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Kaffir Lime Leaves

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

About a year ago, I acquired a large potted Kaffir Lime tree as part of the purchase of a home in Hawai'i.

I've just transplanted it from the pot to the ground sparking my curiosity about the tree again.

After searching around to find out what it was and what it was used for, I bought my first wok and took up preparing Thai curries and other dishes.


So, in my dwindling ignorance of the uses for my Kaffir Lime tree, my one pressing question right now is:

How do you choose which leaves to pick from the plant for use in flavoring the dishes?

... The larger, older, tougher leaves, or the smaller, younger, more tender leaves?

Does it make any difference at all?

post #2 of 4

Welcome Voyager!


First off- don't just pick leaves. The tree will not replace them and eventually you'll have branches with no leaves. You need to prune a branch, this will cause it to grow new shoots. Then harvest the leaves of the branch you cut off. Freeze the extra leaves.


I can't find any info about which leaves to choose. I would just chew on a few to see if it's the bigger ones or little ones that have more flavor. Then use that. But if you're pounding or shaving  them to leave in the dish, use the more tender ones. Remove the stem and center vein first.


Do you know about keeping the graft of the tree out of the soil? This is important so the tree doesn't revert to whatever species the rootstock is. You also need to check for any branches that start below the graft line. They will not be kaffir lime and need to be removed. Here's a page to explain it if you need help. (Where I got most of this info.)

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thank you.

I had been picking a few leaves, but taking them from different areas around the plant, so as to not completely denude the poor thing.

I was considering pruning, but wasn't sure.

Thank you for that link, everything I ever wanted to know about Kaffir Lime trees and then some.


It had been badly neglected and was not looking very vigorous.

I was also concerned that it hadn't produce any fruit in the last year.

I think it was due to depleted soil in the pot.

It had sent roots out the drain holes into the ground and actually looked better than when I acquired it.

I had just moved a kitchen waste composter and its contents.

The soil under that location was almost a "pig mud", and just the right size for the Kaffir.

I amended the soil with cinders to lighten it up and improve drainage.

I think it will be doing much better now.

Time will tell.

Thanks again.




After pruning a few branches, it becomes obvious that younger leaves are what will be harvested from the tree.

The older leaves will end up being left on the tree.

Edited by voyager - 2/11/15 at 12:02pm
post #4 of 4
Some good advice from @mtullius!
Don't worry too much if yours doesn't fruit. You mainly got it for the leaves anyway (at least that is what I keep telling myself, as mine doesn't fruit and my neighbour's does).

I use both stages of leaves, the young ones mostly finely cut, the older tough ones for flavouring, like in tom young soup (where you don't eat them).

Don't get yourself limited to Thai food, Indonesians use a lot of keffir lime as well (they call them djuruk purut).

Good luck with your tree

Life is too short to drink bad wine


Life is too short to drink bad wine

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