Friday, August 14, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Lemongrass

Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe. 


I acquired lemongrass from my farmer friends, Faye and Lynn.
I wasn't sold on it at first, 
but having enjoyed this stunner for many months,
I can say that it's now a favorite.

Lemongrass seeds require heat and humidity to germinate,
taking anywhere from 10 to 20 days.
Patience pays off here. 
They can be started indoors in early spring,
before transplanting outside when the weather heats up.
These also do well in containers.
Seeds are pressed into the surface of soil and covered lightly with peat moss.
This plant likes its space, so planting 36 - 48 inches is ideal.
Give them room to grow and savor their graceful elegance in the garden.

The plants are easily divided to create new clusters. 
Simply dig up and separate, as is done with bulbs.
It makes it so easy to share with friends and neighbors.

This perennial grass is used, fresh or dried, as a culinary herb.
It also has medicinal uses for digestive problems,
skin irritations or fever.
It's even been claimed to keep mosquitoes away!  
I think I'll try that this weekend.

Originating in the Philippines and South East Asia,
this beauty scales heights of up to 5 feet or more.
Lemongrass is a great addition anywhere in the garden
that needs a bit of vertical drama.
It's an absolute delight to grow! 

For use in cooking,
simply snip the reeds at the base.
This is where the essence of lemon resides.
This resilliant plant will respond by shooting right back up.

For savory dishes, the stalks can be finely diced,
making sure to peel off the outer leaves.
These willowy reeds tend to be a bit fibrous,
so many times it is used to simply flavor a dish,
and then they are removed.

Rolling or pounding the lemongrass stalks
releases the natural oils and flavors.
The aroma is intoxicating!

We used it to flavor sun tea with a hint of lemon.
 It's the easiest way to create a refreshing drink
during these dog days of summer.
Let the sun do the work and enjoy the benefits!
Lemongrass will forever be a staple in our garden.

Lemongrass Sun Tea
1 quart water
3-6 tea bags (any flavor)
6 stalks lemongrass
sweetener of choice (we like local honey)

Add water and tea bags to large glass jar or pitcher.
Cut lemongrass leaves off,
leaving only the thick stalk ends.
Use a rolling pin (or a frying pan)
to smash the ends of the lemongrass.
Add stalks to jar.
Place in a sunny location for 4-8 hours.
Remove stalks and tea bags.
Add sweetener of choice (or not).

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