Lemon Verbena emerges late in
spring. Pruning should take place after the branches have budded and you can
tell which branches are dead. If you wait too long, the old dead
branches become a tangled mess with new branches and it becomes much harder
to prune. This is also a good time to prune other Lemon Verbena
branches that might be in the way of other plants.
Lemon Verbena flowers are small, white, single and inconspicuous. Their airy
feel is an elegant crowning point for the open form of the plant.
Lippia triphylla, Lippia
citriodora, Aloysia citriodora,
Verveine citronelle or odorante, Herb Louisa, lemon scented verbena, Verbena
triphylla, and Lippia triphylla; Lemon Verbena has had many names in the past
but no matter what it is called its flavor and fragrance of lemon is second to no other
lemony herb. The flavor of Lemon Verbena is reminiscent of lemon candy, sweet with strong
lemon and no sourness.
Lemon Verbena is a fun experience. Like most herbs it has its own flavor
profile that, while very close to lemon, has an extra essence that can best
be described as an earthy freshness. Leaves and flowers can be used both
fresh and dried.
Lemon Verbena leaves can be harvested
anytime for drying. Lemon Verbena leaves are thin and dry quickly.
After cutting the leaves, they should be washed and lain flat or hung in
small batches to dry. Pick a nice dark spot with good air circulation or
cover lightly with a paper towel. Bunches can be loosely placed in paper
bags. The important thing to remember when drying any herb is to check daily
for dryness. As soon as the herbs are dry (when they crackle and crumble in
your hand) they should be placed in an air tight container out of the light. Dried Lemon Verbena leaves
and flowers can be powdered and sprinkled on veggies or fish or combined with other
dried herbs to add a subtle hint of freshness.
Fresh Lemon Verbena leaves are used
to make sun tea, soak in liquid for sugar syrups, make flavored liqueurs or
make flavored oils. For making dishes where fresh leaves will be eaten (like
a pesto) the young leaves are more desirable.
To make a simple Lemon Verbena oil
for marinades or salads, combine one cup fresh Lemon Verbena leaves
with 1/2 cup grape seed oil in a blender. Blend on high for at least 2
minutes. Let stand at room temperature for an hour or two. Strain through a
fine mesh strainer. Use immediately or refrigerate. Lemon Verbena oil
keeps about a week in the refrigerator so it is better to make small batches
SPIKED LEMON VERBENA LEMONADE
Chop just half a cup of fresh lemon verbena
leaves and put in a jar. Add 4 cups of vodka and let sit covered for two weeks,
shaking every once in a while. After two weeks, add 2 cups of sugar and shake to
dissolve. Let THAT sit for two weeks. Strain out the leaves, bottle the
gloriously fragrant, delicious liqueur and either add it to desserts, or
seltzer. If you REALLY want to drink it straight, I suggest doing that by the
THIMBLEFUL!!!! It honestly tastes JUST the way fresh Lemon Verbena leaves smell.
Recipe is courtesy of Weeds and Wild Things.