I’m a big fan of citrus, and for a while now, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with limes. Lime has always had to play second fiddle to its more famous and ubiquitous cousin lemon, best exemplified by the fact that in French, limes are just “citron vert” (green lemon). With that in mind, I decided to champion lime, even launching a lime Facebook page.
Obviously all my friends know about my lime obsession, and so when a slew of articles came out about Nigella Lawson praising the finger lime, one of them shared it with me. I knew that I would have to source some finger limes of my own, but as far as I could tell, the only UK supplier was Fine Food Specialist. At the time of writing, they will sell you 50g of limes for £15.85, a price I remain unwilling to pay.
As is so often the case, Ocado eventually came to the rescue. Our old friends at Natoora now sell packs of two finger limes for £3.00, which is still ridiculously overpriced, but is less money to part with in one go. For reference, a supermarket basics lime, which is both larger and juicier than a finger lime, will set you back around 30p.
As you can see, the finger limes are pretty small, so they’re even worse value for money than they first appeared. Cutting one open and squeezing out the contents reveals the delightfully pearly innards. Aesthetically, at least, this is both novel and pleasing.
Reading the Nigella article had convinced me that, unlike regular limes, finger limes could be just eaten raw and unprepared in any way. The idea seemed to be that letting the little spheres burst open in your mouth would offer a deliciously zesty experience. Given that each lime is so small, I figured that even if it wasn’t as good as advertised, I could manage one.
I can now report that attempting to eat a finger lime in this way is a mistake. The unalloyed lime taste bursts into your mouth, and continues to build up as you persevere. After a quarter of a lime, I’d had enough. Maybe I could have mixed it with sugar to finish it off, but it hardly seemed worth the effort.
What, then, should one use finger limes for? Obviously it can be used in place of a regular lime in many situations, but this would represent incredibly poor value for money. The main purpose of this, then, would seem to be decorative. If you’re working in high end food preparation, then the ability to artfully arrange some tiny zesty spheres on top of your meal is probably an advantage. For home cooks such as myself, regular limes will continue to serve your needs.