Australian Finger Lime (Caviar Lime) and how to use it

The Australian Finger Lime, or Caviar Lime, is native to Australia. When cut open, it releases tiny citrus sacs bursting with flavour.
Australian finger lime
Australian finger lime
Australian finger lime

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

What are Australian Finger Limes?

The Australian Finger Lime (Citrus australasica), as its name suggests, is native to Australia, specifically, the rainforests of SE Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

It is one of a few native lime varieties of Australia, and arguably, the most well known. When cut open, finger limes release tiny little citrus sacs, that are just bursting with flavour.

These tiny, astringent sacs look like caviar, hence their more sophisticated name, lime caviar, or caviar lime.

In its natural habitat, the finger lime plant can grow to be a 6-metre tall tree. It is extremely thorny, with the thorns being rather long and very sharp. There were many ouch moments over the last few months as I attempted to prune or rid my plant of those pesky red spider mites!

Finger lime flower
Finger lime flower

Australian Finger Lime Varieties

Australian finger limes come in different sizes, shapes and colours. They can range from about just 3cm long to about 12 cm (5″). These are some examples of varieties available:

  • Rainforest Pearl. Citrus australasica var. sanguinea, green fruit with touches of red with pink pearls.
  • Pink Ice. Citrus australasica, reddish fruit with clear to light pink pearls.
  • Durhams Emerald. Citrus australasica, black fruit with an emerald green flesh.
  • Judy’s Everbearing. Citrus australasica, green-brown to maroon fruit with green to deep pink flesh.
Australian Finger Lime
Young Finger Lime Pod

What do fingers limes taste like?

Definitely citrusy! Tart, with a touch of bitterness, and just a hint of sweet. Personally, I think it’s almost like a cross between a Persian lime and a young grapefruit, with some lemon basil thrown in.

I just love how the tiny pearls burst in your mouth, releasing a shot of tangy, zingy flavour, as you bite into them unsuspectingly.

Australian finger lime
the “caviar”

How to use Caviar Limes?

I personally think that they are best used as they are, fresh, as a topping, a garnish or a final flavour enhancer. I’ve seen a few recipes out there for cakes and such, but I reckon you are doing the finger lime a big disservice by cooking it. Its aroma and flavour get lost once cooked.

Caviar limes are best enjoyed raw, and to me, have a special relationship with seafood.

Here are just some ways that I use them:

  • canapé topping
  • sushi topping
  • as a garnish on cooked seafood like salmon, scallops, lobsters and prawns (shrimps)
  • in ceviches
  • in salads
  • on risotti (plural of risotto)
  • with oysters (a particular favourite of mine)
  • and most certainly in cocktails, whether it’s the more popular margaritas, gin and tonic, mojitos or the more obscure.

Australian Finger Lime Recipes

Caviar lime would go perfectly in any of the recipes below, used as a garnish or, in the case of the ceviche, ingredient and garnish, alongside whatever lime you are using.

Scallop Ceviche (a 5-ingredient Ceviche)
This 10-minute Scallop Ceviche recipe, with its tingling, citrusy, and a touch boozy marinade, is simply exquisite!
Check out this recipe
Scallop ceviche in a shot glass, dark background
Smoked Salmon Salad (with Orange and Marinated Artichokes)
This smoked salmon salad is a treat for all your senses, with oranges and marinated artichokes. An easy party salad to please all your discerning guests!
Check out this recipe
pouring dressing on salad
Lemon Risotto (Risotto al Limone)
Lemon Risotto or Risotto al Limone is a simple risotto with a light, delicate flavour with the citrus juice and zest taking centerstage, without ever overpowering.
Check out this recipe
white risotto on pink plate dark background

Gin & Tonic with Australian Finger Lime

Gin & Tonic with Australian Finger Lime and Basil
Gin & Tonic with Australian Finger Lime and Basil

The card below tells you how to use the Australian Finger Lime. For recipe ideas, look above.

Australian finger lime

How to Use Australian Finger Limes (Caviar Limes)

The Australian Finger Lime, or Caviar Lime, is native to Australia. When cut open, it releases tiny citrus sacs bursting with flavour.
5 from 3 votes
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Course: Ingredients
Cuisine: Australian
Keyword: ingredients, lime
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Author: Azlin Bloor
Cost: £2 ($2.60) per lime

Equipment

  • Knife

Ingredients

  • 1-2 Finger limes as needed

Instructions

  • Cut in half.
  • If your limes are very ripe, squeeze, to release the the pearls. Do this over a bowl to catch the juice that you can add to whatever recipe you are using.
  • If your limes are resistant and not overly ripe, slice them lengthwise, and carefully, using a fork, loosen the pearls without squashing them.
  • Add the juice to your recipe, and top the dish with the pearls.
Discover more Culinary Plants!Check out The Edible Garden

24 thoughts on “Australian Finger Lime (Caviar Lime) and how to use it”

  1. Do I need two Australian Finger Lime Tree plants to pollinate or will normal citrus trees do to get them to bear fruit.

    1. Hi Michael, I know you sometimes read that you need more than 1 plant, but I’ve only ever had the one, and it’s always been prolific. To the best of my knowledge, finger limes are self pollinating, so you don’t need another citrus.

      1. Hi! I have two weeks ago purchased my first Finger Lime at my local nursery.
        It is about 38 cm or 15 ins. But wow it has vicious thorns all over it. It was the plant of the week so I got it at a good price. We are able to purchase it here in NZ through “Incredible Edibles” stocked at local nurseries. I’m surprised it grows as a tree. I thought it was a shrub. I have been wondering where to plant it as it’s native region is sub tropical so gets both tropical heat and rain fall. I daresay I will have to water it regularly.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for your ideas, I bought my tree 4 years ago and this year is my biggest harvest it’s amazing how many I get now. I just didn’t really know what to do with them. These ideas are great.

  3. Laraine E Enderle

    I just purchased a 5 gallon tree at Costco in California, $24.99 with flowers and one small fruit.

  4. Gareth Banks

    Very nice. I’ve heard the name but never seen it. Great reading, will have to keep my eyes open for them at our specialty produce shop. Or maybe get them to stock these things.

  5. I saw these at a couple of markets when I was on holiday in Australia a couple of years ago. I forgot all about them. I’m going to look online here see if I can find them.

    1. Hi Marilyn, I got them online from Suttons.co.uk for £40. I also found a supplier or 2 on Ebay, but the plant (at £12) was only a year old, and wouldn’t have fruited in the first year or two.

  6. These are completely new to me, very interesting. Can I get them in the UK?They’ll go down a treat this summer.

    1. Hi Gareth, yes you can. Just do a search for them online. Before I grew them, there was just one supplier, Fine Food Specialists. They are pretty costly though, about £4-£5 per little fruit. Before p&p.

  7. Chris Fisher

    Wow, you grow finger limes? That’s very cool. I’m in Aus and I can’t find anyone here who sells them. A very interesting read.

      1. Linda Summerville

        Hi Azlin & Chris
        I too am in Oz & tasted one of these limes at Laurieton markets a few years back. Loved it…..totally taken with first bite but till recently couldn’t find where to buy any. Two months ago found tree supplier!! BUNNINGS! Hope this helps

        1. Hi Linda, thank you for that information, I’ll send Chris an email. I was in the same position when I found someone who sold the plant! But would you believe it, the guys who deliver my groceries now stock these!

        2. Katie Giczi

          Forbidden Fruits nursery at the Bellingen markets sells them. Only buy the grafted ones as the non grafted don’t seem to fruit. They also seem quite fussy as to how the grow. I have had 3 non grafted did nothing. I have 2 grafted one barely fruits and I just picked 2 kg from the other tree to make marmalade.

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