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The flavor and wonder of the kieffer liime

The Flavor and Wonder of the Kieffer Lime


Kieffer Lime trees are available in limited quantity from Four Winds Growers. They are also known as ‘Makrut,’ Thai lime and ‘Wild’ lime. Their leaves, zest, and juice are used in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. Get a better look through our slide show.

Kieffer Lime Leaf and Peel
(Bai Ma-gkood, PewMa-gkrood)
The following is from an extraordinary book by Kasma Loha-unchit, It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking, published by Pomegranate Artbooks, 1995. The widely distributed book contains bright watercolors punctuating tempting recipes and tales of life in ruralThailand. For more information, read the excerpts below, then check out her web site, Adventures in Thai Cooking and Travel: http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/.

“Both the exceptionally fragrant fruits and leaves of the kaffir lime tree play important roles in Thai cooking, imparting unique flavors that have become identified with the cuisine. Any Thai cookbook that alludes to the use of citrus leaves really means kieffer lime leaves, the only citrus leaves used with regularity in a wide array of favorite Thai dishes. The luscious perfume and striking flavor of the leaves cannot be easily substituted with other kinds of citrus leaves. They are worth seeking, as their special attributes are irreplaceable.

The kieffer lime fruit approximates the size of a Western lime. The fruit is dark green in color and has a bumpy surface. Through the juice is seldom used in cooking, the peel of the fruit, with its high concentration of aromatic oils, is indispensable in many curry pastes and is one reason why Thai curries taste refreshingly unique. The zest also imparts a piquant flavor to such delectable favorites as fried fish cakes, and it blends in powerfully with spicy, chili-laden stews such as "jungle soup" (gkaeng bpah). Because its strong flavor can overpower the more subtle ones in a dish, the rind should be used sparingly, grated or chopped finely and reduced in a mortar with other paste ingredients until indistinguishable.

The leaves of the kieffer lime tree are a dark green color with a glossy sheen. The leaves are double-lobed and the top leaflets are slightly pointed. The leaflet attached below is broadened on its upper edge. The size of the leaves can vary quite a bit, from less than an inch to several inches long. The medium to large size, more mature leaves are darker in color and usually preferred for cooking.

Kieffer lime leaves are indispensible in many Thai dishes, from soups and salads to curries and stir-fried dishes. Their flavors blend marvelously with lemon grass and lime juice in dtom yam soup, imparting its characteristic wholesome lemony essence. In soupy dishes, add the leaves whole or torn into smaller pieces, using them as one would bay leaves to flavor broth or stew. For dishes in which they are a component to be eaten, such as salads, stir-fries and dry or custard like curries, cut them in very fine needle-like slivers, so that their strong bouquet can be more evenly distributed. The slivers also provide a pleasing texture and appearance.

To sliver kieffer lime leaves finely, stack three to four leaves of similar size together and slice them very thinly with a sharp knife. It is faster to cut diagonally, which also gives the hand better leverage. Alternatively, roll a few leaves at a time into a tight curl before slicing.

It can take a little practice to develop a sense of how to best to work with the leaves. It can be seen as it a contemplative exercise and a way to become present with a wonderfully aromatic member of the botanical world. You can also try cutting the leaves with a pair of scissors, but this is a slower process, because you usually must cut one leaf at a time in order to get fine slivers. You may be tempted to mince or chop the leaves instead, but caution is advised with this method, since the kieffer lime leaf flavor can easily overwhelm more delicate flavors in a dish. It is best to use fine slivers about an inch long, as Thai chefs have done for generations.

Other Uses
In tropical Thailand, nearly every home in the countryside has a kieffer lime tree in the yard. Besides supplying great flavor ingredients to enhance food, kieffer lime fruits and leaves are commonly used in making effective household cleaners. A natural deodorizer, its sparkling scent is uplifting to the senses. Each scratch of the zest releases another installment of refreshing perfume.

Kieffer lime shampoo leaves the hair squeaky clean and invigorates the scalp. The invigorating scent is said to be effective in lifting one's mental outlook as well as warding off evil spirits. Kieffer lime has also been used for ages as a natural bleach to remove tough stains. It is commonly known in Thailand that nothing works better on stubborn stains than a few drops of kieffer lime juice, mixed with a sprinkling of detergent. Not only does it clean effectively, it is inexpensive, natural and sweet-smelling. For rural villagers, a single kieffer lime tree supplies enough limes to keep the whole house and family clean.

In folk medicine, the juice of kieffer lime is said to promote gum health and is recommended for use in brushing teeth and gums. The essential oils in the fruit are incorporated into various ointments, and the rind is an ingredient in medical tonics believed to be good for the blood. Like lemon grass and galanga, the rind is also known to have beneficial properties for the digestive system.”

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蔬菜對溫度日照條件的要求

蔬菜對溫度日照條件的要求
全日照  8個小時日照 瓜類、茄果類、豆類、山藥、豆薯(地瓜)。番茄、黃瓜、茄子、辣椒等喜溫中、強光性
蔬菜夏秋季生產,玉米、青椒、西瓜、南瓜、西紅柿、茄子、芝麻、向日葵類。
其次是根莖類,如:馬鈴薯、甜菜、胡蘿蔔、白蘿蔔、甘藷、山藥等等。至少需半日照,才能生長,芋頭雖喜歡全日照,但比其他蔬菜耐蔭。 
需要中等光照大白菜、甘藍、芥菜、蒜、洋蔥。 

長日性蔬菜白菜、甘藍、芥菜、蘿蔔、胡蘿蔔、芹菜、菠菜、萵苣、蠶豆、豌豆、大蔥、洋蔥。

短日性蔬菜豇豆、扁豆、莧菜、空心菜。         

中光性蔬菜黃瓜、番茄、茄子、辣椒、菜豆

菜豆

菜豆喜溫暖,不耐高溫和霜凍。菜豆種子發芽的適溫為20-30℃;在40℃以上的高溫和10℃以下的低溫,種子不易發芽。幼苗生長適宜氣溫為18-25℃。花芽分化的適宜氣溫為20-25℃,過高或過低溫度易出現發育不完全的花蕾、落花。

菜豆對光照強度的要求較高。在適宜溫度條件下,光照充足則植株生長健壯,莖的節間短而分枝多,開花結莢比較多,而且有利於根部對磷肥的吸收。當光照強度減弱時,植株易徒長,莖的節間長,分枝少,葉質薄,而且開花結莢數少,易落花落莢。

菜豆根系強大,能耐一定程度乾旱,但喜中度濕潤土壤條件,要求水分供應適中,不耐澇。生長期適宜土壤濕度為田間最大持水量的60%-70%,空氣相對濕度以80%為宜。開花結莢期對水分最敏感,此期土壤乾旱對開花結莢有不良影響,開花數、結莢數及莢內種子數減少。土壤水分過大時,下部葉片黃化,早脫落。空氣濕度過大會引起徒長、結莢不良。

菜豆具有深根性和根瘤菌,對土壤的要求不甚嚴格,但仍以土層深厚肥沃、排水良好的輕砂壤土或粘質壤土為好。土壤過於粘重、低溫、排水和通氣不良則生長不良,炭疽病重。菜豆喜中性至微酸性土壤,適宜的土壤pH為5-7.0,其中以州6.2-6.8最適宜。菜豆最忌連作,生產中應實行2-3年輪作。

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何謂硝酸鹽

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氮素怎麼會變成硝酸鹽? 氮素會被土壤中的細菌分解為硝酸鹽(硝化作用),植物吸收硝酸鹽,再把硝酸鹽製造成氨基酸與蛋白質。植物吸收的硝酸鹽,是在夜裡發生的,硝酸鹽得經過充分的日照,經過光合作用才能轉化為氨基酸與蛋白質。所以,胺基酸是在白天製造的。葉菜裡頭,一定會同時含有氨基酸與蛋白質、硝酸鹽。光合作用的(日照)時間長一些,硝酸鹽就會少一些。


為什麼硝酸鹽會過量? 
硝酸鹽來不及變成胺基酸有兩個原因。

第一,是光合作用不足(日照不夠),陰雨天不只是日照不足,天上(雨水)還會落下氮素,增加土壤中的氮素。避免陰雨天採收,或凌晨採收,傍晚採收最好。
第二,才是過度施肥,蔬菜裡含太多氮素。
從充分日照與適量施肥著手,就可讓硝酸鹽降低。對於葉菜類,儘量調整傍晚採收,讓蔬菜有充足日照行光合作用。

硝酸鹽是壞東西? 人體有80%以上的硝酸鹽,來自於蔬菜,尤其是葉菜類,難道它只對身體有害?
讓葉菜除了豐富的維生素之外,還含有硝酸鹽?
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水耕栽培植物之構想是有歷史淵源的,早在紀元前數百年前古埃及之楔形文字遺跡中即可發現有植物生長於水中的圖形,而世界七大不可思議的傳說中『巴比崙的空中花園』,亦常讓人百思不解。其實土壤為天然的栽培床,她為植物之母,固持著植物,及提供各種生育必需之元素。一旦不用土壤作為栽培介質,若能人為的固持植物根部及提供各種營養成分,則在水中生長植物又有何不可呢?以日本筑波萬國博覽會上展示之一株活生生地,預計可結一萬二千個果實之水耕番茄,可了解水耕技術之奧妙。水耕無土栽培因果菜類及葉菜類生理習性之分野,在植株育苗、栽培床構造及養液循環系統之設計上略有不同,目前本場已成功地各開發一套水耕栽培技術,在240平方公尺之溫室中以岩棉栽培法來培植番茄、胡瓜、草莓及木瓜等果菜,並以浮根式栽培法來生產小白菜、萵苣、山(水)芹菜及菠菜等葉菜。
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