For some bizarre reason, finding western or local limes (Mexican or citrus aurantifolia and Persian or citrus latifolia) on a regular basis in Manila is like finding a needle in a haystack. Read more about the two kinds of limes in a post I wrote in 2005, here. Our dayaps, and the biasong from the south, and their relatives kaffir limes (citrus hystrix) from Thailand and Vietnam, all seem to be a scarce commodity these days. But worse, increasingly I am noticing local market vendors selling “green lemons” as “dayaps” which they are MOST DEFINITELY NOT. At best, it is misleading to label a green lemon as a dayap, as it has significantly different levels of acidity, a different fragrance and noticeably different taste. At worst, the vendors are simply lying. I know, they won’t end up in jail for saying a green lemon is a dayap, but you get the point. I kind of lost it yesterday morning when I saw a vendor selling a plant or small tree labelled “dayap” complete with two large fruit hanging from a branch, to a totally unsuspecting customer for some outrageously high price, and when I went over to look at the plant, and suggested it wasn’t a dayap at all, the vendor just shrugged his shoulders and said he thought it was a dayap… oops. Can you see the two large hands reflexively forming into the squeeze-your-neck position? :) So buyers beware, a dayap is not a green lemon and vice-versa.
Because of the erratic supply situation, I have been wondering if you can freeze limes or dayaps or biasongs, so that I could have a more regular supply of the fruit. Whenever I find some in the markets, I tend to buy everything they have on offer, and it’s literally dayap feast or famine, and several months of the year I can’t find any at all. So a little googling came up inconclusive on the freesing issue, with some saying you can freeze limes while others said not. I figured it was worth an experiment. I froze two whole dayaps and four wedges of already sliced dayaps. After a week, I defrosted the fruit and used them on some fish for dinner last night. The limes expand as the juice freezes and takes up more space within the confines of the peel. The wedges likewise expand. When you defrost them, the juice appears less fresh, but it still retains the nice lime flavor, perhaps degraded a bit, but not bad at all. So yes, you can freeze limes. I wouldn’t use the defrosted limes in anything that a guest would have to squeeze himself, but if you are using the juice for a salad dressing, to add zing to a soup, or for a dipping sauce, I would definitely use frozen limes than have nothing at all (or green lemons for that matter)… And if you are wondering why I am being nearly nazi-like about the limes, their flavor is so unique that I believe they make the difference between a good and a great Indonesian, Vietnamese, Cambodian or Thai dish that calls for limes. To ensure a better supply, I once brought (in my suitcase) dozens of makrut and other limes from Vietnam, saved their seeds and planted them in pots in Cebu. Now we have eight lime plants, three feet tall after 18 months, which I am hoping will bear fruit in the years to come… :)