Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Money Doesn't Grow On Trees (But Limes Do)

Save extra limes by drying them
Impulse purchases are almost always a bad idea.* You spend money on something that sparkles and winks at you when your defenses are down and before long you find yourself wondering "What, in Heaven's name, was I thinking" (and by the way, where did all my money go)?

Now, antiques are a whole different story. I've learned the hard way (on a handful of occasions) that when it comes to antiques (or any other vintage or one-of-a-kind cool thing), the rule is: "Buy it now—it sure won't be there later" (and by the way, where did all my money go?)

Being broke really cures you of impulse shopping (or antique shopping, or frankly most other kinds of shopping as well). The value of a dollar becomes so crystal clear, it pings. While this kind of clarity is a good thing, I do tend to get kind of obsessive over using up every last scrap of food we buy. To throw food away is like tossing cash straight into the garbage can. Oh sure, it can be put into the compost bin so it's not totally wasted... but that's some mighty pricey compost. You might even call it rich.

So here it is... my confession... I made an impulse purchase. I couldn't help myself. It was such a good deal, and it sparkled and it winked at me. So without thinking it through, I bought it. I bought a 5-pound bag of limes. My justification was that as a seasonal produce item, it fell under the Antique Rule: it may not be around next time (if it is, the price will certainly be a lot higher). Besides, think of the wonderful things I could make with them!

Most of my cookbooks didn't even have the word Lime in their index. The ones that did had very few recipes listed and most of those only used one lime. I had 5-pounds to go through. I knew I wouldn't get half way through that bag onesy-twosy. Then I remembered something I had bookmarked over a year ago... Tangerine Salt and Tangerine Dust. Oven-dried tangerine slices are pulverized and used as is or mixed with sea salt. My brain told me limes would be great in place of the tangerines: It would be the perfect finishing touch over seafood or even summer melons, and who knows what else...

Tangerine Salt/Tangerine Dust from The Breakaway Cook

Notes: I have no idea how many limes I ended up using for this, maybe 8-10, I just kept slicing until I'd filled two half-sheet pans (lined with Silpats). It took between 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours to dry them. I checked them often and rotated the pans a couple times. After the first hour and a half, I flipped the slices over. They're not hot (but the pan is) so I just used my fingers to flip them over. As they dried, I took them off the pan and put them on racks to cool. Once cool... into a jar with a lid. Pulverize on demand.

It was an easy jump from Lime Salt to Lime Sugar. The oven-dried limes have a dark depth to them which appeals to the grown-up side of my palate, and should contrast with the sweetness of the sugar in a really interesting way. I've still got a whole lot of limes left... so stay tuned!

* Do your eyes light up when you see sale signs? Check out this excellent article from The Simple Dollar.
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  1. Such a great post! I too don't like to waste food and I agree on your view about impulse purchases but the limes were a fabulous idea! Love it!

  2. Hi Healthy Apple - Thank you so much for your nice comment! I'm all done with the bag of limes now and I actually kind of miss them in a weird way. Definitely not over my love of them I guess. I think the cure is to just get a little lime tree for the patio... then once a year I can go lime-crazy!


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