The range of colour in finger lime varieties is quite remarkable. Even more amazing is that each variety has its own distinctive flavour. In the following blog I will discuss in detail what I have learnt about finger lime colour and flavour. There is detailed discussion of the colour to be expected in the different varieties we grow and how their flavours can be paired with different foods in the kitchen.
FINGER LIME COLOUR
The picture above shows some of the colours in the varieties that we grow. This is only a fraction of what there is available. The variation is infinite ranging through reds, pinks, yellow, greens, violet and all the tones in between. All dishes are more appealing if they look interesting and finger limes certainly deliver in this department. The splash of colour immediately catches your attention.
There can be more than one colour within a piece of fruit in some varieties. As an example, there is one called Wauchope or R13 that typically has a mix of champagne and pink colours early in the season. We find the pinks change to more of a deep red as the season progresses, until sometimes there is no champagne colour left at all.
In fact, we find all of the pink or red coloured fruits show deeper shades with the colder Autumn and Winter nights. The Byron Sunrise and Wauchope/R13 varieties certainly get quite deep red colour as Autumn turns to Winter. The Pink Ice and Mary fruit develop a deeper pink.
I understand that the fruits with red colours also have a higher level of vitamin E in them which has a beneficial antioxidant activity. All finger limes have excellent nutritional value with good levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and folate in them.
FINGER LIME FLAVOUR
This is an area which is very much guided by personal taste. When we are tasting the different fruit varieties with our customers, I find the individual experience of flavours is different for each person. One person will taste a finger lime and grimace at the tartness, while the next will have a joyous look from the same experience. I know without a word being said who likes tart flavours and who doesn't. In wine tasting it is well known that we don't all have the same experience from a glass of the same wine. We generally like to use the fruit as a garnish or added to other food and drinks, rather than to eat them on their own.
All finger limes have flavour in the lime spectrum. There is however quite a remarkable variation within this remarkable citrus fruit. Some have quite mild flavours and others have that stronger finger lime character. This finger lime character is difficult to describe but once you have tasted it you will know what I mean. The nearest comparison I can make is to the taste of an aged wine made with riesling grapes. The toasty bottle aged character in these wines is the nearest that I can compare it to.
Some fruit varieties bring characteristic flavours that you will recognise from other fruits and plants. We get quite floral notes in our Mary fruit. Our Byron Sunrise has a hint of mint alongside the lime flavour. The WG fruit is milder and is somewhere between lemon and lime, what it lacks in colour it makes up for in food matching.
The other factor I think is significant is the size of the pearls in the fruit. This has relevance to the texture you feel when tasting. One of the most appealing and surprising things, the first time you try them, is the burst of lime flavour when you crunch down on the pearls in your mouth. A truly enjoyable thing if you like the flavour. Some of our fruit have larger pearls and thus you get a bit more pop in your mouth. The WG and Mary are examples of fruit with larger pearls.
SUMMARY OF FINGER LIME COLOUR AND FLAVOUR VARIETIES
WG...... has a green skin with shades of yellow as the fruit ripens. Flavour is mild and more in the lemon/lime spectrum with large pearls. This is good for most purposes but is particularly good with salmon, cheesecake or on a green salad with a vinaigrette.
MARY...... has a mix of brown and green in skin colour, tending to some red as it ripens. The flesh has a mix of pale green and pinks with large pearls. This one has an appealing breadth of flavour with good lime pop in the mouth from the large pearls. There are also some floral notes alongside that strong finger lime character. It is really good with oysters and matches well with gin flavours.
WAUCHOPE or R13...... has skin with olive colour which changes to red as it ripens. The flesh is a mix of champagne and pink colour with a clean lime flavour. Good in drinks and suitable for most uses.
BYRON SUNRISE...... has olive coloured skin which tends towards brown as it ripens. The flesh has great colour ranging from pink to deep red. Flavour is of clean limes with a hint of mint in the background which makes it interesting. Makes a great marmalade and suitable for most uses.
PINK ICE...... has green and pink to red colour in the skin. The flesh also has pale green and pink colour. This variety has lime flavour with that robust finger lime character. We particularly like this one with Sydney Rock oysters.
SUNSHINE YELLOW...... has green skin with some yellow as it ripens. The flesh is an attractive light gold. The flavour is of clean limes.
Wauchope/R13 WG Mary
Pink Ice Byron Sunrise Sunshine Yellow
Hybrid Finger Lime Varieties
A quick note about Blood Limes and Sunrise Limes. These are both hybrid finger lime varieties that were developed by the CSIRO. They are a little different in shape than normal finger limes and their flavour is also a bit of a variation on a theme. Both make interesting marmalades and provide some interesting alternatives in the kitchen.
Blood Limes also known as Red Centre Limes are a cross between a rangpur Lime and a finger lime. It is a round shaped fruit which has a flesh similar to normal Tahitian Limes. The flavour is one of limes with a hint of spice or pepper. This results in a more interesting flavour. Excellent in a gin and tonic. If you like a lime or lemon tart have a look at the recipe on our website which includes this interesting fruit.
Sunrise Limes result from a cross between a calamondin and a finger lime. The result is quite similar to a cumquat. This fruit is mild in flavour and is eaten skin and all! Enjoyable with baked or grilled fish or on desserts. Check out the recipe for a parfait on our website.
Blood Lime Sunshine Yellow
FOOD and DRINK MATCHES
Finger limes can be used anywhere that citrus flavours are used, however we have some favourites that I would like to share with you. This is quite a personal thing because what appeals to one person won't be the same for another.
Sometimes a strong flavour is needed beside another robust one. At other times it is the harmony of rich and simple, tart and sweet or in other cases the finger lime highlights the citrus flavour that is already in the food. This is the part that I most enjoy and there is no limit except your imagination when it comes to finding what works.
I will now list a few ideas that I would like to share. There is more detailed information on our website pages with recipes and suggestions. You can read more on this subject by clicking on any one of the buttons below.
DIPS such as hummus have lemon in them and are great with finger lime on top or mixed throughout. Guacamole is also enjoyable with finger limes.
GREEN SALAD with a vinaigrette and an added WG garnish is a perfect combination.
CHEESECAKE especially a baked lemon one is perfect with the WG variety. The richness of the cheese balances nicely with the clean finger lime flavours.
OYSTERS are a classic suggestion. We find the stronger flavoured finger limes (e.g. Mary or Pink Ice) work best with the creamy richness of Sydney Rock oysters. Pacific oysters are best with one of the other varieties with a clean lime flavour e.g Wauchope or Byron Sunrise.
GIN or Vodka is great with any variety of finger lime. However, I enjoy Mary in my gin or one of the varieties with colour in a gin and tonic. They look fantastic as the pearls float up and down on the bubbles. I also particularly enjoy a slice of Blood Lime in my gin and tonic. The spicy notes seem to work well with the botanicals they use to make gin.
SEAFOOD of any type is complimented by any of the finger limes. Both the hybrids can be included when grilling or baking fish whereas the finger lime pearls are best used as a garnish after cooking.
CURRIES both Thai and Indian are enjoyable with a finger lime garnish.
SALMON seems to have a great harmony with our WG finger lime variety but all the others are also good. We particularly like cooked salmon with Japanese ponzu sauce and a finger lime garnish.
I hope you have found this information useful or at least interesting. At markets we continue to receive new ideas from our customers that are inventive. I would welcome any suggestions you may care to forward via email.
You can find more detailed information about all things finger lime on our website. You are able to purchase them from our website product page where you have the option of pick up at farm gate if you live nearby, or they can be sent to you via express post. We pick to order and express post takes 1-2 days to most destinations, so they will arrive fresh to your home. There is a link to our website on the button below.