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aromatherapy herb uses

lemon verbena

I know, when you think cooking herb, lemon verbena is not the first plant that comes to mind. A lot of people, especially here, up north, where it is not winter hardy, may not be familiar with this wonderful plant, so I’ll do the honors.

It has the fragrance and taste of lemon zest, with just a hint of green herb, and it can be used in any recipe that asks for lemon flavor, from meat stews and salads to fish dishes, candy or sophisticated desserts.

It makes a very pleasant tea all by itself, just steeped in water with nothing else added in. It is lemony, refreshing and a little spicy, and it is supposed to settle an upset stomach, although I didn’t have the opportunity to verify that.

The plant is not a showy one, but you’ll recognize it immediately because it releases a strong lemon scent the second you brush against it, the scent that is its trademark and made it a staple of perfumers’ shops.

It is not often that a plant can span the whole range between soap and haute cuisine, but lemon verbena is one of them.

Much like lemon balm, it loses some of its potency when dried, so use fresh whenever possible. The fresh leaves’ scent is very strong, a little goes a long way, the dry powder is more subtle.

It likes warmth and sunshine and it will grow very big in zone nine and above, where it can be planted outdoors, but its growth is compact and manageable.