Lemon verbena is native to Argentina and Chile, and was taken to Europe by the Spaniards and to North America by a New England sea captain in the 18th century. In France, it was used by toilet-water producers for its aromatic oils. Until a hundred years ago lemon verbena was widely grown as a decorative garden plant. It definitely deserves a place in any scented garden for its intoxicating, pure lemon fragrance.
About taste: Lemon verbena has an intense, fresh lemon aroma. The taste echoes the aroma but is much less strong; it’s more lemony than a lemon, but lacks the tartness. Leaves keep their fragrance quite well when cooked. The aroma of dried leaves is retained for one year.
Parts Used: Leaves, fresh and dried.
Buying & Preserving: Many herb nurseries inventory lemon verbena plants. Cut leaves can be stored for a day or two in the fridge. Sprigs can also be put in a glass of water for one day. Leaves can be chopped and frozen in small pots or in ice cubes. To dry, hang stems in a dark, well-ventilated place. Dried leaves make a wonderful herbal tea, usually sold as verveine.
Herb Gardening: Lemon verbena needs sun and well-drained soil. Leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season. Regular trimming will make the lemon verbena bushier, and it needs to be cut back in fall to remove weak branches. Lemon verbena doesn’t tolerate frost, so is best grown in a container and taken indoors in winter, when it’ll shed its leaves.
Lemon verbena is a natural companion to fish and poultry. Put some sprigs into the cavity, or chop and use in a stuffing or marinade. The vibrant, clean taste is also good with fatty meats such as pork and duck, in vegetable soup, and in a rice pilaf. Lemon verbena is used as a flavoring for desserts and drinks. Add sprigs to a syrup for poaching fruit, chop finely for a fruit salad or tart, or infuse in cream to make a fresh-scented ice cream. Koseret, Lippia adoensis, is similar to lemon verbena and widely used as an herb in Ethiopia.
Fresh sprigs: Add sprigs to iced tea or summer drinks, or make an infusion of fresh leaves. Lemon verbena makes one of the best and most refreshing of all teas.
Good with apricots, fish, carrots, rice, mushrooms, chicken, zucchini. Combines well with basil, chives, chili, cilantromint, , lemon thyme, garlic.
Reviewed byZorn Matrew on May 20.