As a kid growing up I never liked limes, not even lime cordial or lollies (though pine-lime Splices were delish!), which is about as far as you can from actual limes! But now?? I’ll make a lime and coconut stir-fry or add kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to my rice and quinoa as I cook it, when I’m looking for something a little different to go with my meal. I’ve definitely come to appreciate the zesty appeal of fresh lime in cooking or in drinks.
Did you know that there are more varieties than the smooth skinned limes that we see everywhere in the shops? I didn’t, well not until I actually started exploring more in my cooking. The Tahitian (or Key) lime (the one we know best) is seedless and very juicy – so great for drinks like a margarita ;), where as the Kaffir lime is lumpy, seeded and has very little juice – the leaves are most commonly used in cooking, particularly Thai recipes.
Oh but the humble lime is not just confined to Thai cooking, there are (so I discovered recently) some very delightful ways to enjoy lime. On a recent holiday in New Zealand with my family I was on the hunt for an easily transportable snack (we were driving around the North Island) and because I have a couple of food intolerances it’s a bit more challenging if I want something more exciting than plain rice crackers, anyway I stumbled across an organic store that stocked some ‘me friendly’ snacks. Now I’m generally pretty open to trying new flavour combinations because when your diet is limited like mine, to come across something new and actually find it’s not horrible (much less delicious) is much more exciting than I like to admit. Well, I thought I’d try out some cookies that looked interesting. Pistachio and lime flavoured cookies. At first I was a little sceptical, not that I don’t think lime goes well with nuts or nutty flavours (I love me a lime and macadamia raw cheesecake or crunchy baked lime and coconut chicken), pistachios and I have had a rough history – I always seemed to get the dodgy ones in the packet. Oh man, when I took my first bite I was prepared to be disappointed, but instead I found myself having to hold back and not shove a few more cookies in my mouth. I immediately rushed off to force my family to try one too, but then hoard the rest of packet because I wanted them all for myself. Hahaha!
Why did I just spend all that time telling you about a bunch of cookies? Well, mostly to get you to consider trying limes with other flavours you might not expect to be any good… or try something new that has limes in it. If you’re making a guacamole, add lime juice rather than lemon… or use lime juice as the star of your own homemade salad dressing rather than a store bought jar (then test it out on some unwitting friends and family). One of my favourite things to do is test out new recipes on my friends or family and talk to them about how my latest dish came about. Usually in a rambling story like the one I just shared with you! But I must say that my adventures in the kitchen are made so much better in the sharing of a meal and story.
Have you ever discovered something new, and then you see it everywhere? Well this has happened to me very recently... interestingly enough I've come across an Australian native I didn't know about. My little nerd heart loves to learn new things so I just had to share this with you too. :)
Native Limes in the Limelight …
Ever heard of a Finger Lime? I sure hadn’t until I stumbled across a recipe on Pinterest for an ‘avocado dip’ (which I assume is just another way of saying guacamole) that used citrus caviar from Finger Limes to make it look a little fancy and add something a little different.
After doing a little digging around with the help of my old friend Google, I discovered that Finger Limes (aka ‘Rainforest Pearl’) are in fact one of Australia’s six species of native citrus. The Australian Finger Lime is native to the rainforests on the boarder ranges of South East Queensland and Northern NSW.
The trees are thorny and produce distinctive finger shaped fruit that can be up to 12cm long. Typically both the skin and pulp are green-yellow in colour, though over the years different variations have been cultivated with different skin and pulp colours. The intensity of the skin and pulp colour can be affected by flowering times and climactic conditions.
While the flavour is similar to that of the limes we all know, the pulp is caviar like in appearance hence the nickname of ‘citrus caviar’. The tiny capsules of lime juice that ‘pop’ add a burst flavour and texture to a dish. Pemberton Finger Limes, a Western Australian grower and suppler, say that Finger Limes should always be cut open crossways, not lengthways and then slowly squeeze out the ‘citrus caviar’ – like squeezing toothpaste from a tube.
Pemberton Finger Limes has provided some tips for storing Finger Limes…
- Store in dry and cool conditions – between 10-20°C, no cooler than 5°C
- They’re best kept in an open paper bag or cardboard box
- You can keep them in your fruit bowl, but make sure they’re not under other fruit
- The shelf life of a Finger Lime is between 3-4weeks.
Are you all limed out? I’m certainly not! I think I might go make some pistachio and lime balls for snacks this week. How will you be using lime next time?
- Hardy, S., Wilk, P., Viola, J., Rennie, S. (2010, January). “Growing Australian Native Finger Limes” Prime Fact 979. Retrieved from http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/320272/growing-australian-native-finger-limes.pdf.
- Pryor, C. (2011, 17 June). Food on Friday – Finger Limes. ABC Rural – Bush Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/site-archive/rural/telegraph/content/2011/s3246629.htm.
- Pemberton Finger Limes. (2014). Pemberton Finger Limes. Retrieved from http://www.pembertonfingerlimes.com.au/.