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TIP OF THE DAY: Finger Limes

An import from the Australian outback, finger limes have quietly entered the realm of American produce.

At the international Citrus Exhibition in 2004, California avocado grower Jim Shanley discovered this unusual Australian fruit. Envisioning endless opportunities with restaurateurs and home cooks, he planted the first trees in the U.S. in 2006. Five years later he harvested Shanley Farms’ first crop, giving them a proprietary name, Citriburst Finger Limes.

Finger limes, discovered growing wild in Australia, are a micro-citrus, growing on thorny shrubs. The fruit is cylindrical, 1.5 to 3 inches long and variously colored, including rosy-pink and green. Similarly, the pulp color varies, as you can see in the photo at right.

The pulp is described as citrus pearls or citrus caviar. The tiny beads can be squeezed out of the finger lime and used in any place that would employ lemon or lime juice or zest, from seafood to desserts. An advantage: The pearls are a charming and decorative garnish.

   
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Finger limes, filled with juicy “pearls.” Photo courtesy Shanley Farms.

 

And they’re fun. The juice bursts from the citrus pearls when you bite into them, the flavor a bright and refreshing combination of lemon, lime and grapefruit.

In California, the season is typically from late June/early July through January. But thanks to the very dry and mild winter this year, the trees have been fruiting since early May. Get yours now!

 

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Add a burst of fresh citrus to anything. Here,
oysters get a snazzy finger lime garnish.
Photo courtesy Shanley Farms.

  RECIPE: OYSTERS WITH FINGER LIME MIGNONETTE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 12 finger limes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 oysters, such as Malpeque, Kumamoto, or Belon
  • Crushed ice or rock salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE rice vinegar,shallot, finger lime pearls and pepper in a small bowl. Cover and chill for an hour.

    2. SCRUB the oysters under cold water with a stiff brush to remove the dirt. Next, fold a durable thick cloth several times to create a square; this will steady the oysters as you shuck them. Using the towel as a mitt, place the oyster, cup-side down in the palm of your towel-covered hand with the hinge facing you; have a small bowl handy to catch the delicious juice.

    3. INSERT the tip of an oyster knife or dull butter knife as far into the hinge as it will go. With gentle force, twist the knife back and forth to pry the shell open. Using the knife, cut the muscle away from the top shell, bend the shell back, and discard it. Run the knife underneath the oyster to detach it completely, but leave it in its shell. Tip out the briny liquor into the bowl and pour it back over the shucked oysters.

     

    4. NESTLE the oysters in a bed of crushed ice or rock salt to keep them steady. Spoon the finger lime mignonette on top and serve.

    Find more finger lime recipes at ShanleyFarms.com.
    TYPE OF LIMES

    How many different lime varieties have you tried? Check out the different types of limes.

      




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