Rosemary, one of the oldest herbs, is easy to grow and has a multitude of uses. Its botanical name is Rosemarinus, from the Latin “dew of the sea.” Keep reading to learn more about rosemary cultivation and some culinary uses.
Rosemary, whose botanical name is Rosmarinus, truly is one of the oldest cultivated herbs in the world. The plant is indigenous to the sunny hills rising out of the Mediterranean, and has been known through the ages not only for its medicinal and culinary qualities but also as a symbol of remembrance and fidelity. This evergreen shrub has pine needle-like leaves and blue blooms in spring and summer, depending on the climate. It is a beautiful ornamental plant both in the ground and in pots. For some great tips for growing rosemary, check out this post.
Rosemary can be propagated from a cutting, grown from seed, or bought ready to plant from nurseries everywhere. If it has well-drained soil, lots of sun, and some shelter from the wind, it will grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet and survive for years. The shrub takes well to clipping and is often snipped into ornamental shapes. In a warm climate, it can remain outdoors all year, but in a zone that has freezing temperatures, the plant is best suited to a pot so it can be taken indoors during winter. The leaves can be harvested all year long. It is best to harvest the leaves right before use.
A Variety of Uses
Rosemary has lots of ornamental uses as well. Add rosemary branches to a flower arrangement or by itself in a vase. Trim a potted shrub into a Christmas tree shape and decorate it for the holidays with mini ornaments and lights. Strip all of the leaves but those right at the tip and use the branch for a skewer for shrimp, vegetables, or meat.
This versatile shrub is used as a potpourri to freshen the air and is used in disinfectants and hair rinses. And as Hamlet said to Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s renowned drama, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Rosemary is sometimes used as an ornament on office desks with the dual purpose of beauty and helping the memory.
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This is a refreshing alternative to the summertime favorite.
Mix your favorite lemonade. Immerse 3 to 4 branches of rosemary per quart / litre of lemonade. Let the liquid rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before serving. Strain the lemonade. Serve in tall glasses over ice with a fresh rosemary branch, stripped of its bottom leaves as a garnish.
Use this herbal vinegar in salad dressings and marinades.
Bend the stems of some freshly picked rosemary branches and pack them in a jar. Pour warm, but not hot, cider or wine vinegar over the branches and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a sunny spot and shake the jar once or twice a day for two weeks. Strain the vinegar and taste for flavor. If it has the desired flavor pour the strained vinegar into a decorative bottle, add a fresh sprig for decoration, and cork the bottle. It a strong flavor is desired, repeat the process with fresh rosemary branches, and test after one week.
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
A delicious and easy way to serve the old favorite.
Scrub and dry four medium-size potatoes, and cut into chunks. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves snipped to 1/8 inch pieces, 1 tablespoon seasoning salt, and 1/ 4 teaspoon pepper. Pour the marinade over the potatoes. Roast the potatoes in a baking dish, at 425˚f or 220˚C, for 30 to 35 minutes.
Use this marinade on lamb, chicken, or shrimp.
Mix 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 teaspoons grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 tablespoon minced rosemary leaves in a small bowl. Rub the marinade on the meat or shrimp 2 to 3 hours before cooking.