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Expert Tips on Harvesting and Storing Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a delicious lemony herb that’s popular in Asian dishes. And, this clumping grass is quite easy to grow in most parts of the country. You just need to protect it from frost in cooler regions.

Once your lemongrass is growing beautifully, you’ll want to know how to harvest the tasty stalks and how these can best be stored.

When to harvest lemongrass

Luckily, here in Australia, you can harvest lemongrass at any time of the year. Just bear in mind, that if you harvest some stalks in winter, it will take longer for these to regrow as the plant will be dormant during the colder weather.

Lemongrass | Fruit & Vegetables

You want to wait until your entire clump is around 30cm in height before you start harvesting any of the stems. This can usually take up to around 3 months if you’ve grown the plant from seed but will take less time if you’ve planted it as a seedling or by dividing up an existing clump. Then, harvest those stalks that are around 2 cm or more in thickness. 

How to harvest lemongrass 

Harvesting your lemongrass is easy. All you have to do is cut off one or more of the outer stalks close to the ground. Get as much of the white stalk as you can without disturbing the roots of the plant.

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Make sure you wear gloves when you harvest the lemongrass stalks because the leaves are quite sharp and can cut into your fingers. Take the harvested stalks inside, give them a wash and remove the woody outer leaf sheaths to expose the creamy white stem.

When harvesting your lemongrass, make sure that you don’t remove more than a third of the stalks at any one time. This means that the plant will have enough energy left to continue to produce more new stalks.

How to store lemongrass

Ideally, you don’t want to harvest more stalks than you’re going to use straight away. However, if you have cut more than you need, lemongrass stalks will store well in your fridge in the crisper section for a few weeks.

If you want to store your lemongrass for longer, you can slice the stalks and store them in the freezer for around 6 months or so.

Lemongrass 3 | Fruit & Vegetables

It’s also common to dry the green leaves of lemongrass to use in tea. These can easily be air-dried by hanging them up in a warm, dry spot in bunches. Or, you can just lay them on some paper towel but make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight.

Once the leaves are completely dry, you can store them in an airtight container in the pantry. They should keep for around a year and are perfect for making lemongrass tea.

Lemongrass tea | Fruit & Vegetables

If you have a food dehydrator, you can also dry the leaves in this as this will speed up the drying process. When dry, the leaves should resemble dry straw and their colour will be dull.

RELATED: How to Grow Mint in Australia

How to make lemongrass tea

For a refreshing drink in summer, make some lemongrass tea, let it cool and add some ice cubes. To make the tea:

  • Cut the fresh or dried green leaves into 2 to 5 cm lengths
  • Put these into a cup of boiling water and let them steep for around 5 minutes or longer
  • Once the brew is strong enough, drain off the liquid and let it cool
  • Add some sugar or honey if you like it sweet and drop in a few ice cubes

FAQ

Can you freeze lemongrass?

Yes, lemongrass can be kept in the freezer for around 6 months. Just cut the stalks into slices and open-freeze on a tray before placing them into a freezer bag. The green leaves can also be frozen but these are better dried so that you can use them to make lemongrass tea.

Is lemongrass edible raw?

Surprisingly, lemongrass can be eaten raw and is a popular ingredient in Thai salads. However, you need to slice the tender white part of the stem very thinly so that it’s not too tough.

Does lemongrass come back every year?

In Australia, unless your lemongrass gets hit by frost, it will continue growing as a clump all year round. However, it will only be actively growing during the warmer months of the year.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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