Limes, I LOVE Limes but Why Are There No Lemons in Belize? Oh Yes, And One Albino Pumpkin

When Martha Stewart, American maven of all things crafty and beautiful, was released from white-collar prison, she was asked about her harrowing experience and how she felt.  “I feel great”, the felon answered on her first day of freedom.

Next question:  what did you miss most while you were locked-up?    Martha’s answer (and this I am not making up):  LEMONS.  Martha missed lemons while doing hard time.

At the time (2005), this struck me as…well…EXTREMELY odd.  YES, I know…Martha is extremely quirky and WAY out of touch with the real world.  Suggesting that you might have time to hand stamp your own wrapping paper or sew your childrens’ lunch bags from home dipped oilcloth?  Ridiculous.

BUT LEMONS MARTHA?  Your first thought is not privacy?  Fluffy pillows?   Outfits that aren’t neon orange with elastic waistbands?   Your dogs?  YOUR KIDS?  But stupid old, everyday lemons?  The throw-away fruit slice on the side of most plates and almost every drink?


But after seven years in Belize (great years, years that I am in NO WAY likening to prison), I think I am almost starting to get it.  Sure I miss things more than lemons.  Like my best friend TIVO (I still press the imaginary pause button on my remote control) or magazines and newspapers or book stores but your mind has a way of fixating on things it can’t have and making you want them.

Mmmm…lemonade.  Lemon squeezed on fish.  Lemon bars…

And I’ve been missing the taste of lemons.  Limes are everywhere in Belize.  In almost every dish.  Used for just about everything…from washing chicken to ceviche to the garnish on the side of your rum & Coke.   And I’ve always loved them more than lemons.

But lemons are just not really sold on Ambergris Caye.  And they have a different distinct taste that just fits in certain dishes.  So when I spotted a rare bin of them in Greenhouse yesterday.  75 cents each I bought 2…to flavor water with.  And I walked out hell-bent on finding out why there are no (well…not many) lemons in Belize.


Who best to ask to ask about lemons in this country?  I called the National Citrus Growers Association in Stann, Creek Belize.  Horrible disease that wiped out a crop?  They don’t grow well in the soil down here?  Nope.  The super nice man I spoke to gave me a simple answer:

Traditionally, Belizeans just prefer limes.  There hasn’t really been much demand for lemons.  You can get some…but just not that many.

Interesting.  Could I order trees?  Yes.  Is there any reason why I can’t grow lemons?  No.  Sunkist and Meyer lemons for the tourist industry that is growing daily?  Hmmmm…this sounds like a good business idea.

So yes…I just typed 400 words to get to that boring answer about a boring citrus fruit.  But MAYBE I can intrigue with an albino pumpkin?  Let’s give it a go.

ALSO purchased at my favorite food store, The Greenhouse, was one pumpkin.  2 crates had recently arrived from Valley of Peace, Belize and they are $5bzd each.  Small to huge.  $5bzd.

As I stood on line with my medium sized gourd everyone asked me the same thing…”uhhhh…what are you going to do with that?”.  Good question…though it would make a beautiful centerpiece.


Once home, I realized that this thing has INCREDIBLY hard skin.  Almost as if made of pottery.  Honestly, my sharpest knife left only a slight scar on the outside.  Anymore hacking and I would probably lose a finger.

I took it outside to drop on the cement.  2 drops and nothing.  From over my head.  Are you supposed to eat this thing?  Clearly it does not want to be opened.  A machete?  An axe?

Looking around to make sure there were no neighbors about, I took my pumpkin to my balcony for a second story drop.  Only the iguanas around to witness how strange I really am.

IMG_7113But I had no choice!  This bowling ball vegetable would not crack!  Voile.  That was the answer.  It didn’t even crack all the way, I had to pull it open with all my strength.

So, cleaned, half went in the oven with some salt and cinnamon and the seed…OH THE SEEDS…I washed and roasted with a bit of olive oil and salt in a pan.


After about 10 minutes on a low-medium heat, they started popping (almost like Jiffy pop)…and were ready.  Fat, nutty, fresh and delicious.  Worth the $5bzd alone.

Totally addicting.

IMG_7116The pumpkin itself was in the oven for about 2 hours (anyone experience any brown outs yesterday?) and…while softened inside the rock hard shell, the meat was…kinda bitter.  Not the gorgeous butternut squashy-ness I was hoping for.

Maybe today I’ll try doctoring it up with some sugar and spices but I’ll be honest.  I’ve lost of bit of interesting in this pumpkin.

I would LOVE to know what this rock is used for locally and how it is really supposed to be opened.  It’s as hard as a coconut!  Please let me know.




  • Claire

    Thanks for a great post – it made me giggle. I can remember my Dad using the same technique to open a coconut when we were living in England as very little kids, only the drop was five stories down the stairwell in our apartment building.
    It’s also great to finally get an answer to the ‘where are the lemons?’ question. If you start growing them, I’ll buy them!
    My favourite use for a pumpkin is pumpkin soup – but I usually make it with butternut pumpkin, am not sure how well it would work with this one.

    • sanpedroscoop

      This albino pumpkin is definitely a mystery. The first half is now in the garbage…second half in the fridge. We will see!

  • Jazzy Jaz

    do pumpkin sweet…. it is a mestizo cultural sweet – dulce de calabaza… it is delish but it takes around two days to have d final product… but it is worth while waiting! 😀

    • sanpedroscoop

      TWO DAYS! How do you even get into that thing? I suggest just throwing it whole onto a camp fire…I think it’s your best bet.

  • Interesting about limes…I’d wondered myself. I too prefer limes in most cases, but there are times when only a lemon will do. Mexico is the same, limes everywhere, but they do put lemon slices on salads, oddly enough, or at least the two salads I ordered while traveling there. I didn’t really care for the salads as they both used iceberg lettuce, pale tomatoes, and lemons. To me, that’s no salad, especially with all the gorgeous produce available there! Your pumpkin story is too funny — I have never bought a white one. The seeds sounded scrumptious, though. If the flesh is bitter, I’d just toss it. No way to improve that.

    • sanpedroscoop

      Lemon on a salad? Total throw away. Along with the iceburg and the pink tomato!

  • Patty Pound

    Well, I am not sure about the white pumpkin, I have only baked the orange ones but the flesh inside looks so bright and beautiful. I have been looking for pumpkin because the vet told me, to feed it to our dog. He has hit a rough patch. But, I may try Greenhouse and get one. Hopefully he won’t be picky about the flavor too much. So glad to read this as I haven’t found pumpkin anywhere else.

    • Belize Blog

      Yes! I remember my mother giving our dog canned pumpkin once. I SO didn’t remember that! Good luck with your pumpkin…and if you don’t need the seeds, I’ll come pick them up for sure!

  • marysaunders

    Christopher Nesbitt grows big pumpkins on Maya Mountain, close to the border. The pies look delicious. You might want to add a visit to his place to your list. If you type in Maya Mountain, it should come up. I was in Belize last year and want to get back. As for pumpkin for dogs, I have a friend in Oregon who shoots pumpkins out of a cannon every year on the 4th of July (it’s the U.S. where crazy is normal). The coyotes come and eat the prepared pumpkin and deposit large, orange bullets all over his golf course. I guess there must be something going on about the dog family and pumpkins.

    • Belize Blog

      Crazy is SUPER normal here. Only problem is that we have no cannons…that I know of. I am dying to do a ton of stuff in the mountains…starting with the blue and black holes. I’m DEFINITELY adding a pumpkin patch to the list. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • kellie m

    TIVO is my best friend, too!

    • Belize Blog

      It’s the absolute best. Miss it every day.