Cymbopogon citratus ‘Lemon Grass’
For those of us that are fans of East Asian cuisine, the flavor of Cymbopogon citratus ‘Lemon Grass’ is very familiar. This tropical plant is native to India and is popular in Thai, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian cooking, but is also a favorite in many other culture’s cooking including Indian, Mexican, Swedish, Ethiopian, Italian, Turkish, and American. Lemon Grass can be used in savory dishes such as marinades, curry pastes, soups and stir-fries, and as a soothing lemon-flavored hot tea.
The stalk is extremely fibrous and stringy, so it’s commonly used to add a complex, herbaceous-lemon flavor and is not actually eaten; much like a bay leaf is used to flavor soups but is not normally eaten. To harvest, cut the bulbous stems just above ground-level. Peel off the tough outer leaves and finely slice or muddle to release the lemon flavor. Use only the bottom 4” or so…the taller blades of grass are not edible.
Because Lemon Grass is a tropical plant, it does not handle freezing temperatures. It will only over- winter in the mildest-winter regions. In cold-winter regions (below 20°F), plants should be brought indoors or into a greenhouse to ride out the winter. The Sunset Climate Zones are 12, 13, 16, 17, 23, 24; H1, H2. This beautiful grass has a graceful, arching habit with long and narrow light green leaves. It grows 2-4 feet tall x 2-3 feet wide. It contains citronella in its leaves and is commonly used as a repellant to mosquitos and other biting insects. We are currently growing Cymbopogon citratus ‘Lemon Grass’ in 6 packs and 1 gallon containers.