Kaffir lime leaves are useful in many ways!
A few months ago I visited one of my favorite plant nurseries here in Ohio. As usual I was incredibly tempted to pack my car with as many plants as my wallet would allow. The plant that most attracted my attention was the kaffir lime plant.
Growing the kaffir lime leaves (Citrus hystrix)
The Kaffir Lime tree is a thorny tree, native to the tropics. For this Ohio girl, that presents a problem. Or does it?!
I love the idea of growing my own citrus, and I’ve tried with other varieties. Unfortunately, lemons and limes have been unsuccessful. This is predominantly because we grow them for their fruits and this makes them more of a challenge indoors. Our house does not have a sunroom and I don’t have a good way to maintain a constant temperature or guarantee light exposure. In the case of fruiting, light exposure really means day length. Even if we keep a plant from freezing in a temperate climate it doesn’t mean it will flower or fruit for us. In the past this has meant that while I can grow an orange tree in a pot, it’s really just a leafy companion and never a source of my morning OJ.
The kaffir lime is a bit of a different story. While the fruit is sometimes used in the natural cleaning and bodycare industries, it isn’t the focus of growing the tree. Most often we use the kaffir for its leaves. Hooray! Here in my sunny living room I excel at growing leafy citrus. What has been a disappointment in the past is now a plus.
Ways to Use Kaffir Lime Leaves
Adding Thai Flavor to Dishes
Kaffir lime leaves are that special something to add to your favorite thai dish. Just a leaf or two, added to a big pot of soup will do.
Dry a few leaves and put them through your coffee grinder (I have a dedicated one for grinding herbs). The powder can be added to a homemade toothpaste recipe to benefit teeth and gum health.
*To our DIY Whitening Tooth Powder recipe, add 1 tablespoon dried and finely powdered kaffir lime leaves.
Bath Time Pick-me-up
Infuse a handful of fresh or dried herbs into a light oil such as grapeseed, almond, or sesame, and add a few drops into your bath. The leaves are high in essential oils and you’ll enjoy a refreshing and invigorating bath as a result. It’s thought that kaffir lime encourages a positive mindset.
Pick a few leaves and add them to a simmering pot of water on your stove. The essential oils will release from the leaves and fill your house with a delicious fresh lime scent.
Throughout the year, whether the kaffir lime is inside your house or in a pot on the deck, you can pick fresh leaves or preserve them for later. The leaves can be dried, powdered, frozen, or used immediately.
After I left the nursery I immediately regretted not picking up one of these little plants. My order is in and I’m looking forward to receiving my “Indonesian bay leaf” any day now!