Lemongrass is a long thick grass with leaves at the top and a solid portion several inches long at the root end. The lower portion is sliced or pounded and used in cooking. As a spice, fresh lemon grass is preferred for its vibrant flavour, but is also sold in dried form. The dried spice is available in several forms: chopped in slices, cut and sifted, powdered, or as an oil can be extracted from the plant.
Preparation and Storage
If using fresh lemongrass, use only the lower bulbous portion of the stem. It can be pounded and used whole or cut in slices. When using the ground powder (sereh) use one teaspoon as an equal to one stalk of fresh. It is advisable to soak dried sliced lemon grass for two hours before using. When wrapped in a paper bag, lemon grass stems can last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. The stems can also be frozen for several months. Always wrap and store separately, as lemon grass will impart its flavour to other foods.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
The grass is considered a diuretic, tonic and stimulant. It promotes good digestion, and a preparation of lemongrass with pepper has been used for relief of menstrual troubles and nausea. It induces perspiration, to cool the body and reduce a fever. It is well known a mild insect repellent (citronella) and the essential oil is used in perfumery.