Splendor In The Lemongrass

Bruce and Cyndee Fehring have been farming on Kaua‘i for 25 years. Although not certified organic, they use sustainable and organic methods to grow fruit and vegetables on 7.6 acres. Two mini Jersey cows, a pig named Bacon, ducks, chickens and turkeys are raised for soil amendments and family meals.

Fehring Family Farm offers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares (aka membership, with which you receive a box of seasonal produce each week). A “Greens” share feeds two to three people for a week and costs $10 a week. The “Veggie” share includes greens, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and costs $20 a week.

What’s growing now: Apple bananas, arugula, baby lettuce mix, basil, beets, braising greens mix, Buddha’s hand citrus, bunching onions, carrots, chard, chayote, chives, cilantro, citron, coffee, col-lard greens, cucumber, daikon, dandelion greens, eggplant, ginger, grapefruit, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lemons, lemongrass, lilikoi (Jamaican, yellow), limes, loquat, mangos, mint, mizuna, mustard greens, okra, onion, oranges, oregano, pac choi, papayas, parsley, peppers (Hawaiian, sweet and spicy), radish, rosemary, sorrel, soursop, star fruit, string beans, sweet potatoes (Okinawan purple, Hawaiian white and Molokai purple), taro, tat soi, tamarind, tangelos, tangerines, thyme, tomatoes, turmeric, turnips, white pineapple.

LEMONGRASS

Lemongrass, also known as citronella, is a common plant in Hawai‘i’s gardens, and adds a subtle lemon flavor to Asian dishes, fish, soups and curries. West Indian lemongrass originated in Malaysia and is popular in Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Indonesian cooking.

The perennial member of the grass family grows in clumps up to 6 feet tall, and many farmers use it as a windbreak. Some growers feel that trimming lemon-grass leaves planted near crops help to repel melon flies.

Lemongrass is a useful medicinal herb, and gets its aroma from citral, an essential oil used in everything from aromatherapy treatments to soaps, preservatives and insect repellents.

Season: Lemongrass grows year-round in Hawai‘i, and its peak growth is during the summer months. It’s propagated by division and grows well in containers.

What to look for:Young and tender stalks are usually sold with the roots and leaves trimmed. The swollen base should be smooth, white and firm. Older stalks can be fibrous.

Storage: Lemongrass wrapped in damp paper towels, placed in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator will keep for up to three weeks, and also can be frozen for up to six months.

Preparation: Smash the upper grassy leaves and green stalks to make tea, and finely chop the white base for cooking or raw preparations. Lemongrass pairs well with many things such as mangoes, pineapple, lychee, coconut milk, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cilantro, lime, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, tomato, beef, chicken, fish and seafood. Lightly crush the stalk with the back of a large knife and add to water when steaming or poaching fish, or use in broths as you would a bay leaf. Chop the base finely and add to marinades and salad dressings.

Tip: Lemongrass oil works as well as the pheromone created by the honeybee’s Nasonov gland, and can be used as a lure when trapping swarms or attempting to draw the attention of hived bees. Rice treated with the essential oil of lemongrass can be used to manage insects in stored rice.

Health benefits: A study published in the European Journal of Social Sciences found lemongrass to be an antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, deodorant, digestive aid, diuretic, fungicide, galactagogue (increases milk supply), insecticide, pain reliever, prophylactic, stimulant, tonic and skin toner. The study goes on to say that lemongrass helps to cleanse the digestive and circulatory systems by removing excess cholesterol, uric acid, fats and toxins from the body. This promotes digestion, eases the symptoms of gastroenteritis and provides relief from gas. It also stimulates blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.

Fehring Family Farm produce can be found at: Namahana Farmers Market (Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) For more information about CSA, contact Brianna at briannafehring@gmail.com or call 652-0100.

KALAPAKI JOE’S FAR WEST MAI TAI

This recipe is based on the one that bartender Nilo Badua of Kalapaki Joe’s in Lihu‘e used to compete in the 2012 World’s Best Mai Tai competition at the fourth annual Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai Festival in Kona.

1.5 ounces Koloa White Rum
1 ounce Koloa Dark Rum
2 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
2 ounces fresh sugar cane juice
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 lemongrass stalk
1 egg white, whipped
1 pencil-size sugar cane stick
2 lime slices
2 orange slices
1 lavender sprig

Muddle lemongrass in a shaker, add four ice cubes and all the liquid ingredients except the dark rum. Stir or shake, and strain into a glass of ice. Rotate orange and lime slices, and slide down the inside edge of the glass. Add sugar cane stick and lavender sprig. Spray lavender with water bottle to release aroma. Float dark rum on top.

Marta Lane is a freelance food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com

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