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!
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.
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.
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
I’ve done a couple of recipes using caviar lime, look out for them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, 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.
Gin & Tonic with Australian Finger Lime
The card below tells you how to use the Australian Finger Lime. For recipe ideas, look above.
How to Use Australian Finger Limes (Caviar Limes)
- 1-2 Finger limes as needed
- 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.