Spice Blend: Homemade Lemongrass Paste

Homemade Lemongrass Paste 1

Back in October, I featured a commercially produced Lemongrass in a Tube and, as readers may recall, I was not terribly impressed. Indeed, I was actually so underwhelmed by the product that, after just a couple of uses, I tossed it out. Anyway, I recently managed to grab some of the fresh stalks whilst in Ottawa and I decided to make a paste myself. The process is really quite simple and I thought I would share it with you here…

Homemade Lemongrass Paste 2

These are the stalks I purchased after having the tips and tough outer leaves removed. It is a little hard to tell in the picture, but each stalk is about 10 inches long or so. Together, the little bundle only cost me about a buck and a half and the yield was about the same as the quantity in the aforementioned tube product (which was about 7 or 8 dollars, as I recall).

Homemade Lemongrass Paste 3

I first chopped the stalks very finely with a kitchen knife. This yielded a little over a cup but, as you can imagine, the volume will diminish somewhat as it is further processed.

Homemade Lemongrass Paste 4

Salt is required in order to preserve the final paste, but it also has the added benefit of softening the rather woody fragments somewhat. I added a teaspoon to the chopped stalks (along with a half teaspoon of sugar for a little accent) and then let everything sit for about an hour to macerate.

Homemade Lemongrass Paste 5

I could have ground the lemongrass in a mortar and pestle (which would probably achieve a smoother result), but my mortar is very small and doing this amount a few tablespoons at a time would have been very time consuming. Accordingly, I went with my trusty mini food processor.

I added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil during processing to help things along, and, since lemongrass does not throw off a lot of ‘juice’, about a tablespoon of water as well. It actually took a good ten minutes of repeated pulsing to liquidate everything, but it still was quicker than doing it by hand.

The final result is not a completely smooth paste but, for most applications, that isn’t a worry. If it is an issue in some recipe or other, it will, of course, still be possible to use the mortar to completely grind whatever small amount is required.

The taste of this is certainly much better than the tube variety, but I am not entirely sure what sort of shelf life it will have in the fridge. My best guess is that it will certainly keep for a month and I rather suspect that it will go for longer. In the event that it turns on me far quicker than that, I will have to rethink the advisability of making a paste for storage and just go back to preserving whole sections of the stalks in brine as I did here. I’ll also let you know if it turns out that my preservation estimate was way off base…

 

21 thoughts on “Spice Blend: Homemade Lemongrass Paste”

  1. I am feeling so guilty for letting my lemongrass plant in the herb garden go bad (currently covered in snow). I promise I will harvest one next year and save it this way. Thanks.

    1. I would think so, although I don’t own one currently …. Actually, doing a final grinding with just a small amount of the ‘grittier’ paste is not that hard and I suspect it might give the paste a longer shelf-life.

  2. Is it possible to preserve it on shelf? Would adding more salt/sugar and a touch of vinegar make this possible? I love lemongrass and my friends like to raid my garden. At Christmas I am always looking for unusual culinary gifts to give and this strikes me as one that would go down very well!

    1. Hmmm … even with additional salt I wouldn’t likely try and keep it without refrigeration due to the moisture content. You could possibly do it like an Indian style chutney or pickle and cook it in oil until all the moisture has gone and keep it with a light layer of oil on top. It would change the flavor but it would still be nice I expect… maybe I will try it sometime 🙂

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