This tall tropical grass has a powerful lemon fragrance, and is widely used in the cooking of Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. It also makes a vitamin A rich tea. Lemon grass has narrow, leafy stalks that grow in large clumps that reach 1m or more.
This herb is best suited to a sunny position, well drained soil, warm growing conditions – ideally between 18°C and 38°C – and high humidity. In cooler areas it is best grown in a large pot and overwintered indoors. To propagate carefully divide the clump. Water plants regularly. Harvest stems as required. Cut the upper green part into segments and dry it out of direct sunlight, then store it in airtight containers and use it for tea. For cooking, wrap the white bulbous lower portion in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for several weeks.
The strong citrus flavour of lemon grass goes well in Southeast Asian cooking and is often teamed with chillies and coconut milk. Lemon grass is also an excellent addition to Western cooking, particularly in fish and seafood dishes. Use the lower white part of the fresh stems and slice finely crosswise to avoid a fibrous texture in the finished dish. If using a whole stem or large pieces, bruise first to release the flavour and remove before serving.
information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs