Romancing rosemary

"As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language."
Sir Thomas More

There is a beautiful story that tells us how the herb got its name. The Virgin Mary was escaping from Egypt. Exhausted because of the long and difficult journey she stopped by a fragrant bush. The Virgin Mary draped her blue cloak on this bush with white flowers – and when she awoke in the morning , lo and behold! The white blooms had turned blue. And that is how the herb got its name "rose of Mary".

Rosemary is a sturdy evergreen herb with a heady fragrance that typically grows in the Mediterranean.

In literature, tales of fairies, witches, weddings and funerals surround the herb. Rosemary is the herb for romance, remembrance and fidelity. It's no wonder that brides wore rosemary in their hair. The newly weds would plant rosemary in their garden and if it thrived, it was a sign that their marriage would too. 

And the culinary world hails it as a wonderful herb that can enhance any dish. Use it to concoct herb mixes or flavour soups, stews and meat or even salad dressings. Make rosemary flavoured honey. Potatoes pair beautifully with rosemary when brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary and finally baked.

Rosemary oil has a soothing frafrance and is often used in soaps and creams and self care products. 

Besides these beautiful stories, rosemary is also known to have medicinal properties. To mention just a few, it acts as an antioxidant, stimulates memory, helps clotting of blood and reduces the risk of cancer. 

A few quick steps to see how we can harvest, dry and store rosemary in our kitchens.

Use a pruner to cut longish sprigs of rosemary. Harvesting is best done in the morning hours after the sun has dried up the dew drops.

Wash the sprigs and wipe them dry.

Bunch up 4-6 sprigs together with a twine and hang them upside down in a dry space. To avoid dust collecting on the leaves you can even cover the bunches with a brown paper bag with holes pierced for ventilation (optional).

The leaves should dry in 2-3 weeks depending on the weather.

Strip the leaves off the stem and store them in an airtight container away from moisture.

Finally the holiday season is upon us and rosemary is the quintessential winter herb. So go ahead decorate freshly wrapped gifts with aromatic rosemary sprigs tucked into the ribbon. Infuse olive oil or fine vinegar with fresh-cut rosemary sprigs for a culinary gift. Place sachets filled with leaves in cupboards to scent linen and clothes. Dried rosemary stored in air tight jars are a beautiful hostess gift too!

Wishing you all a wonderful month of Christmas prep filled with joy!


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