I first saw a Finger Lime more than 15 years ago. Two lovely female scientists who managed the Citrus Variety Collection at the University of California at Riverside visited our office and brought samples of some of the “new and unusual” citrus fruits that were not yet commercially grown. One of their samples was the Finger Lime.
These green and reddish finger-shaped fruits were intriguing, to say the least. I remember breaking them open and watching the “citrus caviar” ooze out! It was the coolest thing to look at.
And the flavor! They are extremely tart, but the tiny balls of lime goodness are intriguing. They kind of pop on your tongue like caviar.
Fast forward to about 10 years ago, when I was in Berlin, Germany, at a produce show. I ran in to an Australian grower who was showcasing his newest discovery: Finger Limes! He was growing a small commercial crop and was looking for new customers. Unfortunately, due to agricultural restrictions, we could not import Finger Limes into the United States (unless they were frozen, which kind of ruined the texture).
So, we are really excited to now have commercial quantities of these eye-catching Finger Limes grown in the United States. There are just a few growers, all in California.
When I visited my first Finger Lime orchard, I couldn’t help but notice all the thorns on the bushes. As it turns out, these thorns are one of the reasons the Finger Limes are so expensive. Harvesters must go to great efforts to not be “stabbed” by all the coarse thorns when picking the fruits – imagine combat gear and leather gloves! Also, the Finger Limes match the color of the bushes, so it’s a challenge to find the fruit.
Within the next few weeks, and continuing through December, you should be able to find Finger Limes in upscale supermarkets around the United States. Here’s a photo of our packaging, so you know what to look for:
Don’t be shocked at the price. You can expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a small package. But remember, there are quite a few Finger Limes in each package, and a little goes a long way.
We’ve also been shipping our Finger Limes to chefs all over the country, so you may see them when you dine out, too. Some of my favorite uses for Finger Limes include:
- Garnish on sushi and sashimi
- Micro-thin slices on top of lemon meringue or key lime pie
- Floating in Champagne or Prosecco
And of course, as I’ve written about before, my favorite part of the produce business is the people. I love all the different personalities and behind-the-scenes stories of the growers and their families.
Two weeks ago, one of California’s largest Finger Lime growers came to visit us. Below is a picture of Lisle and me at lunch – can you tell he’s a character?
By the way, did you know there is a name for this kind of photo? It’s called a “selfie,” which means I hold my phone/camera in front of me and take a photo of myself. So, here’s a selfie of me and Lisle.