don’t get all judgy on me…lemon myrtle goes really well with gin & find out what else you can do with this bush tucker
Being somewhat of a gin hag, I like to experiment with things in my gin. I’ll often throw borage, finger limes, cucumbers and cumquats in my G & T. My Aunty has recently informed me that basil also goes nicely (you know who you are). Just to be clear, I do not grow food in my garden specifically for gin purposes. I know that there is much more to the luscious lemon myrtle than being infused with alcohol…but what the hey. The leaves are a source of the strongest and purest citral oil in the world. Just crush them a little to get the oils going. The fragrance is mind blowing and the lemon/ lime flavour is why it’s so awesome with gin. One of my other favourite ways is a few fresh lemon myrtle leaves infused in hot water for an invigorating cuppa. Which always reminds me of having cups of tea at Northey Street City Farm. Which by the way, I’m very happy to say I have recently joined their amazing education team to share the permaculture love.
I’ll quickly give you the low down on growing lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) so you can start growing it then go drink your gin. Firstly, my advice is grow it in a pot as it can grow up to 8 metres (or even higher). The plant is native to sub-tropical Queensland so obviously it grows well in Brissie but it can still grow well in cooler areas. Lemon myrtle prefers a warm, sunny and sheltered position but tolerates part shade. It likes slightly acidic, well-drained soil and needs to be well watered. The best method of propagation is from tip cuttings (best done in March) as seeds have a low germination rate. I bought a small plant from the Northey Street nursery but you should be able to find it at most good nurseries. Honestly, I’ve had no problems with pests and diseases which is amazing considering grasshoppers ambushed everything else in my garden this year.
E D I B L E U S E S
Whole leaves can be used fresh or dried to add a lemon fragrance & flavour (without the acidity) to a variety of savoury & sweet dishes. I always stuff leaves in my roast chicken & whole oven baked fish. Also fantastic in biscuits (especially shortbread), muffins & cheesecakes.
Strong flavour so use sparingly & towards the end of cooking process.
Use as a substitute for lemongrass & kaffir lime leaves in Asian cooking.
Dried leaves are less pungent than fresh & can be ground to a powder. Store fresh leaves in the refrigerator & dried leaves in an airtight container in a dark place for a few months.
P E R M A C U L T U R E & O T H E R U S E S
Provides shade, flowers (in Autumn) to attract beneficial insects & pollinators, ornamental, hedging
Essential oil is extracted via steam distillation of the leaves & green branchlets, ‘uplifting’ & ‘calming’ aroma. Apparently good for depression & anxiety.
Numerous health benefits, powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal & anti-viral properties
Widely used in cosmetic industry, pharmaceutical applications & cleaning products
L E M O N M Y R T L E I C E D T E A
Infuse about 6 leaves into a litre of boiling water & leave for 1 hour. Add organic honey to sweeten while hot. Drink warm or keep in the refrigerator & serve on ice for lemon myrtle iced tea (throw in a few extra leaves).
You can also add gin to this one if you’re a gin hag. PS: Buy Aussie gin! My favs are West Winds-The Sabre (WA), Four Pillars (VIC), Forty Spotted (TAS) & MGC -The Melbourne Gin Company (VIC).