The finger lime (Citrus australasica) is a unique citrus fruit native to Australia. It is also commonly known as “caviar lime” or “lime caviar” due to its small, bead-like juice vesicles that resemble caviar and its very accentuated lime taste.
In this article, we will highlight its most notable nutritional properties and some serving suggestions.
- 1 What is finger lime or caviar lime
- 2 The finger lime plant
- 3 How to grow finger limes
- 4 Care and pruning
- 5 What does a finger lime taste like?
- 6 Finger lime: nutritional values
- 7 Health benefits of finger limes
- 8 Finger Lime during pregnancy
- 9 How can one use finger limes in cooking?
- 10 How to open the finger lime
- 11 Other uses of finger lime
- 12 More on this topic
This particular citrus originating from Australia is becoming increasingly popular in gourmet kitchens all over the world. Why? It’s an incredibly tasty fruit. A single juice vesicle contains an amount of concentrated citrusy flavor that is enough to flavor a dish!
But beyond the uses in the kitchen, this tropical fruit is now acclaimed for the many nutritional properties it boasts. The finger lime is very rich in vitamin C, folic acid and potassium and low in calories: a panacea for strengthening the immune system.
Let’s find out together all of its features, nutritional properties and how to taste it.
What is finger lime or caviar lime
The finger lime is a small, elongated citrus fruit that typically measures around 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) in length. Its appearance is quite distinctive and unique, which is why it’s often referred to as “finger lime.” Here is a short description of its most notable features:
- Shape: Finger limes are cylindrical or finger-shaped, hence the name. They can range in size from thin, slender varieties to slightly plumper ones.
- Skin: The skin of the finger lime can vary in color, including shades of green, yellow, red, or pink, depending on the variety. The skin is thin and smooth.
- Flesh: When you cut open a finger lime, you’ll find numerous small, bead-like juice vesicles inside. These vesicles are the hallmark feature of the fruit and are often referred to as “lime caviar” due to their resemblance to fish roe. The vesicles can vary in color, typically matching the skin color, and they burst with a burst of tangy, citrusy flavor when you bite into them.
- Flavor: Finger limes have a tart and tangy flavor, similar to traditional limes but with a unique texture due to the vesicles. The taste is refreshing and zesty, making it a popular choice for adding a citrusy kick to various dishes and beverages.
- Uses: Finger limes are used as a garnish in gourmet dishes, cocktails, and desserts. They add both visual appeal and a burst of flavor to a wide range of culinary creations. Chefs often use them to elevate the presentation of their dishes.
- Varieties: There are several finger lime varieties, each with its own unique color and flavor profile. Some of the popular varieties include the green finger lime, red finger lime, and pink finger lime. The red and pink varieties are the most sought after, also because they are more choreographic.
The finger lime plant
The botanical name of the finger lime is Citrus Australasica: it is an evergreen shrub native to eastern Australia, which can reach 20 inches (6 meters) in height.
There are different varieties, the best known are:
- Limeburst Green
- Lime Burst Black
- Limeburst Bourgogne
- Limeburst Pink
How to grow finger limes
A subtropical plant, the finger lime also grows well in mild climates: all you need is a little care and attention.
Soil and climate
In fact, the plant prefers a warm or mild climate all year round, fears frost and needs a lot of sun. For this reason, subtropical areas are favored to start growing finger lime plants.
The soil must be well drained and, if it is grown in pot, it is advisable to use expanded clay in the bottom of the pot to avoid water stagnation and root rot.
Where to plant lemon caviar
Before planting a finger lime plant, it is necessary to be sure that the place is warm, sunny and sheltered from wind and cold drafts.
If it is grown in pot, then it must be placed in a place well lit by the sun and sheltered from cold drafts, in rather deep pots.
Care and pruning
The finger lime plant needs a little more attention than other local citrus fruits. For the first two years it is allowed to grow by limiting pruning to dry branches only, but from the third year onwards pruning must be accurate and well done to lighten the foliage.
The best time to power the lemon caviar plant is the summer after it has borne fruit.
Be careful to prune with sharp tools and not to improvise gardeners. Oblique cuts must be made to remove dry branches, basal suckers and suckers. The oblique cuts serve to avoid the proliferation of fungi.
The pruning of the canopy serves to reduce the risk of parasites such as mealybugs.
When do the finger lime fruits ripen?
The finger lime fruits begin to form as early as early December but reach maximum maturity in May. Juicy fruits can be harvested and stored in the refrigerator for about 4 weeks.
The fruits are small, oval and with a thin skin similar to that of lime, weighing about 30-40 grams each fruit.
When to pick the fruit
It is advisable to harvest the fruit when it is fully ripe as, unlike other fruits, it will not finish ripening once it has been harvested.
After picking the fruit, store in a cool place: the fruit has a good durability, over 1 month
When does finger lime bloom?
The flowering of the finger lime plant occurs in full spring. After bearing fruit, the plant produces beautiful flowers until late autumn.
What does a finger lime taste like?
The taste of finger limes can be described as a combination of tartness, acidity, and a subtle citrusy flavor. The tartness is similar to that of regular limes or lemons but may be even more concentrated in finger limes. While they are tart, finger limes also have a distinct citrus flavor. This citrusy note can be somewhat sweeter than a typical lime or lemon, with hints of lemon, lime, and grapefruit all combined.
Finger limes have a fragrant aroma that complements their citrusy taste. The aroma can be quite pleasant and adds to the overall sensory experience when using them in culinary dishes.
But what sets finger limes apart from other citrus fruits is their unique texture. The pulp of finger limes is made up of small, bead-like juice vesicles that resemble caviar. The individual pearls or vesicles inside the finger lime resemble tiny caviar beads, and they pop in your mouth when you bite down on them. When you bite into a finger lime, these tiny beads burst, releasing bursts of flavor and juice, making them a popular choice for garnishes, salads, and various culinary applications.
Finger lime: nutritional values
Each 100 grams of finger lime provides approximately 22 kcal and contains:
- 74.8 g of water
- 2.2 g of protein
- 10 g of carbohydrates
- g of fat
- 1 g of sugars
- 6.7 g of fiber
- Approximately 70 mg of minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc
- 30 mg of Vitamin C
Health benefits of finger limes
The finger lime is not only good and tasty to eat to savor dishes and drinks, the fruit is a rich food with antiseptic, digestive and refreshing properties, it also helps the body to strengthen the immune system.
- Citric, malic and gallic acid in combination with vitamins is a natural remedy against skin aging and increases the brightness of the skin
- Vitamin C, folic acid and potassium are a panacea in strengthening the immune system and warding off seasonal ailments. Mineral salts make the body stronger
- Finger lime is also an excellent natural digestive, as it helps the body to assimilate nutrients more quickly during digestion and also has important antiseptic properties that slow down the development of diseases and infections
- Keeps bad cholesterol under control
- Recent studies suggest that its regular intake can help reduce the risk of some types of cancer
Benefits for the skin
This citrus fruit, also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry, contains citric acid, malic acid, gallic acid and vitamins which are useful for keeping the skin healthy and nourished. It reduces wrinkles and signs of aging and gives new luminosity. You can apply a natural mask based on lemon caviar on the skin to immediately obtain noticeable results.
It is also perfect for treating acne or reducing damage caused by sun exposure such as sunspots.
Finger Lime during pregnancy
The finger lime is a fruit recommended during pregnancy because in addition to the many typical qualities of a citrus fruit, it is particularly rich in folic acid which is really important to take during gestation to prevent neural tube defects in the newborn.
How can one use finger limes in cooking?
The most popular use of the finger lime is to flavor dishes, especially fish courses. Thanks to its strong citrus aroma, a few scoops of lemon caviar will be enough to give the dish an excellent taste of fresh lime, a spicy and sour note that not only adapts very well to jams, candied fruit, creams and sweets but also to savory dishes, above all fish dishes.
For example, this foodie favorite is highly appreciated in combination with salmon or tuna and delicious fish crudités based on shellfish and oysters or carpaccio of sea bream or grouper
Not only does it give a very special flavor, but it is of great visual impact given its shape similar to sturgeon eggs, but yellow-green in colour.
In truth, the yellow spheres of lemon caviar are also excellent for serving a chicory or iceberg salad or as a garnish for canapés with mayonnaise.
A delicious idea are the lime-flavored salmon canapés. The finger lime resembles caviar and adds a precious touch to any dish.
A recipe to try at home: salmon and finger lime canapés
Canapes are an excellent solution to offer a quick aperitif with a unique flavor, perhaps accompanied by a nice cold white wine.
- For the preparation of canapés you can buy ready-made puff pastry.
- Roll out the puff pastry on a baking tray, brush with egg yolk and cut into squares.
- Bake in a hot oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Cover with cream cheese spread and a slice of smoked salmon. Finally put a few scoops of lemon caviar. Very simple but also very good.
How to open the finger lime
To open the fruit, just cut the pod lengthwise. By applying pressure, the yellow spheres will come out. Simple like that!
Other uses of finger lime
Finger limes are not only used for food purposes, but also in the cosmetic industry for the production of perfumes, body creams, shampoos and deodorants.
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