At a lavender festival I attended several years ago there was a vendor selling finger limes. I didn’t know what they were; I had never seen them. My curiosity got the best of me so I bought a few.
I took one to a party and treated it like an elementary school “show and tell” exercise. It seemed like a novelty fruit. People were amused, just as I had been when I laid eyes on my first finger lime. A short time after that I received an email from a local nursery advertising the availability of a limited stock of finger lime trees. I immediately called and was told they only had two left; the rest had already been sold. Who knew they would sell out so quickly. The nursery reserved one for me and I picked it up the following day. Last year I had real hopes for it bearing fruit. Unfortunately, the buds it produced did not survive.
This year seems promising. I’m so excited because we might stand a chance at getting some real fruit off the tree. There are many flowers and several large pods of fruit forming, one of which you can see in my picture below.
So what exactly is a Finger Lime? The botanical name is Citrus australasica, but is commonly known as the Australian finger lime. It is a thorny shrub/tree native to Australia. You can grow them in California but will do best if you are in a coastal, Mediterranean climate like us. They produce a small flower and pod-shaped fruit. Inside the pod are small beads known as “juice vesicles” where the juice is stored. These vesicles look similar to caviar which is why finger limes are often referred to as “citrus caviar”. Sounds exotic, right?
Finger limes can produce fruit in an array of colors. The small citrus beads are best used as a garnish when a hint of citrus flavor is needed. They will definitely add a bit of the exotic to your recipes.
How to use finger lime.
Use as a garnish on desserts. Here it is accompanied with mint on a key lime pie tart.
Use them as a cocktail garnish. I would love to try the Bixby Bloody Bixby.
If you happen to come across finger limes for sale, do not pass them up. You can host your own “show and tell” to put your own citrus caviar on exhibit to wow your guests.