|Freshly harvested lemongrass and chillis from our garden|
A lemongrass plant on first impression looks like wild grass, the kind you might see in an abandoned field that has been overrun by weeds. But upon closer inspection, each blade of grass is actually attached to a thick bulbous stalk with an aroma that becomes apparent as you attempt to twist it away from its base. A mellow lemony fragrance subtly infuses the air leaving you with little doubt why those who first discovered this herb of South East Asian origins decided to cultivate and use it so extensively in their cuisine.
Walking through the supermarket the other day, I was astounded at how expensive lemongrass was. I balked at the prospect of having to pay up to three dollars (that's Australian dollars) per stalk, but luckily I am one of the fortunate few who do not have to, as we have several large clumps of this aromatic grass growing in our garden.
|(L) Lemongrass plant with ribbon like leaves (R) Close up of the stalks which are used in South East Asian cooking|
If you live in a mild, warm or subtropical climate, then there really is no reason not to grow lemongrass!
This hardy perennial likes a sunny position and once established, can be harvested year after year. It can be planted directly into the ground, or if space is an issue, then it can be grown in a container although you may need a decent sized pot as lemongrass can grow to a height of over 1 m (3 ft).
Lemongrass is low maintenance and the best part is that there are no pests or insects that are attracted to it.
To harvest lemongrass, you can use a pair of secateurs or sharp knife to remove the stalks from the base. Watch out for the leaves as they can be sharp and leave a few scratches on your skin.
|Tom Yum rice noodles with fish, prawns, homegrown cavolo nero and french beans|
Unused portions of lemongrass can be stored in the freezer.