Tuesday, August 31, 2010
More on Lemon Grass
Here's more on Lemon Grass from Ellen Zimmerman's June Newsletter from 2009:
HERB OF THE MONTH – Lemongrass Revisited - June 2009
Every summer I enjoy making delicious, fresh Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, tea from my beautiful, full, ever-sweet Lemongrass plant. I remember my sweet friend Dorothy giving me a black plastic pot with just two skinny sharp leaves sticking up, and saying, “Here’s some Lemongrass for you”. Well before you knew it, those two tiny leaves became a full-bodied, large incredible herb that I use all summer long. To harvest fresh Lemongrass you need to cut the leaf way at the bottom of the plant. This thick part of the leaf, which is whitish, is where the best flavor is. Of course I use the entire leaf as well, cut up in smaller pieces. You need to gently boil, or decoct, the Lemongrass for awhile (approximately 30 minutes) to help release the flavor. Then I let it sit on the stove for an hour or so, to steep even more. Finally I strain it and add a little honey. It is wonderful hot, but these days I like it iced. It keeps well in the refrigerator for at least three days staying tasty, fresh and wonderful. My very popular Summer Lemon Tea is made with these fresh Lemongrass stalks, Lemon Balm, Melissa officinale and Lemon Verbena, Aloysia triphylla. Lemon Verbena is mentioned in the famous movie, Gone with the Wind, as Scarlet O’Hara’s mothers favorite plant. I decoct these three herbs together and enjoy an incredible iced summer lemon tea at a picnic, a pool party or any summer celebration.
Lemongrass is not only refreshing but quite medicinal too. Lemongrass, also known as Fever Grass, is used just for that, fevers. It is also useful for coughs and colds. It can promote perspiration and the excretion of phlegm; eases stomach cramps, and is especially useful for children and infants. Lemongrass is also considered a stimulant so you can use it as such. Lemongrass has significant anti-fungal properties, acts as a wonderful anti-oxidant and also works as an insect repellent.
Lemongrass is easy to grow in our warm Central Texas environment. It will grow vigorously during the summer and may die back in the winter if we have a frost or two. I usually mulch it during the winter season. In early spring, I like to cut it back and allow it to begin it’s growth once again. In my experience the plant will last several years as long as you nurture it appropriately.
If you don’t already have a Lemongrass plant, get one A perennial member of the Poacea (Grass) family, Lemongrass can be enjoyed as tea, in soups, stews, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, and as a valuable and safe medicinal plant.