Monday, May 16, 2011

Why Doesn't My Lime Have Any Seeds?

I asked a simple question of my Facebook folks this last weekend. Why have I never seen a lime with seeds? I am still firmly in the grip of all things Mexican and so over the weekend I whipped up a marvelous taco fiesta with which we drank wine (so weird). I had to use up some grass fed steak that’s been hanging around the freezer and figured this would be a good way to do it. (FYI-Grass fed beef is awesome and the only thing I eat at home these days. But the steak version can be a little tough and sometimes chewy. So if you want to switch to the ethical grass fed meat but don’t know where to start, start with ground beef or any long and slow cooking beef cuts like brisket. Switch to steak last. We have totally switched and have come to love grass fed steak, though it took time.) Anyway in regards to the lime I made a fantastic sauce to go on the tacos, and I squeezed in the juice of a lime and the question rather asked itself of me.

I expected two or three people to respond something to the question to the effect of ‘Duh, haven’t you ever seen ‘X’ type of lime? It has seeds’. But…no one responded. Or at least no one responded before I could whip this post out and well, post it.

So I went online.

Turns out, according to the general internet consensus, that most of the limes on the market are Persian or Tahitian limes and they are seedless. The websites were inconclusive as the whether these particular varieties were bred to be seedless or were naturally seedless.

Some citrus are bred to be seedless. But many are naturally seedless, like the navel orange. The naturally seedless plants produce flowers that do not need to be pollinated in order to reproduce. And while I am a highly curious individual, I didn’t go the next step and find out what that was all about. I encourage one of you who is reading to figure that one out and report back for the good of the group.

The seedless varieties that are bred to be seedless are that way because of genetic mutations that are encouraged through breeding. So, of course, that begs the question, how do those plants reproduce? They….don’t, as it turns out. At the end of their lives they’d just die, if it weren’t for a crafty farmer who came along and planted a cutting. Yes, just like those fantastic houseplants that have propagated themselves around the world through cuttings, seedless citrus plants have been surviving this way for 100 years or more. The process is essentially cloning.

Whew! Halfway through reading some of these websites I was convinced that all seedless fruits were GMO’s. And I am highly fearful of GMO’s. BUT THEY ARE NOT!!! This is simple breeding. And breeding is fine. Breeding is the farmer’s way of exploiting nature. Seedless varieties are just genetic mutations, and while those mutations would be difficult to pass on in a wild growing environment (Duh! There are no seeds!), these sterile plants will live forever, so to speak, in the world of cultivation.

So, the secret is a secret no longer. Go make margaritas with all those inexpensive seedless limes. I wonder if you can make sour mix with lime juice and honey…

A Wicked Good Sauce for Tacos (I got the idea, if not totally ripped it off from this amazing blog)
4 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and de-membraned
A good handful of cilantro
The juice of one lime
1 clove of garlic
I don’t know, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar?
I don’t know, ¼ cup of olive oil? I had wine that night, who really knows?!
Salt to taste (that’s the only half-assed measurement that sounds professional)

Chop the peppers into big chunks and throw them, the cilantro, garlic, lime juice and vinegar into a blender. Pulse until chunky, add the olive oil and run until mostly smooth. Spoon onto tacos like a hot sauce or salsa. Wow it’s hot. Expect that you will act fresh all night. Keep in the fridge a few days. I am not planning on keeping it longer than the very next day when I will finish it off with huevos rancheros.

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