All of the many varieties of the species rosemary are edible, regardless of whether or not they're blooming. Rosemary is a fun herb to cook with -- it's versatile, aromatic and distinctive in taste. You can use rosemary sprigs and leaves as a flavorful addition to stews, soups and meat dishes, while the dainty little blooms are perfect to put into salads or drinks.
Rosemary is an herb that typically grows as an upright shrub but also grows as a trailing variety. It grows all over the world in varying climates, and while it can withstand the cold, it prefers warmer weather. The plant itself has stalks, also called sprigs, full of pointy green leaves similar to those found on Christmas trees. The plant is very aromatic and blooms with delicate blue flowers every spring. In warm climates, rosemary can bloom at other times of the year as well. Both the leaves and flowers are edible. Rosemary also has medicinal properties.
Rosemary usually blooms in the spring and produces pretty little flowers that are generally blue, though some varieties are pink, white, and even purple. These flowers can gently be removed from the calyxes they grew out of and put into all kinds of treats. Try adding them to water or tea, toss them in a salad, freeze them in ice cubes, or decorate a dish or snack with them. Unlike the sprigs and leaves, the flowers are best used fresh and not cooked.
Many cooks use a whole sprig to flavor a dish; that way the rosemary can be easily removed when the dish is done. However, using only the leaves and mixing them into a dish adds great flavor, too. For best results when cooking with rosemary, add it in along with the other ingredients during cooking as opposed to adding it at the last minute or mixing it in raw; this softens the leaves for better chewing and fully releases its flavor. If you're only interested in rosemary's pleasant smell, use it as a garnish on a finished plate.
Rosemary pairs well with lamb and pork and is a good flavoring in stews and soups. Depending on the time of year, rosemary's taste profile can change: stronger when it's hot out, milder when it's cold. When dicing rosemary leaves and adding to food, a standard measurement is about two teaspoons. Remembering the fluctuations in taste per time of year, taste it first to properly gauge how much flavoring you'll need. If using a slow cooker, toss in whole sprigs for flavor. Another fun idea is removing the leaves and using only the rosemary stalk as a skewer when cooking meat on a grill.
- The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor; Jerry Traunfeld
- My 100 Favourite Herbs; Margaret Roberts
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