Rosemary

Rosemary


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Common Name:  Rosemary.

Latin Name:  Rosmarinus officinalis.

Origin:  Mediterranean region.

Description (what it looks like):  A woody, perennial herb with aromatic fragrant dark-green, glossy, needle like leaves.  Flowers are blue and delicate.  It grows upright to 1.5m high with a spread of 80cm.  Rosemary is, surprisingly, a member of the mint family.

Uses (function):  Rosemary is one those plants that every gardener should have.  Stems mark great skewers for kebabs.  Flowers are great bee forage.  Keep clipped to form a fragrant, edible hedge, or let cascade over a retaining wall.  Makes an excellent container plant.  Popular in Italian cuisine, as a medicinal herb to improve memory, as a therapeutic oil or as a useful herb for refreshing poultry nest boxes.  Can be used as a natural insect repellent.

Nutritional value:  This herb, especially the flower tops, contain antibacterial and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, plus several essential oils such as cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, and α-pinene that are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties.  Rosemary is also known for improving memory.  Contains Vitamin A and C, iron, manganese and potassium.  There's also fiber, copper, calcium, and magnesium, and an abundance of B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, folates, useful for DNA synthesis and for women just prior to conception.

Growing details (propagation, seed etc):  Propagates easily from cuttings 10-25cm long, rooted in water or in moist soil.  Strip the leaves off the bottom half of the stems and bury to half their length, spacing 60cm apart.  The more it is harvested, the more new tips grow.

Best time to grow:  All year round indoors.  Spring or summer outdoors.

Soil:  A variety of soil types.

Sun:  Does best in full sun with good drainage.

Water:  Spritz the plant with water a few times a week.  Requires little water once established.

How to eat it:  Widely used in Italian cuisine, rosemary is a delicious accompaniment to roasted meats and vegetables, including baked lamb or beef, with pumpkin and potatoes.  Pull off leaves and toss with cubed potatoes, olive oil and salt and roast in the oven.  To make your own rosemary-infused oil, place a sprig or two of completely dry rosemary leaves into a glass jar, top with olive oil, replace the lid, and shake lightly.  Store in a warm, dark place for two weeks, strain, and then simply pour back into the glass jar.  Use ¼ cup for a fragrant bath or blend with balsamic vinegar to drizzle all over a salad for a delicious dressing.  Add an entire sprig to vegetable soups for a bright, unique flavor.  Chop finely and use as a flavouring to the stuffing mixture for your roast chicken.  Add butter to a pan with two stems of rosemary and fry your meat.  The rosemary turns crispy and can be eaten straight off the stem, whilst imparting flavour into your meat.

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