Lemongrass is a tropical plant with long grass-like leaves, and the citrus-scented stalks are used in cooking.
It’s native to India but is popular and widely available in other tropical countries as well.
Lemongrass has been used for centuries by the people of Southeast Asia for its medicinal value.
Lemongrass oil extracted from the grass is made into a herbal remedy given to women who have difficulties during childbirth.
The leaves are also used as a natural insecticide, and the juice from the leaves can be used as a mouthwash to reduce infections in the mouth.
It has countless culinary uses as well.
It is widely used by Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian, and other Asian chefs – it can add flavor to meat dishes, soups, and marinades.
They say that lemongrass has a refreshing, cleansing aroma that is sure to spice up any meal.
It’s also said to have antiseptic properties, making it an excellent tool for cooking meat and poultry.
Some cultures even use lemongrass tea as a remedy for morning sickness during pregnancy.
So to preserve the freshness of the lemongrass stalks (instead of letting them rot in your fridge), you can freeze them.
Yes, you can freeze this magic herb so that you can have a steady supply.
In this article, we will guide you on how to do just that.
Does Freezing Affect Lemongrass?
The answer is yes.
Lemongrass leaves lose some of their flavors when frozen, but it’s still okay to use them in cooking.
Some say that the sweet citrus scent becomes a bit weaker, but if you want your dish to have a hint of lemongrass flavor, then freezing the grass is a good way to go.
To preserve lemongrass’ flavor, you have to freeze it right after buying it fresh (or before using them if they’re already in your fridge).
Freezing them in small batches will ensure that each stalk still has its original texture and shape once thawed out.
Like other leafy greens, lemongrass takes up a lot of space in the freezer.
So store them flat on a tray to maximize your space.
How to Freeze Lemongrass?
Freeze lemongrass the same way you freeze greens.
About a day before you plan to use them, wash each stalk thoroughly with cold water and pat dry.
If there is dirt at the bottom of the leaves, use your fingers to remove it carefully.
The dirt can leave stains on your stalks when they’re thawed out.
After patting them dry, cut the stalks into smaller pieces with a pair of kitchen scissors or a knife.
The pieces don’t have to be uniform – just make sure that the cuts are clean and tidy, removing any discolored stalk sections.
Place them in a single layer (again, make sure they’re flat on the tray) in an air-tight plastic bag or container.
If you want to be extra careful, seal the bag with some food wrap and place it inside a Ziploc bag.
This will prevent freezer burn and keep your lemongrass stalks as fresh as possible for as long as they can be frozen.
Don’t forget to mark the date on your package – most of the time, freezing herbs is only good for up to one or two months, depending on how frozen you want them to be.
Once frozen, they can be stored in the freezer for a few months.
How to Thaw Frozen Lemongrass?
Lemongrass is best to be thawed overnight in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook with them, remove your lemongrass stalks from the plastic or Ziploc bags and place them on a plate before cooking.
You can also cut and tear them into smaller pieces for easier handling.
Like other greens, over-thawing lemongrass can damage or discolor the leaves.
So don’t leave it out on your counter longer than an hour or so.
You can also choose to keep your lemongrass frozen and add them exuberantly to your dish when you’re ready.
How to Use Thawed Lemongrass?
Once you thaw your lemongrass outside the fridge, use them right away.
Don’t let them sit out for more than an hour – they will lose flavor, and their leaves will discolor from the exposure to air.
When cooking with thawed lemongrass, lower heat settings and simmer longer to allow all the flavors to blend and prevent the lemongrass from burning.
Thawed lemongrass will also lose some of its fragrance, so you might have to add more than usual when cooking with them.
As a general rule, add about half of what you would normally use if they were still fresh and frozen.
You can also add them in some broths or soups so that you have a citrusy aroma throughout.
How to Tell if Frozen Lemongrass is Bad?
As with other leafy greens, it’s best to use them within a month of freezing.
Signs of badly frozen lemongrass include turning brown or wilting (although some discoloring is inevitable).
If there are visible signs of mold growing on your stalks, toss them immediately.
If your lemongrass gives off a strong odor, it’s probably turned bad.
If you’re unsure how to tell if frozen lemongrass is bad, smell the stalks – they should have a nice and refreshing citrusy aroma.
If you’re unsure, cut off a small piece of the stalk and check it out. If it looks good, use it.
But if there are signs of mold or physical damage on the leaves, throw them away immediately.
Although some loss in taste and aroma is inevitable, it’s always better to make sure that your lemongrass is in top condition when you’re cooking with them.
In conclusion, lemongrass is a great herb to have in your kitchen for its many uses.
To make sure that you get the most out of them, either uses them fresh or freeze them first before cooking.
As with any other herbs, freezing and thawing lemongrass can damage the leaves and give it off a bad odor, so be sure to check your stalks before cooking with them.
They may not be as fresh or fragrant as they were before, but at least you’ll still get to enjoy their citrusy goodness.