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Black limes are small, like key limes and are just as the name suggests: black. Fresh limes are boiled in salt water, or brine, and then set out to dry in the sun. This process produces a lime with a hard, leathery outer shell that typically ranges from tan to black, with a near black inner pulp; the darker the lime, the more pungent the flavor. The dried citrus has faint lines that run along the dehydrated sections of the fruit. Black limes are unique, offering a tart citrus flavor with a rich fermented aroma. Black limes have an aroma similar to curry powder.
Black limes are available year-round.
The Black limes are called Loomi in the Middle East, and are often referred to as Omani limes or Limu Omani for their country of origin. The limes used to make Omani limes are botanically Citrus aurantifolia, likely key limes. Black limes are most often used in the cuisines of Iran, Iraq and northern India. The ground Black limes are used to make Loomi tea, which is touted as a refreshing, thirst quencher.
Black limes may contain traces of vitamin C; however, the dehydrated citrus is devoid of much of the nutritional content of a fresh lime. Trace amounts of calcium and iron can be found in the dried fruit.
Black limes are used to impart a citrusy, smoky flavor with a slight tang to soups, meat dishes, rice and stews. The small citrus can transform dishes from plain to spicy and flavorful. Wash the limes and pierce several times with a knife or fork. Drop several Black limes into the liquid for rice, soups or braising and remove before serving. Black limes pair well with lamb, fish and chicken; though the real match for Black limes is said to be legumes. Lighter colored Dried limes are used in rice and lighter-colored soups and stews, whereas darker limes are used for the darker soups, stews and other applications. Black limes can also be ground for use as a spice, similar in effect to sumac. Store Black limes in an airtight container for up to three months.
Black limes have been a mainstay of Persian cuisine since ancient times. Bedouin women used Loomi, or Black limes to dye yarn. In Saudi Arabia, Black limes are a staple ingredient in dishes such as kabsa, matazeez, jareesh and qursan. Folklore around the Dried limes says that grandmothers would make Loomi tea, and crush the limes with their hands while soaking them in gallons of water.
Originally developed in Oman, a country located south of Iran along the Arabian Sea, Black limes are an essential ingredient in both Persian and Indian cooking. They can be found in Persian food stores or the more adventurous chef can make their own.
Recipes that include Black Limes. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Lisa is Cooking||Skewered Tamarind Fish with Dried-Lime Butter and Chives|
|Cafe Liz||Wintry Mangold-Wheat Soup|