Finger Lime (or Caviar Lime)
5 mins read

Finger Lime (or Caviar Lime)

Introduction

Finger lime, also known as caviar lime, is a unique and versatile citrus fruit native to Australia and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Citrus australasica, and it belongs to the Rutaceae family. The finger lime is a small, cylindrical citrus fruit with a distinctive shape, resembling a finger. It has a thin, rough skin that is usually green or yellowish-green in color, and its pulp is made up of small, juicy vesicles that resemble caviar. This fruit has been a staple in Australian Aboriginal cuisine for centuries and is gaining popularity worldwide for its burst of citrus flavor and numerous health benefits.

Etymology

The name “finger lime” comes from the fruit’s shape, which resembles a finger. The alternative name “caviar lime” refers to the small, juicy vesicles that make up its pulp, which resemble caviar. The scientific name Citrus australasica is derived from the Latin word “australis,” meaning “southern,” and the suffix “-ica,” which is used to form adjectives indicating place of origin.

Description

Finger lime is a small, evergreen tree that grows up to 6 meters (20 feet) tall. Its leaves are dark green, elliptical in shape, and have a distinctive aroma. The fruit is a cylindrical berry, usually around 6-10 cm (2.5-4 inches) long and 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 inches) in diameter. The skin is thin, rough, and green or yellowish-green in color, while the pulp is made up of small, juicy vesicles that are bursting with citrus flavor.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Finger lime is a member of the Citrus genus, which includes other popular citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes. It is classified into several cultivars, including:

CultivarDescription
‘Australian Finger Lime’The most widely cultivated variety, known for its high-quality fruit.
‘Sunrise’A popular variety with bright yellow skin and a sweeter flavor.
‘Red Centre’A variety with deep red skin and a more acidic flavor.
‘Yellow Finger’A variety with yellow skin and a milder flavor.

Distribution and Habitat

Finger lime is native to the subtropical and tropical regions of Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. It grows in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade, and is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels.

Cultivation

Finger lime is usually propagated through seed or grafting, and is grown in orchards or as a backyard tree. It requires regular watering, fertilization, and pruning to maintain its shape and promote fruiting.

Production and Uses

Finger lime is used in various ways, including:

UseDescription
CulinaryUsed as a garnish, added to cocktails, and used in cooking and baking.
FlavoringUsed to add a burst of citrus flavor to sauces, marinades, and dressings.
AromatherapyThe essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its uplifting and refreshing properties.
SkincareThe oil is used in skincare products for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Phytochemistry

Finger lime contains a range of bioactive compounds, including:

CompoundDescription
LimoneneA monoterpene with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
FlavonoidsA class of compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ascorbic acidVitamin C, important for immune function and collagen production.

Flavor

Finger lime has a unique, intense citrus flavor that is often described as a combination of lime, lemon, and grapefruit. The flavor is released when the small vesicles in the pulp are burst, releasing a burst of citrus flavor.

Toxicity

Finger lime is generally considered safe to consume, but may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. The essential oil should be used in moderation, as it may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

Nutrition

Finger lime is a nutrient-rich fruit, providing:

NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Vitamin C30mg
Potassium140mg
Fiber2g
AntioxidantsHigh amount

Culture

Finger lime has been an important food source for Australian Aboriginal communities for centuries, and is considered a “bush food” or “native food.” It is also gaining popularity worldwide for its unique flavor

Finger lime has been an important food source for Australian Aboriginal communities for centuries, and is considered a “bush food” or “native food.” It is also gaining popularity worldwide for its unique flavor and versatility in cooking.

Quotes

  • “Finger lime is like a little packet of citrus sunshine.” – Chef Peter Gilmore
  • “The finger lime is a true Australian native, and its flavor is like nothing else.” – Chef Kylie Kwong
  • “Finger lime is a game-changer for any chef or foodie looking to add a new dimension to their dishes.” – Chef Neil Perry

Conclusion

Finger lime, or caviar lime, is a unique and versatile citrus fruit that is native to Australia and Southeast Asia. Its burst of citrus flavor and numerous health benefits make it a popular ingredient in cooking and aromatherapy. With its rich cultural heritage and growing popularity worldwide, finger lime is a fruit that is definitely worth trying.

Tables

NutrientAmount (per 100g)
Vitamin C30mg
Potassium140mg
Fiber2g
AntioxidantsHigh amount
CultivarDescription
‘Australian Finger Lime’The most widely cultivated variety, known for its high-quality fruit.
‘Sunrise’A popular variety with bright yellow skin and a sweeter flavor.
‘Red Centre’A variety with deep red skin and a more acidic flavor.
‘Yellow Finger’A variety with yellow skin and a milder flavor.
UseDescription
CulinaryUsed as a garnish, added to cocktails, and used in cooking and baking.
FlavoringUsed to add a burst of citrus flavor to sauces, marinades, and dressings.
AromatherapyThe essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its uplifting and refreshing properties.
SkincareThe oil is used in skincare products for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.