How to Cook With Finger Limes

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Several whole and half finger limes on blue surface.

The finger lime is a very hot ingredient right now. This is because of its surprising genre-bending nature. It looks like a skinny pinky-shaped curved lime, but inside there are these wonderful little crunchy caviar-like pearls of lime juice. It’s definitely a novelty, but at the same time the flavor and texture is a terrific addition to anything from oysters to scallop ceviche.

Woman holding open sliced finger lime.

How to Cook with Finger Limes: Everything you need to know about buying, storing and using these little pods of crunchy lime caviar.

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What Are Finger Limes?

Finger limes, or Citrus australasica, are a citrus fruit native to Australia. Although you might not guess it by looking, they pack a delicious punch of citrusy goodness inside that strange-looking skin.

Finger limes are well-loved by the hospitality industry for the way they elevate the presentation of dishes. Overall, finger limes are an alluring, easy-to-use alternative to lime or lemon when it comes to finishing a dish.

What Do Finger Limes Look Like?

Finger limes measure in at 2 to 3 inches and are shaped like small pickles. The skin of a finger lime is usually purple or green, while the interior flesh of the fruit can be a variety of shades ranging from pink to brown to green.

On the inside of the fruit, finger limes bubble with tiny, translucent balls of citrus goodness called “vesicles.” The curious texture of this fruit’s flesh earned finger limes one of their defining nicknames: caviar limes. These small caviar-esque balls are a little tougher than their fish egg equivalents, but they’re around the same size, and when you bite into one, it also gives a surprising pop! 

Whole and cut finger limes on blue table.

What Do Finger Limes Taste Like?

Finger limes may not look much like limes, but they do taste like them. The juice contained within the caviar-like bubbles tastes remarkably similar to lime juice! There’s also a hint of something like rosemary in the juice and a pleasantly bitter undertone. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Finger Limes?

Although they’re small, finger limes contain a high amount of Vitamin C (per Australian Native Food & Botanicals). You likely won’t be consuming them in large quantities, but you can rest assured that every time you add a finger lime garnish to one of your recipes, you’re adding a little dose of Vitamin C as well.

Where to Find Finger Limes

Finger limes are available in the U.S. from growers located primarily in California. Unfortunately, they are rare enough to be incredibly expensive: you can pay up to $100 for just a pound of these precious nuggets.

Fresh finger limes on white plate.

Because this ingredient is so high-end, it’s usually sold straight to restaurants, so it can be hard to get a hold of finger limes at a normal grocery store. Try looking for finger limes at farmers markets and specialized grocery stores. Or, you can order them from online markets like Melissa’s.

When Are Finger Limes in Season?

Finger lime plants blossom sporadically throughout the year and tend to produce fruit about seven months after blossoming. Look to buy your finger limes in late summer and fall, when most California growers make them available. 

How To Prepare and Cook with Finger Limes 

To harvest a finger lime’s caviar, all you need to do is slice (or snap!) the lime down the middle and then squeeze each half — just like squeezing toothpaste. If your finger lime is fresh, the caviar should spill out easily. 

Woman opening finger lime to release the citrus pearl flesh.

Due to their high prices and fancy reputation, finger limes are usually used as a garnish rather than as an ingredient. The distinct sharp flavor and delicate nature of finger limes make them pair particularly well with seafood. Try some on top of sushi and ceviche.

Like any citrus, they are also a welcome addition to cocktails. Try adding finger limes to more classically Mexican dishes like guacamole or tacos for a pleasant mix of cultures and flavors. 

Red bowl of Guacamole next to chips.

How to Store Finger Limes

Finger limes have a surprisingly long shelf life. For maximum enjoyment, though, you’re going to want to cut into your finger limes sooner rather than later. Although they can last up to 6 weeks in the fridge, the caviar spills out in a much more spectacular way when they are still fresh. 

Fun Facts About Finger Limes

Did you know that finger limes are sometimes referred to as “rainforest pearls” because of their eye-catching physical appearance and origins? Read on for more pearls of knowledge (Ha! Oh, that was bad) about finger limes:

  • When dried, the peel of a finger lime can be ground down to a spice that packs an earthy yet tangy punch.
  • Over 50% of the finger limes grown in Australia are exported to Europe and Asia, mostly for use within the hospitality industry (as opposed to household cooks).
  • Although these fruits originated in the rainforest, you can actually grow finger lime plants pretty easily in America — they can survive on less than six hours of sunlight a day and should be brought inside when the temperature dips below 45 degrees. (This is also a dedicated finger lime lover’s way around that jaw-dropping price tag!)
Spoon putting Shrimp Ceviche onto a tortilla chip.
Shrimp Ceviche

Try Using Finger Limes In These Recipes

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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