What to do with lemongrass
Although it smells lemony, lemongrass is not related to lemons or any of the citrius family.
Instead it is part of the massive grass family, the same family that Citronella belongs to. . It grows in warmer climates in sandy soils. We Aroma therapists love lemongrass essential oils for it’s powerful effects on skin and mood and chefs’ love to cook with it or blend tasty teas. Read on to discover how to use it in your home..
The Latin name is Cymbopogon Citratus
What does lemongrass smell like
It smells like lemons and eucalyptus mixed. and sweet.
What does lemongrass taste like?
It’s got a clean green and lemony flavour in Thai foods, often with coconut milk and other spices including cardamom. Mmm yummy.
What does lemongrass look like?
It’s a grass, so has long coarse leaves that are rough to the touch. If you’re too casual around lemongrass you can nick your skin. Like sugarcane, lemongrass has leaves that can cut your fingers if you’re not careful.
How to cook with lemongrass
Use a pair of scissors to snip a leaf or two from the freshplant and then make these into a tea.
For cooking you will use the inner part of the thickened stem. Peel away the outer layers of the thick stem to get to the more fragrant inner part. Chop it finely into slices.
Store it in an airtight bag or container to stop it drying out. The drier the leaves the hearder to slice.
Where to find the stalk part for cooking? Find it in the exotic foods section of your supermarket, or at the greengrocers in the fridge where they keep the ginger roots.
If you live someplace warm enough (eg subtropical climate), consider buying a plant and growing your own. If you’re in the UK, it will grow in a heated greenhouse.
Lemongrass tea recipe
This is how to make lemongrass tea. Yes, you can use dried or fresh lemongrass leaves for your tea. Save the root for your cooking. A lovely lemongrass tea recipe is to combine fresh grated ginger with cut lemongrass leaves together in a teapot or mug. Use a heaped teaspoon per person plus one extra for the pot. Pour over just boiled water and let it steep for ten minutes or more with the lid on. If you use a mug, place a small plate over the top to trap the steam.This prevents the oh so fragrant steam evaporating.
And put the used leaves into the compost.
Grated ginger root is lovely with it. And really good in winter when you’re not feeling well. It is also excellent after a meal to help cleanse your palate and help with digestion. Because it is caffeine free, you can enjoy a cup before bedtime and not worry about insomnia or sleeplessness.
And if you forget to drink your tea because you’re steeping it, you can drink it cold the next day!
How to use lemongrass
Lemongrass products are helpful as the scent is a mosquito repellent, so candles, room sprays and body lotion can help keep the mozzies away. Lemongrass is more pleasant on the nose than its cousin citronella.
I’ve used lemongrass essential oils in skincare products, for instance Tuscan Sunrise blended with Sweet Orange. The lemongrass adds anti viral effects through the natural components inside Lemongrass. . It makes a gentle hand wash to use during the pandemic and the high glycerine content is soothing on skin that is feeling taut, dry or chafed. The scent of Tuscan Sunrise also lifts your mood – useful when weather if cold, dark and gloomy in the UK… So a refreshing lemony orangey scent that perks you up, adds a smile to your face – it’s an anti-gloomy blend.
I’ve also used a drop of Lemongrass on a tissue to clean a whiteboard. I’ve also used it on walls that were damp and prone to mould, and as a welcoming room scent on the vaporiser along with lavender and sweet orange. Lemongrass is one of the oils I use when there are coughs and colds about, eg autumn winter and spring.
Lemongrass makes a lovely smelling bar of cold process soap. You can also blend it with rosemary and add to your shampoo, or mix it with a tablespoon of honey and swirl into your bathwater. Just go easy, and use a drop or two at a time so you don’t overpower your senses. My family say the smell makes their eyes water when I use a lot of it, eg when making lemongrass soap, so I try be sparing with its use in my office/studio for cleaning surfaces.
By the way, animal studies have been done on individual components within lemongrass, that help wounds heal. However as an Aromatherapist we would not use an extract from an essential oil due to skin reactions. A whole and complete oil has less risk to causing an allergic reaction.
Lemongrass magical properties
I’ve written on ways I’ve used lemongrass in my life. However there are lots more uses for it that I’ve not tested or don’t remember using..
Textbooks say lemongrass can be used to: mask odours, be used in blends for jetlag or convalescence, to reduce pore size in facial products, balancing oily skin in combination with geranium, blended with rosemary for oily hair shampoos and conditioners, and in post sports products as well as general house cleaning.
What’s inside lemongrass?
Ok for all the chemistry geeks, it contains citral (75-85%), methylheptenone, citronellal, geraniol, limonene. and you’ll know that Citral is on the list of known sensitizers.
Citronellal in studies showed that it has both antibacterial and antioxidant effects believed to accelerate the regeneration of damaged cells and form new tissue.
However Citronellal is also on the list of potential Sensitizers, which makes you wonder why they were testing it neat, poor little creatures in that animal study.
So my tip would be to do as Aromatherapists do, stick with whole and complete essential oils from a reliable supplier.