Lovage Was One Of The Most Popular Herbs For HerbFest Due To It's Culinary, Aromatic and Medicinal Uses
Lovage ( Ligusticum officinale) is a wonderful, very old herb with properties perfect for today's healthy lifestyles. The unique flavor, which is a combination of strong celery flavour with a hint of anise, lends a wonderful flavour tosoups, stews, stocks, salads, meat, potato, tomato dishes even seafood. The stalks can be used for drinking straws, which not only attracts, amuses and educates the kids into the fun of an herb garden, but allows adults a new, novel tool to sip the Bloody Mary adding a warm balancing flavor to the acid taste of tomatoes!!
Lovage has a very distinctive celery/anise flavor coupled with a rich warm aroma of nuttiness to bring fragrance into the kitchen. The smell of freshly pinched leaves permeates the kitchen bringing an aura of comfort food to the table whether lovage is in the dish or not. The aroma adds to the experience of dining. The leaves of lovage can be used to flavor food and also the seeds. You can use lovage much as you would celery or parsley but to a lesser degree due to the strong flavor of the leaves.
Lovage grows best in mild tropical areas such as Southern Europe where it is a perennial plant. Lovage has moved from it's traditional climatic area to many new zones in the world due to it's popularity as a flavoring, aromatic herb.
In climates such as zone 7 it is now a tender perennial and in climates below zone 7 is treated as an annual. In Southern Europe it grows 3- 5 feet and is a very showy plant in the garden with the distinctive leaf textures and celery stalk appearance. Lovage prefers well drained soil and a pH of 6.5 with organic compost as the ground cover. Best growing if placed in a full sun area with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight reminiscent of the many Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, oregano, and basils. Historically lovage was one of the classic flavors of Roman cookery.
Medicinally lovage has been used to promote menstruation which has meant to use sparingly if pregnant. The essential oils are extracted by steam distillation from the leaves and stalks however many medicinal uses require extraction from the roots. From an aromatherapy perspective the fragrance is very stimulating yet calming in total effect.