Lovage: An Old Herb for Healthy Lifestyles

Lovage: An Old Herb for Healthy Lifestyles
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Lovage is a very old herb with properties perfect for today's healthy lifestyles. It's unique flavor, which is a combination of anise and celery, can be used as a salt substitute, plus it gives extra flavor to vegetarian soups and stews as well. You can use it much like you would celery or parsley, but with a lighter hand since it does have a stronger flavor. Lovage works well in potato and tomato dishes, or anything in the starch category. Every part of the plant is edible!
Lovage is not a small, delicate plant. It will grow to about 6 foot after the first year, so you want to have a nice northern corner of the garden set aside for it. One plant is enough for a family. It can take partial shade and does better in soil that is fairly fertile and not too dry. If you have a longer growing season, simply direct seed it outside. In the north, start seeds indoors about 6 weeks ahead for transplanting, or buy a plant from a garden center. Germination takes about ten to twelve days. Lovage seed needs to be fairly fresh, and to make sure you get one good plant, sow at least 4 seeds in a pot. When you move the plant to the garden keep it well watered for the first couple weeks, and feed with a natural fertilizer. The first year you won't see it's full growth-it will only reach about 2 foot, but you can begin to harvest at a foot. Cut stems from the side, and chop to use in recipes.

Lovage seeds can also be harvested. They have a sweeter flavor than the leaves and can be used much like celery seed. A large seed stalk will form in early summer. Allow the seed to ripen until they begin to turn brown, then cut the stalk and dry the seeds. IF you do not want to harvest seeds than cut the stalk right away. If you leave it be, the plant will reseed in your garden. After several seasons dig up your lovage in the spring and split the root. You can preserve or use the root by washing it, and cutting it into small pieces. Dry the pieces on a screen and store away from light. Or, you can give the root to a fellow gardener to plant and grow their own lovage plant. A gift that will be much appreciated. The lovage plant will do much better after division.

Lovage is best used fresh, but you can freeze the leaves and stems. Blanch a handful of leaves in boiling water VERY quickly then quickly throw into a bowl of ice water for a couple of minutes. Drain, place in plastic freezer bags and freeze. The frozen lovage can be minced and used in cooked dishes.

Add a teaspoon to fresh minced lovage to your chicken soup recipe during the last 15 or 20 minutes of cooking. You can also add it to chilled tomato soups.Add one to two tablespoons of minced fresh lovage to your meatloaf recipes. Harvest lovage seeds to use whole or ground in cakes, meats, biscuits, breads, sauces, cheeses, salad dressings, or pickles. Add it to your favorite potato salad or coleslaw too. The following recipes will give you an idea of how to use lovage.

Lovage Butter

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of minced lovage

Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the salt, pepper, and lovage. Heat gently for 3-5 minutes. Serve over vegetables.

Lentils With Lovage

Ingredients:

1/2 small chopped sweet onion

chopped butter

12 ounces whole green lentils

1/2 cup chopped lovage

1 sprig of fresh thyme

orange zest/peel

chicken stock or water

Sauté the chopped onions in the butter to soften but do not brown. Stir in the lentils. Add the chopped lovage, thyme, one strip on orange peel or a small amount of zest and stock. Cover and simmer until tender. Remove the lentil mixture with a slotted spoon and reduce the liquid in the pan, while adding a little more butter and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the lentil mixture. Serves 4.

Egg Salad with Herbs

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

3 green onions thinly sliced

2 tsp. minced lovage

2 tsp. minced parsley

1 tablespoon snipped chives

1 cup light or regular mayonnaise to taste

salt and pepper (optional)

Hard boil the eggs, them place in a bowl of cold water to cool. Peel them, place in bowl and mash. Add the green onions and herbs, then add chives, mayonnaise and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on bread or on a bed of lettuce.

Potato and Lovage Soup

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 cups water

Approx. 1 1/4 cups milk

3 Tbsp. minced fresh lovage plus garnish

salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and potatoes. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add 3 cups of water and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the cooled mixture in a food processor or blender. Place into a clean pan and stir in the lovage and milk slowly, stopping when you feel it's the right thickness. Heat through, and serve with a garnish of lovage leaves. Makes 4 servings.

Lovage Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

12 lovage leaves, minced

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the lovage leaves for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for a minute. Stir in the mustard and season. This sauce is nice served over boneless pork or pork chops.

Lovage Vinegar

You will need:

1 quart cider vinegar

2 large sprigs lovage

Place into a bottle or jar with a lid. Keep in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks. Use in dressings, or stews.

 

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.

 
 

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