July 29, 2007

Lovage Part 1

I used to grow lovage in my garden. Its not an herb most know about, its an old fashioned one. But I think its time we brought it back, its very tasty. It reminds me of parsley and celery mixed so you can use it in its place. It is stronger tho so you don't need much. I havent had a chance to plant one here at this house, seems every time I plant things if its not a huge plant the gardeners men always rip it out. Ive lost fuchsia and violets and even an hydrangea that way, ticks me off. So since I'm moving I stopped planting even tho my fingers are itching to do it. I intend to plant one tho once I get to Oregon. For now I buy dried from Mountain Rose Herbs http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/bulkherb/l.php This is the only place I have ever found dried lovage at.

Lovage grows huge so if you find a plant put it at the back of your flower bed or garden. I'm 5ft 2in and it towered over me. Lovage is considered a companion plant; much as borage helps protect almost all plants from pests, so lovage is thought to improve the health of almost all plants.

Young plants should be set out at least 2 feet apart in moist, fertile soil. Lovage prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade. In very hot locations some shade is indispensable. Remember that lovage shares celery's intolerance of dry conditions. Heavy mulching with hay or straw is recommended to conserve moisture. It also encourages earthworms, which digest the mulch, increasing the calcium supply. Lovage responds well to periodic applications of fish emulsion. Prematurely yellow leaves are a signal that the herb suffers from insufficient nutrients, insufficient water or both.

A contented plant grows glossy green leaves on hollow, ribbed, 2-foot stems. In June or July a flower stalk emerges from the center of the clump to stand 6 or 7 feet tall. Small yellow flowers in bundles of umbels ripen to brownish seeds much loved by goldfinches. If you want more leaf and less height, cut back the flower stalk. A more compact plant results, but you'll have no seeds for breads, biscuits and birds. Lovage is hardy to Zone 3; it dies to the ground in winter and returns with vigor the following spring.

Every part of the lovage plant is useful: the leaves are a versatile culinary herb, the ground seeds are an aromatic substitute for pepper, the stems may be eaten as a vegetable, and the root makes a tonic tea. Herb gardeners in the Middle Ages grew lovage as a matter of course; it figured in countless folk remedies for everything from pinkeye to kidney stones. They also put it in love potions to ensure fidelity and in bath water as a deodorant. Today, though its bed and bath applications have been abandoned almost entirely, lovage still makes important contributions in the kitchen. The flavor of its leaves is usually and accurately compared to celery and parsley. But lovage has an underlying taste that's warmer and more complex, hinting at the spice blends of Indian cooking. Lovage belongs in potato salads and green salads, with tuna and in turkey dressing, in soup stock, vegetable sauces, meat pies and, best of all, on BLTs -- L for lovage.Lovage's unique flavor is complementary to sloppy Joes, meat loaf, curries and Waldorf salad. Diners notice a difference and ask, "What's in this?" When cooking with lovage, use a light hand; too much of it will overwhelm neighboring flavors.

In Germany and Holland, one of the common names of Lovage is Maggikraut (German) or Maggiplant (Dutch) because the plant's taste is reminiscent of Maggi soup seasoning.Today, lovage is still common in Southern and Central Europe, but it has not found many friends outside this region. Its characteristic flavor fits well to sour pickles and aromatic vinegars (see dill); furthermore, beef stock is commonly flavored with lovage leaves (see parsley on German versions of bouquet garni). In Germany, lovage is a popular flavoring for potato dishes. In Italy, lovage usage culminates in Liguria, where of old the spice is cultivated (see above). Lovage is chiefly needed for tomato sauces, often in combination with oregano; it may be efficiently combined with rue.

Botanical, Common name, Classification (order)Levisticum officinale Umbelliferae family
Area of Origin (native or introduced): Originally from the Mediterranean area, established centuries ago in Britain.

Use: leaves, stems, or seeds Culinary, decorative, and medicinal. grown for its roots, stems, leaves, and seeds

Culinary: Leaves and stems in herbal vinegars. Fresh leaves and stems can be used in salads, Fresh or dried leaves can be added to soups. Whole or ground seeds flavor pickling brines, cheese spreads, dressings, sauces, and breads.

Medicinally :Lovage was traditionally chewed (the seed) to aid digestion and relieve flatulence. Lovage leaves have a deodorizing and antiseptic effect on the skin and thus has been used in shoes to relieve tired feet. Lovage is used to reduce water retention and should be avoided by people with kidney concerns .

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