CITRONELLA (LEMON GRASS)
Citronella is widely used in Vietnamese food for seasoning of meat, fowl, port, beef and game. Fresh citronella cannot be found in America, but in Chinese grocery stores the dried product can be purchased. Citronella essence, available in drugstores, can be substituted. One drop of essence is equivalent to 1 teaspoon freshly chopped citronella.
Oh, dear, how I miss having this one! I think I got one of the last lemon grass plants available in the U.S. by almost-nefarious methods (15 years ago I saw it sitting outside a Thai restaurant in Orlando. I debated just sneaking and getting a cutting, but it was big enough that i just asked and they complied)(oops, not a cutting, separating out a bit, root and all). It was a huge, beautiful plant when I left Port Orange, and I desperately want to try it again as an indoor/outdoor here, but alas, like kaffir lime, I think imports have been outlawed. The nearest best flavor for us herb gardeners is lemon verbena, then lemon balm, then lemon peel. They'll all do fairly well.
Are you sure about that CLaire? I purchased a lemon grass plant about 6 years ago from the local lawn and gardne store and it is alive and well.
I would urge people to stay away from Lemon balm; it will migrate out of the pot and will take over the entire flower bed if you are not careful. That stuff took over my garden for two years until we finally managed to hack it all out. Not worth it.
No, I definitely AM NOT sure. If you find a source for plants, puh-leeze let me know. When I first went on line (about 3 years ago) I was into the TV food network and inquired about both kaffir lime and lemon grass and someone (no memory here) told me that imports of them (as live plants) had been banned. At that time the lemon grass plants you used to be able to buy from Park Seeds disappeared, so it made sense. It could have been wrong information; it could have been a temporary bann; or it could still be in place, or maybe people who grow it in-country can sell it (as I said, in Florida I had a huge bunch of it; it makes a gorgeous decorative grass). I'd love to find sources for both. And yes, lemon balm can really be a garden disaster. It's related to mint, so put it in an isolated little plot, or bury it in a pot that you can pull out and trim, or it will be a monster. But it tastes closer to lemongrass than, say, lemon juice or even zest, so I do use it a lot when making southeast asian salads and soups in the summer. And lemon verbena is almost perfum-y, also good (albeit not winter hardy here). But please tell me if you find a mail order source for either lemon grass or kaffir lime trees (live).
I will try and see, will you do a google search? the answer might be quick..
Kaffir lime would be intriguing, I have not considered growing it but I am in Maryland so maybe it will not grow?
FUnny you should mention mint. We had wild mint growing in the flower bed and the lemon balm just wiped it out! Nasty stuff, but it is great in tea and also has a real nice smell. I just wish it wasnt so arrogant.
Claire, this site says that Lemon grass is commonly available in the US and even lists a few places where you can get it. Probably a good local lawn and garden would have it, I know mine had it at least a few years ago.
PS. it is easy to grow and well worth it. I have had the plant for about 7 years, it is easy to keep and even in winter just needs a little water. they sell fresh lemon grass in stores for like $2 for a little bit so it's well worth it..