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May
18

 

Lemongrass mama stalks, almost 4 weeks old

Lemongrass mama stalks, almost 4 weeks old

With almost a month in a jar of water, my three mama stalks have grown upward with broadening green leaves, while developing plump curly little white roots at their baselines. The outermost leaves on each stalk have dried up and turned yellow and coarse. That means it’s time to primp them up a bit. I gently pulled away the yellowed outer leaves, revealing the vibrant green inner stalk, and allowing more space for the roots to sprout.

 

Note the small white roots on these mama stalks. The trimmed husks go into my compost pile, and the mama stalks go back into their water jar for a bit more rooting time.

Note the small white roots on these mama stalks. The trimmed husks go into my compost pile, and the mama stalks go back into their water jar for a bit more rooting time.

Not time to plant them yet. I’m looking for an abundance of the plump white roots, and the appearance of a few very long, threadlike roots to join them at the base of each stalk. Don’t worry if the lemongrass you find in the marketplace isn’t gloriously green and fresh. It can be dry, yellowed, and grassy-topped, and very plump at the base of each stalk. What it can’t be is limp. You need sturdy, healthy stalks, which are firm at the base. Yellowing stalks can make fine rootstock, though they’re not as flavorful for cooking. Given a little time in the water, you’ll see the very same stalks take on green color and send up gorgeous leaves. You won’t be eating these stalks; these will grow small stalks around their baselines, and eventually spread out into a big patch perfect for summer cooking.

 

Trimmed stalks back in formation for more growing time

Trimmed stalks back in formation for more growing time

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.

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