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Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass Oil was used in traditional Indian medicine for infectious illnesses and fever. Modern research in India shows that Lemon Grass Oil also acts as a sedative on the central nervous system. It is also used as an insecticide and for flavoring food.

Essential Oil

Lemon grass is excellent for sagging skin and stretch marks. Use in a carrier lotion or oil for massage. Lemon grass oil is diffused to lessen fatigue and clear thinking. Lemon grass oil may be used with a carrier in the bath.


Description

Lemon grass 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.

Cultivation

Lemon grass 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.

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested for fresh use throughout the summer, but the flavor is best just before flowering. To dry, cut the stems just as the flowers start to open and hang in small bunches. Harvest sparingly the first year.

Culinary Uses

Lemon grass 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 stemsare also used in teas or used in pickles and in flavouring marinades.

Culinary Oils and Vinegars

Medicinal Uses

The grass is considered a diuretic, tonic and stimulant. It promotes good digestion, and a preparation of lemon grass 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.

Preparation and Storage

If using fresh lemon grass, 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. Lemon grass will impart its flavor to other foods, always wrap and store it separately.