Experiments in finger lime


When he was about fourteen, my brother got a finger lime tree for his birthday. We planted it in the back corner of the yard which was slowly becoming a miniature orchard. For years it was just this incredibly spikey bush that dad didn’t to mow around. Then it started to grow limes! But we didn’t really know what to do with them. Put them in gin?
Now, years later the tree is covered in limes and that corner of the yard is covered in fruit trees. We’ve finally worked out what you do with finger limes which is put them on everything. Mum and I are increasingly obsessed with them and she has been bringing me a big bag of every time I see her.

Finger limes are native to Australia. They’re a shaped like fat little fingers and inside they’re packed with jewel-like juice bubbles. Tougher than the juice sacks in regular citrus, you can squeeze these bubbles out. There’s also called “lime caviar” because the resemblance is pretty uncanny. Only instead of being fishy (I assume caviar is fishy, I have never had caviar), they have a gently sour, slightly savoury citrus taste. They are so delicious sprinkled over pretty much anything, but especially stir-fries and curries, breakfast salad and lunch noodles.  
This probably deserves a much longer rant but the fact that we don’t use finger limes is a travesty. They’re a native citrus that is delicious and amazing and yet I have no idea where you would buy them (maybe online?). Why can’t you buy them at supermarkets! Why don’t we use Australian native foods! When you Googles “finger lime recipes” almost all the results are American sites talking about this exotic delicacy you can get at boutique green grocers. If we can be patriotic abut anything (and let’s be honest, the list is getting shorter and shorter) surely it is food. Anyway, if you want to recommend other native foods that I should get into, I would like that.

Mum bought me a huge bag of finger limes when they were here last. I decided that I would do some experiments because I was unlikely to make enough curry and stir fry to get through the whole lot. The internet was literally no help because all the Americans were just like “It is like caviar! Put it on fish!” so I had to make it up.
The first thing I made was finger lime curd. I used this recipe and replaced half the lime juice with finger lime pulp. By which I mean I squeezed out finger limes until I got bored and then decided that was enough finger limes. This worked so well. The curd has a much softer taste than it would with lemon or lime juice because the finger limes are less tart. The curd is studded with pink. This morning we had it on pancakes with raspberry and mint. It was extremely very good.
I also preserved a bunch with salt and the juice from regular limes. I was going to make pickle but all the recipes I could find for lime pickle involved already preserved limes. So here we are. I’ll report back in six weeks when they’re done preserving and I can decide if it worked well enough to continue to the pickle phase. I have no idea if the skins of the finger limes will go soft like regular limes do because did I mention the internet is no help re: finger limes. Regardless, they look very pretty in their little jar.

In other news, while I was on a preserving spree I made chilli sauce because Fiona’s parents bought her way too many habaneros from their garden. So I cut up a frankly dangerous quantity of “death chillies” (I am so glad I forgot they are called death chillies until after I was done). The whole time I was just chanting “do not touch your face, do not touch your face, do not touch your face”. Afterwards, I rubbed butter into my fingers in an attempt to defuse the chilli juice and stop it infecting everything I touched forever. While this worked pretty well, my knuckles continued to feel like they were legitimately on fire for several hours afterwards.
I stewed the chillies with apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and coriander. I cooked it right down until it was thick, then blended it and diluted it back to a sauce consistency with water, adjusting the sugar and vinegar to taste (as far as I could taste anything through the pain). It actually turned out really well. I am pretty proud of my first chilli based cooking experiment. I Survived Making Habanero Sauce 2016.

In conclusion, always make your parents bring you things from their garden. Because parents grow such great things in their garden. And also you should try and get your hands on some finger limes because they are the actual best. The end.


Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year