Monday, November 2, 2009

That Venerable Lemon Verbena

This is a teaser post. ;)

Over the last couple of days, I have been attacking my brothers Lemon Verbena bush, in an attempt to harvest as many leaves as possible before the first frost. My obsession with this plant is that it doesn;t grow well in San Diego (I killed 3 over the last 13 years in San Diego), and as soon as the first frost comes, all the leaves will die and drop to the ground like so much forest humus. So in essence, I am attempting to preserve their "essence".

Lemon verbena is a tiny leaf packed with great flavoring powers. Like the lemon, it contains Citral, (that Lemon smell in the thin outer peel) but unlike lemon peel, which only contains about 2-5% Citral, the Lemon Verbena leaf contains a whopping 30-35%. This, combined with other alluring compounds such as Nerol (also contained in the Orange Blossom) and Geraniol which is found in Roses and Geraniums. This gives Lemon Verbena a sort of "Green, Lemon, Floral" smell, kind of like a Linden Blossom, that totally rocks when one is making Crème Brûlée, Caramel or even a cup of Herbal tea.

So here are my frozen leaves. After being washed, dried and simply placed in Zip-Loc freezer bags. Patiently waiting for me to make something wonderful out of them.

I am pretty sure I know what I want to do, I just need a couple more things before I proceed. In the meantime, I will be attacking my brother's plant again tomorrow... :) Stay Tuned.



Michele said...

I've only heard of lemon verbena before but never saw a picture so thanks! Can you make lemonade or lemony drinks with them?

Danielle said...

I can't wait to see what you do with these. I don't think I've even seen Lemon Verbena in the herb section of the grocery store.

Culinary Alchemist said...

Michele - Your welcome. I sometimes make simple syrup with them to sweeten Ice Tea, Lemonade or Cocktails.

Danielle - Yeah, I have never seen it in the store. It's kind of like Makrut Lime leaves, ya end up having to grow it, or know someone who grows it.

Bob said...

I'm intrigued. Could you infuse vodka with them?

Patti T. said...

You have us all on the edge of our seats, wondering what great recipe you will be making with these beautiful leaves. I see these when I am buying herbs to plant in my garden, now that I know more about them perhaps they will be a new addition to my herb garden.

Cathy said...

I know you'll come up with something good with these leaves. Lemon Verbena sounds good and old fashioned.

Spryte said...

They are beautiful leaves!