Davidson’s plum panna cotta with charred finger lime

Davidson’s plum panna cotta with charred finger lime

Davidsons plums & finger limes

You can imagine my excitement when I came across a Davidson’s plum tree at the plant nursery. The first thought was, where can I plant this thing. Yes, it was only about 40 cm tall, but the variety I was looking at – Davidsonia jerseyana, native to the subtropical rainforests of northern New South Wales – grows to something like 5 metres.

I bought it anyway.

What I didn’t know was how long I’d be waiting before I saw some kind of flowering or fruiting. Let’s just say I bought and planted my little baby two years ago, and it wasn’t until late last year that I was checking the leaves for pests that I noticed a clump of crimson flowers developing next to the stem.

Davidson's plum panna cotta with charred finger lime

Over the months these flowers opened and developed into tiny green, pea-sized fruit. I was feeling giddy with excitement. Yep, that’s how I am when I succeed with growing Aussie natives, especially as the fruit grows bigger and bigger.

Almost overnight the plums switched from green to deep purple. I knew not to pick them until a light tap on the fruit made them fall off the tree, and within a day or two I had my first harvest.

About 25 of them!

Davidson’s plums aren’t like the European variety. These juicy little fellas are sour. Incredibly sour. The inner flesh is deep burgundy and contains two small seeds. I swear, the first one I bit into pursed my lips so much I felt like spitting it out. That’s how they are. They don’t sweeten as they ripen.

Davidson's plum panna cotta with charred finger lime

I’ve put enough sugar in there to balance the sourness, and the hint of vanilla perfumes the palate. On its own, the panna cotta is pretty good, but spooning some charred finger lime on top takes it to another level.

Finger limes are also in season right now, and the small trees in our back garden had something like 30 fruit between them, this season. The biggest crop yet, after several years of failures thanks to the developing limes falling off the trees.

Charring the finger lime cooks the pulp a little, turning it from the regular caviar-like beads to a jammy texture. I love it.

Finger limes

Davidsons plum panna cotta with charred finger lime


Print Recipe
Davidson's plum panna cotta with charred finger lime
Using native Australian Davidson's plums and finger lime in this delicate and vibrantly coloured panna cotta.
Davidson's plum panna cotta with charred finger lime
Davidson's plum panna cotta with charred finger lime
  1. Using a stick blender or regular blender, purée the deseeded plums and ½ cup caster sugar. Set aside.
  2. Spray or rub 6 ramekins with oil. Set aside.
  3. Put the cream and remaining ½ cup caster sugar into a small saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthways, and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds and scraped pod into the same saucepan and turn the heat onto low.
  4. Stir occasionally as the cream heats and the sugar dissolves. Just before it simmers whisk in the gelatine and continue whisking gently for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the buttermilk and plum purée and stir for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture though a sieve and then evenly pour the sieved mixture into the prepared ramekins. Put the ramekins onto a small tray and refrigerate overnight, to set.
  6. To serve - you can serve the panna cotta in the ramekins, if you wish, or carefully invert them onto a plate. Garnish with some charred finger lime and edible flowers.
Charred finger lime
  1. Lightly spray the limes with a little oil, then simply toss onto a chargrill or into a griddle pan. Turn them from time to time, and after a few minutes they'll get a bit of colour on the skin. Take them off to cool, then simply cut a slit down the side and squeeze out the pulp. Discard any seeds.
Recipe Notes

Don't throw out the vanilla pod. Simply dry it and put it into some sugar to make vanilla sugar.

Share this Recipe
  • They look so pretty and delicious! Great photographing!

  • I envy you so much! I live in an urban environment and don’t have a yard for growing things plums or limes. I have friends who have little urban plots. Maybe I have to make better friends out of them, and see if I can friend my way into their gardens! Anyway, that was very brave of you to char your fingers in order to produce lime. Not sure how that works, but it sounds like it takes incredible dedication. The color of your panna cotta is incredible, and I can only imagine its tart deliciousness.

    • I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life and always wished for more than the pot plants on the balcony. When we bought our house 10 years ago I was over the moon with the small courtyard we have at the back. Also, a few of us in our street hijacked one of the traffic islands very close to our houses, where there’s now an olive tree and loads of herbs and a few vegetables. Guerrilla gardening! Aside from occasional idiots stealing entire bay and rosemary bushes, it’s another place to grow fresh edibles during the seasons. Now I yearn for a larger plot of land to grow more things at home!

  • Josie Spicer

    These are beautiful! Where did you buy your finger lime trees? I’m about to move house and I want an edible garden filled with natives – already have a lemon myrtle tree sorted.

    • One of them came from Bunnings & the other one from a nursery in Annandale. This was the first season it fruited properly as they can be pretty temperamental!

  • I can just imagine the taste!!

  • KevinIsCooking

    Wow. Almost, and I say almost, too pretty to eat. But I would instantly. These are just stunning John. Your styling is off the hook – again.
    Just back from holiday and the little green nubs on my fig tree are now full grown leaves today, crazy and I’m excited to eat the fruit when it happens. I used to have a plum tree, but it died, though I have never heard of this variety albeit I live in San Diego. 2 seeds and not sweet, hmmm.
    Now as for those finger limes, I have never tried them before, just wish I knew where to find them and the charring sound like it would enhance them for sure. They look like jalapeños or beans pods and their pulp is beadlike.
    Pretty amazing stuff and post. Thanks!

    • I really look forward to your fig recipes, Kevin. Perhaps, one day, finger lime trees will be grown in your part of the world!

  • I could feel my cheek twitch just at your description of how sour the plums were. I reckon they’d make a terrific plum brandy too? This pannacotta wouldn’t look out of place at a fine dining restaurant though – hello Noma?

  • I can’t wait until plums are available in the market here so that I can make this. I can’t pretend I will be able to find finger lines, but I’ll figure out something… The color – and, thus, your photography – is absolutely beautiful.

    • Regular black plums would go nicely in this, David, although you may want to adjust the sugar content as they probably won’t be as sour as this variety. If we were neighbours, believe me, you’d be getting free handouts from our finger lime trees!

  • AmandaChewTown

    Your green thumb really is enviable. I keep urging Scott to fix the backyard so we can plant a few things too – if this is what you create with things grown in your back yard… everyone should be doing it! Love the gorgeous blush colour and your inclusion of finger limes. Delicious!

  • Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    Such a beautiful recipe. Makes our native Aussie ingredients shine. The fact that they came from your backyard just makes this recipe even more special.

  • Swayampurna Mishra Singh

    What a gorgeous looking panna cotta John! Can imagine the perfect lil jiggle when you unmoulded it!

    • You know, when I unmoulded them I hoped for that perfect lil jiggle, and I got it!

  • Stephanie_The_Recipe_Renovator

    Still in awe of how incredible your photos are. You are a true artist and it’s a joy to scroll down and see your work.

  • I am Italian and I’ve never made panna cotta — shame on me!! You’ve certainly inspired me to give it a go but your beautiful orchid color I don’t think I could get it naturally. Looking at your beautiful shots reminded me of a joke I’ll have to share with you one day.

    • Next time you see black plums with deep purple flesh, you’ll have your natural colour, Marisa. Now I’m wondering about that joke!

      • Okay — I can’t take credit for the joke but here goes (my interpretation). A famous photographer was invited to a posh dinner. When the hostess opened the door she immediately started to compliment his working saying you must have an amazing camera. The photographer didn’t say anything. Once the meal was done the hostess asked how he like his dinner. The photographer said he enjoyed it very much, she must have a fantastic stove.

  • I am excited to learn about new fruit! I have never heard or seen finger limes but they sound fascinating as do the plums. The colour on the panna cotta is just beautiful and makes for gorgeous photos as well.

  • Sabrina Russo

    What an amazing combination and fantastic photos!!

  • Calizona

    I am very curious about the finger limes, it’s so fun to discover and try new fruits and veggies! These panna cottas are so beautiful and so are your photos!!!

    • I’m like that when I travel and come across something I’ve never seen before. I love it!

      • Calizona


  • I’m not sure about powdered davidson’s plums as I’ve never cooked with it. The problem is that I used 250 g of fresh plums, so if you use just the powdered form, you lose that weight in fruit. I can’t see that you’d use 250 g of plum powder as a replacement.

    Here’s what I’d do. I’d get my hands on some regular plums, maybe 240 g, and use that in place of the davidson’s plums.

    Is the powder quite potent and sour in flavour? Maybe try adding about a teaspoon or tablespoon of the powder to the plums after you’ve puréed them. Start off with a little powder and just keep tasting before adding more. The sugar you add later will balance out the sourness. You just don’t want the mixture to be more sour than sweet.

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