Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Herb of the Week - Lemon Verbena

I know that I have done lemon verbena (my favorite herb) before, but recently I learned something new about my plants.

Every year I bring my Lemon Verbena indoors because it cannot winter over in the ground in Illinois most winters, although this past winter might have been an exception.  Just before I was ready to take them all back outside this spring, the lemon verbena plantss got a brown spot illness.

I did the regular soap and water treatment, washing the leaves and removing the heavily infected ones and getting it a newer sunnier place to sit with a fertilizer treatment to give it some strength strength to fight back.  The one plant you see here has done very well and once it got outside the new leaves are quickly replacing the old.

The other plant did not, it dropped all its leaves once I repotted it and put it outside.  It looked like I planted a dead stick.  It turned hot so I was not in the mood to drag out the potting tools and remove it from the pot and replace it so I just left it on the porch floor.  For whatever reason I watered it while watering everything else and look what happened.

My lemon verbena I thought was dead, sprouted new leaves.  I have now moved it to a sunny spot and water it each day I will see how it does the rest of the season.  I should not be surprised it did this, I tell people all the time to be ready for lemon verbena to drop its leaves in the fall because it is deciduous, I just never expected it to do the same thing in the spring!  If you water it through winter, even if it does drop all the leaves it will come back in February, but I have never had it do this before.  I love that my herbs still thrill and astound me with their activities!

These two with the one I bought at the herb sale means I have three plants this year on the patio and will need to make many things with lemon verbena, so I searched through my recipes and found these I am planning on trying soon.


Lemon verbena and Raspberry Muffins

A secret to a sparkling flavor in these delicately crumbed muffins is to craft a lemon sugar with lemon zest and lemon verbena.  You can make them ahead by the large batch, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a zip seal bag you have pushed extra air out of.  When you want one, unwrap, place in a paper towel and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.  You can keep them up to a month this way.

1 lemon
12 to24 fresh lemon verbena leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk with 1 Tbls lemon juice)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest, lemon verbena leaves and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest and leaves are very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Lemon Verbena and Pinapple Sorbet

3 to 4 fresh lemon verbena leaves, partially cut up
1 can frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed but still cold
2½ cups cold water (or about 2 juice cans of water)

In blender, place the lemon verbena leaves, pineapple juice concentrate and 1 cup of the cold water.  Blend well until the leaves are completely pulverized. Add the remaining water and pour the mixture into a hand-cranked or electric sorbet mixer. Freeze until firm. Serve in previously frozen bowls. (I freeze the spoons, as well.) The sorbet stays firmer that way when serving it on a warm summer day.
Lemon Verbena Chicken Salad

3 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1  tablespoon olive oil
1/2  cup  mayonnaise
1/4  cup chopped lemon verbena leaves
1  teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 Tbls. Fresh lemon juice
2 sliced scallions
2  sliced celery stalks
kosher salt and black pepper
1  pound watercress, thick stems removed

Heat oven to 400° F. Rub the chicken breasts with oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until cooked through, 14 to 16 minutes; let cool, then shred. In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon verbena, and lemon zest and juice. Fold in the chicken, scallions, and celery; season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Serve over the watercress.


  1. Thank you for sharing your recipes Marcy. I have a lemon verbena coming back in the ground! Very exciting. I have had lemon verbenas get sick with white flies but not brown spots! Hey, I'm always learning some new every single year! The rebirth of my lemon verbena is right on my home page. Check it out. xxoo Nancy

  2. I actually saw that picture on your blog! It made me wonder if I had put one in the ground last year if it would have lived through our mild winter. I have to admit I have never risked it, but maybe...
    Have a great day Marcy

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