As members of the fly family, mosquitoes are one of the nastiest, most annoying insects in the world. These insects are large enough for people to see with the naked eye. You can distinguish males from females by the antennae. Males’ antennae are more feathery for sensing the presence of the female while the females’ antennae are less bushy. Another difference between the male mosquitoes and the female is that the male lives for about a week while the females can live up to a few months.
Even though these insects have a very short lifespan, they can make our lives a living hell. Female mosquitoes usually bite humans to drink their blood. Nutrients in human’s blood allow the female to create eggs. A lot of people do not know that only the female mosquitoes bite us and they suck the blood for reproduction. Aside from the itchy bite marks which they leave on us, mosquitoes are known to carry diseases. Some of these diseases are very deadly such as malaria.
This is why most of us need mosquito repellants.
There are different kinds of mosquito repellants and recipes from natural ingredients. The ones that aren’t natural use an ingredient called DEET or picaridin. Even though the repellants that contain DEET are safe for both children and adults when used correctly, it is much better to use some of the natural-based ones. What most people get wrong is that these products kill off the mosquitoes. Instead, the name of the product explains itself: mosquito repellants repel mosquitoes.
Some of the most vital natural-based mosquito repellants are:
– Thyme oil
– Greek catnip oil
– Cinnamon oil
– Soybean oil
There are many more plant-based repellants and out of all of them, the most efficient and best-known insect repellant is citronella oil, otherwise known as lemongrass oil.
Lemongrass and What It Is
Lemongrass plant (Cymbopogon citratus) is known by many names: Citronella, Camel’s Hay, Geranium Grass, etc. It is a tall and thick tropical grass with a citrusy aroma. The essential oil that it contains in its fresh leaves and stalks can be found in lemon peel. The leaves of the plant are located on its top and it has a solid portion several inches long at the root end.
The lemongrass plant usually grows in tropical climates, typically in Southeast Asia. Although the plant has a flower, it can rarely be found blooming.
Many Thai dishes use lemongrass as an ingredient. Additionally, it can be used to make tisanes or herbal teas. It can be found in four forms: fresh, oiled, powdered, or dried. Other dishes that use this plant are dishes from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India. Out of the entire plant, only a small portion.
Grow It & Store It
Lemongrass can appear in your backyard or garden but you won’t notice it. You might mistake it for ornamental grass which is another reason why you should add it to your house. It is a very beautiful plant that will add a bluish color to your garden/house. They don’t require direct sunlight; however, placing them in warm and light areas is ideal.
When planning on planting lemongrass, you need to mark the months of January to March. This is when you should sow the seeds so they can sprout. Typically, the perfect temperature for the seeds to sprout is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. You can either sow it in your garden or use pots if you want to place it on your patio or balcony. Make sure the ground is moist, not wet. It takes the seeds from 20-40 days to develop. Watering the plant occasionally is also required.
Even though typically lemongrass wants warmer weather, you can still grow it in colder climates in warmer summer months. If you decide to keep it outdoors, you’ll need to store it in a cool place that is not exposed to winter elements.
It will take some years for thicker shoots to appear from the plant so until then, it’s not very useful. Make sure you trim it during the fall from low-growing stems.
Storing lemongrass can be done by wrapping it loosely and placing it in the fridge. The plant should be fine to use for a couple of weeks. Freezing stalks is also manageable. If you want to store dry or powdered lemongrass, it should be stored in airtight containers and kept away from heat and light.
Cooking With Lemongrass
Lemongrass can be used in different dishes such as poultry, seafood, savory dishes, other kinds of meat, and vegetable curries. When using this plant with seafood or chicken, make sure you combine it with coconut milk.
Before using fresh lemongrass in your dishes, cut off the lower bulb and take away tough outer leaves. The yellow section of the plant, or the main stalk, is what’s used in Thai dishes. Cutting the stalk in 2-3-inch pieces and bend them several times before using them. On the bent parts, slice the stalk with a knife to release the lemon flavor. You can add these stalks to whatever dish you want. Remove the pieces before eating the dish.
However, if you want to leave the plant in the food, slicing the stalk in thin slices is the way to go. After, the pieces need to be placed in a food processor and blended well.
If you ever use dried lemongrass, make sure you’re adding it to a wet dish or dish with enough fluid for it to rehydrate. This was it will release its flavor and add the lemony taste to the dish. Before eating, lemongrass is often removed from the dish. Compared to dried version, the powdered version can be added any time during cooking.
All dishes that use this plant need to be cooked thoroughly because the plant is very fibrous. When making soup, make sure you boil it 5-10 minutes in the broth so that the lemongrass can soften.
Benefits from Lemongrass
Lemongrass contains a fragrant component that has a strong citrusy scent. This is why it’s such an amazing insect repellant. Even though humans love the smell, mosquitoes hate it.
Aside from the insect repellant properties, lemongrass has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Some of the ingredients that it contains are terpinolene, citronellal, and myrcene which all are proved to have their benefits. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate. The minerals that lemongrass contains are manganese, iron, and calcium.
These are 9 benefits that you can get from lemongrass as a plant and essential oil:
- Antimicrobial properties –helps with treating oral infections and cavities.
- Anti-inflammatory properties – helps with stroke and heart disease.
- Anti-oxidant properties – fights free radicals in body which can cause several diseases.
- Promotes healthy digestion and act as a diuretic
- Reduces the risk of cancer
- Regulates cholesterol
- Helps relieve pain such as menstrual cramps, headaches, and stomach aches
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Helps you lose weight