A company that originally started as a post-retirement project for Ian Douglas and wife Margie has taken out the ‘Outstanding Innovation’ Award at the prestigious 2017 Delicious Produce Awards, in partnership with Miele, for developing the worlds-first frozen Finger Lime pearls.
The Lime Caviar Company, situated in the stunning Scenic Rim mountains in south east Queensland, has won the hearts and minds of chefs and foodies around the world, with the Douglas’ farmed Finger Limes being touted as the next big thing in native cuisine.
Restaurants and Bars in Australia, the UK, Holland, France, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong have increasingly been experimenting with the lime juice pearls from Finger Limes to add a new twist to entrées, mains, deserts and cocktails.
The increasing demand and seasonality of the Finger Limes (only in season in Australia from January to June), resulted in the Douglas’ investing to perfect the art of freezing these jewels to create a frozen product that is convenient to use, fresh-like in taste, colour, structure and vitamins and available all year round.
“This product is amazing – I love it,” says Guillaume Brahimi who was on the 2017 Delicious Produce Awards judging panel. “I am looking forward to taking it with me to some overseas events,” added Mr Brahimi.
The beginnings of The Lime Caviar Company
The Lime Caviar Company came about after Ian and Margie saw some media coverage talking about this native fruit and forecasting its rise at a time when Ian was starting to think about retirement.
“In 2004, Margie read an article in which a US chef working at Bennelong restaurant at the Opera House heaped great praise on the then largely unknown Finger Lime,” Mr Douglas says.
“Shortly after that Finger Limes were featured on ABC Landline as the next native food that would take off. We then decided to get involved.
“I was a QC in Melbourne – and when I retired in 2007 we decided to make Finger Limes a full-time project. And here we are today!” Mr Douglas says.
For more than a decade Ian and Margie Douglas have cultivated Finger Limes on a property they purchased in 1982 as a home away from home when they took holidays.
From here they have been directly supplying many customers within Australia, hatted restaurants, hotels, caterers, providores and home foodies. They also export to many countries from the UK, Holland, France and Canada to Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Uses and health benefits
Inside the Finger Lime’s skin there are hundreds of lime juice filled pearls which burst in the mouth with a unique explosion of flavour.
The colour of the pearls can vary in colour from opaque, yellow, green, pink, orange or red and shades in between. Finger Lime caviar, fresh and frozen, has a myriad of culinary uses, including on oysters, with sushi and sashimi, in curries, salads, desserts, chocolate, yoghurt and ice cream.
“Their use is only limited by the imagination! They are also fabulous in champagne, a G&T or a Vodka,” said Mr Douglas. With many health benefits, full of vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamin E and antioxidants, Finger Limes are a true superhero food.
Freezing with freshness in mind
With the desire to make these native superfoods available year round, several years of research and development was undertaken by the Douglas’.
“I can’t tell you much about the freezing process as it’s top secret, suffice to say that the equipment took about seven years and a lot of money to develop and prove,” says Mr Douglas.
“You put the fresh Finger Lime in one end and pure, seedless, frozen, spoonable Finger Lime caviar comes out at the over end, with no additives, colouring or preservatives,” added Mr Douglas.
It was the process that saw the Douglas’ win recognition at the Delicious Produce Awards, which is a celebration of Australia’s magnificent bounty of ethical, sustainable and innovative ingredients, and the passionate, talented people behind them, like Ian and Margie Douglas. The Outstanding Innovation Award acknowledges and rewards innovation in the food industry.
“We are extremely proud to be the recipients of the Outstanding Innovation Award at the 2017 Delicious Produce Awards, in partnership with Miele.
The Award has generated a huge amount of interest in our company and our new product – world-first frozen Finger Lime pearls.
The Lime Caviar Company will launch the frozen Finger Lime pearls in early 2018. “We already have customers lined up in Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea,” Mr Douglas said.
Ian and Margie from The Lime Caviar Company pictured with Miele Marketing Director Gabriella Franklin