Common Name: Rosemary
Botanical Name: Salvia rosmarinus
Place of origin: Rosemary originated along the coast of the Mediterranean, and was used in both ancient Greece and Rome. It spread through Europe during the Middle Ages, and today, is grown in warm climates around the world.
Ideal growing conditions: Rosemary, a perennial shrub, can be planted in containers or directly in the ground. It survives the winter best if grown in warmer climates, so planting it in a container that can be brought inside is ideal in colder locations. For best growth, space rosemary plants 2-3ft apart in well-drained soil. Rosemary prefers full sun, so avoid planting it in the shade. Remember to water your rosemary frequently, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Parts of the Plant to use: To harvest your rosemary, cut sprigs of the plant off from above the wooly growth near the bottom. Both the stem and the leaves can be used. Avoid any brown or yellow stems for harvesting, but do remove these from the plant to promote its health. It is best to avoid harvesting while the plant is in bloom, and to get the best flavor, harvest right before it flowers.
Benefits/Properties: Because it is a good source of iron, calcium and vitamins A, C, and B-6, rosemary carries many medicinal properties. For one, rosemary is said to be anti-inflammatory and a good source of antioxidants so many use it to boost their immune system. In ancient Greece, philosophers would wear sprigs of rosemary around their necks when taking tests because they claimed it improved their memory. Today, rosemary is considered a cognitive stimulant that can improve your memory, boost alertness, and sharpen your focus.
Suggested Uses: Rosemary is a versatile herb known for its smell and taste, and therefore can be used in the kitchen, for wellness, and for crafts.
Culinary: Rosemary is great for adding flavor to many dishes, and pairs well with chicken, lamb, duck, and many vegetable dishes. Two quick and convenient ways to add rosemary to your cooking is with rosemary salt and rosemary olive oil.
To make rosemary salt, pull fresh rosemary leaves off of the stem and add ⅓ of a cup of rosemary to one cups of salt (this can also be done in smaller quantities, it is just important to maintain a 1 to 3 rosemary to salt ratio). Stir it together and let it sit covered for two weeks. You can use this rosemary infused salt in many dishes either during cooking or afterwards to add a bit more flavor to your dish.
Similarly, rosemary olive oil is made through a process of infusion. Bring 2 cups of olive oil to a simmer and then pour it into a jar. Add three to four clean sprigs of rosemary and let the jar sit for a few days. This rosemary olive oil is perfect for dressings, marinades, or just for dipping bread into!
If you just can’t wait the few days required to make those recipes, another quick and easy way to use rosemary is by making rosemary potatoes. To make rosemary potatoes, preheat your oven to 400℉ and wash and chop 1 ½ pounds of potatoes into bite size chunks. Toss the potatoes with ⅛ cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, and 2 tablespoons of minced fresh rosemary. Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 1 hour, flipping with a spatula halfway through.
Non-Culinary: One alternative way to use rosemary is by making rosemary dryer sheets. To do this, add dried rosemary sprigs to a cloth mess bag, and throw it in the dryer with your laundry. This will give your clothes a wonderful smell. If you have it on hand, throwing dried lavender in along with the rosemary is also a great idea!