Rosemary is a Mediterranean native. It's leaves are needle-like, dark green with silvery overtones and a silvery underside. It is a symbol of remembrance, loyalty and friendship. Since it was considered a gift of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, brides in Greece wore it as a symbol of their fidelity.
There is a delightfully romantic legend relating to the restorative and healing properties of rosemary. In the 14th century, when 72-year-old Queen Elizabeth of Hungary used rosemary as a medicine for her rheumatism and gout, the potion made of rosemary and lavender that she used, made her so beautiful and healthy that the 26-year-old King of Poland fell in love with her and requested her hand in marriage. The potion came to be known as Budapest or Hungary water and was used as a beauty aide for a very long time,
Its association with remembrance caused Greek scholars to wear garlands of rosemary during examinations, in order to improve their memory and concentration. Shakespeare reiterated this belief.
Why should I be aware of this?
Rosemary has a place in traditional European medicine as an ingredient in rejuvenative and stimulating tonics and as an anti-flatulent. It also solves minor gastric upsets, and ailments like colds and nervous headaches. Traditional Indian and Chinese medicine also use the herb as part of tonics to cure headaches.
The European tradition of using rosemary in tonics was carried across to America where it was used a mild pain killer and digestive
Rosemary has, for lack of a better description, an “assertive flavour”. The flavour is similiar to the scent of pine, green grasas, camphor and ginger.
Unlike other delicate herbs that need to be added at the end of the cooking process, rosemary stands up well to being cooked along with the food, especially lamb.
While excellent with roasted meats, especially lamb and pork, rosemary may also be added to stews that include poultry, fish(the fish needs to be an oily rather than light fish), beef, veal and game. Apart from meats, vegetables with a strong character like tomatoes, spinach, peas, mushrooms and squash are delightful with the herb as also cheese dishes, egg dishes and lentils.The herb also marries well with other herbs like chives, thyme, chervil, parsley, and bay. Gentle dishes like potato preparations get a lot of body from this herb. It may also be added to marination mixes, meat rubs, dressings and sauces. If using the herb in a dressing, do be sure to mince the herb finely if fresh, or crumble it if dried. It is otherwise irritating to get it in your teeth. Also can be blended with olive oil,to make a paste for the dressing, however its not recommended to use the dry herbs for dressings but only to make infusions. Rosemary is an important part of the traditional bouquet garni. and is also used as a garnish.
Rosemary provides iron and calcium, as well as dietary fibre to a diet. Fresh rosemary has greater nutritional value than dry.The process of drying leads to a loss of 25% manganese and a 40% calcium and iron.
Rosemary is an immune stimulant, apparently enhances the strength of the blood capillaries, increases blood circulation (which may be the reason that it is a memory and concentration enhancer), and is an excellent digestive. It is also known to be an anti-inflammatory indicated in asthmatics.
Rosemary makes a soothing infusions which is a relaxant, soporific and an excellent digestive.
Rosemary extract is is also an insect repellant and is a selective anti-bacterial, fungal and an anti-viral.Extracts have been used in insect repellents.
Excessive consumption od rosemary can lead to side-effects like gastric discomfort, kidney damage and allergic contact dermatitis . Since several personal care products and toiletries contain rosemary, people with a history of dermatological sensitivity should do patch tests. Rosemary extract effects the menstrual cycle and may cause abortion in extreme cases. Rosemary contains convulsants. These may cause seizures and/or asthma.
Rosemary makes an excellent hair conditioner and is a cure for dandruff and some say even baldness. The home remedy for this conditioner involves making an infusion of a bunch or cut or crushed rosemary leaves in about 300ml of boiling water and allowing it to steep for an hour. This should be used after the hair had been washed and towel dried as a last wash.
New packaging uses rosemary to keep meat fresh
"...scientists report that their study shows that an extract of rosemary added to packaging keeps meat pink for weeks. The use of carbon monoxide (CO) to keep packaged meat looking fresh is used in the US and in other countries but is banned in the EU due to food safety concerns."
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How to Grow Rosemary Shrubs
Rosemary is very easy to grow. It is advisable to grow plants grown from cuttings, since rosemary is difficult to grow from seed.
Rosemary likes the sun and a lime-rich soil but will do well in almost any other soil. In cold climates it is advisable to grow rosemary in containers so that the plants can be transferred to a cool, sunny room in the winter. In a warm climate, rosemary should not be left near a hot window. Rosemary is intolerant of water logged soil, so watering should not be overdone. It does however, need some watering. Rosemary tolerates dry soil conditions and drought. It usually does not require fertilizer, but a small quantity of natural wood ash helps it to grow as do crushed egg shells.
Rosemary is drought tolerant, suitable for xeriscaping, attracts bees, butterflies and birds, has fragrant flowers and is suitable for growing in containers, in the open and also for hydroponics. It is Also a good pest repellant, and is generally not attacked by insects, or birds.
- Larousse Gastronomique
- The Book of Ingredients: Philip Dowell and Adrian Bailey; Penguin/ Mermaid Books 1993
- The Complete Book of Herbs; A practical guide to growing and using herbs: Lesley Bremness: Dorling Kindersley 1988
Note: Therapeutic uses of Rosemary, side effects and toxicology from http://www.family-health-information.com/herbal-medicines/rosemary.html