Lovage

by Bo Simmons -

Whilst looking around my garden I discovered that the lovage planted last year had really begun to take off.It seems to grow easily in Shetland and grows wild in the northern parts of Britain.On the North Atlantic coasts of America,where it also grows wild , it is known as Scottish lovage. Lovage was used by the Greeks and Romans and came from Southern Europe .It is from the Umbelliferae family , a perennial and can grow up to seven or eight feet tall. It has a thick hollow stem and looks a bit like huge celery.The yellowish green flowers are produced at the end of July and seed heads appear in August.All parts of the plant are used , that is the leaves, seeds and roots.It can be cooked or raw.

As an aside there is also the black lovage, this is a biennial herb and grows by the sea in the South of the United Kingdom .It flowers from April to June. but in the winter and early spring the stems can be picked peeled, steamed and served with butter just like asparagus.It was widely used before celery became popular.

The flavour is quite distinct slightly lemony celery but musky . Probably not a very encouraging as a must try ,but I will enclose a favourite recipe of mine and if you can find some lovage it is well worth a try.

Potato and Lovage Soup

Course: Main

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients
  • Onions - 2 large (sliced)
  • Old potatoes - 4 large
  • Lovage - 2 sprigs
  • Chicken stock - 1 litre (water or vegetable stock can be used)
  • Shetland Dairies double cream - 150 ml
  • Shetland Dairies milk - 100 ml
  • Shetland butter - 50 grams
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large pan,add sliced onions . Sweat until soft.(that is turn the heat down low and pop a lid on the pan, the onions will soften but not colour)
  2. Add peeled and sliced potatoes, coat with the butter and add chicken stock, salt and pepper.Put the lid on and bring to the boil.Simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped lovage, then liquidize to make smooth
  4. Return to the heat, taste adjust consistency, if necessary ,add the cream and serve
  5. If serving chilled leave to cool to room temperature and then refridgerate.When serving, add a swirl of cream and a sprig of lovage to decorate.

The soup is also good when served with a few croutons to give contrast to the smooth creamy texture.

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I have used lovage in smaller quantities chopped finely into a salad , for flavouring soups and stews, excellent too for adding to ham when boiling before skinning and studding with cloves,mustard and honey. The seeds can be dried, saved and used for curries, breads and biscuits.The stems, like Angelica can be candied.

Medicinally it is said that it will help the digestion,ease griping and pain, caused by wind.In a distilled water of the herb it is said to aid throat and mouth infections, when gargled three or four times a day,or used to brighten the eyes, taking away the redness and dimness! Perhaps this was discovered after a heavy night!It seems that it is another of natures wonders and will clean bloods.

Posted in: Recipes, Growing Food