No, Overripe Limes Are Not Actually Lemons

Fresh green and yellow limes
Fresh green and yellow limes - Jam MUBEEN 22/Shutterstock

Limes are green and lemons are yellow. These are the facts about citrus fruits that we've come to know as true. But, if you've ever caught a glimpse of an overly ripe lime in all its golden-hued glory, then you've probably started to question whether the two fruits might actually be one and the same. Rest assured, a ripe lime isn't the same thing as a lemon.

Since lemons and limes both hail from the Citrus genus, it's easy to see where the color-based confusion lies. But despite being related, lemons and limes are two completely different fruits. They grow in different environments. They produce their own distinctly shaped fruits that can reach different sizes. They even taste unique from one another. Considering this host of varying attributes, it's clear that limes don't simply morph into lemons at a certain stage of their life cycle.

Yet, this doesn't explain the discrepancy in color. When it comes to understanding the origin of sunny-colored limes, it's important to think about citrus as a whole. All citrus fruits start off green. However, they eventually lose chlorophyll pigmentation as they slowly ripen. This is why a green lime left on the tree will also change color, adopting a yellow tone with the passage of time.

Read more: 13 Simple Tricks To Pick The Best Fresh Fruit Every Time

Green Or Yellow, They're Still Limes

Whole and sliced lemons and limes on a white background
Whole and sliced lemons and limes on a white background - Photozek07/Getty Images

A yellow lime is still a lime — just a slightly juicier and sweeter one. Yet, dazzling as they sound, they are hard to find. This is because yellow limes are quite fragile, which can make transporting them difficult. As a result, green, underripe fruit has become the norm in an effort to stop spoilage. However, in comparison to other citrus that's picked prematurely, limes never ripen off of the vine. As for those that do boast paler spots, this is often due to a lack of sunlight during the growing process.

All this talk about green limes got you feeling blue? There is good news. Although it's rare to find a lime that's reached its peak, that isn't to say that the immature limes we've grown accustomed to buying aren't still delicious. Zesty with a bitterness that differs from tart-tasting lemons, a green (not yellow!) lime continually proves to provide the right qualities needed to craft anything from a refreshingly tangy margarita to a vibrant key lime pie.

So, as long as you seek out fragrant fruit that's tender to the touch and feels heavy for its size, you'll still be in good hands. And, while green limes do differ from their golden counterparts, that doesn't mean that yellow limes are any more similar to yellow lemons. Beyond sharing a hue, the two couldn't be more unlike.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.