Harvesting kaffir lime leaves from your garden is a great way to add flavor to your favorite Asian dishes.
In this article I’ll tell you when to pick kaffir lime leaves, the best way to harvest them, and how to use and store them.
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What is a kaffir lime?
Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) is a tropical citrus fruit with dark green bumpy skin.
The fruits only produce a small amount of juice so it’s mostly the rind and the leaves that are used for cooking.
The rind is sour-tasting and can be finely grated, sliced or cut into strips to flavor foods.
The leaves are also known as makrut lime leaves and can be used fresh, dried or frozen.
They have a spicy citrus flavor that is described as a cross between lemongrass and lime with hints of ginger.
Their fragrance comes from powerful terpenes called limonene and citronellol.
When to harvest kaffir lime leaves?
Kaffir lime leaves can be picked any time after the plant has reached maturity.
The best time to harvest them is in spring, when they are just starting to grow and light green in color.
The young leaves are more tender so they are better to be used in cooking.
Once the leaves mature they become tougher and wrinkled.
How to pick kaffir lime leaves
To harvest kaffir lime leaves, pick the leaves gently by hand to avoid damaging the branches.
If you just need a leaf or two you can pick them from any part of the plant but if you need quite a few leaves it’s best to trim off a small branch and remove all the leaves.
Store any excess leaves in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer.
How To Use kaffir lime Leaves
The most common way to use kaffir lime leaves is in Asian curries, soups or stews.
Kaffir lime leaves are used in tom yum soup, a popular soup in Thailand.
The leaves are also added to some coconut-based dishes like curries or curried vegetables.
Put a few fresh leaves into the pot during cooking.
The taste of the kaffir lime leaves will infuse into your dish, making it more fragrant and delicious.
Crushing kaffir lime leaves in a mortar and pestle will release their fragrant oils, which emit an intense citrus aroma.
Use the more tender leaves if you’re crushing them and remove the stem and center vein first.
How to store kaffir lime leaves
To freeze kaffir lime leaves, remove the leaves from the stem and place them in a freezer bag.
The leaves will last for up to 2 years when frozen.
You can also store kaffir lime leaves in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator for up to a week.
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So there are my tips for picking kaffir lime leaves from your garden.
Have you tried harvesting kaffir lime leaves? Let me know in the comments below.