Australia’s indigenous finger lime commercialised as citrus caviar pearls
Scientifically known as Citrus Australasia, finger limes have been used by indigenous Australians for thousands of years for medicinal purposes and as a valuable source of food.
Finger limes grow naturally on Australia’s east coast and are native to the rainforests of the border ranges of south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
The finger lime is a small, sausage-shaped citrus that comes in an assortment of colors, including red, yellow, brown, green, and black. The fruit is sliced at its centre then squeezed, the pressure applied to the finger lime yields little balls of pulp. These tiny juice bubbles easily separate from one another and pop when chewed, releasing a pleasant splash of flavor with each bite. This unusual texture has earned the fruit the nickname “citrus caviar.”
Australian finger lime growers Margie and Ian Douglas spoke with the ABC in April 2018 about the future of the fruit, and what was described as its “Frozen seedless finger lime pearls.”
Mr Douglas, who runs the Lime Caviar Company at Rathdowney in south-east Queensland, said there had been lots of trials and failures during the innovation process, but the machine-developed product solution was ingenious and could be further developed.
“It allows us to take the finger lime pearls out of their skin, remove the seeds and then by a special process they are flash frozen,” he said.
“One of the unique things about it is that the pearls are loose when they are frozen and they don’t stick together, so you can spoon them out of the small containers while they are frozen, and when they thaw out, their taste is just like fresh.”
Mr Douglas said with a shelf life of 12 months, the new seedless frozen finger lime pearls overcame the difficulty of fresh finger limes that only lasted for two to three weeks.
Mr and Ms Douglas plan to expand their orchard to meet increasing demand and to plant a further 1,200 trees to add to their 4,000 trees already in the ground.
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