We all know that a lemon is not to be confused with a lime, but what about green unripe lemons? Unripe lemons are green, similar to the lime, but is there a difference between the unripe lemon and fully ripe lime? Well, it turns out there are some very distinct differences!
Limes and unripe lemons are two very different types of citrus fruits and should not be used interchangably. Unripe lemons are not as sweet or juicy as limes, which is why they’re often used in cooking to add flavor rather than for eating on their own. The peel of an unripe lemon is thicker, and it has more seeds inside the fruit than a lime does. You probably don’t want to eat the flesh of an unripe lemon, but a lime is perfectly delectable!
Unripe Lemons vs Limes
Lemons and limes are two very different fruits. They both have their specifications which distinguishes them from one another.
Lemons are a little bit less acidic than limes, registering between 2.00 and 2.6 on the pH scale, and they have more sugar.
Unripe lemons however have not gone through the ripening process. Therefore, unripe lemons have a higher acidic content than limes, and much less sugar.
Lemons and lime have different tastes, but the unripe lemon will have more of a bitter taste (even more bitter than the lime)!
They can both be used in a variety of mixed drinks such as lemonade or margaritas. Unripe lemons are not very sweet so it is a better to use them with other sweeter ingredients like honey when making desserts.
Limes on the other hand have less acidity which makes them perfect for adding balance to dishes that are too acidic (such as spicy foods). Both lemons and limes can make great marinades because their juices contain citric acids from sugar cane juice which tenderizes meat by breaking down protein molecules into smaller amino acids.
Health benefits of Lemons
- Lemons are high in vitamin C to promote a healthy immune system
- Great source of potassium for muscle recovery and electrolyte balance
- A lemon contains about nine percent of the daily recommended value for Vitamin C.
- Lemons also contain flavonoids, which have been shown to help with inflammation, reduce cognitive decline, or even prevent cancer cells from growing.
Health Benefits of Limes
- Limes are high in vitamin C and potassium as well.
- A lime contains about nine percent of the daily recommended value for Vitamin C.
- The citric acid found in limes is easily absorbed by water to produce stomach acids that help with digestion, which means it can also increase absorption of other nutrients like iron from plant sources (like leafy greens).
- Limes also contain a flavonoid which has been shown to help with inflammation and prevent cancer cells from growing
Different Ways to Eat a Lemon
You can use unripe lemons for dishes too, but the flavor and taste may change a bit. There are many different ways to eat a lemon that I have discovered so far, here are my favorites:
- Drink lemon water with a pinch of sea salt in the morning or whenever you need an energy boost. The combination of electrolytes, minerals, vitamin C, and citric acid will help to improve your reaction time and mood as well as prevent muscle cramps. It’s really refreshing!
- Grate a bit of fresh ginger on top of a bowl of lemony soaked oatmeal for some added zing (and some added nutrients).
- My favorite lemon flavor is a simple and refreshing spritz of fresh-squeezed juice. I take my glass, fill it about ¼ full with ice cubes, then pour in the chilled water to top it off. Add one or two tablespoons of raw honey for sweetness (to taste), followed by the squeeze of ½ lemon – this makes approximately 12 ounces worth!
- Try adding some sliced lemons as garnish atop your next cupcake or cake recipe for an eye catching twist on your dessert table at any party.
- Or you can do as I do. Eat it straight up like an orange. Sour, but I like it!
Different Ways to Eat a Lime
Limes can be delicious and healthy. If you’d like more lime in your life, try some of these:
- Key lime pie
- Yogurt – add some lime juice to your vanilla yogurt for a twist!
- Ceviche – all the best ceviche recipes are made with fresh-squeezed lime juice
- Sparkling water is always refreshing but if it isn’t enough then squeeze into sparkling water just what you need
- Fresh squeezed lemon/lime juices added as well Tangy salsa – make this favorite dish extra special by adding chunks of limes and their zesty juices
What makes a lemon ripe or unripe?
There are some distinct characteristics of a ripe lemon . The first is that the lemon should be a bit firm to the touch. A ripe lemon will also have turned yellow. Lemons turn yellow because the plant produces a carotenoid pigment.
To tell if a lemon is ripe or unripe, try squeezing the lemon. A yellow part should be on both sides of your fingers when you squeeze it and if it is unripe then there will also be seeds in the middle.
A ripe lemon can also have a slightly golden color to them from plant pigments called flavones which are found in citrus fruits as well as other plants such as tea leaves.
If none of these characteristics apply to the lemons that you’re looking at, they might not yet be ready for consumption but don’t worry – with some time (since everything needs help growing) they’ll turn into their full ripeness and flavor
Are unripe lemons safe to eat?
Yes, lemons that are still unripe are safe to eat.
An unripe lemon is a lemon that has not had time to fully develop its flavors or deepen its color. Unripe lemons are typically green, with wax and have firm rinds like a supermarket lemon would be.
The taste of an unripe lemon will be very tart and sour, but it does have a tangy taste that can serve as a substitute for limes.
Do lemons ripen if they are picked green?
First, I believe it’s important to note that a green lemon is an unripe lemon. Whether you want to try to pick an unripe lemon or you find an unripe lemon on the ground, it IS possible to help make it taste better, though it won’t fully ripen.
It is not advisable to pick an unripe lemon and make a habit out of it, because green lemons will not ripen on their own. Lemons will only fully ripen on their own if left on the tree long enough.
Place the unripe lemon in direct sunlight. Sunlight is an important part of the lemon ripening process. It’s what helps the lemon become sweet. The riper they are, the more sweet and less sour they become!
Place the unripe lemon in water in direct sunlight for a few days.
Are green lemons good for you?
Eating green lemons is not harmful for you. There are many benefits to eating unripe lemons.
What do unripe lemons taste like?
Unripe lemons are more bitter and not as sweet as a fully ripe lemon.
Their skin is too thick to eat, so the only way unripe lemons can be consumed is by squeezing their juices or cooking them in a dish with other ingredients such as sugar or salt.
What is the ripening process of a lemon?
A lemon goes through a natural process of ripening that can take months and is the result of environmental conditions, sunlight exposure, and water availability.
You may not be able to speed up this process with artificial agents like ethylene gasses, like you would with bananas.
The process lemon go through as they ripen is the following:
- Unripe lemons are the color green, and they are a yellow color when ripe.
- The ripening process starts with the changing of its pigment as it goes from green to yellow. This pigment found in green unripe lemons is chlorophyll. As it turns yellow, it is replaced with a chemical called anthocyanin.
- There is also a change in the acidity of the lemon during this process too, when it goes from unripe to ripe. Unripe lemons are tart and bitter while fully ripened ones are juicy and sour. This difference in flavor may be due to changes in citric acid. The sugar content will increase as well.