, Mexican lime, West Indian lime, and Bartender’s Lime. Its botanical name is Cistrus aurantifoliaa Swingle.
Castelo limes are high in Vitamin C, and low in calories and most other nutrients, including fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
The most famous dish made with Castelo limes is key lime pie, although commercially-produced pies do not usually contain these limes anymore. Besides pie, Castelo limes can be used to make jam, limeade or other tropical drinks, or to flavor fish and meat. Choose fruits that have smooth, shiny skin that is yellowing. Heavier fruits will have more juice as well, and the best specimens will smell fresh and fragrant. Refrigerate limes for up to two weeks to use them while fresh.
Castelo limes are good for more than just key lime pie. People all over the world have found various uses for Castelo limes besides dessert. In the Caribbean, the juice has been used to dye leather, while the powdered dried peel is used to clean metal in India. Medicinally, they are used for all sorts of ailments in Malaysia, including stomach aches, liver problems, fevers, headaches, and coughs.
Castelo limes are native to Indonesia and Malaysia. They were brought to North Africa and Europe by Arabs and Crusaders, then to the Caribbean by Spanish colonizers. They grew well in the Caribbean and Mexico by the 1500s, but it is unknown when they were first brought to Florida in the United States. By 1883 and later, however, they were being grown commercially in Florida especially after a 1906 hurricane destroyed Florida’s pineapple industry. The commercial Castelo lime industry in Florida, in turn, was destroyed by a 1926 hurricane. Today, they are grown commercially mainly in India, Egypt, Mexico, and the Caribbean.