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Lima oranges are a medium to small variety and perfectly spherical in shape. They have a medium-thick rind with a relatively high oil content and gently rutted surface. Their bright orange rind encases a yellow-orange pulp that contains few seeds. Lima oranges have a sweet flavor with a perfumed aroma and devoid of any acid content normally found in Valencia or navel oranges.
Lima oranges are available in the late winter and early spring months.
Lima oranges are an acidless variety of citrus and one of four cultivars of sweet orange known botanically as Citrus sinensis. This variety is purportedly the most important of three non-acid varieties of orange grown in Brazil, the leading producer of oranges in the world. Lima oranges are an ideal citrus alternative to those who cannot consume acidic fruit.
Lima oranges are high in vitamin C and also a good source of vitamin A, potassium, folate and fiber.
Lima oranges are most often eaten fresh, versus being used for processing into juice. Their low acidity balances well with naturally tart foods such as rhubarb, cranberry, lemon, gooseberries and tart cherries. Peel Lima oranges and add the cleaned supremes atop a citrus tart. A Brazilian baked good called the brigadeiro, a cross between the truffle and a bon-bon, is often flavored with the sweet orange. Juice the sweet Lima orange and combine with lemon and lime juices for a refreshing beverage or mix with champagne for a sweeter mimosa. Their thick, richly perfumed rind takes well to candied applications for garnishes and candies. Lima oranges can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Lima oranges are predominantly grown in Brazil where they permeate the culture well beyond culinary applications. A fictional novel by José Mauro de Vasconcelos called Meu Pé de Laranja Lima, which translates to "My Sweet Orange Tree", chronicles the adolescence of a young boy and his affinity for a special sweet orange tree.
Sweet oranges are a distinct species, related to sour orange C. aurantium, and mandarin orange, C. reticulata and all falling under the umbrella of the Rutaceae, or citrus, family. Lima oranges are an acid-free variety of sweet orange that originated in China and now grow throughout the world’s tropical and semi-tropical regions. Lima oranges are most commonly grown for consumers in Brazil, though they are grown in small orchards in California and Florida for sale at local farmer’s markets.