Lemon Grass: From Garden to Kitchen

Lemon Grass, photo from Wikipedia

Lemon Grass hasn’t really been on my radar much. But I grew it last year and overwintered it in my greenhouse and this year ended up with a humongous plant! I thought it would be a shame not to do anything with it, so I dug the huge mass up in the waning days of fall.  Cutting off a good portion to propagate it for next years’ start was just the beginning. I was left with a huge huge mound of beefy stalks to separate and clean for use later in the year.

 

Potting up a chunk of the root ball means I will have lemon grass ready to set outside next year
Stir your tea with a lemongrass swizzle stick to give added flavor to any tea

5 Tips for Growing Lemongrass

  • Plant lemongrass in spring, once all chance of frost have passed. You can grow it in a container, but it will get huge, so make sure you use a large container (at least 12″ wide). I grow mine in the ground.
  • Lemongrass likes it hot, so grow it in an area with full sun and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
  • Mix several inches aged compost or other rich organic matter into your soil.
  • Provide lemongrass with consistent moisture and water when the top inch becomes dry.
  • Harvest lemongrass stalks once plants reach 12 inches tall and are a half-inch wide at the base.

Due to its tropical nature, lemongrass usually only survives winters in zones 8 and warmer.

In cold regions, overwinter lemongrass indoors by digging up a few stalks,  or cutting up the root ball with a spade. Place them in a bright, south-facing window. Keep soil barely moist, as plants grow very little over winter.

 

Pile of cleaned lemon grass stalks ready to use for cooking

Chopping the root mass up with a spade was quick work to separate it into many pieces and I saved the largest juiciest stalks for use in my cooking projects and for some fragrant tea.

Chopping apart the root mass with a spade
I had lots of good juicy stems to harvest

The whole time I was working with the grass, I was surrounded by a wonderful intense lemony scent that worked itself into my clothing and hands. Since it was a brisk day outside, I thought I would relax with some lemon grass tea, brewed from the fresh stalks.

Peel the outer tough leaves to reveal the inner tender lemon flesh

Lemongrass Uses

So, What is Lemongrass? Also called citronella, it is a tall stalky grass with an intense, lemony aroma. Commonly used in Thai cooking and bug repellent, I also use the essential oil as an attractant for honeybees. Used in aromatherapy to freshen the air, reduce stress, and uplift the mood, it is also said to promote sleep, relieve pain, and boost immunity. One of the most popular and simplest way ways to enjoy lemongrass is through a brewed tea.

Lemongrass tea can be served hot or cold

Fresh Lemongrass Tea

So easy to make from a few simple ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 C Water
  • 2 C Roughly chopped lemongrass stalks
  • 1/4 C Sugar or Honey
  • Lemon or lime slices for garnish

Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan

  2. Add chopped lemongrass and boil rapidly for 5 minutes

  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for an additional 5 minutes

  4. Strain the stalks and stir in the sugar or honey

  5. Serve warm, or chilled with slices of citrus over ice

Common in Thai cooking, lemongrass gives a lemony zing to all kinds of dishes – stir fries, soups,  and curries. I tried it in Lemongrass Beefy Stir Fry and it was simply delicious!

Cooking the Beefy Lemongrass Stir Fry
Lemongrass Beefy Stir-Fry

Lemongrass Beefy Stir Fry

Once you have everything chopped up, this dish takes just minutes to put together

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C Peanut Oil, or Canola
  • 16 Ounces Sirloin, sliced very thin, I used pre-cut wafer thin slices from the market
  • 4-5 Green Onions, sliced white and green stalk
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, crushed
  • 2 Stalks Lemongrass, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 C Chopped Zucchini
  • 1/2 C Snow Peas
  • 2 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Fish Sauce
  • Steamed white or brown rice
  • Fresh Cilantro to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat your wok or skillet over high heat and add half of the oil to coat. Add half of the beef and stir fry for 2-3 minutes and remove to plate. Repeat with more oil and remaining beef.

  2. Add remaining oil, green onions, jalapeno, garlic, zucchini, snowpeas, and lemongrass to skillet. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes and return beef and juices to skillet. Add soy sauce and fish sauce and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

  3. Serve with chopped cilantro on top with rice.

5 Replies to “Lemon Grass: From Garden to Kitchen”

Leave a Reply