The dried leaves of lemon verbena are commonly used as a natural aid for stomachaches, indigestion and flatulence. These lemony leaves are also used to flavor fruit-based drinks, fruit salads and salad dressings as well as fish, soups, desserts, jams and especially marinades. Crushed lemon verbena adds a citrusy note to many seafood, poultry and veggie dishes. Finely-crumbled dried leaves can be added to batters when making banana, carrot or zucchini bread.
Lemon verbena, sometimes called vervain, is generally acknowledged to be the most strongly scented and intense of the lemon scented plants. The scent has moved writers to poetry and prose in an effort to describe its essence, which is both crisp and relaxing at the same time. Because of its scent, lemon verbena is used in making perfume, as well as a flavoring in baking, jelly and preserving. The flavor of lemon verbena has been likened to a cross between licorice and camphor, and it is widely used as an herbal flavoring to replace oregano, particularly in fish and poultry dishes. Lemon verbena was introduced to England in 1700s, and found a comfortable home there, where the deciduous bushes sometimes grow to fifteen feet in height. The plant has an incredibly strong minty-citrus scent that is quite powerful when harvested fresh, however the dried Lemon Verbena is less over-powering and more subtle. It is native to Chile and Peru, but grows quite contentedly in other places. It is used medicinally, as are many other plants with mint or camphor content.
As a culinary flavoring, lemon verbena has been used as everything from ice cream flavoring to pepper substitute. The licorice and camphor content do make the volatile oils from the plant stronger than most other lemon-scented herbs, so it’s advised to use it sparingly as a flavoring.
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