I stuck a few stems in the ground and they took off! Now I have 30-40 stems about a foot high. When do I pick them and which ones should be picked first? I assume that to cook with them, I trim off the tops, remove the outer leaves, crush the bottom part lightly, perhaps tie into a knot, and add it to whatever dish I want to be flavored, yes?
yeah, more or less.
I got a lot of lemon grass as well. I normally just cut a stem from the outside as the leaves got very sharp edges and I don't want too many papercuts on my arms :)
I then cut of the geen part, take off the outer layers and either cut the remainder into very thin slices (or even mince them), or I bruise the stem and throw in the food instead of (or as addition to) lemon/lime juise or zest.
It works very well if you would put some finely chopped in a marinade for fish to avoid the "cooking" effect of lemon
lemongrass also works well in beverages as well. a good warm brewed version i like includes a talk of lemongrass, ginger, clove and cardamom. i especially like a cold lemonaid with lemongrass, ginger, basil, mint, and lime.
also i find making a paste out of lemongrass stalks very usefull, and a lot easier than trying to chop it by hand. in a food processor start with a rough chop of lemongrass and add just enough oil to form a smooth paste. you can add garlic and ginger to the paste also if you want to proceed with a wonderful curry dish. the paste also holds will if it's covered with oil in the container you store it in.