Today I needed to harvest some of our unruly Lemongrass (one of the many Cymbopogonspecies). We had enough to process, so I thought I’d share it with you in a short post.
Leaf showing the two main parts.
Lemongrass has long leaves that are essentially in two sections. It is clear where the leaves open from the leaf base into the ‘proper’ leaves. There’s probably proper scientific words for all these parts. Comment below if you know any!Below this division is the thick, succulent leaf base, it isn’t really a stem. Above this are the drier ‘proper’ leaves. The whole plant can be used, but often there are many dry and discoloured leaves, especially on older plants like ours. The rhizomes are delicious and useful too, but this time I left them in the ground.
I won’t bother you with a long tutorial on removing the dry leaves…
Short chunks for freezing for teas.With the lower stem, if we’re not cooking immediately, we like to cut it into two sizes of chunks and place these in bags for freezing for use later in the year.
Longer chunks for freezing for cooking.
We cut shorter chunks for teas later on the year. These chunks are about an inch long and pop them into freezer bags to freeze.Then we cut longer chunks for cooking. These are three or four inches long. They go into bags too, usually enough in one bag for one meal.
Cutting longer pieces helps keep the good oils and chemicals inside, resulting in a stronger flavour when they are used (after thawing, of course).
The better leaves for tea.The better leaves from the upper part of the plant are then cut into sections about four inches long for very slow drying.
With Lemongrass and many other aromatic herbs it’s better to dry them slowly and out of the Sun. This helps the pieces to retain more of the volatile oils that make the plant so good.
What to do with the leftover scraps?
We put them straight into the chicken house. There isn’t much oil in the dry leaf remnants, but every little helps in freshening up the house and helping to deter parasites.
In this area, well protected Lemongrass is a perennial, so we don’t really need to store any. However, it slows its growth to almost zero in the colder months, so we like to be able to give it a break and wait until Spring.