To me, lemon verbena is the essence of the best summer days – it has the most wonderful, hot, lemony, peppery scent, and I love the lime green leaves and the tiny white flowers it has later in the season.
Although it originates in South America, and is not happy with frost, I find lemon verbena really easy to grow. I grow it in pots and just bring them into the garage or greenhouse some time in November, and get them out again when the spring weather warms up. That’s when I cut back the plant pretty dramatically (to about 3-4 inches on all stems) – and am always amazed by thelovely fecund growth that comes from the very dead-looking twigs!
This year I am experimenting with lemon verbena sugar. To make a small quantity (3-4 tablespoons full) whizz up 1/3 cup of loosely packed lemon verbena leaves (trim out any chunky central midribs) and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a food processor. I like to use the pulse option so that the mix doesn’t get too hot and clumpy. The sugar will turn a rather nice green:
This mixture will keep very well in the fridge for a week or so (maybe more but I haven’t tried). Try it sprinkled over strawberries or raspberries!
Today I made a soft lemony cream, mixing half Jersey double cream and half plain natural yogurt together, and adding some of my lemon verbena sugar for flavour and sweetness.
I love how that sprinkle of green sugar over the top is so intriguing!
The yogurt cream made a delicious accompaniment for strawberries picked fresh from the garden.
If you’d like to try it, here’s the recipe for you:
Yogurt cream with lemon verbena
- 3/4 cup double (heavy) cream – my preference is for decadent Jersey cream, can’t see the point otherwise…
- 3/4 cup natural yogurt
- 2-3 tsp lemon verbena sugar (prepared as described above)
- Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.
- Gently stir in the yogurt until thoroughly combined.
- Stir in 2 tsp of lemon verbena sugar and taste – add the 3rd tsp if you’d like to. If the flavour of lemon verbena is fine, but it needs a little more sweetness, just add an extra teaspoon of sugar instead.
I absolutely cannot wait to try this beautifully aromatic cream with meringue, and raspberries later in the season. I will have to do some patient waiting for my autumn raspberries..