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Lemon Verbena

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Lemon verbena is a popular spice for European teas, fruit drinks, and desserts. Verbena, a Latin word meaning leafy branch, was originally used as a perfume. Though not widely used in culinary applications, it adds a refreshing taste to many cold dishes.

Lemon verbena is a long, pointed, green leaf available fresh or dried. It is used whole or chopped. The dried form retains its flavor well. Fresh lemon verbena has a strong, lemon-lime-like flavor, with a fruity and penetrating aroma.

Culinary Uses of Lemon Verbena

It is commonly used by Europeans to flavor fruit-based drinks, fruit salad dressings, fish soups, marinades, puddings, jams, and desserts. It does not tend to lose its flavor during cooking. It pairs well with fruits, vanilla, and seafood dishes. You can use lemon verbena in place of lemon zest in recipes.

Virtually any fruit salad can be enhanced with its finely chopped leaves. Lemon verbena makes one of the best beverage teas, especially when blended with mint. It can also be used to brighten the taste of fish, poultry, veggie marinades, stuffing, salad dressing, jellies, and vinegar. Chop up leaves and put them in drinks. As the leaves are tough, remove them before serving. Finely crumbled dried leaves can be added to the batters of carrot, banana, or zucchini bread. Try adding some to cooked rice just before serving.

Bury 6 lemon verbena leaves in a cup of sugar that has been placed in a covered jar or container. Use this sugar to top muffins, fruit, or sprinkle on the top of muffin batter before baking. Because the leaf is rather tough you’ll need to mince it very fine if you plan on leaving it in a dish, or add it whole and remove before serving. Dried, it should be crumbed before adding to recipes. Spice Blends: fish marinade blend, soup blend, and pickle blend.

Health Benefits of Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena has been used traditionally by Europeans as a diuretic and a gout remedy, to treat inflammation of the liver or spleen, and even to aid depression. It is also brewed in tea as a home remedy to relieve colds and fevers. Lemon verbena is a natural insect repellent.

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