You can get started growing lemon grass today. It’s actually a very easy herb to grow your self and a good one to have on hand, as it has many uses in Asian cooking. To grow, all you need to do is to go to the grocery store and get a few fresh stalks. (The stalks are sold in any Asian specialty market). Once you’ve chosen the freshest looking stalks, trim off any dead leaves and peel away and dead outer layers. Then place your the stalks in a jar with a few inches of water. Put your jar in a sunny window and roots should start to grow. Once the roots are at least an inch long, place the bulbs into some moist organic potting soil with the crown of the bulb just under the surface. Place your pot in a sunny location. The soil should be kept moist (not wet) and soon you will have a full pot of lemon grass.
When you are ready to use, you will want to pull stalks from the ground (including the roots). The leaves are sharp, so you might want to use gloves to harvest. It is best to harvest your lemon grass right before you use it, so it will be fresh.
Always gently wash the stalks you have harvested before using to get rid of any excess dirt. Pat dry. To prepare, either trim off the base and use it whole or remove the outer hard green layers and just use the white inner stalk. Some recipes will ask you to look for bruised lemon grass that helps release the flavor.
This lemon scented grass is actually more like a stalk or stem that is often used as an herb in Asian (especially Thai and Vietnamese) cooking. When you cut the stem of lemon grass you will smell a distinct citrus like aroma, thanks to its high content of essential citral oil. Citral oil is also the active ingredient in a lemon peel.
Lemon grass is rich in citral, which is said to aid in digestion, relieve spasms, muscle cramps, rheumatism and headaches. The Citral oil found in lemon grass is also in the citronella family that is used to ward of insects.
To store, place it in a tightly sealed plastic bag and put it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. It should stay good for 2 weeks.
Lemon grass can also be dried, but should be rehydrated before using.