Kaffir Lime and Leaves

A Sub-Species of the Citrus Family and
Highly Prized in Thai Cuisine

Whole and Sliced Kaffir Limes

For the record, the Kaffir Lime Fruit is not actually classified as a true lime as far as limes go, but it does, however, belong to a sub-species of the citrus family known as citrus hystrix or citrus amblycarpa. They are native to Southeast Asia and are also known as Bai Makrut in Thailand. You will notice that unlike their relatively smooth-skinned lime and lemon cousins, these dark green fruits sport knobbly skins and are extremely bitter in taste.

It is the lime leaves that are most highly prized in Thai cuisine as the limes themselves yield very little juice and what there is is very sour. The juice is occasionally used to heighten the taste of certain dishes, but it is the leaves that are used more frequently. The strongly scented leaves have a lovely fresh lemon flavour awareness about them when torn or shredded. 

Fresh limes and leaves are often obtainable at one or other oriental market in most cities around the world. Freeze-dried leaves are also available in some markets. The fresh leaves will keep for several days in a cool, dry place, but if you store them in an airtight container, they can retain their flavour for a few months. Frozen leaves will keep for a heck of a lot longer.

Kaffir lime leaves are synonymous with Thai cooking and can be utilised in much the same way as bay leaves. It is not necessary for you to have to soak them first either. The leaves can be torn, chopped or shredded and used in soups and curries. Just one or two leaves are enough to flavour a full pot of spicy soup or any hot curry, be it Thai or Indian.

Every lime leaf has the characteristic as if one leaf is placed on top of another because the lower part resembles an oval shape and the upper part matches that of a heart shape. The fresh leaves appear to be highly polished as they seem to shine so much.

The Lime

Health Benefits

Some of the medicinal benefits of Kaffir Lime Leaves include the regular use of rubbing fresh leaves on your teeth and gum to aid in dental health. Try crushing a few leaves or a few drops of essential lime leaf oil extract in your bath water and feel the refreshing and rejuvenating enjoyment it invites while successfully helping you to relax both your body and spirit.

One other health benefit generated from the limes themselves is to grate some of the rinds of the fruit and add it to any fish or chicken dish. This will not only help aid digestion, but it will also help in cleansing the blood.

Shredded Lime Leaves

Essential Oils

Essential oils are often extracted from the limes and leaves to produce a vast variety of products such as air fresheners, deodorants, detergents, soaps and shampoos. Some of the oils produced are often used for the treatment of both the hair and scalp. One wash with the shampoo will not only leave your hair squeaky clean, but it also helps in reviving your scalp. 

The limes have also been used for generations by Thai women as a natural bleach to remove even the toughest stains. They feel that nothing works better on any kind of stain, then a few drops of Kaffir Lime Juice mixed with a small amount of detergent. Not only does it clean effectively, it's also sweet-smelling too.

Just about every home outside the greater cities of Thailand has at least one tree on their property and the limes and leaves the tree produces will sustain the whole family in nutritious additives and cleansing bi-products.

Limes and Leaves

 You may like to try these Herbs and Spices

Lemongrass is a wonderfully aromatic herb with a distinct lemony flavour but more than that, it also provides a whole host of herbal and therapeutic benefits.

Cilantro is an edible herb known as Pak Chee in Thailand, but in other countries, it's known as coriander. It is also sometimes known as Chinese Parsley. 

Chilli Peppers needs no real introduction. They are good for your heart, they improve blood circulation and best of all, they also help to lift your spirits. 

Galangal is popularly known as Krachai in Thailand and is considered to be more of a spice than a herb. It has a strong and sharp peppery flavour. 

Curry Leaves are excellent as an herbal tonic. They are similar in style to bay leaves, but with a hint of green pepper. They also have a tangerine fragrance.

Tamarind is available in a variety of forms. It's available as fresh, compressed blocks and dried slices, all of which have been around for quite some time.

Thai Basil is also known as Oriental Basil or Asian Basil in Thailand and is a close cousin of the sweet basil variation that's frequently used in Thai cuisine.

Thai Long Pepper is a tangy spice known as Dee Plee to the local Hmong Hill Tribe people of northern Thailand. It's also referred to as Piper Chaba.

Return from Kaffir Lime to Herbs and Spices

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