How to Extract Lemongrass

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Lemongrass is a sweet cane that is related to the citronella plant, widely used in Thai cooking, although it is native to India. Extracts have been taken from this plant as far back as the Pharaohs, who used the sweet, lemony fragrance to freshen the tombs. Today, we use the extracts in perfumes, lotions and bug repellents, as well as in recipes. There are three common ways of extracting the essence of the lemongrass stalk.

Things You'll Need

  • Lemongrass stalks
  • Mason jars
  • Boiling water
  • Oil (light flavored)
  • Vodka

Water Extraction

  • Chop the lemongrass stalk into small pieces. Remove the outer stalks to reveal the tighter inner stem. Use scissors to slice through the papery parts that a knife won't cut. Collect all the pieces in a clean jar.

  • Pour 16 ounces of boiling water over about 4 ounces of dried and chopped lemongrass to soften the tissues of the stalk and release the flavors in the lemongrass.

  • Cover the jar tightly and set aside to steep for an hour or until it comes to room temperature.

  • Strain this infusion for tea and add a little sweetener, or use it for a fragrant broth with meats and noodles.

Oil Extraction

  • Chop the lemongrass stalk into small pieces. Remove the outer stalks to reveal the tighter inner stem. Use scissors to slice through the papery parts that a knife won't cut. Collect all the pieces in a clean jar.

  • Pour 8 ounces of light-flavored oil into a mason jar and add about 4 ounces of the chopped lemongrass to allow the oils to dissolve the oils in the lemongrass.

  • Cover the jar and shake until the lemon grass is distributed throughout the oil. Loosen the cover to allow for any gases to escape.

  • Store for at least two weeks in the dark at room temperature. Use the resulting fragrant oil in any recipes conducive to a lemony flavor or for homemade lotions or creams.

Alcohol Extraction

  • Chop the lemongrass stalk into small pieces. Remove the outer stalks to reveal the tighter inner stem. Use scissors to slice through the papery parts that a knife won't cut. Collect all the pieces in a clean jar.

  • Drop 4 ounces of the chopped lemongrass stems in a glass jar. Use a mason jar for practicality or try a decorative wine bottle for a handsome presentation. Fill the jar with at least 8 ounces of vodka.

  • Shake the vodka and lemongrass well and set aside for at least for a week for the oils and compounds to be released into the alcohol.

  • Strain and use this extraction in exotic mixed drinks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lemon grass oils can be a skin irritant.

References

  • Photo Credit Harrison Eastwood/Lifesize/Getty Images
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