Jul 6, 2023
Limes add an interesting sour, acidic contrast to dishes. That’s why it’s a popular ingredient for Mexican dishes like sopa de lima, pico de gallo, and tacos. But there are times when you can barely get one. There are also times when they’re overflowing that you don’t know what to do with them. Here’s how to freeze dry lime so know how to make do with both situations.
There are many benefits a homeowner can have by freeze-drying lime.
Lime stored on the counter gives the most juice when pressed. Unfortunately, lime can last one to two weeks in a cold pantry. In the fridge, it can last about 3-4 weeks. And a cut lime can only stay useable for 3-4 days in your refrigerator.
When you freeze dry limes, you make your supply last for 25 years or more. With proper storage practices, spoilage will no longer be an issue.
Freeze-dried lime’s already prepped and good to use when you need it. Open the bag and you’ve got wedges, wheels, or segments ready to add to your drinks, meals, and recipes. No more peeling and slicing to get a lime wedge or two. If you powder your freeze-dried citrus, you have instant lime juice that you can use for drinks and other recipes.
Did you know the US was once out of the lime market because of Hurricane Andrew? Before that, it was estimated that 95% of US limes came from Florida. After the hurricane, lime was very hard to come by. Since then, the country now gets most of its lime in Mexico.
When you freeze-dry your lime supply, citrus will be ready for use whenever needed.
You can leave the skins on or off when you freeze dry limes. Leaving the skins on gives your lime a nice aesthetic contrast for garnishing. If you wish to peel your citrus to powder it, you can take off the rind and store it for future use. The skin can be tough to peel, but there’s a way to make peeling easier.
When cutting the limes, you can make them across to make circular cuts for lime wheels. This creates little segments of citrus that can help you portion your use for later. However, this form doesn’t freeze dry well. The process can take longer or you’ll end up with citrus that still has a bit of moisture to it.
Lengthwise cuts can also work. You get longer segments that don’t look as visually appealing as the wheels. But because you expose the pulps, the greater surface area makes it easy for your freeze dryer to remove moisture efficiently.
When you cut your lime, keep the sizes uniform to a width of a fingernail. Or at least keep it within 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick. Any thicker will make it difficult for your freeze-dryer to process your lime slices efficiently. Also, when you make thicker slices, you get more of the skin that keeps in the moisture of your slices.
Once you’re ready with your slices, lay them on your freeze-dryer trays. The first thing you need to do is to line the trays with parchment paper or silicone mats. The slices will stick to the trays because of the moisture content. By lining the trays, you make removing the citrus slices easier with minimal breakage.
But if you want to use the lime slices for garnish, be careful not to pile them. They’ll stick to each other, so you’ll end up with breakage as you separate them from each other.
If breakage is okay, piling is not an issue. However, don’t let the citrus go as high or above the lip of the tray. The thicker the layer, the less efficient your drying will be. You’ll end up with trays that are dry at the top but moist in the middle. Bacteria need moisture to grow and multiply at an alarming rate. Even a minute amount of moisture can ruin a good batch of freeze-dried lime. So make sure to do everything you can to help your machine remove all the moisture from the food as much as possible.
Pre-freezing is an option, but it would greatly help your machine. Freeze Dryers remove moisture in the form of ice. The more ice crystals your lime has, the better your freeze dryer will work.
When pre-freezing, use the same trays you’ll load in the freeze dryer. Then give the trays 8 hours or overnight in the fridge before putting them in your machine. If your machine’s free and you want to use it, give your citrus at least 4 hours in the deep freezer.
After pre-freezing, let your unit pre-cool until it reaches -8°F (-22 °C) or lower before you load the trays. Your goal is to make the chamber colder than the food. This way, you keep a stable environment conducive to freeze drying.
Freeze-drying lime is easy once you got the trays ready.
Freeze drying times vary per batch due to several factors:
Your lime can take 24-40 hours to freeze dry, so keep an eye on your machine but be patient. As long as your lime comes out dry, flaky, light, and crunchy, it’s fine. If your lime segments come out soft, moist, and cold, return the trays for 2-3 hours of extra dry time.
You can choose between a Mason jar and Mylar bags for storing your freeze-dried lime. Both are excellent in keeping away air and moisture. Mason jars are clear so you can see how much lime you have left, and they can sit comfortably in your pantry. Mylar bags are compact, lightweight, and you can easily bring them with you when you travel.
Before sealing your container, you must throw in 1-2 of the 300cc packets of oxygen absorbers. By cutting out oxygen, you restrict bacterial activity and growth which can lead to molds and food spoilage.
Keep the containers in a cool, dry, dark place. Keep the temperature below 72°F (22 °C), and the relative humidity level at 15% or less. Heat and light also hasten the degradation and spoiling of your freeze-dried food.
Rehydrating is easy by just adding water until the lime is fully hydrated. You can also throw a segment or two in your soda or tea for added flavor. If you want an extra kick, use alcohol like gin or vodka.
Freeze-drying lime is easy and satisfying. It helps you get your supply of citrus when lime is not around. The experience may not be the same as fresh lime, but the flavor is definitely there.
Now that you know how to freeze dry lime, what do you plan to do when you make yours? Let us know in the comment section.