I feel I owe our lime plant a sincere apology. I have disparaged its character in the past, maligned its sexual activities and overall just didn’t have much faith in it after its first crop yielded a bizarre type of nearly inedible fruit. If you are a long-time blog regular, you would know I have a thing for limes. If I could single-handedly bring back the dayap to the culinary forefront, along with say the kalamansi (that is rapidly being referred to as the new yuzu in chi-chi western chef outposts, go figure that, we knew that for centuries) then I would be a happy camper. Every time I see dayap in markets, I buy way too much of it, hoping to encourage growers and sellers to keep it stocked. I like the limes so much that on a trip to Vietnam 4 years ago, I brought back a kilo or more of limes, just to get the seeds and try my hand at planting them. I have also tried to plant them from seeds of local fruit, and have purchased numerous “authentic” dayap plants that struggle in pots and various parts of our small yard at home.
Two years after planting those Vietnamese seeds, our 3-4 feet tall plant bore flowers, and then fruit. We were ecstatic. Only to have the fruit get weird pointy shapes, and ultimately, yield a really fibrous, dry fruit, see post here. I was greatly disappointed. A second crop a year later yielded equally dry fruit, and I figured it was a lemon of a lime tree. If you get my drift. I kind of gave up on it, telling friends and passersby it was just another victim of citrus rape, probably taken advantage of by a neighboring lemon tree or a kalamansi bush. It’s offspring not a nice mestizo mix, but more of a horrible runt. I think I hurt its feelings. And nothing short of a horticultural miracle has occurred…
…for in it’s third year of fruiting, the now 8 foot tall bush/tree is chock full of perfectly shaped fruit, say a good 60 limes on the small tree this year. And best of all, last week, I cut into one expecting the worst, and lo and behold, just utterly perfect home grown limes. Juicy, light green fragrant as can be and perfect in every dish we have used them on. I was stunned. How could a plant that bore such weird fruit just a year or two ago suddenly give birth to perfect limes?! A little googling suggests that the first fruit of lime trees are often dry and immature. So I am hoping that this, it’s third year, is where the lime tree’s real nature comes to life. Yahoo! Lime redemption. :)
We have seven such plants, but only one has borne fruit so far. I hope the others get with the program soon. I can use every lime we grow. To celebrate this miraculous transformation, I decided to pick some 20 or so limes to bring back to Manila. I also photographed them in this 100+ year old wooden antique bowl, a gift from a friend in Bohol.
So to the lime tree, my sincerest apologies. Know that each of your fruits shall be cherished and used in a variety dishes that would make you proud. :)