Kaffir Lime Leaves
Kaffir lime leaves are small to medium in size and oblong in shape, averaging 3-5 centimeters in diameter and 8-12 centimeters in length. The top of the thick leaves is glossy and deep green, while the underside of the leaves is porous and a pale, matte green. Kaffir lime leaves grow in pairs and grow in a double leaf formation, which means two leaves grow on either side of the stem and appear to mirror each other. There is a prominent central midrib or vein and the tips of the leaves can be slightly rounded or very pointed. Kaffir lime leaves have a strong citrus taste and aroma that is said to be a blend of mandarin orange, lemon, and lime.
Kaffir lime leaves, botanically classified as Citrus hystrix, grow on a thorny bush that can grow to be 1-10 meters in height and belong to the Rutaceae, or citrus family along with oranges, lemons, pomelos, and grapefruit. The kaffir lime plant is valued for its fragrant leaves and its fruit's peel and is popularly used in culinary and medicinal applications in Southeast Asia. Also known as the Kieffer lime, Bai Magrood, Thai lime, Limau Puru, and Makrut limes, Kaffir limes have been given new names in various cultures to respect and avoid the use of derogatory words. In South Africa, kaffir is an offensive slang word used in racist connotations, so many retailers have taken to calling the fruit by its scientific name, while others prefer the Thai word for the fruit, Makrut lime.
Kaffir lime leaves can be used in both raw and cooked preparations such as boiling, steaming, and sautéing. They can be used fresh, dried, or from a frozen state and the thick leaves are never consumed whole, but rather steeped and later removed, or sliced very thinly. Kaffir lime leaves can be sliced and used in salads or shredded and used in fish cakes. They are also widely used in soups such as tom yum and hot and sour shrimp, curries, fried rice, pastes, and stir-fries. Their herbal citrus flavor can be used to infuse desserts such as custard and ice cream. Kaffir lime leaves pair well with lemongrass, basil, cardamom, curry leaves, mint, tamarind, turmeric, cumin, galangal, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, jasmine rice, meats such as lamb, chicken and pork, mussels, and coconut milk. They will keep up to two weeks when stored fresh in the refrigerator and up to one year when stored in a sealed container in the freezer.
Kaffir Lime Leaves is available year-round.