Kaffir Lime (Limau Purut)
6:00 PM | Author: Atie
 Kaffir Lime or Citrus hystrix or Citrus amblycarpa belongs is a type of lime native to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is popularly known as makrut in Thailand and limau parut in some regions of Southeast Asia.

It is best known as an essential ingredient in Thai cuisine. The leaves are known as bai makrut in Thailand and you may see the tree referred to as a Makrut lime. Kaffir limes are relatively small trees in their natural habitat growing only 3m to 4m in height.

They have bright evergreen leaves with a characteristic bilobed appearance and a wonderful aroma when crushed. They have the typical tiny white flowers seen on most citrus with an accompanying citrus fragrance. In tropical areas kaffir lime trees are an intrinsic part of the landscape as well as the cuisine. The Thai's believe that the bai makrut wards off evil spirits, and kaffir lime trees are commonly planted at property entrances for this purpose.


Kaffir lime leaves are perfect for adding flavour to Asian cuisine. They are highly aromatic and add their own elegant flavour to stir-fry, curry, salad and fish cake dishes. Some examples for use include:


  • Thai curry dishes and soups, such as Tom Yum
  • Indonesian curry dishes
  • Thai fish cakes, e.g., Tod Mun and steamed fish dishes, e.g., Haw Moak
  • Kaffir lime and lemongrass in chicken stock Asian bouquet garni - make up with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and ginger as the bouquet garni ingredients and use to flavour stock
  • Krueng - a paste using Kaffir lime leaves as the base
  • Flavour rice - When cooking your rice, throw in a few leaves. The flavour will be imparted to the rice.
  • Add to a marinade - suitable for chicken, pork or lamb dishes.
  • Make a syrup - add a kaffir lime leaf to sugar overnight and use the sugar to make a syrup the next day.

The leaves however are the richest part of the plant They are easy to store since they can be frozen for many months without losing flavor Just one or two are enough to flavor a pot full of soup The leaves can be rubbed on to gums and teeth for total dental health The essential oil in the leaves is extracted and used for various purposes It is a used in many bath products such as soaps and shampoos The oil is a great hair and scalp cleanser The aroma of the leaves is rejuvenating; add a few drops of oil or a few crushed leaves to your bath and you will feel your negative thoughts ease away It is believed to have a positive effect on the mind and the body and leaves one with positive thoughts The oil is also infused in deodorants and body sprays for that extra zing The oil is also used in tonics which aid in digestion and purify the blood Air fresheners with the kaffir lime aroma freshen up rooms and give a feeling of a freshly cleaned room.

Kaffir Limes Trees - Care and Cultivation

The Kaffir Lime tree is a fairly easy plant to grow and they are grown for the leaves, they require much the care and same conditions as other citrus trees.

Like most citrus trees Kaffir Limes like a sunny position in a well drained soil. They can be grown in pots and containers and once established are a reasonably tough tree. The leaves are what the Kaffir Lime is valued for, very fragrant and used widely in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking.

Try growing Kaffir Lime Trees in a pot, they will reach nearly 2m, however if you keep picking the leaves for cooking they will stay a lot smaller. In the garden they can get to 4 metre. A regular citrus fertilizer will be sufficient and keep moist but not wet.

Once established these trees require little care or pruning other than to keep in shape or maintain a smaller size. Take care when transpanting or cultivating around the root zone as they do not like to have the root system disturbed.

Mulch to retain moisture taking care not to build up mulch to close to the trunk of the tree itself as this can cause diseas and collar rot. Water every week in dry spells. In pots water more often.

Great in taste and abounding in various benefits, this plant is a great choice for your backyard and if you don't have a backyard, reserve some room for the leaves in your refrigerator.
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