Lemon Verbena contains a fair amount of citrusy lemon scent and flavor in its leaves. It is often used in desserts, teas and liqueurs, or savory dishes – especially fish or chicken. Its lemony scent is also great when used in potpourri or sachets.
Fall is a great time to harvest the leaves for use later. First cut several stems from the plant, tie a string around the bottom of the stems and hang upside down to dry. For best results, keep out of direct light. I hang mine from a drying rack that I fashioned from some 2 x 4’s and screening. This rack is hung from the ceiling, out of direct sunlight, in our sunroom. A small fan helps circulate the air and creates a good environment for drying. Once the leaves are dry, they can be removed from the stems and should be stored in an airtight container. Leaving the leaves whole helps retain the natural oil until you are ready to use them in tea, breads, or other cooking.
Another way to dry them is to use a dehydrator. With this method, cut stems from the plant. Starting at the top of the stem, slide your fingers down the stem to release the leaves into a bowl.
Arrange the leaves on a dehydrating tray to allow sufficient air movement for optimum drying.
Once your trays are filled, turn on your dehydrator to the lowest setting possible. Optimal drying temperature for herbs is around 95 degrees. Depending on your type of dehydrator, it should only take a few hours for the leaves to be dry enough for long-term storage.
I like to store my leaves in glass mason jars with a tight fitting lid, but any airtight container will work. To learn more about Lemon Verbena or to purchase plants click here.
Here are a few quick ideas to get you started using your dried Lemon Verbena leaves: Lemon Verbena recipe page