European Influence of Rosemary

Enchanting, colorful and aromatic; rosemary is a perfect ornament to have around the house or in the garden. This is the reason why I love keeping this herb around and why this intense herb is the perfect partner for chicken and lamb dishes. But it’s not just that, rosemary can be paired with vegetable dishes and fish too. At the time I was a relatively new cook and exotic wasn’t a word used to describe my style of cooking. But after trying the rosemary dishes I learned to love it and incorporated rosemary with other dishes. For example, using rosemary in potato dishes is something I discovered at home in the U.S. which turned out to be quite common here.

Rosemary is known as the herb sacred to friendship. It’s a native Mediterranean herb that is used in Italian, French and Spanish cooking. Another member of the mint family this herb has an evergreen shrub that is the same as oregano, basil and marjoram. It thrives mainly near the ocean and it’s no wonder why its Latin name can be translated into “dew of the sea.” What makes this herb special is its unique bittersweet flavor with hints of lemon, pepper and pine, and its collective aroma filled with fir and ocean scents.

My herb fascination in general started when I was traveling in Europe where rosemary is used quite commonly in numerous dishes. So common that when shopping for meat a butcher will typically place a sprig of rosemary in the package. It was upon my return home from that trip that I decided to grow rosemary in my own herb garden. I gathered with my friend Sasha to help me with this project. Sasha was kind enough to teach me how to plant, cultivate and harvest it correctly and I was kind enough to share the stories of my travel with her.

Sasha decided to invite me to her garden to show me how to properly cut the herb since rosemary is easier to grow by cutting and layering. We picked a new growth from Sasha’s garden and snipped about 2 inches and we removed the leaves from the bottom inch of the sprig. We then dipped the tip into a rooting hormone and placed it into a container where we had our dampened seed mix. Sasha made sure the starting soil mixture was sterile and well-drained. I took this container home with me where I made sure to mist the cuttings regularly.

After about 3 weeks I noticed the roots were starting to grow so I transferred the cutting to a bigger pot and placed each cutting approximately 3-4 inches in diameter apart and pinched off the top for branch development. Like most herbs rosemary thrives in warm indirect sunlight. With enough sunlight, good drainage and air circulation my cuttings were soon a bush. Depending on its variety rosemary can grow up to 6 feet tall but the standard height is usually 3 feet. Its leaves were small grey-green pine needles and it had small flowers that bloomed in a variety of colors.

At the time they were ready for picking I started using them in a variety of home cooked dishes. My preference is always to use it fresh. However, if you decide to dry your rosemary instead make sure to dry it whole. Do not take the needles off the spring because this will cause the rosemary to lose its natural oils. This brings me to another type of use for rosemary which is medicinal, but I will be saving those details for future posts on essential oils!

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