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Lime Shortage? Avoid it With These Alternatives

With the recent lime shortage, you might have to revise your lime-infused recipes.

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With summer kicking into high gear, refreshing favorites like guacamole, ceviche, and margaritas are in demand. But with the recent lime shortage—which has reduced the supply of imported limes due to a combination of poor weather conditions, tree disease, and internal conflicts in the largest growing areas of Mexico—you might have to revise your lime-infused recipes. While nothing is the same as that limey tang, there are plenty of bright alternatives for providing a zing.

Other Citrus

Although each citrus has its own distinct flavor, other varieties offer a bright and fresh bite as well. In most recipes you can substitute equal parts lemon juice or key lime juice for lime juice, including those summer classic cocktails margaritas and the Dark and Stormy. Other citruses like orange, kalamansi, kumquat, and grapefruit can also be used, although keep in mind these are sweeter than lime. For storage, our Humidity-Controlled Crisper Drawers are the perfect solution — just bring the fruits up to room temperature if you’re planning on squeezing them for juice.

Citric Acid

To reproduce that bright zing of limes, you can also use citric acid, a powdered form of the natural acid found in many fruits that is often used in canning and candy recipes. (You’ll likely find it in the canning supply section of grocery stores.) Try substituting  a half-teaspoon powdered citric acid for 1 tablespoon of lime juice in marinades and cocktail recipes.

Black Lime

Also know as loomi or black lemon, this Middle Eastern spice is made from dried limes and can be found in a ground powder. It has an earthy, slightly fermented taste that works well with savory dishes, soups, and stews, and also as a seasoning for grilled meats.

Also check out: 5 Citrus Varieties to Try 

Vinegars

For recipes that need a tart kick, including ceviche, marinades, and vinaigrettes, substitute in apple cider, red wine, or white vinegar. Vinegar is stronger than lime juice, so start with half the amount and adjust to taste. Here’s a tip straight out of a restaurant kitchen: Combining equal parts lemon juice and sherry vinegar provides a tang very similar to lime juice, and works well in guacamole and other limey dips.

Tamarind

A pulp made from the seeds of a tamarind tree is a popular ingredient in Africa, Southeast Asian, and Mexican cuisines and has its own distinct sweet and tangy flavor. Dilute the pulp in water to the desired sourness, add some vinegar to adjust the acidity to your liking, then use in marinades, dressings and soups like the Mexican tortilla soup or Vietnamese pho.

Sumac

This Middle Eastern spice will add a kick of sour to any dish. The complex flavor is more tart than lemons, but also has a slight fruitiness and floral component to it (it is, after all, the dried and ground berries of the sumac plant). Use to season grilled meats, salads, and dips.