Ingredient Spotlight: Black Lime

Jan 28, 2020

A foodservice operator must always be on top of how to keep things innovative, fresh, and on-trend at their restaurant. A way to do this is to experiment with different ingredients to develop novel flavors and, in turn, memorable dishes that keep guests coming back for more. In the Synergy Test Kitchen, our chefs often incorporate new foods, spices and techniques for our clients and today we want to introduce you to an extraordinary item.

You’ve probably heard of black garlic – aged garlic with an earthy taste and sticky texture. You’re probably familiar with black rice, which has a mild and nutty flavor and believed to have many nutritional benefits. Have you’ve heard of black limes (also known as loomi)? Yes, there is such a thing! This lime isn’t naturally black; however—its black color comes after the lime is dried out in the sun (after it’s first boiled in saltwater). Now, this isn’t a new food. Black limes are often used in Middle Eastern cooking which is from where the black citrus fruit hails.

Credit: Theinfo CC BY 3.0

The big question: What’s it taste? The flavor is strong—citrusy, tangy, sweet, and tart. The second big question: How do you cook with it? In Persian cuisine, often black limes are used to add a sour flavor to stews and soups. You will also see black lime used to season fish and rice dishes. Used, whole or ground, the black lime can be a very versatile ingredient. Mixologists find creative ways to integrate into their cocktail menus like Lee Zaremba’s Devereaux Daiquiri, which features aged white rum, aguardiente, kiwi syrup, lime juice and shaved black lime garnish.

We love how creative some chefs are in their use of black limes. Grant Achatz infuses them in his Korean-style sauce used at his three-Michelin-star restaurant, Alinea. Jessica Koslow from Sqirl in Los Angeles adds dried limes to her chicken porridge.

So go ahead and try cooking with black limes! You can find them at Middle Eastern grocery stores, and apparently, it’s quite simple to make on your own, too.