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Kaffir Lime Tree
Leaves, zest, and juice are used in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. Bumpy fruit. The leaves of the kaffir lime tree are a dark green color with a glossy sheen. The kaffir lime fruit approximates the size of a Western lime. The fruit is dark green in color and has a bumpy surface.
Kaffir lime fruit and leaves
|Kaffir Lime on Video|
Leaves, zest, and juice are used in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. Bumpy fruit. The leaves of the kaffir lime tree are a dark green color with a glossy sheen.
|#5 gal - $36.99|
Also C. amblycarpa (leprous lime). The fragrant leaves and dark green rind of kaffir limes are used in Thailand and other South East Asian countries to give incomparable flavor to certain dishes. The tree is not large - about 3-5 m (9-18 ft) tall. The fruit is dark green and round, with a distinct nipple on the stem end. It has a thick rind, bumpy and wrinkled, and one of its common names is 'porcupine orange'. As the fruit becomes older, the color fades to a lighter, yellowish green. Thanks to the wonderful cultural cross-pollination that has taken place in recent years, many hitherto unobtainable ingredients have become readily available. I remember a time not so very long ago when in a Western city you could as likely find kaffir limes or leaves as moon rocks. Then, as demand grew, first dry leaves were imported, then fresh-frozen leaves and now, in many Asian and even mainstream greengrocers, fresh leaves are brought in every week, and also fruits during the brief season.
The leaves and rind have a perfume unlike any other citrus and are indispensable in the wonderfully tangy soups, salads and curries of Thailand, and even if only for these, are worth seeking out. Some plant nurseries are starting to sell the trees, and they will flourish even in temperate climates and add a wonderful dimension to your cooking.
Kaffir lime is sold bottled in brine; use a teaspoon to scrape away any white pith (which, like all citrus pith, has a bitter flavor) from the inner surface of the skin. The rind is also sold dried, but being in fine strips, it is difficult to separate pith from rind. If this is all you can find, use in small quantities. If unavailable, substitute the zest of fresh Tahitian or West Indian limes.
Leaf Storage: The leaves may be recognized by their distinctive two sections. For simmering in soups or curries the leaves are used whole. Frozen or dried leaves may be used for simmering if fresh leaves are not available. The finely grated rind of the lumpy-skinned fruit has its own special fragrance. If you can obtain fresh kaffir limes, they freeze well enclosed in freezer bags and will keep indefinitely in that state. Just grate a little rind off the frozen lime and replace lime in freezer until next required. The leaves freeze well too.
Preparation: Salads or garnishes require fresh leaves. Dried leaves cannot be substituted. The leaves, when young and tender, are finely shredded and added to salads and sprinkled over curries for a burst of flavor. Being rather thick, they must be cut very fine, like threads, and the thick mid-rib excised; all done easily with a small, really sharp knife. Some cooks recommend rolling the leaves tightly from tip to stem, then slicing finely from either end, leaving the tough mid-rib to be discarded. If fresh kaffir lime leaves are not available, use the tender new leaves of lime, lemon or grapefruit. They won't have the same fragrance but are preferable to using dried kaffir lime leaves. Do not use kumquat leaves.
Medicinal uses: In South East Asia, the fruit is boiled until very soft, and the resulting pulp rubbed into the hair and scalp as a remedy for lice and dandruff. It is left on from 30 minutes to 2 hours, then washed off.