Shaped more like a jalapeno pepper than a citrus, lemon caviar produces tiny caviar-like pearls that burst with flavor when you bite into them.

Native to the subtropical rain forests of coastal Australia’s lowland, Citrus australasica (also called finger lime in English) has become one of the most sought after ingredients by starred restaurants around the world.

Image: Wikipedia

Not so much for a radically different flavor than regular limes or lemons – in fact their flavor is described as a combination of the two – but it is the texture of their pulp that really makes a difference. In fact, these small citrus fruits contain caviar-like “pearls” that can be used to garnish elegant dishes, ensuring an explosion of acid flavor when bitten. Hence the nickname of “citrus caviar”, and the insane price that comes with it.

In the last decade, the demand for this fruit has become so high that plantations have sprung up in places like France or California, but despite this the citrus is considered rare and is currently sold on the open market between $ 200 and $ 300 per year. kilo. The high price depends on the low planting yield of this lime variety, as the trees require a lot of attention and many of the fruits they produce are not suitable for sale.

Precisely for this reason, it is difficult to find these citrus fruits at the supermarket or even at the greengrocer: the producers usually supply directly with the restaurants that use their products.

When I use it in a dish, it’s one of the central elements,” explained French chef Daniel Lutrand. “ Because it is what awakens the dish, it is the most important thing and amazes the customer. 

In addition to using fresh citrus caviar in restaurant dishes, lime peel can also be dried and used as an equally expensive aromatic spice.