Extracting oils from plant material can be done in several ways. Two popular methods, tincturing and hot infusion, result in a medicinal oil to be taken orally in hot tea or straight onto the tongue or as therapeutic, topical oil. Lemongrass is said to act as a fungicide when applied topically or to aid in digestion when taken as a tea. It can be purchased in certain markets or stores that cater to an Asian clientele, as it is used primarily as an ingredient in Thai cuisine.
Making a Tincture
Break fresh lemongrass stalks and fill the canning jar halfway with them. Breaking the stalks allows the natural oils to be released from the plant and strengthen the tincture.
Fill the jar half with alcohol and half with cold water. Vodka or brandy are the most common alcohols for making tinctures, but gin is used as well. Purchase the best quality liquor you can. If for whatever reason you cannot use alcohol, a half-and-half solution of white or apple cider vinegar and water is a suitable substitution. The potency of the medicine will be only slightly lessened by using vinegar and it will make the tincture safe for people who may have adverse reactions to alcohol.
Cover the lid and gently shake the herbs and alcohol solution. Allow the herbs to settle and look to see that all the plant material is covered by liquid. Even a small bit peeking out could mold during the tincturing process, ruining your tincture. Add more liquid if need be.
Place the medicine in a cool, dark room and wait three days. Then, pour the solution into a blender and blend the plant material. This will allow greater absorption between plant material and the liquid, particularly because lemongrass is such a woody plant. Put the blended liquid back into the jar and store for at least three weeks.
Strain the liquid from the plant material. Put a colander over a pot and lay a cheesecloth over the colander. Dump the tincture in and make a bundle with the plant material and cheesecloth. Squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the lemongrass.
Pour the tincture into a clean glass jar and store until ready to use. Tinctures are commonly taken directly on the tongue but adding the medicine to a cup of warm tea or water may be a more palatable solution.
Making a Hot Oil Infusion
Pour 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil into the top pan of a double boiler. Do not cover the pot.
Crush half a stalk of lemongrass, chopping if necessary, and place it in the oil. Do not let any water get into the oil or it will ruin the infusion. Don't wash the lemongrass before you put it in the pot. If it is still wet from the market, let it dry before placing it in the oil.
Heat the double boiler until the water on the bottom begins to steam. Turn it down to a gentle simmer. Infuse the lemongrass in the oil for at least an hour, but the longer the better. Be sure to check on the water in the bottom pan to make sure it hasn't all evaporated.
Cool the oil down and strain the herbs through a mesh strainer. Use the oil as a topical ointment or as a soothing massage oil.
To sweeten the tincture and help mask some of the vinegar taste, add a teaspoon of honey directly into a vinegar-and-water tincture solution and allow it to steep along with the herbs. Honey will not affect the tincture in any way other than taste.