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Main Squeeze: Lemons and Limes

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"What color is a lime?" sounds like a dumb guy question, except that a ripe lime is yellow. Tahiti limes--the most common in markets--are sold unripe, because green ones taste better. Partly yellow limes are juicier, but very yellow limes take on a flowery taste.

Key limes, on the other hand, taste better when they start turning yellow, as do slightly larger Mexican limes. They're more acidic and tart, a welcome flavor not just in Key lime pie, but cocktails as well.

My theory: Caribbean rum and Mexican tequila drinks taste better with Key and Mexican limes, while American and European cocktails blend well with Tahiti limes, better known as Persians.

I was squeezing citrus with a yellow AMCO squeezer, but enamel began chipping off, then the pivot snapped after a particularly tough lemon. To replace it, I bought an OXO squeezer, because OXO often has the best-designed kitchen utensils.

The OXO is a failure. Deep ridges allow the juice to squirt everywhere, including my face. The nipple in the middle blocks complete compression, leaving juice in the lemons and limes, and prevents Key limes from fitting into the squeezer at all. I bought a new AMCO for comparison purposes, and tossed the OXO.

As far as growing lemons and limes in Houston, the only tree that thrives is a Meyer lemon. They grow well with year-round southern sun exposure, as ornamentals in 15-gallon pots, or indoors. I've considered planting one, if I could figure out a use for Meyer lemons, which are a cross between a lemon and an orange.

My buddy told me only Alice Waters and Martha Stewart can do things with Meyer lemons, so I issued a cocktail challenge. I made a whiskey sour (nasty), and he made a rum sour (too sweet). We cut back on the simple syrup, and it worked. I said, "Meyer Rum Sour." He said, "Sounds like Myer's Rum, call it what we want." I objected when he said "Mario," after his relative, but then he asked, "Have you ever met a Mario you didn't like?"

Mario

  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1 ounce Meyer lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • ½ ounce simple syrup (3/4 ounce if you like it sweeter)

Blender it with a cup of ice. (I think I'll plant that tree.)

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