Preserving Your Rosemary Harvest

Rosemary is easy to grow in pots in a sunny location with plenty of moisture. The small blue flowers and the up right growth habit of this herb make it a wonderfully fragrant herb for your garden. It is hardy to Zones 6-8, but should be protected from harsh winter winds.

The History of Rosemary

This herb is a native of the Mediterranean, where the Romans called it "sea dew" after the habit of growing by the sea shore, but was later changed to the Rose of Mary, in honor of the Virgin Mary. Rosemary has long been prized as an herb that increases memory. Greek students wore wreaths of Rosemary to help them during exams to keep their heads clear and their memory sharp. It was carried by mourners during funerals and tossed into the graves of the deceased as a sign of remembrance. During weddings Rosemary was worn by bridal couples as a sign of fidelity and couples dipped branches of rosemary tied with ribbon into gold and gave the sprigs as wedding gifts to the guests as a sign of love and faithfulness. Rosemary oil is a primary ingredient in Hungary Water, which has been attributed of restoring Queen Elizabeth of Hungary's paralyzed legs. Anne of Cleves is said to have worn a wreath of Rosemary when she married King Henry VIII. During the Plague in the 15th century, hospitals and commoners burned Rosemary and wore little pouches of the herb around their necks as they traveled to breathe through to help protect them from the spread of the disease. In France, hospitals burned both rosemary and juniper to help keep the spread of infection in check. In Spanish lore, Rosemary blossoms were white in the beginning, but turned a beautiful blue color after the Virgin Mary spread her cloak over a Rosemary shrub to hide from the Romans who were searching for the Holy Family as they fled Egypt.

Culinary Uses of Rosemary

The Italians are particularly fond of Rosemary, which they use in the preparation of "abbacchio", or lamb, a favorite Easter traditional dish. Because of its strong taste and smell, Rosemary is primarily used (sparingly) to flavor meats, eggs, and green vegetables. Researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey have discovered that even a .02% solution is a more effective food preservative than BHA and BHT, with NO chemical side effects.

Medicinal Uses of Rosemary

Rosemary essential oils have amazing antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. French hospitals used the herb as an inhibitor of infections and was used during World War II to dress wounds to help control bacteria and infections. Aromatherapists use Rosemary essential oil as an aid in alleviating headaches, applying it directly to the head of the patient.

Nail fungus can be controlled by applying the essential oil straight from the bottle with a cotton swab under the nail bed after a shower, when the nails are softer. Clip the nail to expose a fresh open nail surface to soak up the oil. Apply regularly after each shower and soon you will notice that the fungus will begin to disappear. After a few months you will notice that the fungus is gone! No need for expensive pills or pharmaceutical creams!

Studies have shown that Rosemary leaves increase circulation and reduce headaches. Rosemary extracted into white wine is used to increase circulation in those suffering from lack of exercise due to illness. Rosemary is believed to stimulate digestion and the liver and aid in the absorption of food in the intestinal tract. A tea made from this herb is said to ease sore throats and gum problems. In another study, Rosemary was shown to inhibit 87% of the cancer cells tested.

Rosemary essential oil is added to bath water to stimulate and warm skin cells to relax tired, sore muscles, and, in fact, studies from the University of Tubingen, Germany show that adding the oil to the bath is absorbed into the skin and blood cells just as effectively and at the same rate as drinking the tea.

WARNING: Never use Rosemary Essential oil internally! Very large doses of the leaves can be toxic and may cause convulsions or spontaneous abortion.

Aromatherapy Uses of Rosemary

Rosemary Essential Oil is probably the most important essential oils in use in Aromatherapy today. The oil has a strong, pungent odor and a deep, penetrating quality. It is considered a stimulating oil, making it useful as a stimulant to the nervous system, and is used to treat losses of functions, such as loss of smell or taste and speech impairments.

Because it is a strong brain stimulant, it is often used to improve memory, simply by inhaling a few drops dripped onto a tissue, cotton ball or "hankie".

The oil is used in respiratory problems, as it clears the passages of the nostrils. Adding a few drops into the water of a steam vaporizer will help clear up the sinuses and ease cold symptoms. This is invaluable to know if you have ever set up with a small child with a stuffy nose! Don't worry about the oil harming the vaporizer, as the antiseptic qualities of the oil will kill any harmful bacteria that might build up in the maching.

Harvesting Your Rosemary

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Good Garden Snippers or Kitchen Shears

Basket or other container suitable to keep the sprigs in

METHOD:

Because Rosemary is evergreen, it can be harvested prudently throughout the growing season. Never completely trim down the plant, as it might not have time to recover before the onset of winter. Harvest just as the sprigs are starting to bloom for peak flavor. Clip the top two or three inches from each stem, leaving room for growth on the original stem.

Preserving Your Rosemary Harvest

Drying Rosemary

Traditional Method

Unlike many herbs, Rosemary does not loose as much as its flavor when dried, so it keeps well for a long time. It was found in Egyptian tombs, still identifiable from its pungent aroma and distinctive growing form.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Garden or Kitchen shears

Basket or other container suitable for Rosemary sprigs

Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels

Rubber Bands

Clothes Drying Rack, Dry attic or porch

Small Brown Paper Bags (optional)

METHOD:

1. Gather your Rosemary harvest in the morning hours after the sun has dried away the dew of the night.

2. Gather the sprigs into loose bundles and secure the stems with rubber bands to assure that the bundles stay together as they dry.

3. If using brown paper bags, cover each bundle with the bags that have slits cut into the sides to allow for adequate air flow around the herbs. The paper bags keep dust off of the Rosemary as it dries and the sunlight from bleaching out the color. Care must be taken to make sure that enough air flows through the bag to keep the Rosemary from molding. Check occasionally to make sure, and, if need be either cut more holes in the bags or remove them. Sometimes the moisture builds up inside the bag, especially if the sun hits it, allowing fungus and mildew to form.

4. Hang upside down in a warm, dry place such as an attic or porch until the leaves are brittle to the touch, approximately 2 weeks.

5. Gather the dried bundles and place on a sheet of wax paper.

6. Crumble the dried leaves and separate out all of the tough stems onto the wax paper.

7. Store in an air tight container in the pantry for use in cooking.

STORAGE:

These air tight jars can be stored in a dry, dark place such as your pantry or cupboard, or even your freezer, with proper care.

USES:

Dried Rosemary can be used in sauces, gravies, dressings and all other recipes that require fresh Rosemary. The flavor stays pungent, so caution is required when using dried Rosemary...unless you really like the taste! Lamb dishes and some curry recipes use Rosemary.

Quick Dry Method

Special Note: If using cookie sheets to dry the herbs, place the herbs to be dried on parchment paper to avoid direct contact with the metal trays. Metal contact darkens the color of the herb being dried, causing the Basil to loose its bright green color.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels

Kitchen shears or good chopping knife

Chopping board or block

Parchment Paper

Cookie Sheet

Oven

1. Wash and gently spin dry the fresh Rosemary sprigs.

2. Pick out the discolored leaves and woody stems.

3. Preheat your oven to lowest temperature setting.

4. Chop or clip herbs into 1/4" pieces or so onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

5. Place in oven on top rack for 2 to 4 hours or until Rosemary crumbles easily between your fingers. Drying times may vary according climate conditions and relative humidity.

6. Gather up the parchment paper into a funnel and place smallest end over the mouth of a clean, completely dry jar and seal tightly.

STORAGE: Place jar in a dry, dark place such as your kitchen cabinet, pantry or even your freezer.

Freezing Rosemary

Ice Cube Method

The traditional method of freezing Rosemary is to chop the fresh herb up fine and suspend them in a little water before freezing.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or two clean absorbent kitchen towels

Kitchen shears or chopping knife and chopping board

Ice Cube trays

Measuring spoons

INGREDIENTS:

Chopped Rosemary

Fresh tap water

1. Pick through the fresh Rosemary, removing damaged leaves and tough stems and rinse. Gently spin dry or pat dry between two kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

2. Chop up the Rosemary, removing tough stems, and place a teaspoon or two into each compartment of the ice cube trays.

3. Top off with water and freeze in the freezer.

STORAGE: Once the ice cubes have frozen, remove the herbed cubes and store in an air tight freezer bag or jar in your freezer.

USES: These Rosemary ice cubes can be used in sauces and soups. To use in the Rosemary as fresh in salad dressings or dishes with little liquid content, place the cube in a glass of room temperature water until melted and strain through a sieve to remove the basil from the water. Add to the recipe as required.

Vacuum Sealer Method

VACUUM FREEZING: The absolutely easiest way to freeze Rosemary is to gather up small bunches, place in a small bag made of the special material used by your vacuum sealer, and seal to remove all of the air from the bag. Placed in the freezer, Rosemary frozen this way will last 6 months or longer.

This method allows for great color, texture and flavor retention by keeping the sprigs whole and air tight.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Vacuum sealer with appropriate bag material

Salad Spinner or clean absorbent kitchen towels

Kitchen shears or paring knife

1. Wash and gently spin dry or blot with kitchen towels to remove excess moisture.

2. Snip or cut off tough woody stems and discolored or damaged leaves.

3. Make a bag from the roll material large enough to hold the sprigs of Rosemary and allow space between the herb and the final seal and seal one end.

4. Label bag with contents and date sealed.

5. Place herb sprigs into the bag.

7. Place bag end into the sealer and vacuum seal.

8. Place in the freezer flat. After the bags have frozen solid, they can be stored upright, taking up little space in the freezer.

Rosemary Herbed Vinegar

Cold Method

This method uses the bottle that the vinegar is purchased in, so be sure to buy a high quality vinegar with an attractive glass bottle.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

1 bottle of good quality apple cider or wine vinegar

Small bowl

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh Rosemary, washed and patted dry

1 clove garlic, optional

3 or 4 pepper corns, optional

1. Pour a small amount (approximately /2 cup) of the vinegar into a small clean bowl to reserve for later use after the herb sprigs have been added.

2. Place the fresh Rosemary sprigs in the bottle of vinegar.

3. Top off to fill the bottle with the reserved vinegar and seal tightly.

4. Place the bottle on a sunny window sill for two weeks, gently shaking the bottle every day or so to mix the flavors of the herbs.

5. Soak off the manufacturer label and relabel with a decorative label.

STORAGE: These herbed vinegars are quite attractive and can be stored on the counter top, pantry or kitchen cupboard.

USES: This flavored vinegar is great in marinades for meat and poultry, in salad dressings and many other recipes requiring vinegar.

Hot Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Small Bowl

Wooden Spoon

Fresh Rosemary Sprigs

Chopping knife and chopping board

Large clean wide mouth jar with tight fitting lid

Sheet of plastic wrap

Medium stainless steel or enamel sauce pan

Good quality apple cider or wine vinegar

Cheese cloth

Funnel

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of apple cider or wine vinegar

1 cup of chopped Rosemary

1. Place the chopped leaves in the bowl and gently crush with a wooden spoon.

2. Heat one cup of the vinegar until warm, but do not boil.

3. Pour hot vinegar over the crushed Rosemary in the bowl and stir to mix well.

4. Crush the Rosemary a little more to release the herb oils.

5. Leave to cool.

6. When cooled, add the remaining cup of vinegar and pour into a large jar and cap tightly.

7. Place on a sunny window sill and shake every day or so to distribute the flavors for two weeks.

8. Store as is or pour through a double layer of cheese cloth into a funnel over a clean decorative bottle.

9. Add a fresh sprig of Rosemary into the bottle for decoration and identification purposes.

10. Label and store in the pantry, cupboard or counter top.

Rosemary Infused Oil

Cold Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or clean kitchen towels

Medium bowl

Wooden spoon

Large wide mouth jar

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Fresh Rosemary sprigs

1/4 or 1/2 dry measuring cups

2 cup liquid measuring cup

Cheese cloth

Funnel

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 to 1/2 cup of Rosemary leaves

2 cups of extra virgin olive oil

1. Pick the freshest herbs, wash and gently spin dry or blot between two kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

2. Place the Rosemary leaves in the bowl and crush slightly with the back of the wooden spoon to release plant flavors.

3. Pour half (1 cup) of the oil over the bruised leaves.

4. Stir and crush again slightly to release more of the plant oils.

5. Add remaining cup of oil and stir well to blend.

6. Pour into the large mouth jar and cap tightly.

7. Set on a sunny window sill for two weeks, shaking gently every day or so to mix the flavors.

8. Strain oil slowly through a double layer of cheese cloth set into a large funnel in the opening of a clean decorative bottle and cap tightly.

9. Add a few fresh sprigs of Rosemary for decoration and identification purposes and label.

STORE: Keep the flavored oils out of direct sunlight in a kitchen cupboard or pantry. Oils tend to go rancid if left in the sun too long. The shelf life of flavored oils is approximately six months.

Hot Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Medium kitchen bowl

Wooden Spoon

Medium stainless steel or enamel sauce pan

2 cup or larger liquid measuring cup

1/4 or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup

Large wide mouth jar

Cheese cloth

Funnel

Decorative bottle

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh chopped Rosemary

2 cups of extra virgin olive oil

1. Wash herbs and spin dry or pat between two kitchen towels to remove excess moisture.

2. Pick out tough stems and damaged or discolored leaves.

3. Trim and chop the Rosemary and measure 1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending on the intensity of the flavor desired.

4. Place chopped Rosemary into the bowl and crush slightly with the wooden spoon.

5. Pour one cup of the oil into the sauce pan and heat, but do not boil.

6. Pour heated oil over the crushed Rosemary in the bowl and stir with the wooden spoon to mix well.

7. Slowly add remaining oil into the bowl and stir to mix.

8. Once cooled, place in the large mouth jar and seal tightly.

9. Place jar on sunny window sill for two weeks, gently shaking the bottle every day or so to blend the flavors.

10. Slowly pour the liquid a little at a time into a funnel lined with a double layer of cheese cloth set on the top of a clean decorative bottle and cap tightly.

11. Add a few fresh sprigs for decoration and identification and label, including the date.

USES: Flavored oils can be used in almost every recipe that uses oil, from meat, poultry or fish marinades, sautes, sauces, and salad dressings.

STORAGE: These oils will store up to six months in a dark cupboard or pantry.

Rosemary Herbed Butter

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels

Small Kitchen Bowl

Chopping Board

Kitchen Shears or Good Chopping Knife

Wooden Spoon or Spatula

Set of Measuring Spoons

Wax or Parchment paper

Ice cube trays or small muffin tins

INGREDIENTS:

1 Stick (8 Tablespoons or 1/4 Pound) of Sweet butter, softened

1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons of chopped Rosemary

1. Set the stick of butter out on the counter to warm up and soften.

2. Wash and spin dry to remove as much moisture as possible from the Rosemary, picking through the leaves to remove woody stems and damaged, discolored leaves.

BY HAND:

3. Gather the herb sprigs into small bunches and finely chop with the chopping knife or snip in small pieces over a piece of wax or parchment paper.

4. In a small bowl, combine the soft butter and the chopped Roaemary with a wooden spoon until well blended.

IN FOOD PROCESSOR:

3. Place 3 to 5 sprigs of Rosemary into the bowl of the processor and pulse several times to chop fine, scraping the bowl down with the wooden spoon or spatula between each pulse to assure even chopping.

4. Add the softened butter to the processor bowl and pulse, again, scraping the sides of the bowl between each pulse to mix ingredients well.

5. Divide the butter by Tablespoons into the ice trays (for cube shaped butter patties) or small muffin tins (for round butter patties) and freeze in the freezer.

6. Once frozen, remove the butter patties from the trays or tins and store in an air-tight container such as a freezer bag or glass jar in the freezer.

NOTE: You can also remove the butter from the bowl onto a sheet of wax paper, and, as it starts to set up, gently roll it into a roll with the help of the paper. Once the roll has formed, add another layer of wax paper and twist the ends to seal tightly. Place the roll on the freezer shelf to freeze. To serve, these rolls can be unwrapped and sliced into discs for serving with savory toasts, over mashed or baked potatoes or new potatoes and a variety of other applications requiring butter.

Rosemary Honey

Due to the medicinal uses of Rosemary, an extremely effective way to introduce the herb into a method to help combat the common cold, Rosemary Honey added to hot tea with a little lemon juice works wonders on sore throats and coughs.

Honey is perhaps one of the best natural preservative ever discovered, having remarkable shelf life, and was even found in tombs in Egypt, still viable!

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid

Salad Spinner or Two Clean Kitchen Towels

Kitchen Shears or Chopping Board and Good Chopping Knife

Sheet of Wax or Parchment Paper

Bamboo Skewer

INGREDIENTS:

Fresh, Clear Honey

Whole Leaf or Chopped Rosemary

METHOD:

1. Fill the glass jar half way to the top with fresh honey.

2. Place either the chopped or whole leaf Rosemary into the jar, packing loosely, using the bamboo skewer to make sure the leaves are dispersed evenly throughout the honey.

3. Top off the herb infused honey with more honey to fill the jar.

4. Tighten the lid onto the jar and label.

STORAGE:

Because Honey has a way of crystallizing, it is best to keep the jars out of direct light, in a dark cupboard or pantry. If the honey does crystallize, fill a small cooking pot with 2 inches or so of water and place the jar of honey in the center. Gently warm up the water over medium heat on your stove to heat up the honey, stirring occasionally to disperse the honey crystals until all of the honey is smooth again. Do not bring to a boil. Overheating the honey will break down some of the properties of the honey!

USES: Rosemary Honey is great added to hot tea to help alleviate congestion and reduce fever from the common cold!