Key limes are a great addition to your diet and give that extra pizazz to many recipes and summer drinks. When you add their amazing health benefits to that list, it’s no wonder they’re so hard to get!
This may tempt you to grab them as soon as you see them, but if you grab more than you can use in a week or two, you may have issues with their freshness.
Could they have gone bad already? In this article, we look at how long it takes key limes to go bad, and give you some tips that will help you tell if your key limes are still fit for use.
So, let’s jump right in!
How Do You Know When Key Limes Are Bad?
Many signs point to key limes that have gone bad. You can usually tell a key lime has gone bad by its appearance; it usually changes color, becomes softer to the touch, and loses its fragrant aroma.
The color is one of the most noticeable changes and usually moves from a greenish-yellow hue to a spotted or fully brown color. Next, key limes that have gone bad are normally more squishy and malleable, while fresh key limes are firmer to the touch. Lastly, pay attention to the fragrance. Fresh key limes have a very unique and unmistakable scent, while key limes that have gone bad lose that aromatic and fresh scent.
A good tip to help you tell is by using the time frame that you’ve had the key limes to measure their level of freshness. Based on your storage habits, you can be sure that in 1 to 2 weeks, key limes will go bad, if they haven’t been refrigerated. If they have been refrigerated they will normally last you about a month.
To know what to look for though, you have to know the characteristics of fresh key lime for yourself, to know when it has gone bad. Let’s take a quick look at the difference in characteristics between fresh key limes and old key limes.
Fresh vs Old Key lime Characteristics
If you’re familiar with key limes, then you know there are some distinct characteristics that they have, but these characteristics change based on the maturity of the limes.
The most distinct differences between old key limes and fresh ones are generally easy to identify by a difference in taste, aroma, texture, and appearance.
While fresh key limes are green to yellow-green to yellow, and are firm to the touch, old key limes are generally brownish yellow to brown or spotted. Old key limes are also squishy or easily squashed, and extremely soft and malleable to the touch.
As it concerns, flavor, aroma, and taste, fresh key limes have a firm rind that is filled with ridges and are generally more textured in feel. Old key limes, on the other hand, are light when picked up because they have lost their moisture content.
Old key limes are also dimpled and wrinkled, and the texture of the rind is softer than ever before.
If you try to squeeze a fresh key lime, you will get a tart but sweet juice that is fresh and flavourful. Old key limes are different as they have a very bitter taste and lose their tropical, fresh scent.
Table: Fresh Vs Old Key Lime Characteristics
|Fresh Key Lime||Old (Bad) Key Lime|
|green to yellow-green to yellow skin color||brownish yellow to brown or spotted|
|Firm to the touch||Less firm|
|A firm feel||soft, squishy feel|
|Smoother, Less wrinkled||Dimpled and wrinkled|
|Rind is more textured in feel||Texture of the rind is softer|
|Tart but sweet juice||bitter taste|
|zingy, fresh and flavorful aroma||sour aroma and scent|
Top Signs that Your Key Lime is Bad
If you’re still not clear, we’ve compiled a checklist of the top signs that your key lime is still fresh, or it has gone bad. Here is our detailed list of signs that your key lime has likely gone bad.
- Brown or moldy rind – The easiest way to tell if your key lime is going bad is by looking at the outer appearances and observing the rind. When key limes become extremely yellow and feel a bit softer than before, it is generally best to use them before it becomes overripe. If you see spotted brown blotches on the outer skin of your key lime, then mold has already begun to form, and it is best to discard it.
- Lighter than before – As we mentioned above, another easy way to tell if your key lime is going bad is by feeling the weight of it. When key limes get to the overripe to a stale level, they lose moisture as the days progress, making them lighter.
- Soft or squishy feel – When key limes are going or have gone bad, they become very soft to the touch. This is one of the best ways to check if your key lime is going bad. Once you realize that they have become soft and squishy, they will go bad in a few days.
- Cut for more than 5 days – When you cut a key lime, you expose it directly to the air, which causes it to dry out directly. This loss of moisture will cause it to go bad faster. Even if you put cut key limes in the fridge, then it is only okay for use between 4 to 5 days before they become inedible.
Can You Eat Key Lime that has Gone Bad?
So you’ve bought too many key limes and you want to use them all them even though they’ve gone bad?
Don’t do it! Eating key limes that have gone bad is not recommended in any circumstance, and the pungent, funky smell of the limes can’t help either.
Key limes that have gone bad will not only look brown and moldy but can cause serious health conditions.
Would You Get Sick from Eating Spoilt Key lime?
We think that’s a pretty easy one to answer, as anything that has gone bad and has become moldy will hurt your body.
Eating spoilt key limes will make you sick, and depending on how strong your stomach is, you can have digestive issues for days. Specifically, you will be prone to experiencing digestive conditions such as nausea, indigestion or even contracting dangerous bacteria.
Whether you have any digestive issues or not, we recommend staying away from old and moldy key limes.
Key limes are a delicious citrusy and alkaline fruit that you can add to your meals and use to make the best cocktails, but if you don’t use them when they’re fresh, you’ll do your body more harm than good.
With these telltale signs of mold, a brown color, and that awful, funky smell, we hope you’ll be able to identify when the limes in your kitchen need to be thrown out instead of being added to your evening cocktail.
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