What is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass is a tall tropical grass. The fresh stalks and leaves have a clean lemonlike odour because they contain an essential oil, which is also present in lemon peel.

Spice Description

Lemongrass is a long thick grass with leaves at the top and a solid portion several inches long at the root end. The lower portion is sliced or pounded and used in cooking. As a spice, fresh lemon grass is preferred for its vibrant flavour, but is also sold in dried form. The dried spice is available in several forms: chopped in slices, cut and sifted, powdered, or as an oil can be extracted from the plant.

Bouquet: lemony
Flavour: lemony with hints of ginger
Hotness Scale: 1

Preparation and Storage

If using fresh lemongrass, use only the lower bulbous portion of the stem. It can be pounded and used whole or cut in slices. When using the ground powder (sereh) use one teaspoon as an equal to one stalk of fresh. It is advisable to soak dried sliced lemon grass for two hours before using. When wrapped in a paper bag, lemon grass stems can last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. The stems can also be frozen for several months. Always wrap and store separately, as lemon grass will impart its flavour to other foods.

Cooking with Lemongrass

Lemongrass features in Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Indian cooking and is widely used in savoury dishes and meat, poultry, seafood and vegetable curries. It harmonizes well with coconut milk, especially with chicken or seafood, and there are countless Thai and Sri Lankan recipes exploiting this combination. The stems are also used in teas or used in pickles and in flavouring marinades.

Health Benefits of Lemongrass

The grass is considered a diuretic, tonic and stimulant. It promotes good digestion, and a preparation of lemongrass with pepper has been used for relief of menstrual troubles and nausea. It induces perspiration, to cool the body and reduce a fever. It is well known a mild insect repellent (citronella) and the essential oil is used in perfumery.

lemongrass plantGrowing Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a perennial tufted grass with long, sharp-edged blades. It grows in dense clumps in tropical or subtropical climates. Propagation is by dividing the root clump. The plants last three to four years and are harvested every three to five months. It is grown throughout Southeast Asia, Southern India, Sri Lanka, Central Africa, Brazil, Guatemala, the US and the West Indies.

Other Names

Camel’s Hay, Citronella, Geranium Grass, Cochin Grass, Sereh (powder) French: herbe de citron German: Zitronengras Italian: erba di limone Spanish: hierba de limon Indian: bhustrina, sera Indonesian: sere, sereh Lao: bai mak nao Malay: serai Sinhalese: sera Thai: takrai

Scientific Name

Cymbopogon ciatrus syn Andropogon schoenanthus Fam Gramineae

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