Lemon Verbena smells lemony and uplifting which makes it quite refreshing. Its taste is subtly sweet and actually more like lemongrass than lemon. It has similar grassy notes.
Which makes sense as it is more closely related to grass family than the mint family. While I don’t mean to be on a lemon streak, it seems like lemony and citrusy flavors seem to be making their way to my plate. It must be spring.
Lemon Verbena is a native of South America and really more popular in the herbal world than in the mainstream culinary world. When I think about Lemon Verbena, I always think about Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie. Laura was enamored of her teacher’s Lemon Verbena perfume. I can see why, it is an herb that delights the senses.
From a culinary perspective Lemon Verbena can be used in many of the same ways that lemongrass or other lemon flavored ingredients can be used. It is a delicious addition sprinkled over foods ready to serve, or as an ingredient in sorbets or other simple palate cleansing desserts. It’s also delicious as a tea.
Medicinally, research has been done on the antioxidant quality of lemon verbena with good results. The chemical compounds in this herb help eliminate free radicals and decrease oxidative stress while also helping cells to repair. One study conducted on runners with muscular tissue damage, demonstrated that the chemical compounds in lemon verbena helped the tissue repair quickly without interfering with the adaptive response to exercise. Another study focusing on overall aerobic performance found that lemon verbena supplementation helped decrease systemic inflammation and neutralize post-exercise cytokine response.
Other research published by the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that the antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial qualities of Lemon Verbena are very helpful in the elimination of candida albicans.
I have a small lemon verbena plant in my very tiny balcony garden and it is refreshing just to enjoy a little nibble of the leaves every now and then.