Are yellow limes bad?

Are Yellow Limes Bad: What to Do with Yellow LimesAre Yellow Limes Bad: What to Do with Yellow Limes

I know what you are thinking when you see yellow limes at the store. You are probably thinking that the yellow limes are bad, right? I get it; yellowish lime fruits have a bad reputation so much that even the USDA regulations list yellow color as a defect in limes!

While sometimes yellowish limes indicate poor health in limes, it isn’t always a bad thing. Most of the lime fruits you see in the store are green because farmers normally harvest the limes when they are still green and unripe. Fully ripe lime fruits are yellow, juicier, and sweeter.

You rarely see yellow lime fruits in stores, but that’s because green and younger lime fruits ship better than ripe lime fruits. The leading lime producer in the world is Mexico. Imagine if Mexico shipped yellow and ripe lime fruits! The limes would spoil before they reached your store. 

Yellow limes; are they always bad

Are ripe limes yellow

Lime fruits are yellowish when they are ripe, but don’t confuse this with the yellow-patched lime fruits that occur when lime trees are growing in shaded areas with limited sun exposure. 

The difference is that rather than the green-yellowish hue of ripe lime fruits, limes grown in the shade have yellowish patches.

Limes may be pale green when you grow them under shade. Nonetheless, they are still edible. If you have never tried ripe yellow lime fruits, you probably don’t know how juicy and sweet, yet tart and sour.

Lime fruits can also be yellow because of sunburn. The difference between ripe yellow limes and sunburn yellow limes is that it has a leathery, yellow to brownish-yellow patch skin. In contrast, ripe limes have a uniform pale green to yellow skin.

what color are limes?

Limes are typically green in color. They get their green hue from chlorophyll, the same pigment that gives plants their green color.

Like many fruits limes have different colors according to their ripeness. Unripe limes are dark green, ripe limes are pale green or yellow and relatively uniform in color, and bad limes are brown.

Ripe lime color is the color that is half way between the color chartreuse green and yellow on the color wheel.

Ripe limes vs yellow lime fruits

Ripe limes are pale green to yellowish in colored and juicier than the green and unripe limes. Commercial lime fruits are picked when they are still green before they turn yellow.

You can tell that lime is ripe if it feels soft when you gently squeeze. If it is still hard, it isn’t ripe and won’t be juicy. You can also pick one of the limes, cut it into half and see if it’s juicy. Another pro tip to judge which limes are ripe is to pick the heaviest ones.

You have to pick the limes after they ripen because once harvested, limes will seize to ripen. Once on the shelf, limes harvested limes only dry out. It is important to harvest the limes after they mature.

Why are my limes turning yellow?

Your limes are turning yellow because Different stages of a lime’s life cycle can result in a different color. When a lime is unripe, it is mostly green with some traces of yellow. As it ripens, the green fades and the yellow becomes more predominant. Once a lime has gone bad, it will be almost entirely yellow.

The reason for this change in color is because of the difference in levels of two pigments: chlorophyll and carotenoids. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color and it is present in high levels in unripened limes. As the lime ripens, the chlorophyll breaks down and is replaced by carotenoids, which are yellow pigments. So, a lime that is yellow has less chlorophyll and more carotenoids.

Are limes ripe when green or yellow?

Lime fruits begin to ripen when they turn from dark green through pale green and yellow when fully ripe. The general thumb rule for most lime varieties is that the darker the lime is, the less ripe it is, and the yellower a lime is, the riper it is.

There is an exception of the sweet lime variety, rare as it remains green even at its ripest stage. If you want to go by the color test to determine whether lime is ripe, it is easy to be misled.

It would help if, in addition to judging from the color you also, squeezed one to gauge softness or sliced one of the fruit to see the juiciness.

How do you know when yellow limes are bad?

Contrary to popular belief, yellowish limes aren’t always bad or spoiled. Unless you see brown spots or rotten patches, the lime is okay. So how do you know if limes are bad?

1. Brown or black spots on the yellow limes

Yellow lime with brown spots

If a lime fruit has brown or black spots, the chances are high that that particular fruit is spoiled. Normal lime ripe lime fruits are green to yellow in color. Any other coloration on the limes is cause for alarm and could indicate that the lime is bad.

2. Overly soft and discolored patches, often whitish on yellow limes

Ripe and healthy limes should be soft to touch but not squishy. Spoiled limes have a mushy texture due to the decay and breakdown of the lime’s cell walls and tissues, which causes the skin of the lime to be overly soft and discolored patches of decay.

How to tell if a yellow lime is spoilt

3. Foul smell

Like all spoiled, expired, or bad products, limes will give off a foul smell if the lime fruit is bad. When limes get spoiled, through the process of decay and fermentation, the lime starts to give off a funky smell, unlike the sweet citrusy scent.

What to do with yellow limes

If you have yellow limes and are wondering what to do with them, it’s easy. Eat them! I understand yellow limes are a newbie, and many people have never seen them, but there is nothing wrong with healthy yellow limes.

You won’t lose anything from trying yellow limes, and once you do, it will be sublime. In case you are stuck with ways you can enjoy the juiciness and sweetness of yellow limes, look below for inspiration for delicious yellow lime recipes.

Yellow lime recipes

1. Key lime butter cake


  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup key lime juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest (zest of 2-3 key limes)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray to prepare the pan.

A hand mixer or whisk beat the cake mix, butter, eggs, water, lime juice, extract, zest until a thick batter forms and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or you can use the toothpick method. Insert a toothpick into the cake, and if it comes out with just a few crumbs. It means the cake is ready. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes but keep it in the pan.

Drizzle powdered sugar and lime juice over the cooled cake.


2. Preserved lime


  • 1 kg limes
  • 100g salt
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 5 black peppercorns


The first step is to sterilize the jars/containers you will use, then leave the jar to cool completely.

Slice the limes into quarters or halves if the limes are very small. Place a tablespoon of salt into the jar’s bottom and add lime quarters into the jar, pressing down as the fruit juice releases.

Add the chosen spices down the side of each jar. Sprinkle over another layer of salt, and then add another layer of lime quarters and repeat these layers until the jar is full. Salt, lime quarters, and the spices while pressing down as you go on.

Remember to completely cover the fruit in salt. If the fruit hasn’t released enough of its own juices, squeeze a few extra and pour in this juice to cover.

After filling the jar, remember to leave 1 cm of space between the top of the fruit and the jar’s lid because if the salty fruit juice touches the lid or it will corrode the metal. Seal the jars and let them sit in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks.

The limes will be ready and preserved when the salt has completely dissolved into a gel-like liquid. The preserved limes will keep for years, but the jars should be stored in the fridge once opened.

3. Lime curd

lime curd


  • 1 tbsp. of lime zest
  • 4 tbsp. of lime juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¼ cup of cornstarch


Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a pan and add water and medium heat to a boil while constantly stirring. Let the sugar-cornstarch and water boil for a minute and remove from heat.

Scoop half a cup of the hot mixture, add eggs, and mix until perfectly combined. Add the egg mixture to the original sugar, starch, and water mixture and reboil on medium heat while stirring constantly.

After the mixture boils for a minute, remove from the fire, add butter, the lime zest, and juice. Let the curd cool before you can use it for filling your favorite cake, biscuit, or sandwich.


Why are my limes turning orange?

If you have a Rangpur lime tree plant, don’t be shocked if you get orange limes, and no, they are not oranges; they are limes. Orange limes turn orange when they ripe. So if the lime you have is a rangpur lime, expect it to be orange.

Why are my limes turning brown?

Limes turn brown when they are getting spoilt. If it has brown spots all over and soft mushy spots, the chances are that it is brown because it is getting spoilt.

Why are my limes turning yellow?

Limes turn yellow because of several reasons, including the following.
They are ripening
Pest and disease infestation


Not all yellow limes are bad. If you have some over-ripe lime fruits, you don’t have to throw them away. Eat them!

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