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Limin’ in the VI

Limin’ in the Virgin Islands

While most people think of citrus fruit when they hear the word “lime,” Caribbean residents and knowledgeable visitors know this word has a dual meaning in the islands. “Lime” also means to hang out or chill with friends.

Cooking with limes is as much a part of island cuisine as limin’ with friends is a part of everyday life. However, while limin’ is all about relaxing and taking a break from work, the citrus fruit is the opposite—it’s a culinary workhorse. Lime is an indispensible and pervasive ingredient in Caribbean kitchens, and mine is no exception. Limes rank right up there with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper as one of my can’t-live-without ingredients.


Lime is a versatile fruit whose bright and fresh flavour is used across a wide spectrum of foods: marinades, salsas, seviche, desserts, and vinaigrettes and salad dressings (such as my lime cilantro salad dressing). It’s also a key ingredient in drinks and popular cocktails such as margaritas, mojitos and rum punch. I love to make limeade, a simple but tantalizing combination of lime juice, sugar and water. It’s a delicious drink to quench your thirst on a hot day.

A few tips about limes: look for bright green fruit with thin, smooth skins. If you plan to juice limes, choose fruit that is heavy for its size, a characteristic indicating juicier limes. Before juicing, ensure the lime is room temperature and firmly roll it around on a countertop so you’ll break apart the pulp and extract the maximum amount of juice. A small handheld juicer is one of the rare single-purpose utensils I keep in my kitchen. It’s also ideal for a space-constrained boat galley.

The green part of the peel, known as the zest, is a concentrated source of lime flavour. In fact, lime zest is as useful as juice, since the zest adds a huge hit of flavour to foods. Take care when zesting a lime, so that you don’t use any of the bitter white pith located under the green skin. A citrus zester (such as Microplane brand) makes quick work of zesting and is a useful purchase if you frequently zest limes.

Small lime trees dot yards and hillsides throughout the BVI and bear fruit all year long. Look for bags of the tiny limes for sale occasionally at roadside stands or supermarkets. Better yet, find a friend who has lime tree in her backyard. Pick some limes and then “lime” with your friend as you sip a cool limeade.


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