Citrus in the Northwest
You can enjoy the wonderful
fragrance and the luxury of harvesting fresh citrus in Seattle but it does
require a couple of conditions. First you need to have a sunny indoor
place for the coldest months of the year - late November(?) through March(?)
And unless you have a greenhouse or conservatory these plants like to be
outside in the warmer months of the year - April(?) through October(?).
Last winter we even had our citrus outside in February and March!
Semi-heated spaces like enclosed porches work well and can be used
year-round if they get enough sunlight. We have had two Buddha's Hand
Orange Trees in our garden for over ten years. While they do not flower
since they do not get enough warmth in the winter, they have survived the
winters with only some minimal frost damage. Why not try
planting a Kaffir Lime for your own source of spices for Thai cooking?
(Some of the following text and photos are provided by Four Winds Growers, CA)
Lemon [IN] - The gourmet lemon. "Improved" refers to the California
state tested, virus-free clone, a collaborative discovery of Joe Grimshaw
and Four Winds founder Floyd Dillon in the early 1950's. Very juicy; not as
tart as Eureka. Prolific bearer nearly year-round; heaviest in winter.
Mature fruit takes on a golden hue. The Meyer Lemon is a favorite of chefs
and gourmets. It is slightly sweeter than the classic commercial varieties
(Eureka and Lisbon). Its soft skin develops an orange hue when fruit is
fully ripe, and its distinctive, mystical flavor combines lemon with a hint
of tangerine. It is easy to grow, compact, and notoriously prolific in its
blooming and fruiting. The tree often flowers twice a year, such that both
fruit and flowers can be present all year long. What's more, it does not
need a lot of heat to ripen the fruit.
Orange [IN] - Bright green foliage. Compact plant with very fragrant flowers in the winter and spring.
Produces small oranges.
Trovita Orange [IN] - Spring ripening. Good in many locations from
coastal areas to desert. Few seeds, thin skinned fruit, heavy producer and
Clementine Mandarin Orange [IN] - Spring ripening. Needs sun or heat
to sweeten fruit. Heavy producer and excellent flavor.
Seedless Lime (Tahiti/Persian) [IN] - True lime. Fruit larger than
Mexican lime. Good in cool areas. Year round.
Kaffir Lime (Kieffer/Thai/Wild) [IN] - Leaves, zest, and juice are
used in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. Bumpy fruit. Kaffir
limes are also known as "Kieffer limes," "Thai limes," or "wild limes."
Rangpur Lime (shown at right) Although
it is actually a sour Mandarin orange it is used like a lime especially for
drinks and garnish. The purple flowers and its prolific fruit
production make this a great ornamental plant. Also, try the fruit in
(Also known as Italian Lemon, or Mediterannean Lemon.)
Featuring a more classic tart lemon flavor this variety is grown for its
cold resistance and its vigorous growth. It is widely grown throughout
the Mediterranean region as well as regions of Chile and Argentina.
Four Winds website - (one of our
favorite growers) "One of the
wonderful things about citrus fruits is
their sheer variety of form, flavor and
usefulness. Here we feature the
increasingly popular Yuzu.
Famously valued in Asian cuisines for
centuries, Yuzu is now
inspiring fusion chefs throughout the
world. This cold hardy tree (known to
survive temperatures as low as 10
degrees F) grows wild in both Tibet and
Central China, yet has been most
appreciated as a cultivated tree in
Japan and Korea.
Here are just a few
examples to illustrate Yuzu’s
importance. The zest and juice are
essential ingredients in Japanese
Ponzu sauce, as well as important
in some miso soup recipes and
chawanmushi (an egg custard dish).
Yuzu-cha (Yuja cha in
Korea) is a syrupy marmalade-like
concoction which, stirred into hot
water, makes a warming tonic tea to ward
off winter chills. At midwinter (Toji,
or Winter Solstice) Yuzu fruits
are the preferred fruit to float in
one’s ceremonial bath to encourage good
health in the New Year. The wood of the
Yuzu tree is also valued by
crafters of the traditional Korean oboe,
the taepyeongso. Yuzu wood
remains the preferred material for
making the main body of the instrument."
more citrus info
Kaffir Lime Leaf and Peel
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 rural
Thailand. For more information, read the excerpts below, then check out her
web site, Adventures in Thai Cooking and Travel:
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 kaffir 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 kaffir 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 wonderful
piquant flavor to such delectable favorites as fried fish cakes, and it
blends in powerfully with such spicy, chili-laden stews as "jungle soup" (gkaeng
bpah). Because it's strong flavor can over power 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 kaffir lime tree are a dark green color with a glossy
sheen. They come in two parts: the top leaflet is lightly pointed at its tip
and is attached to another leaflet beneath that is broader on its upper
edge. The size of the leaves can vary quite a bit, from less than an inch to
several inches long. The larger leaves are usually darker in color. In
recipes that call for them, estimate the number to use according to their
size, with the average single leaflet (detached from its double) of about
two inches long and an inch wide equaling one leaf. Add more or fewer leaves
according to the sizes in the batch you purchased.
Kaffir lime leaves are precious to many Thai dishes, from soups and salads
to curries and stir-fried dishes. They are the ingredient that blends
marvelously with lemon grass and lime juice in dtom yam to give the soup its
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-fry 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 kaffir 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 gives the hands better leverage, or roll a few leaves
at a time into a tight roll before slicing. If at first this task seems
onerous, practice until you develop a sense of how to work the leaves. It is
a good contemplative exercise and a way to become present with a wonderfully
aromatic member of our universe. You can also try cutting the leaves with a
pair of scissors, but I find this can be 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 these methods add the
kaffir lime leaf flavor differently and can overwhelm the more delicate
flavors in a dish. Large slivers can be equally overpowering. So, it is best
to use fine slivers about an inch long, as Thai chefs have done for
generations, to add kaffir lime leaves in the most pleasing balance of
flavor, texture and presentation.
About the Kaffir Lime Tree and Other Uses
In tropical Thailand, almost every home in the countryside has one in its
yard. Besides supplying great flavor ingredients to enhance food, kaffir
lime is also used as a indisputably effective cleanser, natural deodorizer
and add a sparkling scent, like sweet bouquet of citrus blossoms, and each
scratch of the zest releases another installment of refreshing perfume
Kaffir lime shampoo leaves the hair squeaky clean and invigorates the scalp.
It is believed to freshen one's mental outlook and ward off evil spirits.
Kaffir lime has also been used for ages as a natural bleach to remove tough
stains. When I was growing up, mother did the wash entirely by hand, and
nothing worked better on stubborn stains than a few drops of kaffir 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 kaffir lime tree supplies enough limes to keep the whole
house and family clean.
In folk medicine, the juice of kaffir 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
Dwarf citrus are
especially suited for container growing as they can be kept at manageable
sizes. Container growing allows gardeners to overcome poor soil conditions
or limited space in a landscape. People enjoy their trees in decorative pots
on their patio or apartment balcony. Many customers have cold winters and
bring their citrus
indoors during freezing weather.
We recommend using
commercially available potting mixes. Some experts make their own mixes
using wood shavings, sand, and compost. Using dirt in a container is not
advisable. Rose formulations can work, but the perfect high air filled
porosity mix can be hard to find. If you can not find a mix without sphagnum
peat moss, amend the soil mix with a 1/4- 1/3 volume of 1" redwood shavings.
Our 2-3 year trees are shipped with shavings suitable for potting mix
amendments. Cedar shavings can be used as well, but avoid pine and spruce.
Once your soil mix is prepared, the container is selected and the tree's
eventual location is known you are ready to begin potting.
Place one inch of soil in the bottom of your new container. Gently remove
the roots and soil from the old container. Try to keep the root ball intact.
Place the root ball in the new container and fill with your fresh potting
mix. The top of the roots should be just barely beneath the top of the soil
level. Loosely tie tree to a stake if needed. Press the soil around the root
ball to provide stability and water deeply. Loosely tie tree to a stake.
Repotting with fresh soil mix every year or two will provide fresh nutrients
to the soil.
Sunny, wind free
locations with southern exposure are the best. If in doubt, leave the tree
in its plastic container and place it in the spot you have in mind. After a
week or two, you should be able to tell whether or not it is thriving.
Reflected heat from sidewalks or houses can also help to create a warmer
microclimate. Avoid lawns that get frequent, shallow watering.
Consistency is the key
with citrus watering. Citrus trees require soil that is moist but never
soggy. Watering frequency will vary with soil porosity, tree size, and
environmental factors. DO NOT WATER IF THE TOP OF THE SOIL IS DRY WITHOUT
CHECKING THE SOIL AT ROOT LEVEL! A simple moisture meter,
available at garden supply stores, will read moisture at the root level.
This inexpensive tool will allow you to never have to guess about whether or
not a plant needs water.
A wilted tree that perks up within 24 hours after watering indicates the
roots got too dry. Adjust watering schedule accordingly. A tree with yellow
or cupped leaves, or leaves that don't look perky AFTER watering can
indicate excessive watering and soggy roots. Water your tree less often.
Citrus prefer infrequent, deep watering to frequent, shallow sprinklings.
Creating a watering basin around the tree's drip line can aid in deep
watering. Deeper watering promotes deeper root growth and strengthens your
tree. Generally, once or twice a week deep watering works well for container
specimens. Be sure to adjust based on weather conditions!
In general, it is probably best to water in the morning, but if plants are
dry or wilted it is better to water them right away than wait until morning.