About lovage

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From The Gardener (London), July 1990, by Ann Bonar.

[I've grown this very useful, easily cultivated herb for a while and it adds a rich, complex flavour to soups, stews and casseroles-OG]

Lovage can be made into a soup. You need just two tablespoons (three if you're using US spoon measures) of the fresh, chopped leaves to 2.5 UK pts (6-1/4 cups US) of liquid, together with all the standard ingredients for making vegetable soup. The leaves have a savoury, yeasty taste, as well as overtones of celery, and the result will be a uniquely-flavoured soup apparently containing many herbs.

Other ways of using it in food include adding the chopped leaves to all meat casseroles, fish dishes and other soups; using them in fresh or compose salads; adding to mayonnaise; and to the recipe of savoury cheese biscuits (crackers).

The seeds have the same strong flavour and aroma and can be used, as they are in American and Germany, sprinkled on bread and biscuits (crackers) and over meat. . . .

History - Any self-respecting witch of medieval times was expected to be capable of supplying effective love potion at the drop of a (witch's) hat--lovage was a common ingredient, being regarded at the time as an aphrodisiac. This use is thought to explain its old name, love-ache, though it is more likely to be a corruption of its botanical name, Levisticum officianale.

The old generic name, ligisticum, is thought, in turn to be derived from Liguria, a province in Italy where it grows naturally, as it does in the mnountains of the Balkans, northern Greece and in southern France. In Britain it is occasionally found growing wild, but only as a garden escapee. However, it has taken well to growing here and thrives in the garden. . . .

Cultivation - a good place to plant true lovage is towards the back of a herbaceous or herb border, or it can be grown as a single feature plant in a paved area. Wherever planted it needs space as it can be 4' wide at the base and at least 7' tall--it is no dwarf.

Given sun or some shade, and a deep, moist--but not clay--soil, it will take firm hold with its thick fleshy roots, so choice of site is important as it will be difficult to remove later.

The celery-like leaves form a cluster at the base of the hollow, jointed stems, and then clothe them, gradually diminishing as the top is reached where 5" wide clusters of tiny yellow flowers are produced in mid- and late summer. If the blooms are allowed to develop into seeds the stems die down rather quickly and the plant does not supply fresh leaves for as long. If the stems are cut halfway down before the flowers unfold, the plant remains leafy until late autumn.

Sowing - Plants can be put in during spring or autumn; seeds can be sown at the same time, though they are better sown soon after they ripen. After a few months seedlings will need to be transplanted to their permanent position. One plant is ample to supply an entire household with its strongly flavored leaves. It is one of my favourite cooking herbs and, once tasted, never forgotten. It's a great pity lovage is not used as much here as it is on the Continent.

Preserving - The slightly thick, tough leaves dry well, the quicker they're dried the better. To keep their green colour they should be dried in a cool oven, and should be stored in air-tight, dark-coloured containers. Small bundles of leaves can be frozen in aluminum foil or chopped into water-filled ice-cube trays. Once frozen, the lovage ice cubes can be stored.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 03, 1999


Don't happen to have a few spare seeds? sounds interesting...I'll look for a source.

-- Shelia (Shelia@active-stream.com), May 03, 1999.


Ummmm, I trust your judgement so, ahhhhh, errrrr, well, what does it say about me that I clicked in here expecting lots of hot sex tips?


-- Mr Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), May 03, 1999.

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lovage42.html For more about Lovage.

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/mgmh.html For more great herb info

-- R (riversoma@aol.com), May 03, 1999.

LOL Mr.Deedah!

Gimme gimme some lovage......

-- R (riversoma@aol.com), May 03, 1999.

It is a very unpopular herb and tastes of plastic. Most plant nurseries have it, but better to smell the leaves before you buy. There are very few cookbooks around that feature dishes with this herb in it. There is a reason for it. Good luck.

-- pauline jansen (paulinej@angliss.vic.edu.au), May 03, 1999.

I've never used lovage. Nor even smelled it. But anyone considering it might start some this spring as an experiment -- if you don't like it, forget it -- if you do, you've learned something worthwhile.

Incidental info from brief search:

"Strongly aromatic, remotely similar to celery. Fresh leaves contain max. 0.5% essential oil; most important aroma components are phthalides (ligustilide, butylphthalide and a partially hydrogenated derivative thereof called sedanolide). Terpenoids (terpineol, carvacrol) and eugenol are less important. Lovage is chiefly needed for tomato sauces, often in combination with oregano; it may be efficiently combined with rue."

(You have to wonder about the butylphthalide there....)

This from an enormous Index to Spices

"This index comprises more than 3300 names for more than 100 spices and herbs. English and German names will be found for every spice, as well as the Latin terms used by Botanists and (if of medical use) by Pharmaceutist. For the more common spices, I have given French, Spanish, Italian and Swedish names more or less throughout; other European tongues (Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Polish, Finnish) have been included whenever possible."

I note that the Polish term for lovage is Lubczyk ogrodowy. I'm still surprised by the stuff you can find out there on the Net.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), May 03, 1999.

Pauline, I wonder if the lovage you tried was Levisticum scoticum? (A/k/a scotch lovage or sea parsley.) It's a close relative of the lovage described above and its flavor is described as being too strong to be pleasant.

Herb seeds: A fantastic source is Richtersherbs.com. Or maybe richtersseeds.com. Well worth tracking down--Canadian company, encyclopedic catalogue, dozens of herb books and hundreds of hard to find herb seeds. Service and quality are excellent.

Uncle Deedah, I was trying to find some easy-to-grow herbs that would serve as flavoring for all that dried stuff! However, seeing as how your mind is going in a different direction, I'll tell you that Richters has ginseng roots. . .

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), May 03, 1999.

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