Australia is in the midst of a bush tucker revolution as bakers, chefs and foodies alike finally discover and utilise the wonderful array of unique native produce and flavours available right here. Baking Business speaks to Warren McIntosh from Gondwana Native Limes about this unique (and prickly!) produce.
For those unfamiliar, what is a finger lime?
The finger lime is an Australian native plant found growing in the forests between Northern NSW and North Queensland. They grow on a particularly thorny bush bearing fruit around the size of your finger.
The fruit contains many hundreds of small globules resembling caviar, with colours ranging from yellow green to salmon pink and rich red.
Commonly referred to as the ‘citrus caviar’, the finger lime is usually cut in half and the ‘caviar’ is squeezed out. Some varieties have a few seeds to remove and others are virtually seedless.
Tell us a little bit about Gondwana Native Limes:
Gondwana Native Limes is situated in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. A small family farm virtually carved out of the surrounding bushland, the fruit is grown in its natural environment with special attention to growing sustainably and in harmony with nature. While not certified as an organic farm, we don’t use toxic chemicals and believe in looking after the soil and environment including the various birds, wallabies and bees that live on the farm.
What do they taste like?
The taste varies with the varieties and is unique, having a taste of lime with lemon grass background notes, the fruit can be used in anything that can calls for a hint of lemon or lime.
When are they in season?
January to September, depending on the variety.
How large is the farm/how many do you produce?
We have around 2000 trees that were established in 2012 and now bearing several tons of fruit each season. We supply Sydney and Brisbane markets and also export to Europe, where they have become very popular.
Have they grown in popularity since you started?
Over the last twenty or so years many varieties have been selected for commercial growing based on various traits such as colour, flavour and size.
Although grown in the wild for centuries, this wonderful ‘bush tucker’ has only in the last few years has been promoted and sold on the domestic market.
Are there any particular challenges in growing/harvesting finger limes?
Harvesting weekly from January to September, a long harvest period due to the various varieties grown that bear at different times of year. Picking these thorny trees requires gauntlet style gloves and protective eye wear, a job not for the faint hearted.
What is the best way to use/eat them?
Very popular on all seafood and used extensively for its decorative appeal, they can be used in virtually anything: salads, desserts, baking, sauces, jams, drinks and even dried. The finger lime is extremely high in vitamin c and various antioxidants and much work is being done to discover its medicinal as well as culinary uses.
Finger lime uses are only limited by the chef’s imagination, a truly unique fruit that has excited many palates.