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How to use lemons and limes in the kitchen

BY Alice Alech

28th May 2023 Food Heroes

How to use lemons and limes in the kitchen
No doubt you've used lemons and limes in the kitchen before, but do you really know what you're doing? Here is everything you need to know about cooking with lemons and limes
Lemons and limes are indispensable and versatile. Appreciated worldwide, they are the go-to ingredients for refining all types of food. 
Cooks appreciate the unique tang of lemons and limes; whether green or yellow, they have a special place in most kitchens. You love them for cooking, for desserts, for drinks. With their remarkable properties, a zest of lemon or lime will brighten the plainest of dishes.
"Lemons and limes are indispensable and versatile"
These citrus fruits tenderise, enhance the flavour, and preserve the colour of other fruit and vegetables. No other fruit will do! Limes and lemons are closely related, and high in powerful Vitamin C—an essential nutrient for the immune system. 
Many recipes include both the zest and juice of the fruit, the ideal way to get the full flavour of the fruit. However, if you're making marmalade, you need the pectin from the white pith around the flesh to get a good set.  
It is the zest, the coloured part of both lemons and limes, that has that aromatic perfume flavour while the juice conveys the flavour. 

How are limes and lemons different?

Limes and lemons are often interchangeable: you can use them both the same way for cooking without spoiling the dish. 
Salmon and lemon
Lemon is often used with seafood
Lemon is, however, often used with seafood either as a squeeze on a grilled or fried fillet or as a basis for a sauce. 
Lemons are larger than limes and are oval in shape with thicker skin. Lemon juice has somewhat higher concentrations of minerals such as magnesium and potassium. 
You can use lemon juice instead of vinegar for salad dressings. For flavouring and seasoning dishes such as marinated meat or fish, it's better to use lemon juice.  
Limes are relatively round, usually picked green, and slightly more acidic than lemons, with a milder flavor. 
"Limes are considered healthier than lemons"
Limes are considered healthier because they contain higher vitamin A, C, and calcium levels. 

What you should know about selecting and storing lemons and limes

If you’re picking lemons from the tree, pick them ripe: green fruit will not turn yellow once off the tree. 
If you're choosing in the supermarket, choose bright coloured and heavy lemons. Don't buy or pick them when damp as they will deteriorate quickly: mould will develop if one damp lemon touches another. 
Lemons keep well, but in humid temperatures, you should keep them in the fridge. They will last longer. 
Most limes are bright green in colour on the tree. Smell them and look for that fresh lime smell to see if they are ripe. They should be firm but not too hard. Also, check to see how heavy the lime is. If the lime is heavy, it will be full of juice. Limes can ripen indoors if you don't use them immediately. They will, however, lose their glossiness if you leave them for several weeks, becoming yellow and less tasty. 
Person picking limes from a lime tree
Most limes are bright green on the tree
Both chopped-up lemons and limes will keep for a day or two in the fridge. Do make sure, however, that you store them in a plastic bag to avoid oxidation.

Juicing tips

Roll your fruit on the kitchen counter for a few seconds before cutting. It helps break down the citrus membrane, making it easier to squeeze. A hand juicer will extract the juice. After the first squeeze, you can poke holes in the segments with a fork. This will pull more juice.
"To avoid a bitter taste, always remove the pith"
Lime juice is more robust, so double the quantity if you plan to subsidize lemon juice for lime juice. To avoid a bitter taste, always remove the pith.

Some simple cooking ideas using lemons and limes

You undoubtedly have many sweet and savoury recipes in your collection, but here are some boosters to adopt this summer using lemons and limes. 
  • A lemon stuffing for baked fish will make the dish more outstanding and more exciting. Simply mix grated zest and lemon juice. Add fresh herbs, an egg, and some breadcrumbs before baking.  
  • If you're short on time, try this quick lemon butter sauce for grilled or barbequed fish or asparagus. Incorporate Dijon mustard with a few drops of lemon and add some butter.  
  • Add lemon juice to your prepared greens, such as asparagus, green beans, and asparagus, and watch them shine. 
  • Keep one or two washed lemons in the freezer. Frozen lemons are easy to grate and sprinkle over your dishes. You don't have to peel. 
Try exploring the subtle differences between lemons and also the different types of limes. They have their own character. Avoid bottled lime and lemon juice, though; freshly squeezed citrus tastes superior. And with the summer coming, it’s the perfect time to be adventurous. 
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