Monday, 29 September 2008

Dandelion - A Very Useful Weed

Dandelion is the scourge of gardeners from what I remember but what kind of gardener tries to get rid of a herb that is delicious and good for you? I've been there trying to achieve a garden that has manicured lawns and boarders and the sight of dandelions or any other weed raised my blood pressure. But this was a long time ago and fighting against nature now seems absolutely pointless.

Dandelions still remain a simply a garden pest hard to eradicate without chemicals or backbreaking work. However, dandelion's roots and leaves have been used as medicines for countless years past to treat digestive disorders, painful joints, temperatures and fevers along with skin disorders. The salad leaves of the plant are rich in natural health giving vitamins A, C, D, and B-complex. Dandelion has many natural minerals in its compounds including iron something which many people lack in their modern diets.

Dandelion leaves make good supplements for elderly or pregnant women or elderly women. The dandelion root can be an appetite stimulant with many herbalists using dandelion to detoxify the liver and gallbladder. Alongside this dandelion can treat pneumonia, bronchitis, and other aliments associated with respiratory disorders. As a natural tonic for general health dandelion is a good remedy and benefits the kidneys, stomach and other organs.

With many other positive effects that that dandelion gives the dandelion root has been pushed forward as a healthier alternative to drinking coffee.

The dandelion provides a lovely addition to salads with its strong, sometimes bitter taste, I have found it an addictive herb and often use it a stand-alone salad dressed with a little oil, vinegar and salt. It can be boiled and used like spinach or even used as a base for roast meats, this is delicious with the dandelion being cooked in the meat juices!

Dandelion Salad Recipe

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 paprika
  • 1 pepper
  • 4 slices of thick bacon
  • 1 dandelion

  1. Carefully wash and prepare the dandelion as you would lettuce. Roll in cloth and pat dry.
  2. Then put into a salad bowl and place in warm place.
  3. Cut bacon in small pieces, fry quickly and drop over the dandelions.
  4. Put the butter and cream into a skillet and melt over a slow heat.
  5. Beat eggs, add salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar and mix with slightly warm cream mixture.
  6. Pour into skillet and under increased heat, stir until dressing becomes thick like custard.
  7. Take off and pour piping hot over dandelion. Stir thoroughly.

(Source: Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book - Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, 1936.)

The dandelion flowers are a great source of pollen for bees but they have uses for us as well. Dandelion is a favourite ingredient to home made dandelion wine.

Why not try some dandelion, it grow everywhere and is best in the spring and early summer months. I even have my own dandelion cultivated area on my farm, that technically means it's not a weed!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Chicory - The Bitter Truth

Chicory is a strange herb; my experiences with it are few as it was never homegrown when I was young. It always reminded me of a bitter tasting vegetable but strangely addictive. Chicory coffee, again always had this bitterness about it and I have never really taken to it, it seemingly is a poor man's coffee alternative although that is changing as it is promoted as a health drink and the crazy price tag that will go alongside that!

Basically chicory is a vegetable salad leaf. it can be grown for its leaves and enjoyed eaten raw as a salad. It has a distinctivewhite bulb of tightly packed overlapping white leaves with the leaf tips pale yellow in colour. We call it chicory here in Europe, but it is called 'witloof' in Belgium and 'Belgian endive' in America.

In England during the Second World War it was used extensively for Camp Coffee, this was a coffee and chicory compound, which has now been marketed commercially since 1885. This coffee made out of chicory roots has been used in prison in the USA as a cost saving supplement to real coffee.

There is a Roman recipe using chicory is an ingredient and fried with garlic and red pepper. It has bitter and spicy taste and goes very well with meat and potatoes dishes.

Chicory root contains oils that are toxic to internal parasites and is now grown and used use as a food supplement to farm animals as a natural form of parasite control.

The Belgian endive has a small cream coloured head of bitter leaves. It is grown underground or indoors without sunlight in order to stop the leaves turning green, France is the largest producer of these types of endives.

Root chicory has been in grown in Europe and this is the part that is used as a coffee substitute. The process involves baking and grinding the roots to produce the coffee substitute. This is made in the Mediterranean region where the plant is native.

In Germany chicory, including the flower was used as a treatment for everyday ailments. It is used as a tonic and appetite stimulant and as a remedy for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems as well as treating cuts and bruises.

Chicory is not everyone's favourite herb due to its bitter taste, but again, the use of the plant remains a natural alternative to coffee and spicing up salads. Alongside its qualities as an alternative medicine for many ailments this makes it a worthwhile herb to use and cultivate at home.

If you want to have a go at growing chicory, I would certainly recommend it, there is a very good article giving a growing guide to chicory, which you may want, to refer to: How-to-Grow-Chicory

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Havesting Herbs - Tips to Take

Apart from eating herbs the most rewarding facet is the harvesting of you home-grown produce. Picking a bunch of fresh herbs to use for cooking is a pleasure everyone can enjoy. With this there is a danger that when this is done, you don't ruin further growth and sustainability of the herb plant.

The secret is to use a little at a time. A few leaves added to a salad or a marinade is fine. Al that needs to be done is pinch the leaves off with your fingers. Don't tug and pull, the whole stem may well come off if you do. Apart from battering the herb plant it will leave enough leaves in place for the plant to continue growing unaffected and provide more produce later after a further period.

If the season is now at an end you may want to harvest the whole plant and preserve it use out of season. This is where the whole plant can either be dug up or cut down from the base of the main stem. This can then be prepared for freezing, dried or used as it is as an ingredient to other preserves such as vinegar or dressings.

Try to pick a dry day to harvest your herbs late morning onwards is good when all the morning moisture from the dew has evaporated. Make sure you harvest before the plants have flowered. The oil content in the herbs' leaves are at their peak just before flowering starts. Deadhead the flowers from the herb for it to keep producing as many leaves as possible.

Try to plan your harvest on the same day you intend to use them. This way there will be no lost of flavour or freshness.

You need a little patience to wait until the herb plants have fully developed into adult plants that will be robust enough to take a picking or two and recover with ease. And then you should never cut more than a third of the plant in one picking. The plant will need time to recover and regain its grow after this.

If you have no nails to pinch the leave off use a sharp pair of scissors and try to make sure it is done is a clean and clinical way.

Most herbs that are annual, such as basil and parsley should be topped off when harvesting. Only take leaves from the growing tips of the plants, the herb will then go on to produce more leaves and fewer flowers. In essence you are providing the herb with an extended life of production by doing this.

After harvesting, the herbs should be rinsed in clean cold water, which will give then the signal, just like rain does to keep their flavour and colour closed in.

Harvesting is one of the most enjoyable aspects of growing herbs. With this advice you should not spoilt or kill and crops you have taken the time and effort to grow.

Finally, make sure the children are part of the harvest help; this will ensure that there will be another generation who carry this wonderful pastime. A child’s memory of a harvest will be remembered for a lifetime.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Sage not just a Memory

I always remember sage grown in the garden from my childhood. The scent was overpowering and a great fascination took hold with all my own gardens now having to have the herb in place. It is always going to be fresher and infinitely cheaper than buying it from a supermarket.

The Common sage is also known as Garden sage, Kitchen Sage and Dalmatian sage is a perennial evergreen shrub type herb. It has woody stems, greyish green leaves with purple flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean region but its popularity has led it to be cultivated throughout many other regions, especially the Balkans where they distil the herb for its essential oil.

Sage has a mysterious side to it and is used for spiritual and supernatural purposes. Performing exorcism and the burning of sage is believed to drive out evil and demons. Sage is also used extensively in the practices of Witchcraft and associated cults.

With a slight peppery flavour, sage it is used for flavouring meats with a large fatty content including marinades. It is also used in cheeses and drinks. Sage is popular added to onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. The French use sage for cooking white meat dishes and in vegetable soups with the Germans producing many sausage dishes. The most famous use of sage in sausages is the English Lincolnshire sausage. In the Balkan countries and the Middle East sage is commonly used when roasting lamb or mutton.

Fresh sage can be used to make sage butter and if you collect the young leaves you can make a sage vinegar. If you tie together some sage, thyme, parsley, marjoram and a bay leaf you have a Bouquet Garni.

Sage Vinegar Recipe


Sage leaves, (1 cup) washed and chopped royghly (about 3 good handfuls)
600 ml white wine vinegar


Put the prepared sage into a sterilised jar and pour in the vinegar.
Put the cap on and leave to stand on a sunny windowsill for one month shaking once a day.
Using muslin, strain the sage vinegar into a sterilized bottle, add a fresh sprig of sage and seal.
You can now use this and store in you larder.

Sage Butter Recipe

For Sage butter simple heat the butter gently until soft and mix in thoroughly finely cut sage. Roll it up and wrap in clingfilm. It can be used for a topping on hot vegetables or simple spread on toast.

Sage actual means “to heal" coming from the old Latin text. Throughout history sage been thought to cure every ailment. Modern science now supports its effects as an antibiotic, anti-fungal and tonic. Sage is now found to aid moderate Alzheimer's disease.

For internal medical use its benefits range from indigestion, liver complaints, anxiety, depression, female sterility and menopausal problems as well as treating joint pain. Insect bites, throat, mouth, gum and skin infections are now also proved to benefit from the properties of sage.

Finally, a quote from a famous man who also seemingly had a passion and believe not only for human rights but for sage.

Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden? - Martin Luther King

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Herbs - Good and Free in this World

There aren't many good things in this modern world, but as my reaseach digs deeper that just growing my own herbs I have just taken a little time to reflect on the overall herb focused picture that is taking shape. As we look into the properties of individual herbs it is quite apparent that in this modern day and age in the 21st Century that use of natural herbs are only just being realised.

Nowadays, much herbal medicine systems are based on Greek and Roman sources. The Siddha and Ayurvedic medicine systems from India are still an untapped area in other part of the world and we are still learning.

Then there is the Chinese herbal medicine or Chinese herbology system, which dates back thousands of years, but still considered the most effective treatment of many ailments.

The World Health Organization states that that every 8 out of 10 people in this world uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.

Many of the pharmaceuticals have a long history of use as herbal remedies but pharmaceuticals are business and for that reason alone are too expensive for most of the world's population. So herbal medicines are grown from seed or gathered from nature for little or no cost. This is a wonderful thing, free health care worldwide!

Herbal medicine plays a major part in all traditional medicine systems.

The use of drugs and dietary supplements derived from herbs has moved on at a tremendous rate over the last few decades. The World Health Organisation claims that a quarter of all modern drugs used in the USA have been derived from herbs and plants.

So let's reflect on something that is good in this world and that is the use of a natural element on this earth that does so much good. And also don't forget that we haven't even mentioned what amazing things herbs can do to food and cuisine!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Time for Thyme

Ancient Egyptians used thyme in embalming. Then the ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples. This was believed to be a source of courage. Along with many other herbs, it was the Romans who brought thyme to Europe as they used it to purify the rooms and add aroma and flavour cheeses and liqueurs. Thyme was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares in the middle ages. Thyme was also used as incense and put on coffins giving a clear passage into the next life.

Thyme is now a very well known herb and widely-used in many culinary recipes. It is easy to grow and a pleasant view to the eye in many gardens.

In food, thyme is used in flavouring in salads, soups, sauces, breads, vegetable and meat dishes, and even jellies and desserts. It is also part of the bouquet garni array of herbs and incidentally the major ingredient in the famous Benedictine liqueur. this versatile herb has it's rightful place as one of the cooks' favourite herbs.

Being a member of the mint family thyme is a perennial evergreen shrub. It has woody stems, which are covered with small, pale green to green leaves. It has a double-lipped flowers ranging light pale pink to purple. It's fruit bear a small nut type fruits, which comes in groups of four. The whole plant is deeply aromatic.

With over one hundred varieties of thyme the most common is the Garden Thyme and Lemon Thyme. It is often difficult to tell the difference between them. Lemon thyme has a lemony fragrance and used with fish recipes. Bees love Thyme and the honey that is produced from it is highly prizes in food circles.

Apart from bees, most insects don't like thyme. So it is good to plant this herb around you garden seating area, doorways and windows as a repellent.

Thyme are readily available throughout the year in most markets and comes on both fresh and dried versions. If you grow your own thyme leaves are sweetest and most aromatic when just on the point of the flower blooming.

Fresh thyme should be kept in a plastic bag in your refrigerator or alternatively stand some sprigs in jar glass of water and refrigerate.

To get the most out of the flavour of thyme you need to crush the leaves before adding them to your recipe.

To dry thyme from fresh the technique is to hang bundles of sprigs upside-down in an warm, dry, airy location for about two weeks. Then stored in a cool, dark place, in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 6 months.

Thyme is blessed with many uses in medicinal treatments and is great as an antiseptic. It also has expectorant and deodorant properties. Being an aids to digestion, added to dishes composed of fatty meats counteracts the gastrointestinal problems attached them. Meats such as such as duck, lamb, and pork are classic examples where thyme helps digestion.

Herbal research has found that the use thyme in infusions such as teas and bath preparations and gargles, indicate that thyme strengthens the immune system.

Oils from thyme are now big commercial business as antiseptics, toothpaste, mouthwash, gargle, hair conditioner, dandruff shampoo, skin cleanser, various toiletry items, and even insect repellent goods. It is also an important ingredient in commercially made expectorants prescribed for whooping cough and bronchitis.

I must admit the thyme is one of my great favourites and I grow and dry my own every year. It is one of the most touched plants in the garden for its strong scent that is left on you hands.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Boneset - America's Favourite

Boneset, also known as Thoroughwort, is used by the North American Indians, who called it Ague-weed and remains a popular remedy in the USA.

The leaves and tops being gathered after flowering has commenced. Boneset is a perennial herb cylindrical hairy stem that grows 2 to 4 feet high and branches out at the top. The leaves are big and grouped at the base. The edges of the lance shaped leaves are finely toothed, which make it easily recognised.

The flowering parts which come out from July to September are numerous, large ranging from ten to twenty. Their design is in the form of white florets with bristly hairs. The scent of the plant is slightly aromatic, but the taste very bitter.

Boneset is a stimulant and laxative that acts slowly and consistently therefore has good use for stomach, liver, bowels and uterus complaints. It is used as a mild tonic for attacks of muscular rheumatism and general colds. Also, it is especially affective in treating intermittent fever, and has been used in connection with typhoid and yellow fevers. Negroes largely use it extensively in the Southern United States as a remedy in all cases of fever, as well as for its tonic effects. As a mild tonic it is useful for the indigestion of old people.

Boneset has its use treating catarrh and influenza given in doses of a warm traditionally served in a wine glass every 30 minutes. After two to three hours lot of sweating takes place and relief is affected. The recipe for this is 1 oz of the dried herb to every 1 pint of boiling water.

Finally, the health benefits extend to boneset being a good remedy for aiding the expulsion of tapeworm.

It has a magical reputation for preventing and curing unnatural illness. Many believe that carrying boneset leaves in a small bag mixed with Angelica Root and Devil's Shoe Strings to ward's off Bad Luck. Boneset used for ritual cleansing to fight off occult poisons by rubbing the dry leaves over their bodies and afterwards burning them with unblessed incense.

Some folk make tea from boneset and use it as bath water to get rid of enemy trickery and spell designed to give them bad health. Sweeping floors with boneset in a sickroom and then sweeping it out the front door is another widely believed tradition that aids health.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Catnip - Not just for Cats

The Latin name for Catnip is Nepata Cataria but it is also known as Catnep, Catrup, Catswort and Field balm.

It could be described as an upright shrubby herb, which grows up to a metre tall. It has light green serrated leaves that have hairy undersides. The flower colours vary from white to pale blue with crimson dots.

Catnip has an odour not too dissimilar to mint and this is the attraction by cats. Cats go a bit crazy when the meet up with this herb and the effects last for a couple of hours, they aren't quite themselves during this as they roll about in it similar to being in a trance. There are many products now from catnip, inclusing catnip toys, just for cats. Strange as it may seem, although catnip may attract and make cats hyperactive, rats absolutely hate the herb!

Catnip can be found on banks, waysides and waste places throughout most northern temperate regions.

In France, the leaves and young shoots of catnip are used for seasoning. Even the young tops are made into a conserve and said to cure nightmares. The juice of the plant drunk with wine is a remedy for bruises and bruising the leaves will sooth haemorrhoids The bruised leaves also provide a cure is used as a shampoo for scabs and scurf.

The catnip herb has always traditionally been used as a remedy for colds and flu as it provides a powerful diaphoretic to any feverish condition. It’s use in clearing congested airways, blocked sinuses or middle ear are well known.

Infectious diseases of childhood, such as measles, are treated with catnip, as its gentle sedative action will help a child to sleep. A remedy for the treatment of diarrhoea in children is also apparent.

Oil is produced from catnip from distillation by steam and acts as a repellent against mosquitoes, cockroaches, termites and other insects.

You can grow this herb quite easily from either seed or from properagation. It is a hardy perenial although severe frost can damage so some protection may be needed in the winter.

Apart from being used as French seasoning, catnip is not a great ingredient in culinary circles. However, it can still be infused in hot water and drunk as tea.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Gold Medal Bay Leaves

There are two main types of bay leaves; the Mediterranean bay leaf thought to be native to Turkey, and the California bay leaf, which is somewhat stronger in flavour.

By leaves or laurel leaves are the original gold medal award at the Olympic Games just one of the uses of this herb that most think as only being used in many soups and stews. Bay leaves are also used for a whole range of medicinal remedies.

The strong scent of the bay leave was believed to give potions for visions, fortune telling and words of wisdom. Sleeping with bay leaves under you pillow is believed to produce psychic dreams. If you carry bay leaves they will create a defence against evil .

Exorcism is affected from bay leaves if they are burnt and the ashes scattered about. They are also used in teas and in baths as an act of purification before ancient rituals. Lastly in this history of belief, it is said if you put a bay leaf in your wallet it will bring you prosperity.

The Bay leaves are a spicy and bitter tasting herb and it may surprise some by knowing that there is a bay rum produced in the West Indies.

Scientifically proven medical as opposed to religious and cult belief, the uses bring about a lengthy list. It improves digestion and is also used as a local antiseptic. A weak infusion of bay leaves taken at meal times will improve digestion.

Bay leaves have proved affective against flatulence, dyspepsia, and indigestion ands has been used for bladder and kidney ailments. The list also adds it use to treat rheumatism, amenorrhoea, and colic as well as effective treatment for high blood sugar and migraines.

Treating dandruff and soothing sprains, bruises and a remedy for boosting hair growth are all part of the magic that this herb's properties have and we haven't even got onto cooking with it yet!

There is a homemade potion you can make by heating the leaves in a little olive oil creating a remedy giving relieve arthritis and aches.

The uses in cosmetics is also just as far reaching producing dyes and perfumes. If the leaves are crushed bay leaves are also used as a cockroach repellent! In potpourri and herb sachets, bay leaves plays an important roll in the overall flavour.

As mentioned before this powerfully flavoured herb used to flavour soups and stews and is often used in Mediterranean and North American cuisine.

As mentioned earlier, dried bay leaves are usually added to soup stocks, stews, various meat and vegetable dishes, marinades, and several French dishes such as bouillabaisse. The oils of the bay leaf are slowly released during the lengthy cooking process.

An additional food element is having just a fine sprinkle of crumbled bay leaves over salads or other dishes for more flavour. Do not overuse otherwise it become a bitter experience, half of a bay leaf is ample to flavour a meal that give two servings.

If you have your own laurel tree you don't have to look for bay leaves that are bright green in colour, these will have the most flavour. Bay leaves that have faded will tend to be more bitter so be choosy when shopping. You can also get bay leaves in powder form.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Clove Herb - Not just for Christmas

The clove herb is a funny looking thing and you will find it in many a kitchen hardly touched for years and used mainly at Christmas. It is another underrated herb with many uses.

It was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used cloves and in China to freshen the breath.

The clove tree needs a humid, warm tropical climate with lots of water all year round. It is native to the Island of Moluccas, in Eastern Indonesia.

The clove trees are small, bushy and evergreen. They have shiny, leathery, spike-like and fragrant leaves. In fact, all parts of the tree are highly aromatic. The tree produces light pink flowers that drop off when opening and the yellow stamens are developed in late summer subsequently purple berries appear.

In cultivating the clove herb, the buds are picked and dried just before blooming; this is the time when the clove oil is extracted. Clove oil has powerful elements that numbs pain and kills bacteria and fungi. The antibacterial elements are used to treat colds, mouth abscesses, gum disease, earache and arthritis illnesses.

You will see many aromatherapy air fresheners with cloves as a base and for good reason as the smell reminds us of joy and celebration. No doubt from the reminder of Christmas, albeit that cloves only came about during Christmas since Victorian times.

If you have a toothache, rub a little clove oil directly on where it hurts, but don't swallow. It will kill bacteria and fungi,

Clove oil being pure eugenol oil can relieve nausea and indigestion and will relieve most causes of diarrhoea.

In food circles it is well know that cloves match well with many other foods but especially, apples, game, ham, lamb, pumpkin, sausage, tea, tomatoes, walnuts and wine

A mulled wine recipe is give here

Mulled Spiced Wine


2 bottles red wine (merlot's good here)
10 cloves
juice of 2 oranges and the zest of one
100g. sugar,
1 cup water
2 tsp mixed spice
2 sticks cinnamon

(You may add a 1/4 cup of brandy or rakia if you wish)

One Step Method

Place everything in a saucepan and gently heat for around 10 minutes. (IMPORTANT - Don't boil) That's it!

Serve and enjoy the wonderful taste and fragrance, and not just at Christmas.

Another favourite use of cloves of mine is to insert as many as you can into an orange and leave it on the shelf. It acts as a natural air freshener and gives off a wonderful scent for up to two weeks.

Finally, as mentioned at the start, many people just use cloves once a year and the freshness lost as the years go by. You really need to keep the stock fresh by either buying a fresh batch each year or do as I do. I put my cloves in a small plastic airtight container and keep them in the freezer. You need to freeze them all individually on a tray initially before storing them in bulk. This way they won't end up as a 'frozen lump'. The freshness is kept alive this way and takes up no space at all in the freezer.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Tarragon - The French Love It

A popular and versatile herb, tarragon has a strong distinctive flavour, which can be described as a mix of aniseed and vanilla. The leaves are formed as slightly floppy, narrow and tapered growing from its long, thin stem. The French love tarragon and their cuisine uses it extensively, and example is the sauce BĂ©arnaise where tarragon is the most essential ingredient. The tarragon herb goes very well with eggs, cheese and many poultry dishes.

When choosing tarragon look for fresh looking leaves that a have a vibrant colour and no wilting. Most chefs agree that the French tarragon is best. The flavour is subtler compared to the coarser Russian tarragon.

Going back in time the ancient Greeks use tarragon to treat toothache by chewing the leaves. It has properties that are able to numb the mouth. It also has the facility to help prevent heart disease. It was also know to be used during the Middle Ages as an antidote for poisonous snakebites.

Tarragon is used primarily in cooking nowadays, but still has medicinal benefits when added to foods. It is not just the ancient Greeks who knew it is great for the digestive system as well as relieving stomach cramps and promoting appetites.

It is also in many folk remedies for toothaches. It can be used to promote menstruation and fights fatigue as well as an aid to calming nerves. Interestingly enough tarragon can also be substituted for salt, this is perfect for people with high blood pressure and those who wish to reduce their salt intake.

The herb can easily be grown at home in containers for up two or three years with no special care. They can be taken indoors in the winter if you have a sunny windowsill. One plant should be more than enough for an average sized family's requirements.

Tarragon vinegar can be bought but at a price and is never as good as the homemade type, so the recipe is given here for your benefit. It can be used in conjunction with many other recipes but mainly with salads, which turn them into something special.

Tarragon Vinegar Recipe

Ingredients Needed:

White wine vinegar
Glass bottle, with an airtight cap
Fresh tarragon leaves

Three Step Method:
  1. Fill the bottle with the tarragon leaves and cover with vinegar
  2. Leave to stand for 2-3 months in a cool dark place
  3. Strain into another container and it is ready to serve

Last, but not least is the use of tarragon as a cure for hiccups. When hiccups occur, just chew one leaf and they will stop.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Rosemary Discovered

Rosemary is one of the most well-known herbs. It comes from the Latin text 'ros-marinus' which means 'dew of the sea'. Less know is the fact that Rosemary extract has a long and continued history of medicinal uses too. It treats a wide range of ailments, including stomach upsets, digestive disorders and headaches. More research recently has revealed even more benefits to health and well being.

Rosemary grows as a small bush to a height of up to 150cm, It has straight narrow branches with dark green leaves and small mauve flowers. The scent is reminiscent of pine and presents a pungent flavour.

Fresh and dried rosemary leaves are one of the most popular seasoning for food. it is used extensively to add flavour to soups, stews, meat and fish. Probably the most favourite foods in which rosemary is added to is lamb, namely Lamb Cooked with Rosemary.

Other facts and stories associated with Rosemary are quite interesting:

It has been said that the Virgin Mary spread her cloak over a white flowered bush, which then turned blue and since then the bush has been called the Rose of Mary.

Rosemary was introduced into Britain by Romans

It acts as a moth Moth repellent and can be put in wardrobes and cloth filled draws to ward moths off.

It attracts bees with rosemary based honey that is produced from it is very much a prized variety.

In times gone by rosemary was symbol of friendship and love a wreath of rosemary was worn by brides as a sign of love and loyalty
Going back further rosemary was once used in religious ceremonies to ward of evil spirits

The ancient Greeks believed it improved memory and Greek students used to wear a wreath while sitting examinations

The health benefits take on another chapter as rosemary is an antiseptic and used externally to heal wounds and mouth infections and to preserve teeth. Also, it is know as an effective cough cure and aid to soothing bruises, falls and sprains.

A traditional use of rosemary is as a cosmetic with research now confirming its skin-protective benefits. Rosemary extract helps protect the individual components of skin cells, which prevent age-related skin damage such as wrinkles

Right to today, the versatile rosemary is being discovered as a aid to breast cancer with the properties it holds and remains not just one of the most popular herbs but one of the most important.

Finally you will find that rosemary is quite an expensive product to buy so why not try growing is yourself. It's easily grown from from seeds or cuttings. It just likes to be cultivated in a well drained sandy based soil with lots of sunshine. The only maintenance is being pruned each autumn and the pruned cuttings can be dried by hanging in bunches is a covered area then used for food and medicine. It's as simple as that!

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