Healing Herbs ~ Lemon Verbena

This is one of my favorite herbs in the garden. Although it is trickier to grow in colder climates, this herb is well worth a try if only for its spellbinding lemon-scent.

Lemon verbena grew originally in Chile and was first brought to Europe in the 18th century by the Spanish for its perfume.

I use the leaves of this herb in all sorts of culinary creations during the summer time. Dried leaves, when picked while green, keep their color and scent and can be stored in a damp-proof container over winter.

In cooler climates, lemon verbena needs to be brought indoors or into a greenhouse over winter.

Amazing Benefits Of Lemon Verbena from OrganicFacts.net

Some of the most fascinating health benefits of lemon verbena include its ability to help with weight loss goals, protect your muscles, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, calm the stomach, reduce fevers, soothe nerves, and clear up congestion.

Lemon Verbena

Although lemon verbena is native to South America, it has largely become a globally accessible plant and herb due to its powerful medicinal effects and qualities as a food additive. Scientifically known as Aloysia citrodora, another common name besides lemon verbena is lemon beebrush. The plant itself is a perennial shrub that has a powerful lemony scent that intensifies when the leaves and flowers are touched or bruised. The shrub can stand 2-3 meters high and has small purple and white flowers. Its initial widespread use was as a food and flavoring additive, particularly adding leaves to poultry and fish dishes, as well as salads, dressings, jams, and various beverages. However, the traditional uses of lemon verbena as a medicinal herb have come back into fashion, especially since modern research has revealed a wealth of unique components that make this plant very important for human health.

The essential oil of lemon verbena, when extracted, contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidant compounds, including verbascoside, nerol, geraniol, and citral. The most common use of lemon verbena outside of herbal pill supplementation is as an herbal tea. The leaves can be dried and then steeped for a powerful boost to many of your organ systems and metabolic processes. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these impressive health benefits of lemon verbena.

Culinary Uses

Fresh leaves are used to flavor oil and vinegar, drinks, confectionery, cakes and stuffing. Try adding a teaspoon of chopped, fresh leaves to vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert. I love this surprisingly refreshing combination of ice cream and lemon verbena. The fragrant, slightly sweet scent just takes dessert to the next level.

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Having a get together? Or just looking for an easy, refreshing summer treat? Try making Paletas (ice pops) using chopped lemon verbena, cucumber, mint, lime juice, lemon balm, bergamot and maple syrup. On occasion, I have turned these ice pops into Mojito Paletas. A refreshing take on ice pops that adults can’t seem to get enough of.

Fresh from the Garden Paleta Recipe

Makes about 6 ice pops

Blender & Ice pop molds, wooden sticks (optional)

4 1/2 oz cucumber, cut into chunks  125 g

1 1/4 cups of water  300 ml

3 to 5 tablespoons of real maple syrup (base the amount on your preference – I find 5 tablespoons too sweet so I’ve settled on 3 tablespoons)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 15 ml

1 to 2 tablespoon finely chopped lemon verbena, lemon balm, bergamot, and/or mint (the combination of these herbs gives off a wonderful, soothing aroma and a subtle, sweet taste in the finished paletas.

BTW – This recipe works just fine with just cucumber and mint.

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From left to right: Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Mojito Mint and Bergamot

How To

  1. In a blender, combine cucumber, water, real maple syrup and lime juice; blend until smooth.
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 2. Strain through a sieve to obtain a clear juice. Stir finely chopped herbs into juice.
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3. If you like, add slivers of cucumber to the ice pop molds. Pour ice into the molds, dividing evenly. Freeze for 8 hours, until firm, inserting wooden sticks when partially frozen.
4. Run mold under a stream of hot water to remove ice pops.
5. I also pour this juice into ice-cube trays and add it to water for a refreshing summer drink.

 

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Lemon Verbena Tea

Use fresh or dried leaves to make a refreshing, soothing tea at night. Apparently, it can also soothe bronchial and nasal congestion and ease indigestion. However, long-term use can cause stomach irritation so use in moderation.

  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves (not the stems, they’re bitter), rinsed, lightly packed (about 20 leaves)
  • 1/4 cup of Bergamot leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon verbena leaves, rinsed, lightly packed (about 10-15 leaves)
  • 2 cups of water

Place the mint and verbena leaves in a teapot and pour the hot water over the leaves. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. Strain into tea cups.

""FYI

As I write about the different herbs in our garden, my hope is that I commit some of this information to memory or, at least, create a reference for beginning herb enthusiasts.

The information written here is collated from a number of sources (listed below) and is intended for reference and information purposes only (including my own because my mind is like a sieve). Consult a physician before taking or using herbs to treat any condition. 

 Resources

3. McVicar, Jekka. (2010). Grow Herbs: An inspiring guide to growing and using herbs. Dorling Kindersley Limited, London.
4. McVicar, Jekka. (2006). Jekka’s Complete Herb Book. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
5. Laforet, Marie. (2016). The Best Homemade Vegan Cheese & Ice Cream Recipes. Robert Rose Publishing, Toronto.

 

All photographs are originals by Jane Grueber except ‘Tea Time‘ which appears courtesy of Pexels.com

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