Down on the Farm…What is Lime water? Nam Pboon Sai…

Down on the Farm Nam Pboon Sai

While I am busty researching and testing recipes I thought I would repost some of my older posts which still seem to be receiving some interest or ones which may need a little more love…

I thought of this post as I purchased some more of the areca nut today and some fresh tobacco…The mother-law -law’s little store need replenishing…

I hope you enjoy!

Nam Pboon Sai ( Limewater) is used in Thai cooking… it firms up soft fruit for long cooking and makes crispy batter even crisper. It was something I discovered quite by chance when asking questions about Thai cooking…it then left me with more questions…Of course, it did…sigh

But you know me I couldn’t just leave it there…

When I wrote my post last week on Red Bananas I found out that all bananas that looked red were in fact NOT red bananas but bananas that had been cooked in Lime Water to turn them red… The plot thickens… I hope this doesn’t bore you but I just like to know I will say that when I was telling my son his eyes glazed over and he did say, mum, I really am not interested… But indulge me because I am…

Let’s start with the raw ingredients in making limewater (Nam Pboon Sai). Slaked lime (lime + water = Ca(OH)2 ) or calcium hydroxide is traditionally made with burning shells at high heat and adding the burned shells to water. The water that you get is limewater. In  Thailand, the red lime paste is quite common because the paste is also used in making paan.

What is paan?

The chewing of the product is part of the culture of Thailand. Cultivation of areca nut palm and betel leaves is common in rural areas and is a  traditional cash crop, and the utensils used for preparation are often treasured.

Now, many young people have given up the habit, especially in urban areas, but many, especially older people, still keep to the tradition.

These pictures show the fruit, the chewing tobacco, bits of wood and betel leaves and other bits and pieces which go into rolling up these cigarette shaped smokes.

Although actually illegal now a blind eye is turned in most cases it is generally the older people like my son’s partners mum who continue this tradition …You can tell as the teeth and lips are stained bright red…

Where does my red Lime powder fit in well it is sold here and apparently some of the powder is rubbed under the top gum of the mouth…I was warned( not) that I had any intention of doing that …To be careful it may burn!!!!!!!!

I was also getting a lot of surprised looks and smiles which translated I think meant what is this lady doing buying that… just as well I had Tik with me to translate that I wasn’t intending to smoke or rub it under my gums but cook…They still looked slightly bemused but I am used to that now.

Just in case you missed the post which led to this one here is the link:

Red Bananas (2)

I just wanted to know and see what made this Banana dessert red…..

To make red lime, powdered turmeric is added to the mixture. Instead of turning yellow like turmeric, this pasty mixture turns bright red. Nam Pboon Sai or limewater is made when more water is added to the mixture. When the lime settles, the clear, pinkish water above is used in cooking.

Limewater is used in Thai cooking to keep fruit used in long cooking like a banana in syrup or breadfruit in syrup. The fruit is peeled and cut and let soak in the lime water.

The grandmother here stores her red lime paste in a jar filled with water. The heavier lime sinks to the bottom while the clear limewater floats above.  When she needs the limewater, it’s ready. She would pour the clear pinkish water out from the jar. She just tops up the limewater by adding more water to the jar. There is also no need to refrigerate limewater or lime paste.

Just a word of warning…

The powder I bought was available in red or white but apparently also comes as a red paste. If you get pickling lime from hardware stores, which often have canning materials available, make sure you get the food-grade quality. The lime building material may contain a metal such as lead.

This is where I began to get quite scared as I know that there are some who just mix whatever they have to sell with no regard for the consequences.

The bananas in this desert look bright and shiny and sweet but are not as sweet as they look… I have found a recipe and now need to find the right bananas…So that is for another day…

In the meantime on my travels looking for this red powder/paste, I also found… Some lovely squash…I hadn’t seen this variety before, Some large sweet radish which my plan was to pickle but hubby loves radish as it is raw and ate all except for the one pictured.

My red lime paste for my banana dessert and an assortment of foraged mushrooms from down on the farm which made a lovely soup for which I will have to get the recipe from my daughter in law. I have watched her make it and lots of herbs go into it with the mushrooms and it is very tasty… Don’t those whitish ones look just like flowers so pretty.

I hope you have enjoyed this little culture trip that gives you some insight into my life here…

Always interesting and I am always learning something new…If you have enjoyed it and I haven’t bored you then I am happy xxx

Thank you so much for reading this I hope you have a lovely week xxx

About Carol Taylor: 

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all are having a great week xx



17 thoughts on “Down on the Farm…What is Lime water? Nam Pboon Sai…

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I find it fascinating the traditions in the villages and some downright dangerous… But all same it is what it is and I accept that… and much of is fascinating.. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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