22 Aug2010

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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.

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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… :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Mrs. CGX says:

    There seem to be a abundant “biasong” lime when ever we visit sunday market of Dapitan at Zamboanga Del Norte. Ifs funny that poeple or native from that province just let the citrus fruit rot. I have tried it once and it does taste very different from the green lime that we are more familiar with.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 9:58 am

     
  2. Marketman says:

    Mrs. CGX, yes, Mindanao in general seems to have more limes, but they don’t make it up to Manila regularly. It’s really unfortunate. Limes are so much more aromatic, flavorful and memorable than green lemons…

    Aug 22, 2010 | 10:14 am

     
  3. Gerry says:

    Why not freeze the juice instead of the whole lime? It would take up much less freezer space.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 10:20 am

     
  4. Marketman says:

    Gerry, yes, juice definitely an option, but I was wondering if leaving it in the lime (uncut or partially cut) would improve the flavor or result in less degradation… I sometimes freeze calamansi juice as well.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 10:22 am

     
  5. kitchen says:

    i love real dayap. we have two trees and it bears fruit 5 times a year. i also love kaffir limes i have 1 tree but no fruits yet. is it true that kumquats are similar to calamansi? i havent seen a calamansi that is ripe and orange in color.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 11:00 am

     
  6. millet says:

    “Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai..” ……you forgot about kinilaw, MM. nothing can match kinilaw made with biasong juice, and served with slices of biasong to perfume the dish.for me, it’s the ultimate kinilaw!

    Aug 22, 2010 | 11:42 am

     
  7. kikas_head says:

    When I first moved here, I went to the supermarket. Upon seeing a fruit marked, “green lemon”, I bought it assuming it was just a local reference to a lime. Sadly, I was mistaken. It was indeed, as labeled, a green lemon.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 11:44 am

     
  8. millet says:

    but those are not biasong, right? biasong tend to be a lot smaller, have very little juice, and ovoid in shape and with knobbier rinds.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 11:45 am

     
  9. present tense says:

    I’m not a fruit physiologist but know from experience that fruit and veggies degrade faster once you cut, slice, juice them to bits. You tend to build more surface areas – that are more exposed to the elements like heat and air. Better daw to freeze them whole. There is no loss in nutrient value. But i understand there is also a shelf life to freezing veggies, meat or fish – because of ice crystal build up. But i maybe wrong

    Aug 22, 2010 | 11:55 am

     
  10. Gerry says:

    Degradation of the frozen juice is probably due to the length of time it takes to freeze. Longer freezing times means larger ice crystals and thus poorer juice quality. One way around this problem is to freeze in small containers like an ice cube tray that is only 1/4 full of juice. More surface area exposed means faster freezing.

    Using dry ice will really speed things up. Just crush the dry ice and add it to the juice. I did make ice cream with this method once. It took seconds to make but created quite a mess when the whole mixture overflowed from the mixer bowl. The ice cream was effervescent at first, but a little more mixing took the CO2 out.

    Aug 22, 2010 | 12:37 pm

     
  11. calorie-shmalorie says:

    Those green lemons are passed off as limes, and then when they ripen and lose the green color, are passed off as native lemons. Sulit, di ba?

    I tried to maximize the use of frozen limes by zesting it with a microplane grater before zapping it in the microwave for a quick thaw.. it worked, got my zest, still fragrant, hooray! but the juice turned a tad bitter than what is tolerable, maybe because of the naked rind being in contact with the juice?

    Aug 22, 2010 | 8:57 pm

     
  12. present tense says:

    When freezing, the idea is to get a central temperature. If you need to peel, you need to get the sections lumped together for a central temp because individually they will freeze faster. And the longer they stay frozen, the more crystal build up there is. The problem with frozen citrus juice is the loss of acidity ( 10% range thereabouts ) which you can remedy by simply adding fresh juice when its time to thaw. The problem is you seem to enjoy the fragrance which is really the oil in the peel. Maybe you can freeze the peel separately. Also if these are commercial limes, then they’ve probably been blanched. If not, you can blanch them before freezing – but i’m just guessing

    Aug 22, 2010 | 9:05 pm

     
  13. edenclaire says:

    my lola used to get these biasong in the wild..but yes, they are abundant in Mindanao

    Aug 22, 2010 | 9:49 pm

     
  14. sunflowii says:

    and mexican food too!! i’ve made guacamole and carne asada. both recipes call for lime. this summer for me has been a cilantro and lime love-in. anything with cilantro and lime is sooo good!

    and off topic, avocados in california are 5 for $1 since they grow them there. kainggit!

    Aug 22, 2010 | 11:36 pm

     
  15. EbbaBlue says:

    Living here in Texas sure blessed us with abundant varieties of limes. I myself prefers calamansi and lemons than the limes sold in the stores here. In some Oriental nurseries, they sell lime trees and seeds, and I wonder if limes will thrive ok in Quezon province where my friends have farm. I was thinking of sending them lime seeds and when I go back for annual visit, take with me a small graft tree. It get hot in that province and sometimes water is a problem in our part of town. What do you think MM readers? Is it worth a try to start planting limes there? Thanks.

    Aug 23, 2010 | 1:09 am

     
  16. Virgie says:

    Hi MM,

    What a perfect timing! I have a few (14 pcs) kaffir limes which I would like to give you. I know you have a pick-up point somewhere in Megamall. I can leave it there for you to pick up if you have time. I will be away from tomorrow so pls let me know via email.

    Cheers!

    Aug 23, 2010 | 7:32 am

     
  17. Marketman says:

    Virgie and Chris, thank you so much for the offers, but I managed to buy 60+ pieces in Cebu last week and have a bounty of dayaps and kaffirs at the moment!

    Aug 23, 2010 | 9:59 am

     
  18. present tense says:

    Maybe you can experiment with cornstarch. Cook the cornstarch into a paste, then dump your limes in them, and freeze the whole batch. The starch theoretically should provide some protection

    Aug 23, 2010 | 10:10 am

     
  19. itzuy says:

    Hi, MM – I also freeze whole limes and whole kalamansi for future use – I have a kalamansi tree at the back and when it fruits, there are just too much fruit to juice and besides, the sugar you put in it scares the bejeevers out of me. I usually use the frozen kalamansi to marinate chicken and pork for barbecue and they still retain their acidity and smell.

    Aug 25, 2010 | 8:41 am

     
  20. citrus says:

    Hi MM, I hate to burst your bubble. Those lime trees you grew from seeds will take about 4-10 years to bear fruit. There’s also a slight chance that you may end up with a different fruit as citrus fruit hybridize easily. Citrus trees are usually grown from cuttings or grafted buds from trees that have already produced fruit.

    I suggest you buy the actual plants with fruit on it. That way, you know your trees are going to bear your desired limes right away. If you can’t find trees locally, you can perhaps ask a nursery to import them from abroad. Most citrus trees bloom profusely and you can pollinate the flowers with paintbrush. It is important that your tree have a lot of leaves to produce sugar for the fruit otherwise the fruit will just fall off. You can buy fertilizer specifically for citrus trees or you can use palm tree fertilizer (check out Amazon). Good luck!

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:20 pm

     
  21. Marketman says:

    citrus, yes, I know this. It took 10 years for our kaffir lime to bloom! And it was probably mating with relatives, not of the same family. But thanks for the comments… :)

    Aug 25, 2010 | 12:47 pm

     
  22. Jasmine says:

    Saw something like Lime Powder in S&R a few weeks ago. Imported from Malaysia. Wasn’t able to try it and I don’t know ho it compares to the fresh lime fruit but seems interesting.

    Aug 28, 2010 | 12:20 pm

     
  23. Mera says:

    You’re absolutely right Millet!!!! The kinilaw is to die for especially if with biasong…. I truly miss my beloved Butuan…..I wonder why our government (particularly the Agriculture Department) is not giving attention to have biasong and calamansi to be propagated and distributed in our county. We are really much behind in terms of culinary distinction worldwide that sometimes our dishes are linked to our neighboring countries, which, to my opinion is so unfair and so irritating to hear…. And by the way, almost everytime we have visitors trying to cover Philippine Dishes, the Department of Tourism always point Pampanga as the culinary center of the Philippines, that is not very TRUE…… The place is just thriving with fastfood chains and so little restaurants that specialize Filipino Food….. Foods that really represent the whole Philippine Archipelago….. You see, their foods mostly just reflects those that we borrowed/inherit from the Spaniards…….. no pun intended to our brothers and sisters from Pampanga….

    Oct 20, 2010 | 6:23 am

     
  24. kuriousjorge says:

    So, would anyone be able to tell me where exactly in Manila I’d be able to find some limes? I like making a Brazilian drink called a Capriosca (Vodka + Lemon + Lime + Sugar), and it doesn’t quite taste the same unless you use REAL lime.

    Jan 31, 2011 | 9:45 pm

     
  25. Gerry says:

    I’ve been buying quite a lot of limes recently and am bit confused about green lemons. True dayap are key limes and are small and round in shape. Limes or “dayap” as referred to in wet markets are similar to lemons in shape. Could this be the Persian lime and not a green lemon?

    The odd thing is the place where I get these limes do not sell lemons. I’m not even sure if lemons are locally grown, since they used to have stickers indicating they were imported. In any case, I have not seen the true dayap either in Farmer’s or Balintawak Market. I’ve seen the kaffir lime fruit in Seedling bank, and the people there told me it was rather useless since there was very little juice in it.

    Mar 13, 2011 | 10:30 pm

     
  26. Marketman says:

    Gerry, I think what you are getting are green lemons… lemons grown in the North and elsewhere that do not turn that classic yellow orange. You can tell green lemons from true limes because of their taste and acidity. Besides dayap and similar breathern, we don’t have the larger persian limes here, or at least I have never seen them for sale here. We do grow lemons here, but they are green lemons…

    Mar 14, 2011 | 5:48 am

     
  27. 16 year old chef says:

    Where would I be able to buy limes in the Manila area, preferably the Green Hills or Mandaluyong area?

    Aug 5, 2011 | 1:18 pm

     
  28. Ogden says:

    Mr. Marketman, can i ask you for a seeds of biasong from vietnam? i like to plant it in my backyard….. ü

    Oct 10, 2011 | 10:25 am

     
  29. catalina says:

    Cleaned out my freezer the other day and unearthed three & a half 1-gallon ziploc bags of dayap! Not quite forgotten, I always knew they were somewhere in there. When I see native limes in the market, just like you I buy the whole lot. I freeze them, instead of squeezing the juice out (which I do with kalamansi) because I use the rind for sweet treats such as leche flan, pastillas/dulce gatas, suspiros, gurgurya, etc.
    I zest them with a microplane while the limes are still rock-solid, then let them soften a bit before juicing them for cooking or dipping sauce. I’ve used limes frozen more than 2 years and not once did I have to discard a single one. You’re right–they’re degraded a bit but the zest retains the same delightful fragrance and the juice, its flavor…not bad at all.

    Nov 1, 2011 | 10:51 am

     
  30. leira.. says:

    hi guys..good day..
    we have plenty of dayap trees here in bulacan and producing lots of dayap fruits..can you please help me to look for buyers? thanyou..pls contact me 09151425265

    Nov 10, 2011 | 9:46 pm

     
  31. WILVIN says:

    I HAVE 9 POTTED AND BEARING FRUIT BIASONG @ P500.00/ POT… READY FOR HARVEST IN THE POT… CONTACT 09105783546 AT Bunawan, Agusan del Sur,, near at the biggest Captive Crocodile in the World

    Nov 23, 2011 | 1:29 pm

     
 

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