Ingredients

What's the Deal With Finger Limes?

This zingy citrus is perfect for vinaigrettes, juicy garnishes, and then some.

April 28, 2022
Photo by Sabino Parente/Getty Images

Australian finger limes (aka citrus australasica) are one of the silliest types of citrus fruit—and we mean that in the best way possible. They resemble short, stubby fingers and bear the nickname “caviar limes.” Finger limes are a type of tiny citrus fruit—a microcitrus actually—that are native to Australia (specifically the coastal region of Queensland and New South Wales). Their name comes from the fact that they are about the size and shape of a finger (they max out at around 3 inches in length), and both the peel and the pulp come in a rainbow of colors. The pulp (more properly called juice vesicles) of most citrus fruit looks like elongated teardrops, but finger lime’s vesicles are tiny little balls—a tart, fruit “caviar” that holds its shape until the beads burst in your mouth (in case their diminutive size and wide range of colors weren't enough fun for you).

Look for finger limes at specialty grocery stores—in some parts of California, you might be able to find finger limes at your farmers’ market. So how do you go about choosing the brightest, juiciest ones? Select finger limes with brightly-colored skin. Small brown patches won’t affect the flavor, but steer clear of specimens with dull, dry, shriveled skin (they’re past their prime). Like any other citrus fruit, store finger limes in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for a couple of weeks. If you don’t have any luck finding them locally, you can always order them online. Better yet, grow your own with the Via Citrus Finger Lime Tree from our shop. Each tree ships directly from Florida and includes clear care instructions so even novice gardeners can grow beautiful finger limes (assuming that you have a bright, sunny spot where the plant can thrive).

Cut your finger limes in half, and squeeze up from the bottom to release the pulp—anywhere you’d use a squeeze of lime juice, feel free to substitute a small amount of pulp. 

Garnish with Abandon

Finger limes are cool, but how exactly can you cook with them? Do you just treat them the same as regular limes or key limes? Kind of, yes! Top oysters, scallops, or sushi (any seafood really) with finger lime pulp—aka the little beads that resemble caviar inside the lime. Treat your vegetarian friends to nigiri sushi with avocado or papaya and a flourish of finger lime pulp. Take cocktails to the next level; try them in a finger lime mojito or an elderflower gin fizz, or even a basic gin and tonic. Their sour flavor will be appreciated by anyone who doesn’t love a super sweet cocktail.

Elevate a Salad

Top off a fruit salad with a sprinkling of finger lime pulp—just leave out any other citrus to let the finger limes be the star of the show. Or try them in a fancy fruit pairing, with persimmons and ginger or watermelon and whipped feta. Enjoy them in a savory salad too, or replace citrus juice in a vinaigrette with finger lime pulp for a burst of flavor with every bite.

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Give Your Desserts Some Flair
Finger lime pulp can be used in a citrus curd or suspended in a cheesecake. Or, try finger limes in cookiesice cream, or on top of cream puffs.  It’s not the flavor or texture that most people will expect from a lime dessert, which makes it so much more fun to serve to guests.

Let us know your favorite ways to use finger limes (or how you'd like to try using them) in the comments!

This article was updated in April 2022 by our editors.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.

16 Comments

judy May 11, 2022
These are really nice. One more observation about selection. Pick limes (or any citrus fruit) that is heavy for it's size. I always compare several and choose the heaviest one that looks the healthiest. The lighter they are the drier they are, and the less juice the woo have in them....
Also, for silly citrus I can add another to the list: kumquats! Sweet rind sour pulp! How is that for a mix up?! Enjoy
 
Rui May 1, 2022
Dear all,
I am a producer of finger lime in red pulpe.
If anyone wants to buy, I inform you that in the next october will be available.
Please let me know.
[email protected]
Thanks
Rui
 
Smaug April 29, 2022
I see where they're available on Amazon at an astounding price ($49/80g.) from someone called Giovanni's Fish Market. Lots of sources for plants/seeds- I'm a bit dubious of seeds; don't know this plant, really, but citrus, and fruits in general, are almost never grown from seed, as seedlings vary widely in the quality of fruit they produce and other characteristics.
 
Brian S. July 28, 2020
I live in San Pablo Ca. I bought a finger lime tree over the internet. I have had it 2 years and it produces loads of finger limes. Great in a vinaigrette.
 
KSR November 3, 2020
I'm in SoCal - do you remember what company you got your tree from? Thanks!
 
Derek May 30, 2018
You can buy finger limes and seeds direct from their native source at Fortune Finger Limes in Queensland Australia
 
Barb April 2, 2017
Where can I buy finger lime plants?
 
Katerina K. November 17, 2016
Can please someone help me? where can i buy finger limes seeds??
 
Jeff P. November 19, 2016
Hi Kateina, I did a search online using Google and found a number of places that sell finger lime seeds here in the United States. I'm not sure where you're located, but have you looked online for mail-order seeds?
 
Katerina K. November 20, 2016
Thank you for your answer!
Actually I am looking for lime finger seeds and I am from Greece.
I have checked on ebay but is all sold out.
I will keep searching though...
Thanks again for your concern :)
 
Carolyn T. December 9, 2013
Those cute little devils are a bit hard to find, but they're very fun to include in cooking. I used them in a pork chop dish with a basil relish that included the "caviar" from the finger limes. It was delicious. It's on my blog:
http://tastingspoons.com/archives/10553
Carolyn T
 
Melissa's P. December 9, 2013
@Food52 - Who are you getting produce from? We would love to help support your content needs!
- Nick Q
Melissa's Produce
 
Panfusine December 9, 2013
Is this Melissa's produce the same brand that carries Finger limes at Wegman's Supermarket in New Jersey? If So, I owe you a BIG THANK YOU for the opportunity to sample these beauties
 
Chocolate B. December 9, 2013
Oh, these limes are divine. I had my first one last year and was so enchanted that I sent for a finger lime tree from a citrus tree place back east. Here in OR I can leave it out for most of the year, but at the moment I have had to move it indoors due to the really low temps we're enduring. The tree is only a couple of feet tall so far, but I have high hopes that it will start producing some fruit before too long.
 
Panfusine December 8, 2013
Its one of the most delightful produce around, I use them as garnish for hors d'oeuvres
 
Pegeen December 8, 2013
It looks like citrus caviar!