Why are Limes Picked Green?

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Why are Limes Picked Green?

For many fruits, being green can mean they’re not ripe yet. As an illustration, consider tomatoes and bananas. When both are green, we usually take that as a sign that we need to wait just a little while longer before eating them.

Given that green doesn’t automatically mean go when it comes to fruits, you could be wondering about the color of limes. We’ve done some reading, and we’ve looked into why limes are picked green, and if that means they’re under ripe.

Quick Answer: Why are Limes Picked Green?

"Limes are technically under ripe when they’re picked. If they were left on the tree longer, they would turn yellow, just like lemons."

Limes are technically under ripe when they’re picked. If they were left on the tree longer, they would turn yellow, just like lemons.

The reason they’re picked before they’re ripe is because they’re harder. When they’re fully ripe, they’re more susceptible to bruises during traveling, which isn’t as much of an issue when they’re under ripe.

Lemons are actually also picked while they’re under ripe. The only reason they turn yellow is they will continue to ripen after they’ve been picked, whereas limes will not.

How to Decide When to Harvest a Lime

If you’re growing your own limes, it can be difficult to tell when to pick them. Unlike with other fruits, you can’t just gauge based on color alone – they’ll be green when they start growing, and still green when you pick them.

You need to time the harvest just right. It should be done shortly before they would become fully ripe and turn yellow.

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Unfortunately, you can’t really tell when it’s time to harvest a lime from a look or touch. Instead, you’ll need to pick a lime from the tree and cut it open.

If it’s juicy, then you know the rest of the limes are ready to be picked. And if it’s not juicy yet, you can safely assume your lime tree needs a little more time before harvesting the fruits.

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Picking the Perfect Lime in the Store

"Heavier limes almost always mean you’ll get more juice."

Not everyone grows their own fruit. If you’re just browsing the produce section at your grocery store, you’ll need to know how to pick the best lime there to take home.

Limes don’t continue to ripen once picked, so it’s not a matter of picking a ripe lime. Rather, you’ll probably be looking for a juicy lime.

We have an article about the juiciest limes already, where we also discuss how to tell when they’re juicy in the store. However, we’ll cover it briefly here, too.

The best way to tell if a grocery store lime is juicy is by picking it up. Heavier limes almost always mean you’ll get more juice.

Although the lime won’t get any riper, you can still determine if it was picked at an appropriate time with a squeeze. Limes that were at the optimal stage for harvest should be firm with just the tiniest bit of give to them.

Wrap Up

It’s surprising how much we don’t know about the fruits and vegetables we eat every day. If you didn’t look into it at all, you could go your entire life thinking limes are always green and lemons are always yellow.

The truth is, limes would turn yellow with time, too, if they were left on the tree longer. We pick them just before they turn yellow because it makes them easier to transport without risk of bruising.