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Preserving Lemon Verbena

August 19th, 2010

Last year I bought a lemon verbena plant and overwintered it in the basement. This summer it’s really taken off so I have an abundance of it. I’ve been looking for ways to use this lovely lemony herb so that none of it goes to waste. It’s a wonderful way to bring some summer flavor into the long cold winter months here in Ohio. One of the best ways I’ve found is by add diced fresh leaves to recipes, like scones, cakes or cookies, but you can’t do that in winter. Lemon verbena dries beautifully and retains it’s flavor, so you can easily add some to your winter teas if you have a stash of dried leaves in the pantry.

Lemon verbena cooler is especially refreshing after a hot afternoon or gardening. To make: pick a handful of lemon verbena leaves, tear or chop and add to a pitcher full of water, steep overnight and enjoy the next day. If you like a little sweetness, add sugar before drinking. You can also make lemon verbena syrup to use in mixed drinks, as flavoring for ice cream, desserts and just about anywhere a lemony flavor would be welcome. I find that lemon verbena is quite delicious when added to jams and jellies. Simply add a few leaves when cooking down the berries, strain out and process as desired.

Lemon verbena can also be used to infuse sugar with a lemony flavor. I can think of many places a lemony sugar would be welcome, particularly in ice cream, iced tea, or other sweet treats like cookies and cakes. Of course you can also add a few vanilla beans to make a vanilla lemon sugar.

Lemon verbena leaves retain their scent when dried, so you can dry the leaves to use for flavoring and for potpourri to scent your home. You can also make a lemon verbena hair rinse by steeping a few lemon verbena leaves in a cup of hot water, then using to rinse hair after washing and conditioning. This leaves your hair with a wonderful lemony fresh scent.

I’m also experimenting with make lemon verbena liqueur. I’m steeping 1 1/2 cups of chopped lemon verbena in 4 cups of organic vodka. After 2 weeks I’ll be adding 2 cups of organic evaporated cane juice. I’m thinking this will be a great Christmas gift for friends that enjoy mixed beverages, being a rather dry person myself I won’t be consuming any.

I also made some lemon verbena syrup. Heat one cup of water until hot, then add 3/4 cup of evaporated cane juice and dissolve. Then added 1/2 cup of chopped lemon verbena leaves. Steep for an 30 minutes or so, then strain and refrigerate or can. Enjoy as a sweetener for teas, sauces, sweets or wherever you want a hint of lemon flavor.

What’s your favorite herb to save up for winter use?

14 Comments to “Preserving Lemon Verbena”
  1. Dave on August 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I’ll have to start growing lemon verbena. As for lemony herbs we have lemon basil and lemon balm. I don’t really use them for much since the flavor isn’t quite as close to an authentic lemon as I’d like. The lemon balm does help repel the mosquitoes while we’re out in the yard though! For preserving I dry oregano and mint. Oregano for general cooking (love it on pizza) and the mint for tea. Great post!
    Dave´s last post ..Propagating Shasta Viburnum Viburnum plicatum f tomentosum from Cuttings

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    • Susy on August 19, 2010 at 9:53 am

      We too love oregano, I dry a lot and use tons of it in cooking.

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  2. Justin on August 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

    My favorite autumn/winter herb is rosemary and I’ll be darned if I can get a plant to actually make it to overwinter. It seems that as soon as we hit the end of summer and I move it inside, it just dies out and dries up. I keep the dried needles, of course, but they just don’t have the same fresh flavor.

    I call it a “winter herb” because it goes so well with so many hearty winter dishes like roasted potatoes, root vegetables, bean soups, and roasted meats. It’s a bit strong for most lighter summer dishes.

    Reply to Justin's comment

    • Rhonda on August 20, 2010 at 7:37 am

      I had the same problem with Rosemary! Last year I ended up just leaving it in the garden because I figured I was just going to end up killing it anyway and what do you know … it made it through the winter with no problem at all! I’m in Kentucky and we had some cold weather and a good amount of snow and it still lived. This year it is beautiful and it grew so much! I’m leaving it out again this winter. :-)

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  3. Sense of Home on August 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Lemon Verbena sounds like an herb I would like to add to my herb garden. I love my basil plants, but they never make it through a whole winter when I bring them in the house. Rosemary I have been able to take in and out for a number of years now.

    -Brenda
    Sense of Home´s last post ..The Root Cellar

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  4. Louise on August 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

    What a lovely herb to grow; so many uses. I will plant it in my garden next spring. I like the bottle you use for your infusions, may I ask you where you purchased it?

    Reply to Louise's comment

    • Susy on August 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      It’s a Weck brand jar, this is the 1 liter jar. I purchased mine from Lehman’s, but there are other places to buy them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog on August 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    we inherited a very vigorous lemon verbena plant/shrub from the previous owners of our home. My, it’s fantastic. I’m attempting to make cuttings for future siting(s), as it’s currently situated in a bad spot. But I recently (accidentally) discovered how well it does dried: almost as fragrant as fresh! wonderful plant.
    Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog´s last post ..lovely sunday lunch

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  6. MAYBELLINE on August 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Lavender
    MAYBELLINE´s last post ..Crabgrass and Harry Truman

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  7. Wanda on August 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Lemon verbena is my very favorite lemon herb. I like to use it for lemon tea with just a little sugar added. Thank you for your syrup recipe. I’ll try that for sure. I like to dry my chocolate mint for peppermint tea. That’s my favorite mint.
    Wanda´s last post ..Yogurt Cheese

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  8. Lelo on August 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Yeah! Lemon verbena is one of my favorite herbs….so fresh and vigorous, both in its plant form, scent and flavor. I’m going to try whirling it with sugar in the food processor to make the lemon sugars, and I’ve read of candying small leaves, and they store and keep for awhile. Your lemon verbena hair rinse sounds GREAT.

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  9. Matron on August 20, 2010 at 4:13 am

    What a fantastic herb! I like to freeze fresh Dill. I visited Poland last year and they seem to put it everywhere. A lovely, distinctive taste.

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  10. Rhonda on August 20, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I’m going to have to grow some Lemon Verbena. I have Lemon Grass but not verbena. One of my favorite colognes is L’Occitane’s Verbena Eau de Toilette. It’s so fresh smelling.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  11. melissa on August 20, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Probably rosemary because I don’t have to save it up. It just IS. :) This makes me want to grow lemon verbena now!
    melissa´s last post ..dinner!

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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