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Makrut (Kaffir) lime and tree - history, drinks and characteristics

Mani Skaria, Ph.D.

Founder & CEO of US Citrus, LLC

Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

www.uscitrus.com

Thailand is in the center of Southeast Asia, 68 million people, with Bangkok the capital city. Thai people migrated from Southwest China to Southwest Asia. Thailand is rice producer. Thai food is known for its enthusiastic use of fresh herbs and spices. The flavors in Thai food come from garlic, galangal, coriander/cilantro, lemongrass, shallots, pepper, Makrut lime leaves, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and chilies. This article is dedicated to Kaffir lime fruit and Kaffir (Makrut) lime leaves.

Kaffir Lime Thailand

The Nomenclature

- The botanical name, Citrus hystrix

- Known with over 20 different official, Latin synonyms

- Jeruk purut in Indonesia

- Jiàn yè chéng in Chinese

- Kkabuyaw or kulubot in the Philippines

- Limau purut in Malaysia

- Trúc or chanh sác in Vietnam.

- Thai lime in South Africa

- And in Thailand, it is called Makrud or Makrut (มะกรูด)

And confusingly, the above name is also used in Thailand for the bergamot orange

The tree, fruit, and leaves

- A tree that may grow to 35 feet tall

- Leaves are distinctly-shaped in the citrus family -double leaves

- Green rough fruit, bumpy exterior appearance

- Fruit ripens to yellow

- Fruit size, 2-inch wide.

- The leaves are the most frequently used part of the plant, fresh, dried, or frozen, for dishes such as Tom Yum – a hot and sour Thai soup cooked with shrimp and famous, worldwide (figure below).

Kaffir Lime Curry

- The peel of the fruit is commonly used in Lao and Tai curry paste; it adds an aromatic, astringent flavor.

- The zest is used to impart flavor in rums

- For tastes in rums

- Crystallized and candied fruit

Medicinal use

- Traditional medicine in Asian countries

- Juice as hair shampoo

- To kill head lice

A Texas distillery called, Treaty Oaks is using Texas-grown Makrut lime (Kaffir lime) zest for the quality gin they produce. https://www.treatyoakdistilling.com/

Kaffir Lime Gin

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