Why are so many people cooking with (but not eating) the leaves of the ‘Bearss’ species of seedless lime trees dipped in melted dark chocolate? Its leaves are especially good for coating with melted chocolate (use only the underside of the leaf to coat with chocolate). (That’s if your tree is organic and has no pesticides, dust, or bird droppings covering the leaves.)
After the chocolate sets, pull off the leaf to reveal a chocolate twin with a tantalizing hint of citrus. Perfect for decorating cakes and lemon curds. Where do you find the right type of lime tree leaf for dipping chocolate? ‘Bearss’ seedless lime tree originated in the Porterville, California citrus tree grove of T.J. Bearss in 1895. The classic lime for cooking and bartending, Bearss limes ripen even in cooler coastal areas. This citrus tree is a fast grower with fruit ripening in the fall.
Also check out recipes online (in English) show you how to cook Thai and Greek foods, especially with the abundance of lemon tree leaves found in both Thai and Greek cooking and fig tree leaves found in Greek and Sicilian-style cooking. One of the easier citrus trees to grow in pots outdoors if you’re willing to bring the pot indoors when temperatures drop below freezing. This information came from Bay Flora, in the Berkeley area, who sells and ships various fruit trees and other plants all over California and other areas. You can order online these various trees, fruits, and plants growing in containers.
Check out the Bay Flora website. Last summer, the three blooming fig trees our family ordered arrived in Sacramento by ground within one day sent from San Leandro and/or Berkeley.
If you’re thinking of a Bearss lime tree, these trees are shipped in 4″ x 9″ pots. The trees are over 2′ tall, with side branches beginning to develop. The Bearss variety is one of the more vigorous citrus trees, especially when grown on semi-dwarfing rootstock. So why are chocolate-dipped citrus tree leaves so popular here in Sacramento and also in the Bay area? It’s the scent and taste the citrus leaves place on the chocolate that gives the flavor. You don’t actually chew and eat any leaves. But you also can wrap the leaves around baked or grilled fish entrees.
Smell the citrus scent on the fish or other meat and vegetable baked or grilled foods. It’s divine. You can also bake cheese and vegetable meals or even tofu, tempeh, and seitan “wheat meat” or soy foods inside the citrus leaves for the citrus tase and scent.
Thai and Vietnamese Cooking with Lime Tree Leaves
Lime leaves used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking are Keffir lime leaves which are a different plant than the usual lime tree leaves you see in California. Keffir lime leaves have odd-shaped twin leaves.
Lemon tree leaves are used as wraps for meats, fish, veggie burgers/balls, or other vegetables. Don’t eat the tree leaves from lemons or keffir limes as you’d eat the fruit. The taste of lemon leaves is similar to lemongrass.
Lemon or keffir lime leaves are meant to wrap food with when cooking to give a flavor and scent, but not to eat. Grape leaves are edible when cooked. Wrap rice and tomato juice/paste, vegetables, and meat or fish with boiled and edible grape vine leaves.
Also see the iVillage Garden Web for more ideas on which tree leaves are edible. Be sure to find out first whether the leaves are organic. Don’t use leaves that have been sprayed with pesticides in your food.
Cooking with the leaves of lemon trees, a Greek ethnic favorite
Certain organic citrus tree leaves may be used as a wrap in cooking. But first make sure the leaves you get from a backyard lemon tree has never been sprayed with pesticides because the pesticides will poison you. You need organic, never-sprayed lemon tree leaves.
Wrap any meat or fish item in the leaves and grill your food. The lemon tree leaves will impart a lemony, citrus fragrance to the meat or fish.
Here is an illustrated recipe for lemon-tree-leaf-wrapped Sicilian meat balls from the FXcuisine.com site. In areas where there are no lemon tree leaves, frequently bay leaves are wrapped around grilled meat or fish.
Recipes for meat or fish wrapped in lemon tree leaves and grilled are also found in numerous East Asian countries. Lemon tree leaves also are used in Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
Cooking with organic lemon flower petals (not leaves)
At the Greek-Recipe.com site, you’ll see recipes for using the organic flowers (no pesticides) from lemon trees in your cooking recipes. Basically, you wash off the stamens from the petals of a lemon tree.
Then you put the cleaned petals in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. The petals are stored in a jar full of lemon juice diluted with a little water. You let the mixture stand for a couple of hours.
Then you boil a spoon full of sugar and water for a few minutes, usually about ten minutes, until the water turns to light syrup. You rinse the lemon juice off the petals you just took out of the jar and put the petals in the syrup.
Then you boil everything for another five minutes. As the mixture starts to cool, you squeeze the juice of a lemon over it. Let it cool some more. And put the syrup in a jar. Store it in your refrigerator.
To grow your own lemon tree indoors in containers close to natural sunlight, see the Citrus Growers cites. Also see the book, Lemon Tree Healthy Cooking (Paperback) by Sunny Baker Ph.D. Also try the recipes in the book for Tofu With Lemongrass and Coconut Curry Sauce or Lemon Shrimp on a Stick.
Cooking with Fig Leaves
(Don’t eat the fig leaves. Just cook in them for the scent and flavor.) You can cook almost any type of fish that usually is baked wrapped in fig leaves. Unwrap the fig leaf and leave it on the side of the plate. Eat what’s inside that’s scented with the aroma of the fig leaves. Here’s a way to make use of those huge fig leaves just blooming now in April on your backyard fig tree, before the figs ripen in June and August.
For a great recipe of how to bake salmon wrapped in fig leaves with drizzled olive oil, check out the Salmon Baked in Fig Leaves recipe online. There’s also another recipe for salmon baked in fig leaves at the Salmon Baked in Fig Leaves with Kale site. For dessert, check out the recipe online for apricots baked in fig leaves.
Also, for dessert, you can wrap almost any fruit that can be baked in fig leaves. The same goes for lemon tree leaves. The only detail is to make sure both the fig leaves and lemon tree leaves have not been sprayed with pesticides.
You can substitute drizzled olive oil for the butter and leave out the sugar in the apricots baked in fig leaves recipe, substituting some other sweetener you prefer such as stevia, pomegranate juice concentrate, apricot syrup, or no sweetener.
The lemon zest adds flavor and tartness. For example, instead of greasing your baking dish with butter or dotting the fig leaves with butter, you can use grape seed oil, olive oil, or rice bran oil and avoid adding more saturated dairy fat to your diet. In Thai cooking, peanut sauce with vegetables, meats, or sea foods also are cooked in a satay style. See, Hors D’oeuvres – Sacramento Caterers – Hannibal’s Catering.
Basic Malaysian and Thai satay sauce often mixes coconut milk, crunchy peanut butter, onion, soy sauce, and brown sugar or other sweetener. Check out the basic satay sauce recipe at the Satay Sauce site at All Recipes.com.
You can wrap fish or meat in fig or lemon leaves, for example and bake with a satay sauce for Thai or Malaysian-style cooking that mixes savory dishes with coconut milk, peanut butter, and sweetened soy sauce.
For more info: browse my books, How Nutrigenomics Fights Childhood Type 2 Diabetes & Weight Issues (2009) or Predictive Medicine for Rookies (2005). Or see my books, How to Safely Tailor Your Foods, Medicines, & Cosmetics to Your Genes (2003) or How to Interpret Family History & Ancestry DNA Test Results for Beginners (2004) or How to Open DNA-driven Genealogy Reporting & Interpreting Businesses. (2007).