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These three lemongrass stalks have been rooting in water for about two weeks now. Note the deepening green color of the base of each stalk, and the optimistic leaf shooting out of the top of each one. No roots yet, but that will come soon. Yesterday I bought a bundle of stalks at my local Whole Foods market, so that I can get a whole chorus going. Now that I’m nurturing my 2009 crop, I keep thinking of delicious uses for the summertime bounty of lemongrass.  Vietnamese-style lemongrass chicken comes first, a chili-kissed stir-fry we adore with rice and cucumber salad. Nahm takrai is a fresh lemongrass beverage that I learned to make at a lovely restaurant in Chiangmai on a research trip to Thailand. It puts the long, sword-shaped leaves to glorious use, and takes the edge off summer heat in the most refreshing way. Add Thai curry pastes and the two signature Thai soups, tome yum and tome kah, and it becomes very difficult to wait for my lemongrass garden to grow. But I can do that — gardening is good for the soul as well as for the dinner table. In Thailand, our lemongrass never went out of season—it was always warm enough, even in the cold season, to keep a lemongrass patch going. Here I’ll keep changing the water every couple of days to keep it clear, and look forward to the fruits of this tiny bit of labor.

Lemongrass Mama Stalks: Week 2

Lemongrass Mama Stalks: Week 2

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. robincooksveg Reply

    I kept mine in a shower we used to have- it seemed to like the humidity and arched up along the ceiling.
    congrats on your blog. Looks good!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you, Robin, and I love the shower story. You found a simulated rain forest atmosphere right there at home.

  2. Julie Hasson Reply

    Hi Nancie! Wow, what a fabulous idea! I’m going to get one started today. Do you eventually plant them, or just keep them growing this way indefinitely? I used to have a year-round lemongrass patch when we lived in LA ; )

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Hi, Julie! Los Angeles would be lemongrass heaven; I got started doing this when we lived in Carlsbad, California, a little bit north of San Diego, and it was a yearround garden. Here in North Carolina, it takes the winter off. I bring some inside and start new batches in springtime. I do plant them, some right in ground, and some in great big pots on our deck. It’s so beautiful, worth having even if one doesn’t use if for cooking.

  3. Yukari Sakamoto Reply

    I had no idea I could grow my own lemongrass. Will definitely give it a try. Much better than getting dried lemongrass that has lost its aroma and texture.

    Thrilled your blog is up and running! Keep posting delicious bits.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Hello, Yukari-san! Lemongrass will be very happy in Japan. What you grow is so fragrant and flavorful; it’s worlds better than anything dried, and also a big improvement over what we can buy here.

  4. virginiawillis Reply

    Hey you – I didn’t know you had a blog! I’ll sign up!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Come on in, and have some lemongrass tea, sweetened of course!

  5. Eva Reply

    This is a great idea! I love the essence, the smell, and the flavor of lemongrass. I had no idea that you could grow it in your yard, so this bit of information will save me many trips to the store! Thanks!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Ready, set, grow, Eva! My photos show a jar of three stalks, but while you’re at it, start a dozen or so “mama stalks”, so that you can have more than one lemongrass patch. (Bigger jar to root them in, of course….) I’ll have a big pot on my deck, one in yard, and another by my raised bed garden. Yes, I tend toward excess. But you can’t have too many lemongrass patches to my mind, because it’s just a beautiful plant, even if you don’t use if in cooking.

  6. Angela Reply

    Hi Nancie,
    I am starting my lemongrass rooting project today, although I also got a small lemongrass plant from the Raleigh farmers market and four more plants from a friend to give me a jump start until the roots start on the stalks I got at Whole Foods. Thanks for the great blog!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thanks for letting me know you are on your way to lemongrass glory, Angela. Keep me posted on how your garden grows…
      and what you do with it once it’s big enough to cook.

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