Edible plants endemic to Australia — such as the bush tomato and the sweet quandong — have been slowly capturing the attention of foodies across the globe over the last few years, but interest skyrocketed this month when American foodie website eater.com posted a video on Australian finger limes on their Facebook page. The video received over 7 million views in less than 10 hours.
Usually referred to as ‘bushfoods’ or ‘bush tucker’, Aboriginal Australians have been living on these wild fruits, nuts, spices and vegetables for millennia. It wasn’t until recently that their superfood properties have been understood by newcomers to the great southern continent.
Finger limes (Citrus australasica) are traditionally found in rainforest regions of the east coast of Australia and are treasured by the Bundjalung people as a tasty fruit with antiseptic and medicinal properties. Not only are they packed with vitamin C – three times the amount as a satsuma –they’re rich with folate, potassium and vitamin E.
Finger limes are not actually limes at all: they look more like a hard gherkin and are usually green but are seen in red and pink hues too. Its caviar-like citrus beads bursts in your mouth ‘like carbonated candy’.
Much of the natural forest that sustained this particular indigenous plant was sadly cleared for non-native agriculture but some pockets of forest remained on farmers’ properties. Interestingly, in the mid-1960s finger lime seeds were reportedly sent to the University of California and added to its citrus variety collection and a handful of American farmers grow the fruit commercially today.
Restaurants in Australia now include the once-exotic fruit on their menus as a condiment or garnish with familiar dishes: fresh shucked oysters are perfectly complemented by this ‘lime caviar’. If you leave Australia without trying a finger lime margarita, you’ll have to go back.