Black limes

It’s what's on the inside that counts.

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Whole Black Lime
Whole Black Lime £4.50

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What is it

A lime that's been blanched in a salty brine, then sun-dried until both the flesh and peel turn nearly black and harden.


At your local Middle Eastern shop, you might find them labeled as Omani limes, loomi aswad, or noomi basra. If dried black limes are unavailable, you can use the lighter-coloured dried limes with a greeny-brown hue. We prefer the darker black limes for their greater pungency and depth of flavour.


If you store them in an airtight container (and avoid humidity) your black limes will last up to a year. However, like any dried fruit, their flavour will diminish over time.

Black limes are limes that have had a bath in a salty brine and sun-dried until the flesh and peel have turned black and hardened. They’re sour, slightly sweet, and have a strong citrus smell and a slightly salty tang.

Black limes are also slightly sinister looking. They’re mysterious, astringent, bitter and smell a bit like a brewery. But they pack a serious punch. So if there’s one ingredient we want you to pull out of the back of your cupboard (or add to it), it’s a bag of black limes.

getting to know black limes

Omani-born, Persian heartthrob. Bitter and bold, they've spiced up dishes in the Persian Gulf for centuries. Unlike other varieties of black limes, Persian limes are dried on the tree to offer a unique taste–probably a serendipitous discovery from a neglected crop in the parched summer sun.

Bedouin women used them to dye yarn, Saudi Arabian people used them in tea, and today they’ve made a resurgence in the cocktail industry.

COOKING WITH black limes

Black limes can be used either in whole or in powdered form. If you’re using them whole, pierce them a few times with a fork before adding them to your pot–it releases the aromatic oils trapped within the lime’s skin.

Soups and stews
Black limes add a sweet-sharp aroma to soups and stews that are both pungent and mysterious. As the cooking liquid sluices through the limes, they add a tang and complex citrus hit to the entire dish. It’s something a squeeze of the fresh stuff could never do.

Black lime powder isn’t easy to find–but that’s probably a good thing. The limes begin to lose their oils as soon as they’re crushed so it’s much better to grind your own. Just cut them in two, remove any seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder (best) or blender (acceptable) until fine. You can use this for rubs, marinades or mixed with demerara sugar for a sweet-sour rim on a cocktail glass.

“Chef, what is your favourite way to use black limes?”

For Chaya, the best thing about black limes is the zing they bring to food. A zing that’s more complex than regular citrus. She mixes powdered black lime with sugar and sprinkles it over jelly for a quick and simple dessert.