Caipirinha Culture

How to pick the best limes for a caipirinha

Caipirinha is a 3-ingredient cocktail (cachaça, sugar, and lime) and none of these 3 ingredients plays a more tricky role than the lime. With most other cocktails, the end-taste is mostly dependent on the bottle, so if you get your volumes right, you will pretty much have a perfect cocktail every time. With Caipirinha, it’s a bit more difficult, because it ends taste will depend heavily on the lime. If you use the wrong limes, then your end result will either be too sour or too watery or too sweet.

So knowing this, how do you go about picking the perfect limes for Caipirinhas? In this article, I will the key characteristics of a healthy and juicy lime, which will contribute to your success as a Caipiman or Caipiwoman.

Look is everything

Remember that Caipirinha is a cocktail that should appeal to all your senses. The rich green tone of lime should show trough the glass and ice cubes,  giving the drink a refreshing look. Make sure you pick the limes with shinny and vibrant green colored skin. Avoid limes with yellow spots on them and definitely steer away from limes with apparently dry and opaque skins. And since we are talking about the skin, make sure the lime presents a smooth texture. Avoid limes with rough skin.

Get the most out of your lime

For a classic Caipirinha, you will only be using about 1/2 – 3/4 of a lime, so you want to make sure that you get the most juice out of those wedges. In some places, limes are actually imported and can cost a considerable amount of money, so again, efficiency is at the essence here.

There is only one sure way to guarantee that lime will be juicy enough and that is to pick the limes with apparently thinner skin. Again, these are usually the limes without yellow or brown spots on then and with a shiny healthy aspect. You can also use your hands to test this. Just pick up the lime with one hand and give it a light squeeze. If it feels too hard, then there is probably a very thick skin around it and you can probably assume that the lime is dry. If you feel a light bounce, like a tennis ball, then the lime is just about right.

In this case, size matters

Avoid the miniature limes that usually come mixed with the larger ones. Smaller limes tend to be sourer and also have very little juice to offer. As stated above, the amount of lime you will put into the cocktail will eventually depend on the quantity of juice that each lime yields. Prefer nice round limes instead of the elliptical-shaped ones. Malformed limes tend to have thicker skin around the poles.

Make sure you have the right temperature

A lot of people like to store their limes in the refrigerator, so if you are one of these people then pay attention to this tip. Cold limes have no juice! If you want to get the most out of your limes and guarantee the best taste for you Caipirinha, then you should make sure the limes are at room temperature. I recommend taking them out of the fridge for about an hour or two before cutting.

Use only recently cut limes

Avoid using limes that have been cut in advance. The lime for your Caipirinha should be muddled and mixed immediately after being cut. I have lost count of how many times I wanted to save time and trouble and decided to slice up 10 or 20 limes a couple of hours before the cocktail party. By the time the guests arrived, my lemons looked as soggy and sorry as your grandmother’s breasts. Not to mention that they suffered a color change (for the worst). I’m pretty sure they tasted sourer as well.

Use common sense

Just use your common sense when you are at the supermarket shopping for limes. If it looks good, healthy, and juicy, then chances are those are the limes you need. Also, don’t try to replace lime with bottled lime juice. The skin of the lime itself contains oils and aromas that will contribute greatly to the deliciousness of your Caipirinha. That being said…happy mixin’ and saúde!