This 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 Uses
This 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 relieve 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.
Grow Lemon Grass At Home
Sow from late January to March on the surface of a good seed compost just covering the seed with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite. Germination takes 21-40 days at 20-25C (70-75F). Sealing in a polyethylene bag after sowing is helpful. When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings to boxes or 7.5cm (3in) pots. When well grown gradually acclimates to outdoor conditions and plant out in late spring 30cm (12in) apart after all risk of frost, in a warm, sheltered spot in full sun and moist, well drained soil. Keep well watered and give the occasional liquid feed. To over winter, lift in early autumn, pot up and grow through the winter in a greenhouse with a minimum winter temperature of 7C (45F). Keep well watered throughout the summer, just moist through the winter. Freshly picked Lemon Grass Stalk
Harvest Pull a stalk up firmly close to the root end and snap it off. Best picked just prior to using.
Cooking Tip (Bruising)
“Bruising” is a common term found in recipes that call for using lemon grass. This process releases the flavor of the grass just as you would do with garlic. Simply press down on the bulb end of the lemon grass with the side of a large knife (such as a Chef’s knife) or pound lightly with a kitchen mallet.