This lemony flavored grass has a hot and spicy
surprise waiting underground. The blanched white end of each stalk of Lemon
Grass adds a sharp lemon tang to soups and stir
fries and is an essential ingredient in many Asian dishes. After a good size clump of
Lemon Grass has developed, pieces can be broken off at the base of the clump for cooking.
And, while we don't cook with the coarse leaves, they do make
great sun tea. Just a word of caution though, when you work around your lemon grass
plants, be sure to wear long sleeves because the blades of the Lemon Grass
plant are extremely sharp and can
slice you to ribbons. Also make sure to remove any blades from food. These can
get stuck in the throat and cause extreme discomfort.
Lemon Grass is a tender plant and
should be protected or brought in where winters go below 10 degrees. It
likes full sun and very warm summers. It will go dormant in the winter but
should not be cut back until it warms up in spring. The dead grass helps to
protect it from the cold. If you don't use your Lemon Grass fast enough,
you will want to divide and replant when the plant gets two feet or
so in diameter.
True Lemon Grass cannot be grown
from a seed. It is always propagated by division. Seeds sold as Lemon Grass
are actually a different species which never makes the white fleshy part of
the stem used in cooking. This seeded variety is Cymbopogan flexuosus.
Closely related to Lemon Grass, but not used for cooking, is
Citronella Grass, Cymbopogan nardus. This is
the commercial source for Citronella Oil.
Lemon Grass is one of the six plants chosen
to be in our Biblical
Herb Garden and in our
Zone 9 Tea Herb Garden.