Finger Limes

What are Finger Limes

They’ve been called “lime caviar”, “citrus caviar” and “caviar lime”. Finger limes, or citrus australasica are native to Australia and have been used by the Aboriginal population for many centuries. Once an abundant produce, now the gherkin-shaped fruit grows along the coastal border of New South Wales and Queensland.

Finger Limes
Finger Limes

When you cut a finger lime, tiny caviar-like balls called vesicles are released which burst in the mouth with a concentrated lime flavour. They vary in colour from pale pink to yellow and bright green. The skin colour gives no indication so there is an element of surprise.

Finger Lime Caviar
Finger Lime Caviar

Break a finger lime in half and squeeze each end to release the vesicles. Slit them lengthwise in half and watch the lime caviar burst out or slice them into wheels. The citrus flavour is very tangy and concentrated and can vary from sour limes to grapefruit.

This native food is currently in season and it pays to stock up as the fruit freezes well and retains its texture and flavour.

How to Cook with Finger Lime

Finger limes can be substituted for lemon or lime in anything from salads to seafood and sushi. Use on freshly-shucked Sydney Rock Oysters – the combination of tang and brine is sensational.

Oysters with Finger Limes
Oysters with Finger Limes

In a hot pan, lightly sear scallops with butter and oil then serve on top sautéed baby spinach with garlic. Top with finger-lime caviar.

Scallops with Finger Lime Caviar
Scallops with Finger Lime Caviar

Use them in ceviche, with BBQ prawns and in desserts and jams.

Finger Limes in Spirits and Cocktails

Aside from their use in the kitchen, finger limes are taking place in the world of Australian craft spirits.

Stone Pine Distillery in Bathurst, NSW uses this native citrus to produce Finger Lime Vodka and uses it in their Stone Pine Gin. Finger limes are a key botanical in Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin which is produced in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. They lend much citrus flavour and punch to this gunpowder proof Australian gin. Mt. Uncle Distillery in North Queensland also uses the native fruit to make Botanic Australis Gin.

Gin & Tonic with Finger Limes
Gin & Tonic with Finger Limes

Whether finger limes are a key ingredient in the spirit or not, the fruit is well suited to a gin and tonic. Simply cut into wheels, add to the drink and stir. Or if you prefer, cut in half and squeeze the lime caviar into the drink. The vesicles eventually sink to the bottom, releasing some of the tang and when the drink is sipped, they pop in the mouth.

We tried them in a Martini but found the flavour to overpower the balance of the drink. Finger limes can also be used in a Gimlet, muddled in a Mojito or Caipirinha and the caviar can be used as a garnish for frozen margaritas.

Finger Limes
Finger Limes

For a simple, refreshing and non-alcoholic drink, add a couple of finger lime wheels to sparkling water.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

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This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2016.

Finger Limes was last modified: February 16th, 2016 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.