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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Lime an important citrus fruit which seems to have originated in the region of Malaysia. While lemons are the major acid citrus fruits in the subtropics, limes are the most prominent in tropical regions. This is true of the lime in its familiar, very acid form (it has one and a half times as much acid, weight for weight, as a lemon); but, as explained below, there are various kinds of lime, including sweet limes.

It is hard to judge when the lime was first taken into cultivation, since the oldest surviving documents do not distinguish it clearly from other citrus fruits. An Indian medical work of c.ad 100 refers to both lemon and lime as jambira. The later Arabic and Persian words, laimūn and līmūn seem also to have been used for both; and most modern names for either come from this root. The lime seems not to have been known in classical times.