What Are Black Limes?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Whole loomi for sale in market in Manama, Bahrain
Theinfo/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

What Are Black Limes?

Known in the Middle East as loomi and limo Omani (they originated in Oman), and sometimes referred to as dried lime or dried lemon, black limes are small limes that have been blanched in saltwater and left to dry until they are shriveled, brittle, lightweight, and a dusty black. They are key to some Middle Eastern dishes, providing a distinctly sour flavor.

How to Cook With Black Limes

Black limes are used both whole and ground. For whole limes, wash and then pierce them a few times with a fork or small knife and add to all sorts of stews, soups, tagines, or braises. The hot liquid from these dishes will pass through the holes and pull out the lime's sweet-tart flavors, softening it along the way. Discard the fruit before serving.

You can find pre-ground black lime, which can sometimes be bitter because of the seeds, or you can grind up whole limes in a spice grinder (and remove the seeds first). The powder can be used alone or as one of the ingredients in a spice rub for meats, poultry and seafood. It can be added to cooking liquids for rice or anywhere you might add fresh lime zest for an acidic boost.

What Do Black Limes Taste Like?

Earthy, tangy and bright, black limes deliver a unique flavor from their time spent drying into shriveled orbs. 

Where to Buy

Look for black limes in international markets, especially those serving the Persian communities. Some Indian markets also carry them, and well-stocked specialty spice shops. They range in size from 1 to 1 1/2 inches and their coloring goes from dark tan to near black.

Storage

Store whole black limes in an airtight container in a dry place for up to 2 years. Discard any that show signs of molding. Ground lime loses its flavor and aroma much faster, so only keep as long as it continues to add flavor (usually from a few months and up to 1 year).