Flavour of the month: finger limes
Finger limes (citrusaustralasica), fondly known as 'citrus caviar', are sublime six to 12 centimetre finger shaped fruit, that contain hundreds of tangy roe-like, juicy pearls known as vesicles.
There are a number of commercially grown varieties in Australia, each varying in rind, vesicle colour and flavour. Finger limes' thin leathery rind ranges in colour from green, yellow, maroon and pink to bright red.
The pearls can be clear to pale icy pink, hot pink, red, bright yellow, pale green or vibrant green. The intensity of flavour and acidity levels span from zingy lime to sweet pink grapefruit, with all varieties having the most pleasurable mouthfeel.
Native to the rainforests of South East Queensland and northern NSW, finger limes are now grown commercially, predominately between Noosa in Queensland and Bryon Bay in NSW, with orchards also established in Pemberton, Western Australia.
Fresh finger limes are available from January to April. Beyond the fresh season fruit is available frozen so supply is year round.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
This versatile indigenous citrus offers interesting colours, a burst of fresh citrus flavour along with a delightful crisp texture.
It’s decorative and imparts a refreshing zingy flavour and reduces richness.
Fingers limes add a zesty vibrancy to fish, crustaceans, oysters, scallops, smoked eel, crme fraiche, yoghurt, vodka, gin, beer, sparkling wine, avocado, cucumber, asparagus, melons, papaya, stonefruit, mango, custard apple and chocolate.
- Enliven martinis, cocktails, spirits, Champagne or beer.
- Add a burst of flavour to fresh and smoked seafood dishes.
- Take butters and curds to a new level.
- Add vesicles to seafood and salads dressing.
- Garnish sashimi, sushi, ceviche, seafood tartare or oysters for a delicate crunch and flavour.
- Reduce richness and add a new level of flavour to cheesecakes creamy citrus desserts or sprinkle over a pavlova.
- Use to make gelato and granita.
Finger limes have a shelf life of between three to four weeks. Refrigerate at four degrees Celsius in a box or paper bag to keep dry. For longer storage, freeze finger limes for up to three months and defrost in the refrigerator.
Always cut open finger limes crossways, not lengthways and then slowly squeeze out the ‘citrus caviar’, just like squeezing toothpaste from a tube.