I hope nobody succumbed to scurvy while the lime index was on hiatus. The index is back, but of course the limes never left. Recent pricing:
- H Mart: 4/$1, mixed quality, some gems but overall on the small side and insufficiently juicy;
- Hung Phat: 3/$1, pricing hasn’t changed for ages, fewer gems but more consistently decent, although sometimes they turn out to be less juicy than expected based on size, color, and squeezability — don’t be afraid to gently squeeze the
- Trader Joe’s: 29 cents apiece, not far off the H Mart price and better quality on average, TJs is a good lime source, plus if you’re having a party you can buy a bag, making the price per lime even better;
- Safeway/Giant: generally 3/$2 and mediocre quality, not worth it;
- Wegmans: varies, often 2/$1 and usually good quality;
- Whole Foods: 2/$1, mixed quality and below-average size.
In general, lime price and quality have been both reasonable and stable lately, which is nice, although average quality is not currently at its apex. What’s that? More details? Certainly, sir and/or madam:
USDA reports that “Global [lemon and lime] production is estimated down 2 percent to 6.6 million tons on weather-related issues in the EU and Turkey. Global exports are estimated lower on reduced available supplies from Turkey.”
Most of our limes come from Mexico,* and there’s still room for growth there — and who knew that limes are increasingly being used in pharmaceuticals? Should I be bathing in margaritas? Or at least rubbing them on my face before bed? I haven’t quite gotten to that point, but it’s something to consider. A little surprising I hadn’t already thought of it. Also, the Guatemalans are ramping up lime production. The more the merrier! Especially given how green and delicious the limes in that link look.
* more than 96% of U.S. lime imports are from Mexico, about 1.5% from Guatemala and the rest from various other countries. Overall volume in 2012-13 is way up over previous years. The U.S. also exports limes, but total export volume (mostly to Canada) is less than 1% of total import volume. Isn’t that fascinating? Data via USDA Economic Research Service.
Even Sioux City has discovered the awesomeness of the lime. Although this statement seems wrong: “And what should you drink to wash down all this lime goodness? Obviously, limeade.” Not sure “obviously” is quite the right word there. They do suggest adding vodka a few sentences later, but really, has the margarita not yet made its way to Iowa? I have not yet made my way to Iowa, ever, so I am at a total loss here.
Finally, beware the scourge of phytophotodermatitis — a real thing, as poor Rachel recently discovered. Second degree burns, yikes! And she delivers the photographic evidence. Maybe that’s the answer to whether I should be rubbing limes on my face — although I have been working hard in recent years to develop immunity to phytophotodermatitis (also to vitameatavegemin and iocaine powder), and I also try to squeeze my limes indoors when possible. Safety first!