I hope many of you have this plant in your garden. This year is the first time my plant didn't freeze to death in winter since we almost had no frost at all. Lemon verbena, also known in French as verveine, has a strong taste of lemon without the acidity nor the bitterness of lemons. It is not only known as a kitchen herb, but since ages also as a medicinal plant that calms your nerves, strengthens your nervous system, helps with lighter forms of insomnia, stress etc. It also is a good remedy for all kinds of indigestion problems and last but not least, it's known as a very powerful antioxidant!
It can be used in the kitchen or as a medicinal tea, either fresh or dried. In the kitchen I very often use it on fish and seafood, pork, chicken, salads, cream sauces etc.
Use the fresh leaves and all the sudden it's a real refreshing taste of summer. Speaking of summer, on hot days I always have a large container in the fridge, filed with water and a branch of fresh lemon verbena. It tastes so fresh and it calms, which makes you sweat a lot less.
In other seasons, make a hot tea with dried lemon verbena and let your health benefit from this wonderful plant.
Now is a good time to harvest the longer branches too and let them dry for use as a tea or as a spice in food. I put the fresh, quickly rinsed branches in a deep oven dish and cover that with some sheets of newspaper. Put this in a sunny warm spot and after 3-4 days, you can strip the dried leaves from the branches. The left-over branches go on the barbecue.
When you cover the drying plants, the color of the leaves will remain green, if not, they will go brown. I proceed like this when drying other herbs like sage, tarragon, bay leaf, oregano etc.
Lemon verbena or "verveine" in French.