My favorite herb (this week) is easy to grow lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). It shines in the garden in these hot, hot humid hazy summer days. It looks great, smells great and tastes great - what more do you need? Lemongrass is a clumping grass, so it won't spread and overrun your garden. It gets 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide, doesn't need constant water and is very showy as a landscape plant as well. Plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s a fairly hardy perennial here in Tallahassee if you mulch it well in the winter.
I use lemongrass in salad dressing, teas and Thai recipes. It’s also used in homemade insect repellants, and you can add it to bath water for a refreshing, lemony soak. Be careful when you cut it for use though. The leaf margins are very sharp and will give you a nasty cut.
Be careful also to be sure you purchase real lemongrass. There’s a pseudo lemongrass on the market which doesn't have much scent or flavor. Our source at Native Nurseries is O'Tooles Herb Farm in Madison with the original stock coming from Julie Neal in Thomasville. It is the real thing!
How to make lemongrass tea:
An easy way to enjoy lemongrass in tea is to simply add it (I use the blade and stalk) to your steeping tea. It’s delicious – or try a recipe such as this one:
Collect approximately 4 stalks of lemongrass for each quart of tea you plan to make. Boil some water. Remove the green grass-like part of the stalks. You will use only the whitest part for your tea. Use a tenderizer or hammer to gently smash the stalks on a cutting board. Pour the water over the lemongrass and steep for five minutes. Your lemongrass tea can be served hot or cold or sweetened or not. Adding some sliced, peeled fresh ginger to the water while your tea is steeping makes for a tasty variation.