Have some leftover lemongrass? Reduce waste and save money by freezing it instead of throwing it away.
🚨 I’m just going to start with a humblebrag alert here! Last year, when celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern stopped by our house to film an episode of Family Dinner, he made a dish that I’ll never forget. It featured shrimp sauteed in a spicy lemongrass paste, which lent it a delightful citrus aroma and taste. Yeah, he’s a pretty amazing chef!
📺 See the full write-up of the episode on our sister site, Urban Bliss Life.
We use lemongrass in a lot of our dishes as well, from coconut curry shrimp to Thai red curry pasta. But this unique herb can be on the expensive side, so if we have some left over, we freeze it to make it last.
In fact, storing lemongrass in the freezer can preserve it for up to 6 months.
In this post, I’ll go over:
- what lemongrass is
- what to look for when buying lemongrass
- ways to freeze lemongrass
- other ways to store lemongrass
👉🏼 Related: 11 Food Storage Hacks for Fruits and Vegetables
What is lemongrass?
Common in Southeast Asian cuisine, lemongrass is an herb that features a bright, pleasant lemony fragrance and citrusy flavor. It’s used in everything from rice and seafood dishes to herbal teas. And it’s often combined with other ingredients to make a lemongrass paste for marinades.
It comes in long stalks that look sort of like a very pale green onion. But the texture is much firmer.
What to look for when buying lemongrass
The part of the lemongrass most used in cooking is in the lower end of the stalks. That’s where the best flavor is. So when buying fresh lemon grass, look for a pale yellow-green stalk with noticeable pale-colored bulbs at the bottom.
Fresh stalks may also come with leaves still attached at the top, but many stores remove the leaves beforehand. If they do still have their leaves, make sure they’re a vibrant green. Avoid stalks that are brown or appear dried out.
If you can’t find lemongrass at your local supermarket, you should be able to pick some up at specialty Asian grocery stores.
Can you freeze lemongrass?
Lemongrass freezes very well. And it can be kept in the freezer pretty much indefinitely without going bad. However, frozen lemongrass will start to lose its flavor and aroma after about 6 months. You can freeze lemongrass whole or chopped.
Ways to freeze lemongrass
If you need to store lemongrass long-term, you can do it a couple of different ways.
How to freeze whole stalks of lemongrass
Step 1: Remove any outer leaves attached to your stalks.
Step 2: Cut off the tips of the upper stalks as well as the root ends of the bulb.
Step 3: Flash freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Step 4: Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or another airtight container for long-term storage.
How to freeze chopped lemongrass
Another way to freeze lemongrass is to chop it up first. This can make it easier to use later when you’re ready to cook with it.
Step 1: Cut off the leaves, stems, and bulb bottoms.
Step 2: Peel off the dry outer layers until you reach the soft part of the stalks.
Step 3: Carefully dice the stalks into slices or mince them into small pieces.
Step 4: Portion out the cut lemongrass and store it in freezer bags or an airtight container.
Optional: You can also store chopped lemongrass in an ice cube tray. Just fill the trays halfway with water then add the lemongrass. When the ice cubes are frozen, move them to a freezer bag.
⭐️ Tip: It’s a good idea to freeze smaller, individual portions of lemongrass rather than all of it in the same container. This will allow you to thaw out only what you need when you’re ready to use it.
How to store lemongrass
If you intend to use fresh lemongrass within a couple of weeks of buying it, wrap it loosely in a slightly damp paper towel. Then place it in a ziploc bag and store it in your refrigerator. This will prevent the stalks from drying out.
Typically, the inner, soft part of the stalk is used in cooking, so peel off the harder outer layers first, along with the leaves and stalk ends. You can then prepare the lemongrass in several ways, including chopping, mincing, or even pureeing for a marinade.
To limit the flavor of lemongrass in your dishes, add it towards the end of the cooking process. That will impart some mild but not overpowering lemongrass taste. Conversely, if you want stronger flavor, simply add the lemongrass earlier and allow it to cook for longer.