Limes have a certain pizazz that lemons just don’t. Grapefruit doesn’t, either…in fact, not even tangerines can match up to a lime’s potential to play a sweet/sour role as a keynote flavor or background blend. A squirt of lime juice also lends a dish a Mexican or Caribbean flavor that an orange simply can’t provide. Besides, not many populations are nicknamed after fruits Limeys and Kiwis are the only ones I can think of. (The British acquired theirs because their navy routinely stocked its ships with limes to prevent British sailors from getting scurvy, a deterioration of the body that happens when vitamin C is in scant or no supply.)
From a cook’s standpoint, there’s also a lot to be said for the juiciness of limes vs. lemons despite their smaller size, limes yield just as much juice as lemons do, especially if they’re squeezed at room temperature rather than fresh from the fridge. This juiciness has to do with their thin skins, which equals more juice per volume and wedges that are more easily compressed and wrung out. A lime’s skin, however, is its Kryptonite as well as its headlining feature since it means that the lime will dry out and shrivel more quickly than a lemon or orange or grapefruit. The low humidity of a refrigerator will hasten its descent into hard woodenness.
Hence, the best way to store limes is on the counter, not in the fridge. Once cut, a lime wedge won’t fare any better than a refrigerated whole lime, however, and for the same tendency-to-dry-out reason. The best way I’ve found to prolong the life of my limes is to place the cut sections in a ziploc plastic bag with a small piece of damp paper towel that arrangement seems to provide enough humidity to keep the lime juicy for about a week before it begins to mold. It’s still not a terribly long-lived fruit, but if you have extra pre-cut lime wedges on hand, just pop them into a cool glass of water for a refreshing drink. You can also use them to zip up salad dressings, add zing to fish (or nearly any other dish), make guacamole, acidulate water, etc. The limeabilities are endless!