Lemongrass is a classic in Asian cuisine. To avoid long transport routes and packaging waste, you can also plant the kitchen herb yourself. We show you how to do this and how to use lemongrass in the kitchen.
The scent of lemongrass is mainly known from cosmetic products such as fragrance oils and perfumes. In Asia, however, the spicy grass is indispensable in the kitchen. The plant owes its fresh, intense fragrance to the essential oils. The genus of lemongrass includes about 55 different species, most of which originate in Asia. Among the most popular varieties are the East Indian and West Indian lemongrass.
Today, lemongrass is mainly grown in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. From there it is exported all over the world. However, you can also plant the exotic plant here with us and thus avoid long transport routes for the sake of the climate.
Lemon grass is a perennial plant. From its sturdy stem hang down up to 90 centimeters long, grass-like, gray-green leaves. If you want to plant lemongrass yourself, you should consider the following:
- sheltered from the wind
- plenty of sunlight
- nutritious, loose soil
- mature compost, sand, gravel
- sensitive to waterlogging
The plant is used to tropical climate and therefore not hardy here. Therefore, it is best to plant it in a pot. Alternatively, you can plant the exotic grass on the south side of a house wall.
Lemon grass belongs to the warm germinators and therefore needs a constant temperature of at least 20 degrees to germinate.
Press the seeds lightly into the soil and sprinkle them with a little water.
Aerate the seeds regularly to avoid rot and mold.
Alternatively, you can buy fresh stems from the Asian store and place them in 3cm deep water for one to two weeks until roots form. Be sure to change the water regularly.
Since lemongrass does not flower, you can also propagate your plant later using this method.
Care and harvest lemongrass
Care for lemongrass:
During the warm months, you can move lemongrass outside or put it in the field. This is also the time to transplant the plant into a larger pot.
Winter: This exotic grass, however, does not tolerate temperatures below seven degrees. When winter approaches, you should bring the plant indoors in time and place it in a warm, sunny place. In winter it is sufficient to water lemongrass every two weeks.
Summer: Between June and August the plant has its main growth period. During this time, you should water it two to three times a week to keep the soil moist.
During the summer, lemongrass needs some fertilizer every one to two months. Organic fertilizer is particularly suitable for this purpose. At the beginning of the main growth phase, it is best to enrich the soil with horn shavings. Remove yellow discolored leaves regularly, because they cost the plant unnecessary energy and hinder its growth.
You can harvest lemongrass regularly during the summer months. Pruning promotes healthy, bushy growth.
In cooking, use only the pale stems of the plant, as the remaining leaves are very fibrous.
Use a sharp knife to cut off the firm stems just above the root. You can simply cut off the green part and compost it.
Be careful not to damage or bruise the tuber of the plant when harvesting.
Lemongrass as a medicinal plant
In the Asian region, lemongrass is traditionally used as a medicinal plant. It is mainly used for digestive problems and is said to help against stress and nervousness.
In 2011, the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research extensively studied the effects of lemongrass as a medicinal plant and was able to demonstrate the following properties:
- cholesterol lowering
In addition, lemongrass is said to have a strong effect against mosquitoes. Therefore, the scent is often used in sprays or scented candles that are supposed to repel mosquitoes. However, this effect has not been scientifically proven.
To benefit from its healing properties, prepare lemongrass as a tea:
For one liter of tea, you need two stalks of lemongrass. This is how you do it:
- Cut the stalks in half to help dissolve the essential oils.
- Pour boiling water over the stalks.
- Let the tea steep for five to ten minutes. Then remove the plant parts.
Tip: Lemongrass tea is also good cold as a refreshing drink.
Cooking with lemongrass
Lemongrass is good for Asian dishes.
In Asian cuisine, lemongrass is about as common as parsley or chives are in our country. For full flavor, you should use fresh lemongrass. When dried, the stems lose a lot of flavor. Freshly harvested lemongrass can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a kitchen towel. It will keep for about two weeks. How to use lemongrass in your kitchen:
- Wash the lemongrass thoroughly and remove the outermost layer before using it.
- It is important to finely chop the stems, as the herb is very fibrous and remains quite firm even after cooking.
- Alternatively, you can cook the stems halved and remove them before serving.
- To allow the full aroma to develop, add lemongrass at the beginning.
Lemongrass adds an authentic, fresh note to Asian dishes. It is suitable for Asian soups, curry dishes or colorful vegetable pans. You can also refine sauces or salads with lemongrass. Classic European dishes, such as pumpkin soup, the Asian kitchen herb gives an exotic touch – definitely try!