Lemongrass is the signature ingredient in many Asian recipes and tastes equally delicious when made into a tea. The biggest problem with fresh lemongrass is that it doesn’t stay fresh forever.
Can you freeze lemongrass? Lemongrass can be frozen very effectively. You just need to know what part of the lemongrass you want to use, keep, and freeze in order to follow the correct steps since it varies depending on which part you’re trying to freeze.
In this article, we’ll provide a detailed and thorough step-by-step guide to choosing, preparing, and freezing lemongrass.
Can Lemongrass Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze lemongrass and it’s an excellent way to ensure you always have this key ingredient on hand when you need it.
Lemongrass is, as you’d expect, a grass that tastes very citrusy, much like lemon. However, the plant itself looks more like a green onion or a very thin, baby leek.
The most flavorful part of lemongrass isn’t in the grassy leaves, but rather in the lower, more dense stalk. Depending on where you buy your lemongrass, you may find that the upper leaves have already been removed, and all that is left is the stalk.
Though the leaves aren’t usually called for in most recipes, it is possible to use them for lightly flavoring broths, teas, or for use as a garnish.
If you choose to keep your leaves and freeze them as well, you will want to freeze them separately from the stalk.
Freezing lemongrass isn’t that difficult, but there are a few secrets to success. If you want to preserve the quality and flavor and make the lemongrass quick and easy to use on-demand, you’ll want to prep the grass before freezing it.
How Do You Prepare Lemongrass For Freezing?
How to prep lemongrass for freezing is really just a few steps, as follows:
- If your lemongrass still has the leaves, first peel off the 2 – 3 outermost leaves and discard them. Next, cut the rest of the leaves off where they start to divide and spread out from the stalk. If you want to keep them, keep them separate from the stalk.
- Lemongrass will freeze best if it is chopped, minced, or pureed before you freeze it, rather than after. Decide how you are most likely to use your lemongrass in the future and prep it accordingly.
- If you’re planning to freeze the leaves as well, you will want to wash them, dry them and chop them before freezing.
How to Freeze Lemongrass
Once your lemongrass stalks are prepped and ready to freeze, you’ll want to separate all your chopped, minced or pureed lemongrass into individual serving sizes.
This will not only help the lemongrass freeze more quickly, maintaining more nutritional quality and a better texture and flavor, but it will also make it easier to separate out your portion for future use.
There are a few easy and convenient ways to portion out your lemongrass:
- Use a tablespoon to measure out as much lemongrass as you’d like per serving size and wrap that portion individually in plastic wrap.
- Once you have all your portions individually wrapped, give them one further layer of protection by placing them all together in either a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or Tupperware container.
- Place a layer of plastic wrap over an ice cube tray and fill each depression with a serving of prepared lemongrass. Use scissors to cut the plastic wrap between each individually filled cube and tightly seal each portion with the plastic wrap.
- Again, once the serving sizes are individually wrapped, it’s important to give them another layer of added protection by placing them inside a Tupperware container or Ziploc bag that is designed for use in the freezer.
- Spread individual servings throughout a bag to be vacuum-sealed. Using the vacuum-sealing machine of your choice, remove the air and seal the bag. Make sure you leave enough space between each serving size to allow you to cut a serving out of the package without breaking the seal around the other servings.
If you’re freezing the leaves of your lemongrass, they’re considerably easier. Simply make sure they’re entirely clean and dry and then store them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag in your freezer.
How to Freeze Lemongrass Stalks Whole
It is possible to freeze lemongrass stalks whole, though they will lose their firm texture. If you’re planning on chopping or mincing the lemongrass for a recipe in the future, it’s best to use the freezing preparation method above.
If you’re planning to use your lemongrass in larger chunks simply for boiling into a broth, for example, and you’re not planning on mincing the plant in the future, you can freeze it whole.
Make sure your lemongrass is clean and thoroughly dry before you freeze it. Trim the stalks so that they’ll fit nicely into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.
Fill the bag as much as you can or with as much lemongrass as you have and press all the extra air out of the bag before you seal it tight.
As long as the stalks are completely dry when you put them into the bag, they shouldn’t stick together as they freeze, so you should always be able to take one stalk out at a time, leaving the rest safely frozen.
How Long Can You Freeze Lemongrass?
If frozen as suggested, your lemongrass will retain its best quality for up to 6 months in your freezer. After 6 months, the lemongrass will be safe to eat, but the potency of flavor and aroma will start to degrade.
Using a vacuum-sealing machine will extend the life of your lemongrass the most, and it should stay fresh for at least 1 year before you notice a significant difference in the taste or fragrance.
How to Store Lemongrass
If you have only enough lemongrass that you will be able to use it all within 2 weeks, you can keep it in your fridge, rather than your freezer.
Storing lemongrass is relatively easy. All you need to do is wrap it to protect it from the drying air of your fridge and keep the flavor and fragrance as contained as possible.
Ziploc bags are great for lemongrass. Try to trim your stalks so that you don’t have to bend or break them to get them into the bag.
Before you store them, however, the real trick is to harvest or buy the best quality lemongrass you can find.
The quality of lemongrass can vary widely, which can be frustrating. If you don’t know what to look for, your favorite Thai curry recipe may turn out bland and disappointing.
The best lemongrass will have long stalks in comparison to other batches harvested around the same time, and they should be heavy and dense.
They will always have small bulbs at the bottom, similar to a green onion. The bulb will be white-ish, though if it has a slight pink or cream blush to it, that’s a good sign.
If the lemongrass at your grocery store still has its leaves, it’s not unusual for them to look rather disheveled and as if they’ve had a bit of a hard life. They will still have enough flavor to brew a heavenly cup of tea.
More importantly, shabby leaves aren’t necessarily an indicator of poor quality lemongrass stalks.
What you do want to avoid, however, is lemongrass leaves that look like they’re dried out. If there is a lot of brown in the leaves, especially on the innermost leaves, look for a new batch.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lemongrass
Lemongrass – where to buy?
Lemongrass is cultivated in most areas of the world year-round and, if you can’t find any in your favorite grocery store, you’ll probably be able to find some in a nearby Asian food market. You can also often find lemongrass at farmer’s markets.
You can even find lemongrass online in a variety of forms. If you’re in an area that allows for fresh produce shipments, lemongrass is a food item that lasts long enough to ship well. Of course, you can also find lemongrass dried, powdered, or in a paste, which all work well for most recipes.
Can you eat lemongrass?
Yes, you can eat lemongrass by itself, though it is much more enjoyable cooked than raw. In most cases, just the stalk is used, and it’s often sliced thinly, minced, or pureed. The flavor can be strong if you get a large mouthful, so the goal is to spread it out generously through your dish.
Lemongrass leaves are not commonly eaten. It can be used for flavoring if you don’t want as much potency as you get from the stalk, but they’re usually removed from the dish before it’s eaten, similar to cooking with bay leaves.
What does lemongrass look like?
Lemongrass looks very similar to green onions, with pale green to yellow stalks that end in a small bulb. The leaves look more similar to leeks, though they are thinner.
The most obvious identifier of lemongrass is the scent, which is very bright and citrusy, giving the plant its name.
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