Kaffir lime leaves – herb of the week

Kaffir lime leaves…growing in a Hugel bed at ARTfarm on St. Croix USVI

We often get asked, “What do you do with Kaffir lime leaves?” The quick answer is, it’s a citrusy bay leaf for flavoring soups, a wonderful partner to ginger in pan-Asian flavors.

First of all, smell them! These leathery leaves have a powerful and very pleasant astringent citrus scent. Just inhaling the smell makes you feel optimistic yet relaxed. So, personal potpourri. Keep a leaf in your pocket and smell amazing all day. Grab an extra bunch at the next farmstand and use them as a natural air freshener in the car.

A web search for Kaffir lime leaves turns up a number of references to Ayurvedic medicine. There are many claims of health benefits from drinking tea, chewing or sucking or otherwise ingesting the pungent oils of the leaves. They do everything from relieving stress to promoting oral health to helping you get you over the flu.

But what we most commonly do with Kaffir lime leaves in our family (other than misspell it) is make coconut curries, like Tom Kha Gai-ish soup. This is a recipe modified from Chef Kenny Biggs from Galangal Restaurant on St. Croix, and it’s in heavy rotation in our house – for an immune blast!

Use Kaffir leaves like bay leaves in any dish that would benefit from the cool, citrusy note of Kaffir lime. You can also make a tea, put them in drinks…

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