Are you growing a kaffir lime tree for the leaves and ever wondered what you can do with the kaffir lime fruit? Is your kaffir lime bursting with gorgeous green fruits and you don’t want to see them go to waste? Well, this article is for you! Read on to find out how you can use kaffir limes in the kitchen and at home.
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What are Kaffir Limes?
Kaffir limes are the citrus fruit grown on the kaffir lime tree (Citrus lystrix). They are also known as makrut limes. The fruit is small, green, and round with a bumpy skin and they generally grow to 2 inches (4cm).
The kaffir lime tree is most often grown for its leaves which are highly valued in Asian cuisine including Thai curries and soups, as well as other dishes. Think Tom Yum soup, red curry or green curry, and kaffir lime leaves will be a featured ingredient.
The zest from the kaffir lime is another ingredient favored for Thai curry pastes. The kaffir lime zest creates the aroma while the addition of regular lime provides flavor.
Can You Eat Kaffir Limes?
Kaffir lime fruits are edible, though often they are overlooked for eating due to their mostly undesirable taste. We are all quite familiar with the use of kaffir lime leaves in cooking, however, there are many ways to use kaffir lime fruit in recipes to make them taste delicious.
Kaffir lime fruit can be turned into delicious marmalade and curd and the juice can be added to drinks. The zest from kaffir lime is an ingredient for Thai curry pastes and can also be used in cakes and other dishes for its aromatic properties.
When the kaffir lime starts to turn yellow, the fruit is overripe and the small amount of juice the fruit does produce will become less. They are best when they are still green with a small amount of give when squeezed.
What Do Kaffir Limes Taste Like?
Kaffir lime fruit tastes bitter with a citrusy lemongrass flavor. Due to the bitterness, kaffir lime fruits are not often eaten raw.
However, the kaffir lime zest is sort after in curry pastes and the fruit can be made delicious by making a marmalade, curd, adding the juice to flavor a drink or other recipe. See recipes below.
What’s the Difference Between Kaffir Limes and Limes?
Although both kaffir limes and limes are from the citrus family, they are quite different. The most obvious difference is their appearance; kaffir limes have a bumpy skin while regular limes are smooth-skinned.
Kaffir limes, although edible, are generally not favored for eating fresh, while limes are. This is partly due to regular limes being juicier than kaffir limes and because the flavors differ. Kaffir limes being a bitter citrusy lemongrass flavor while limes having a favorable tangy sour citrus taste.
In some Asian cusines, the kaffir lime zest is used to for its aromatic properties but the use of regular limes is used for taste.
Freezing Kaffir Limes
To preserve an abundance of kaffir limes, the fruit can be peeled for the zest and kept in the freezer for later use. The zest is most often used in curry paste but can also be used in cakes and curd recipes among other dishes.
While the kaffir lime juice can be frozen in ice cubes. Once frozen, they can be popped out of the tray and placed in a freezer bag. Then you can use one cube at a time as needed.
Kaffir Lime Recipes
Eating kaffir limes in their raw and fresh state is not to everyone’s taste. The bitter flavor can be too overpowering. But using the kaffir lime fruits in a recipe can turn them into a delicious dish, preserve or drink. So here are some recipes you can try using kaffir lime fruits:
Savory Kaffir Lime Fruit Recipes
Kaffir Lime Pickle – from Vege Yum. The kaffir limes are combined with turmeric and salt to soften for a day or two. This recipe uses the whole kaffir lime, skin and all, for this tasty Indian-style pickle.
Kaffir Lime and Coconut Poached Chicken with Noodles – from Kulinary Adventures of Kath. This recipe uses both the juice and the zest from the kaffir lime fruit, as well as kaffir lime leaves. A really wonderful way to use the whole kaffir lime and a delicious heartwarming dish.
5 Minute Thai Red Curry Paste – from Masala Herb. Make your own Thai red curry paste using the kaffir lime fruit rind. Later, you can use this curry paste to make your own red curry. Try chicken, vegetable or shrimp curry!
Kaffir Lime Ponzu Sauce – from Tomonese Japanese Cuisine Classes. A Japanese-inspired dipping juice for Gyoza, meats, hotpots, and salads. The recipe uses the juice from the kaffir lime fruit and calls for about 20 kaffir limes.
Sweet Kaffir Lime Fruit Recipes
Kaffir Lime Marmalade – from NZ Herald. This marmalade recipe packs a flavor hit and could also be used to baste a chicken. A fantastic way to use up a bag full of kaffir lime fruits.
Kaffir Lime Curd – from Suitcase Foodist. A delicious citrusy curd using the zest and juice from 4 kaffir limes. Delicious served on toast, scones or used in a dessert similar to the kaffir lime tarts below.
Thai-Inspired Mini Kaffir Lime Tarts – from Rachel Cooks Thai. Turning the zest from kaffir lime into a curd to fill buttery sweet pastry shells for mouth-watering tarts.
Kaffir Lime and Dark Chocolate Macarons – from Baking in Pink. These delicious-looking macarons use the kaffir lime zest in both the macaron shells and ganache filling. A yummy and decadent treat you can enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee or impress your friends by serving up a batch for morning tea.
Using Kaffir Limes Around the Home
Apart from kaffir lime fruits being edible, they can also be used in other ways such as for hair care and to help you clean your home. So if you have a tree full of ripe kaffir limes, you can put them to good use. Let’s take a closer look at both these options.
Is Kaffir Lime Good for Hair?
Kaffir limes are gentle and cleansing on hair making them naturally good for hair. And besides kaffir limes being good for cleaning hair, in some countries, such as Thailand, they use kaffir limes to encourage hair growth, including thickening, and to treat dandruff. The citrus aroma provided by kaffir limes is also lovely for use on the hair.
Kaffir Lime Shampoo
And you can use kaffir limes to make your own shampoo. Not only do the kaffir limes clean the hair, they are also conditioning.
One very simple technique for using kaffir limes as a hair shampoo is to simply cut a kaffir lime in half, take it in the shower with you and squeeze the juice into your hands and apply it to your hair as you would shampoo. You can also go ahead and rub the rest of the kaffir lime through your hair. Wash your hair as you normally would and then rinse out. If your kaffir limes are particularly small, you might want to use a couple of kaffir limes.
Another method for making kaffir lime shampoo is to combine kaffir limes with water, boil the limes until soft and then strain them through muslin. To bottle the shampoo, the cooked and strained kaffir lime is reboiled and bottled in sterilized bottles. You can find the full instructions for this kaffir lime shampoo here.
And a similar recipe with detailed pictures to follow the process can be found here: DIY Kaffir Lime Shampoo.
Kaffir Lime DIY Citrus Cleaner
Using kaffir limes for your own natural citrus cleaner around your home makes amazing use of these often underutilized fruits.
Citrus cleaners can be used anywhere you would use an all-purpose cleaner, such as cleaning your kitchen bench tops, bathroom vanities, mirrors and shower. Avoid natural stone kitchen bench tops which are porous and the acidic citrus spray can be abrasive.
Here’s how to make your own kaffir lime citrus cleaner:
- Fill a jar with kaffir lime peels.
- Top the jar up with apple cider vinegar.
- Place the lid on and allow to stand for two weeks.
- After two weeks, strain the liquid and then mix 2 parts water to 1 part cleaner in a spray bottle.
Now you have a natural cleaner you can safely use around your home!
Kaffir lime leaves are a loved and sort after ingredient while the fruits are often overlooked. But as you can see, the kaffir lime fruits can be eaten and used in delicious recipes both savory and sweet. The fruits can also be used as a wonderful hair shampoo and treatment or turned into your very own natural citrus cleaner. That makes the kaffir lime fruit a desirable and versatile citrus fruit in my book. How will you use your kaffir limes?
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