Monday 22 September 2008

finger lime martini

This is a finger lime.

Native to Australia, the finger lime (Citrus australasica) is a rare rainforest tree from the Australian east coast.

Of course Australian Aboriginals knew all about finger limes and ate them for generations, but many European settlers cleared the bushes (with their nasty thorns) to create farmland and so the once very common trees have become very rare.

The pulp or flesh of the limes is very unique as the vesicles have a caviar-like appearance and are hence called “lime caviar”, “caviar lime”, “citrus caviar” or even “lime crystals”.

The fruits are very compressed so when you break or cut them open the caviar just bursts out. Many people break them in half and squeeze the caviar out each end like a sausage, but I love to slit them in half and watch the caviar explode out.

Just like caviar, when you put the vesicles in your mouth and apply pressure, they pop and release very tangy, crisp lime juice.

Finger limes don’t taste like other limes. Somehow the flavour is much more aromatic, almost candy-like while still remaining very acidic. The scent is also unique, with a sweet floral edge.

Finger limes are challenging to grow because they take time to develop, but once they are on track they produce a lot of fruit. When picking the fruit, it is important to take only lime that fall from the tree easily as those showing resistance are immature and very astringent. Also, the vibrant colours from the pulp occurs at the very end of the maturation of the fruit, so for full colours it’s best to wait.

There are many varieties of finger limes, with different coloured peels and pulp:
Alstonville: Mostly brown smooth skin with green tinges. Pulp is light green and has a crisp, refreshing flavour.
Judy's Everbearing: Firm smooth skin varies between khaki, dark brown and maroon. Pulp is light green to pink in colour and has a very aromatic lemon lime flavour.
Other varietals include Pink Ice, Purple Viola, Jali Red and Mia Rose.

Apparently finger limes can also be frozen without destroying flavour or texture, which makes them accessible all year.

I just love them and can imagine them applied to all kinds of dishes. My favourite applications thus far has been a sweet finger lime curd as well as an accompaniment to freshly shucked oysters.

But here is my recipe for using them in a cocktail. They are wonderful paired with gin.

Finger Lime Martini
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 1.

75ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
15ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
10ml finger lime juice
Ice, for shaking
Lime slice, for garnish
Lime caviar, for garnish

1. Shake with ice and strain into a cold martini glass.
2. Garnish with finger lime caviar and a slice of lime.

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Haalo from one of my favourite blogs Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. I guess it’s fitting that I chose finger limes this week, since Haalo is based in the fine Aussie city of Melbourne.




  1. I am pink with envy over those fabulous finger limes! Just love them.

  2. Wow i have never ever sen or hear about this lime.
    Looks so cute

  3. I am amazed how you are able to keep coming up with these new things that I've never heard of. I can see that I must come to Australia sometime so I can see all these new things.

  4. very interesting;) I've never heard this finger lime, looks very sweet and yummy;) thanks for sharing....

  5. Amazing little fruit. They kinda look like pomegranate seeds.

    Do they grow well in pots?

  6. Thanks for sharing this lovely citrus fruit! I have never heard of finger limes before. Do they only grow in Australia? I can already imagine the "caviars" bursting in my mouth!!! :)

  7. Hi there, I'm Lisa. I met you the other night and wanted to say I love your blog. It's a shame I couldn't come to the Sugar Hit and chat to you a little more!

    I am curious about these finger limes since I'm doing a design project at college about Australian "bush fruits" and would like to get my hands on some... where did you find them? I've never seen them for sale anywhere before. Thanks so much xx

  8. Delicious. I was excited to find finger limes at my local growers market but found them difficult to juice. Do you have any tips?

  9. I love trying new drinks! I think your recipe to prepare a Finger Lime Martini is very simple to prepare and even to enjoy!
    Thank a lot for attaching the ingredients and the method too!

  10. I tasted one of these amazing fruits at a lecture about unusual citrus a good many years ago, but was not able to grow them from the little caviar, nor were they being commercially grown in California at the time. I was so thrilled to find one in my plant nursery today and I can't wait for them to start bearing so I can have a celebratory finger lime martini!

  11. where can I buy finger limes in Canada?

  12. Oh my.. do you have the recipe for the finger lime curd? I just got given about 3 lbs of thse lovely little limes and am looking for a way to use them up that will take advantage of their unique flavor.

  13. 2013, they are now for sale in bunnings as a plant


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