Unripened limes tend to be dry and lack flavor, so your marinades, cocktails and savory dishes will lack that oomph. Limes don't ripen off the tree; they must be picked and stored when they are at or close to maturity, but quality differences still exist. When choosing a ripe lime, let aroma, color, weight and texture guide you toward mature fruit.

Look for all four attributes when choosing a ripe lime.

Step 1

Smell the limes. A ripe lime will smelly lime-y; those that are underripe will not have a strong smell. Scratch the skin of the lime with a fingernail, then sniff to test for ripeness.

Step 2

Go green: green limes are generally ripe and have more lime flavor than yellowish-green ones.

Step 3

Feel the skin. It should give a little when you squeeze it but still firm, not soft. Limes that don't give to a squeeze are under-ripe; those that feel too soft are too ripe.

Step 4

Choose fruits that feel heavy, since these have more juice than those that feel light for their size. The heaviness also indicates maturity, notes food scientist Shirley Corriher.