Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native of India, is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Lemon grass is a perennial, which means once you plant it, the grass comes back year after year. Depending on the area you live in the plant will go dormant in the winter. In harsh climates the plant will need to be potted and wintered indoors. This aromatic herb is used in Caribbean and many types of Asian cooking and has become very popular in the United States. Most of the commercial crops for the United States are grown in California and Florida. Lemon grass is also used for medicinal purposes. It is hardy in zones 7-11. In colder areas bring inside as a houseplant in the winter.
Culinary UsesThis is a very pungent herb and is normally used in small amounts. The entire stalk of the grass can be used. The grass blade can be sliced very fine and added to soups. The bulb can be bruised and minced for use in a variety of recipes. The light lemon flavor of this grass blends well with garlic, chilies, and cilantro. The herb is frequently used in curries as well as in seafood soups. It is also used to make tea.
Medicinal and Other UsesThis grass is rich in a substance called citral, the active ingredient in lemon peel. This substance is said to aid in digestion as well as relieves spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches. Lemon grass is also used commercially as the lemon scent in many products including soaps, perfumes and candles. A related plant, (Cymbopogon nardus) is the ingredient in citronella candles sold to ward off mosquitoes and other insects.
Synonym: Andropogon citratus
Publisher: Hirt's Gardens
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