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Old 28-02-2003, 06:29 PM
Henriette Kress
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Default Culinary herbFAQ part 5/7

Archive-name: food/culinary-herbs/part5
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Last-modified: 16Apr02
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2.28 Horehound

Latin name: Marrubium vulgare.

2.28.1 Growing horehound

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Horehound is a perennial native to the Mediterranean and northern Europe,
and is naturalized in the United States. It is a good border plant and
doesn't require much attention, but is sometimes winter-killed.

Horehound prefers a poor, dry sandy soil, and tolerates a wide pH range-
all the way from 4.5 to 8.

Horehound is easily grown from seed sown in shallow holes in fall or early
spring. It can also be propagated from stem cuttings, root divisions, or
layering. Space seedlings 8 to 15 inches apart.

2.28.2 Harvesting horehound

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Horehound flowers from June to September, but not always in its first year
as plants that are grown from seed may take two years to bloom. Harvest the
leaves and flowering tops in peak bloom, they are easy to dry, or can be
used fresh.

2.28.3 Using / preserving horehound

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Horehound tea, cough syrup and candy: (Dried leaves may be used for tea.)
Strip leaves from plant, chop into measuring cup. Measure out twice as much
water as leaves. Bring water alone to boil, then add horehound. Boil for
five minutes, let cool, and strain into jars. Refrigerate resulting
infusion until needed.

To make tea: Add twice as much boiling water as horehound infusion. Sweeten
to taste.
To make syrup: Add twice as much honey as horehound infusion and a little
lemon juice.
To make candy: Add twice as much sugar as horehound infusion, and add about
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar per cup of infusion. Stir to dissolve, and
cook over low heat until the hard ball stage (290F) is reached. Pour into
buttered plate. Break into pieces when cool.

Old-Time Horehound Candy

From: Fran frich.TENET.EDU: from _Herbal Treasures_ by Phyllis V. Shaudys
(highly recommended!):

2 cups fresh horehound, including leaves, stems and flowers (or 1 cup
2 1/2 quarts water
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. lemon juice (or 1 sprig lemon balm)

In large saucepan, cover horehound with water. Bring to boil, simmer 10
min. Strain thru cheesecloth and allow tea to settle. Ladle 2 cups
horehound tea into large kettle. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, cream of
tartar. Boil, stirring often, until mixture reaches 240F. Add butter.
Continue to boil until candy reaches 300F (hard crack). R4move from heat,
add lemon juice. Pour at once into buttered 8" square pan. As candy cools,
score into squares. Remove from pan as soon as it is cool. Store in
aluminum foil or ziplock plastic bags.

Note from Henriette: horehound candy, made with any horehound at all in it,
is exceedingly bitter. A far better cough candy can be made by using thyme,
hyssop (not anise hyssop) and peppermint instead of the horehound. That mix
is actually tasty.

2.29 Marjoram and Oregano

Latin names:
Origanum majorana (former: Majorana hortensis) - sweet marjoram, marjoram
Origanum vulgare - oregano or wild marjoram
Origanum onites - pot Marjoram
Origanum heracleoticum - winter marjoram
Origanum dictamnus - dittany of Crete, hop marjoram
Coleus amboinicus (Plectranthus amboinicus) - Cuban oregano
Mexican oregano: several plants, eg. Poliomintha longiflora, Lippia
graveolens, and Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia

Also see 2.29.4, Cuban oregano, and 2.29.4, Mexican oregano.

2.29.1 Growing marjoram and oregano

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Marjoram grows as an annual up to two feet tall in most parts of the United
States due to climate, but it is a perennial in its native north Africa,
Portugal, and southwest Asia.

Marjoram prefers a light, fairly rich, well-drained, slightly alkaline
soil, with a pH from 7 to 8. It like full sun.

Marjoram is easily grown from seed that is sown in spring, or by cuttings
taken in the summer. It can be induced to be perennial by overwintering
indoors in pots. When grown indoors it has a tendency to trail that makes
it good for hanging baskets. Marjoram makes a good companion plant for
eggplant, pumpkin and zucchini.

The genus Origanum contains about 20 species, of which five are common in
herb gardens. Oregano (O. vulgare) is a perennial, native to Asia, Europe,
and northern Africa. Pot marjoram (O. onites) is a close relative of sweet
marjoram that is native to the Mediterranean, and O. heracleoticum is
native to southeast Europe.

Oregano grows to 2.5 feet tall, and flowers from late July until September.
It is a sprawling herb and is therefore not well suited for growing
indoors. Pot marjoram grows to two feet tall, and neither it nor dittany of
Crete are hardy in cold climates. Dittany of Crete grows to one foot tall,
blooms in summer or autumn, and like Pot marjoram, grows as an annual in
cold climates. Dittany of Crete grows well indoors due to its small size
and its flavor is very similar to that of common oregano.

Oregano likes light, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil with full sun.
Rich, moist soil makes the aroma and flavor of oregano weak.

Oregano can be grown from seeds, stem cuttings, or root divisions, but
seeds are sometimes slow to germinate. Also, plants grown from seed may not
be true to the flavor of the parent plant, or may even be flavorless.
Oregano makes a good companion plant for cauliflower but should not be
planted with broccoli or cabbage.

2.29.2 Harvesting marjoram and oregano

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Marjoram: harvest the leaves as soon as blooming begins. They dry easily
and can be frozen, but some people believe that drying the leaves actually
improves the flavor, making it sweeter and more aromatic. Its flavor when
fresh is closer to that of oregano.

Harvest oregano leaves as plants begin to bloom.

2.29.3 Using / preserving marjoram and oregano

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Marjoram is great in tomato dishes, and with meats, onions, brussel
sprouts, or mushrooms.

Oregano is good with potato salad, fowl stuffing, peas, soups, scrambled
eggs, omelets, tomato dishes, meats, beans, deviled eggs, spaghetti, chili,
hamburgers and pizza. It is essential to Italian, Spanish, and Mexican
dishes, and combines well with basil.

Chicken Corn Soup with marjoram

2 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh marjoram
salt and pepper

Bring stock to a boil, add potatoes, cover, cook until potatoes are barely
tender. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and marjoram, add
salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about another 10 minutes.

2.29.4 Which oregano do you have?

From: Chris McElrath Mcmariah.AOL.COM:
The word oregano comes from the Greek "oro" meaning mountain and "ganos"
meaning joy. The generic stuff that nurseries sell is Origanum vulgare
which is attractive, but of little culinary value. Many of you may have
noticed that your oregano plants don't have much flavor. True greek oregano
is the same as what is often called wild marjoram. In fact, I usually use
marjoram in place of oregano in my recipes. Many nurseries interchange the
labels freely. Greeks felt that the sweet smell was created by Aphrodite as
a symbol of happiness. Bridal couples were crowned with it and it was
placed on tombs to give peace to the departed.
O. vulgare -- basic oregano, spreads by rhizomes, grows wild in England
O. onites is an upright plant -- called pot marjoram
O. heracleoticum -- winter marjoram, peppery and volatile flavor

Cuban oregano:

From: Ann McCormick McCORMICK9.AOL.COM
I have recently purchased some Cuban oregano, with botanical name of

"Coleus ambionicus". It has thick, almost fleshy leaves that are 1 to 2
inches long with a somewhat fuzzy surface. It has a wonderful fragrance
that reminds me of oregano with a kick.
The garden shop owner told me she knew very little about it other that

some of her customers use it in cooking and that it is should be grown like
an annual here (Zone 6, Central New Jersey). From the botanical name (and
its appearance) it is obviously not a true oregano. Have any of you grown
this plant? Any information would be appreciated.

From: (Rastapoodle)
It is Plectranthus, a tropical substitute for Oregano. It is totally safe,
and very pungent, so a little goes a long way. Richters Herb in Canada
should sell it. Here in Miami, it's almost a weed, as all of the Caribbean
and Latin American residents treasure it. It grows easily from cuttings,
prefers sun/semi-shade during the hottest part of the day.


From: (stephen otrembiak)
Someone just told me they purchased "cuban oregano" they wanted to know

more about this intriguing plant. Apparently it is a succulent and has a
very strong oregano flavor. He thought it was a strange plant and is
reluctant to use it for culinary purposes.
If anyone has more info on this plant or knows where it can be purchased I

would appreciate the info.

From: weed
I don't know where you would get it in New York, Steve. Here in Northern
California, it is sold in the herb section, usually in 4-inch pots. It's
hairy, which is why I think you wouldn't want to use it in cooking. It's
very pungent, though, great smell. There are enough good oreganos for
cooking, I like to leave the really ornamental ones for growing. This plant
needs *excellent* drainage, full sun and not too much water or it will bite
the dust. I have one growing in a pot, and one growing in an old sandbox
I'm turning into a rock garden. You can just break off a stem and put it in
a pot for a new plant. I've given lots of them to people. I would bet that
it's tender, and you'd have to bring it indoors in winter (we don't get
cold enough here for me to find out). I had one growing on the bright, hot
windowsill in my kitchen for a long time before planting it out, so that
works, too.

Cuban oregano is an excellent plant. I've used it in cooking and it is
wonderful. Especially in salsas with tomatillos, tomatoes peppers etc.
As a house plant its great. It needs practically no watering and its
varigated with cream around the edge of creamy green leaves.

From: (Arthur Evans)
Here's one shot in the dark ... In The Art of Mexican Cooking, Diana
Kennedy describes the various kinds of oregano used in regional Mexican
cooking (there are apparently at least 13 kinds), including the following:
"There is [...] a large, juicy-leaved oregano grown and used fresh in the
Yucatan Peninsula and Tabasco, mostly with fish. It is Coleus amboinicus (I
have also seen it growing in Hawaii) and it is referred to in Tabasco as
Juicy-leaved could mean succulent, and something that grows in the Yucatan
might well grow in Cuba ...

Mexican Oregano:

From: Chris McElrath Mcmariah.AOL.COM
Mexican oregano is a general name for several plants, all of which have a
strong oregano flavor: Poliomintha longiflora, Lippia graveolens, and
Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia. These are probably the most common but
there are others.
So, it comes down to: Mexican oregano is a common name which is used for
several different species that grow in the southwestern US and Mexico. If
you can find one, it probably has more flavor than the ubiquitous O.

2.30 Caraway

Latin name: Carum carvi

2.30.1 Growing caraway

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Caraway is a hardy biennial native to Europe and western Asia. It grows to
2 1/2 ft. tall. Caraway like full sun, and does well in dry heavy clay soil
that has a moderate amount of humus (pH between 6 and 7.5). It doesn't like
having its roots disturbed.

Caraway is easily grown from seed that is sown in either early spring or in
the fall. Seeds planted in September will flower and produce seed the
following summer. It occasionally matures in the third summer of growth.

Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 in. deep, they will germinate in 7 to 21 days, or
more. Space seedlings 12 to 24 in. apart.

2.30.2 Harvesting caraway

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Harvest seeds as soon as they begin to ripen to avoid shattering of the
fruits. They ripen from June to August of the second year.

2.30.3 Using / preserving caraway

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Roots taste like a combination of parsnips and carrots, and they can be
boiled like a vegetable.
Young shoots and leaves can be cooked with other vegetables or can be
chopped into salads.
The dry seeds are used in rye bread, sauerkraut, cheeses, applesauce,
soups, salad dressings, apple pie, cabbage dishes, potatoes, and stew.
Seeds contain small amounts of protein and vitamin B.

2.31 Catnip

Latin names: Nepeta cataria and other Nepeta species.

2.31.1 Growing catnip

From (Susan L. Nielsen):
To all catnip culture hopefuls... my own tale of woe.

I guess the point was mainly to grow it for the cats, but I had anticipated
waiting until the holidays and using it for gifts.

The first time, I naively plunked the catnip among the mints and
pennyroyals. The poor little transplant never pushed its roots out from the
pot-shaped ball they came in. The neighbor cats ripped it out of the ground
and played football with it all afternoon -- this I judge from its
condition when I arrived home from work the second evening.

Silly me, I thought then that a bit of wire would keep the cats off it. I
tenderly re-planted the invalid Nepeta with a bit of poultry wire arranged
over the top and staked into the soil. I have always wondered what happened
to the wire...

After this second violation, the plant did not look a likely candidate for
survival. In medical terms, its condition was 'grave.'

So I brought home another, and planted it in the top of a _large_, heavy
imported Italian terra cotta pot. Filled with soil, this pot weighs in at
about 75 pounds. Imagine my horror, when I returned home the following
evening, to find the pot overturned, the soil excavated, the catnip plant
nowhere to be found, but significant tufts of animal fur scattered among
the wreckage. It passed through my mind that this might not be an ordinary
cat at work, but, perhaps, Something Larger? The yellow tiger-colored hairs
did, however, suggest a domestic visitor over an apricot catamount.

I next (jaw set, grim determination in my eye) planted catnip in a plastic
pot hung by 3 chains from the cross-bar of the clothesline. With pliars I
closed the hook that passed through the eye of the bar. I arranged new
chicken wire over the top of the pot. I put cast-off barbed wire at the
base of the clothesline pole, and anchored it with iron stakes driven in at
angles. I stood back to admire my work. It looked like an industrial
construction project on the perimeter of a prison.

I have always prided myself on effective design in the garden...

On the following evening, I probably need not tell, the catnip had again
been ravaged. The scene was improbable. The pot, still attached by one of
three chains, hung at a debauched angle. Its contents had spilled into the
barbed wire at the base of the installation.
Among those wires were traces of catnip leaves, and quantities of yellow
and white fur, soft fur, tinged with spots of blood. Bits of perlite from
the potting medium clung to the red spots. The catnip, and the nipped cat,
were nowhere in evidence.

I adopted a philosophical outlook then, as I surveyed the result of the
day's work. I decided it might be a better thing to not grow catnip in the



From Judi Burley jburley.TRIANON.WORLDTEL.COM:
Regarding Catnip. I use a cage over mine. Just an old birdcage. Then the
cats can get at what grows out of the cage but the base plant is safe. By
the way I put the cage over the plant and then drive the cage into the
ground well. Works great.


From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Catnip is a very hardy perennial that is native to the dry regions of the
Mediterranean, inland Europe, Asia, and Africa. Cataria grows to 4 feet
tall and somewhat resembles stinging nettle. Mussinii grows to 1 foot,
sprawls. It has a citrus-like scent and is sometimes called catmint. In
order to keep cats away from catnip avoid bruising the leaves, which
releases the oils. "If you sow it cats won't know it, if you set it cats
will get it," is an apt saying.

Catnip loves full sun but can tolerate partial shade, and does well in
almost any garden soil (pH between 5 and 7.5). It is more pungent when it
is grown in sandy soil with full sun.

Catnip is easily grown from seed, and can also be propagated from root
division. Plant seeds 1/4 in. deep or shallower, they will usually
germinate promptly. Space seedlings 18 to 24 in. apart, they transplant
fairly happily. (However, transplanting them brings them to the attention
of the felines.) Catnip grows well in pots and windowboxes, and even though
it is a perennial, it may have to be re-planted a couple times a year to
replace those plants ravaged by the cats.

2.31.2 Harvesting catnip

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Harvest as needed for fresh leaves. Harvest flowering tops for drying,
usually in July and September.

2.31.3 Using / preserving catnip

From Jennifer A. Cabbage
Catnip can be used to add an unusual flavor to sauces, soups and stews.

2.32 Lovage

Latin name:
Lovage: Levisticum officinalis (Ligusticum levisticum)
Scotch lovage: Ligusticum scoticum.

2.32.1 Growing lovage

From: (Nick Maclaren):
This is a broad-leaved, tall (6-10') and (for an umbellifer) long-lived
perennial. It has deep fleshy roots, and prefers deep, well-drained soil
with some moisture in a light but not necessarily sunny position.

It dies down completely in the winter and will survive the top inch or so
of the soil freezing solid. It may be grown from seed, small plants, or by
splitting older ones in its dormant season. It spreads slowly but is not

From HeK:
If you give it good soil and plenty of sun it'll go for the height record
in your garden - I've seen plants that were over 3 m (10') high. On the
other hand, in a poor spot it'll only get to about 50 cm (2'). The roots
will be enormous no matter where it grows. You can propagate it from pieces
of root, and it's an 'easy to garden' plant - nothing will crowd it out and
I have yet to see an unhealthy plant.

2.32.2 Harvesting lovage

From: (Nick Maclaren):
The leaves can be used fresh or dried in the usual way, or the seed can be
harvested for winter use. An established plant produces huge heads of

From HeK:
The roots are used in cooking in Europe. Dig them, take a step or two back,
try to dig again. Give up, and at least try to break off a chunk or two.
Dry these in small chunks and powder before use. Caution - very little goes
a long way.
You pick the seeds when they turn brown; dry them and add as a spice to
your foods.
You pick a leaf a year (they have a very strong taste and are -really-
large), dry it and use it as a spice.
You can pick a leaf- or flowerstalk and shoot peas - it's much more fun
than weeding the garden, and you might hit a fly or two, too or you can
use it as a drinking straw.

2.32.3 Using / preserving lovage

From: (Nick Maclaren):
It has a taste rather like celery with a hint of yeast extract, and is a
traditional flavour enhancer; it can be used in quite large quantities.
The young leaves are excellent chopped in salads, but the normal use is to
put the older leaves or seeds in soups, stews, casseroles, stock etc.
The seeds will keep for a year or two (for cooking) in a tightly closed
jar. It is an extremely useful herb.

From HeK:
It's the main spice in all those dried soups - in Germany it has been
called the Maggi-herb, after one big dried soup firm over there. I add it
to all kinds of stews and soups, and it fits nicely in a spicemix with
ginger, sweet pepper, cayenne, turmeric, garlic powder... sorry, have to go
cook something now. And oh yes, you can also candy young stems of lovage. I
wouldn't vouch for that taste, though. Anyone want to try? Let me know how
many you managed to eat ; )


Lovage overdose - nausea

From Chrissie Wildwood:
Ignoring my common sense, I followed the advice given in one of my herbal
cook books - that is, to use lovage 'like spinach'. This implies that the
herb is safe to use in quantity. So I used four stems of fresh lovage leaf,
mixed with a much larger proportion of spinach, and used this as a basis
for a cheese flan. Even though the flan tasted delicious, less than an hour
later we (myself, partner and a friend) began to feel nauseous. I sensed
lovage was the culprit. Fortunately, I had some peppermint oil tablets
available. We chewed two tablets each and this quelled the nausea within a
few minutes.

The herb's emetic side-effect is largely overlooked. Indeed, only one
reference book in my vast herbal library offers a warning against over use
of lovage: 'The Illustrated Book of Herbs, Their Medicinal and Culinary
Uses', by Jiri Stodola and Jan Volak, published by Octopus, 1984 (a
translation from the Czech). Here we are warned: 'If taken internally in
excess, lovage may cause nausea and vertigo.'

But what constitutes an 'excessive' dose? Undoubtedly, four leafy stems
shared between three adults (even though cooked for an hour in a pastry
case with spinach, beaten egg, cream and cheese) can make you feel very
queasy. Thankfully we didn't experience vertigo as well.

2.32.4 Which lovage do you have?

From Henriette:
Scotch lovage can be used like lovage. Can't say how it differs from
lovage, though, as it doesn't grow here. I imagine the taste is milder -
how else can you explain that the English make a stew out of lovage leaves?

2.33 Savory, summer and winter

Latin name:
Summer savory: Satureja hortensis
Winter savory: Satureja montana

2.33.1 Growing savory

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Summer Savory: This is a medium-sized (1') annual, and needs reasonably
warm, damp conditions for germination, but needs only a little water
thereafter. It has small seeds, so don't sow it too deep. It may be
possible to sow it for succession in warmer climates than the UK, but it
isn't here.
Winter Savory: Treat it exactly as common thyme (thymus vulgaris), which it
closely resembles; however, it is slightly more compact, darker leaved and
has white flowers. Like thyme, it makes a good edging plant.

From: Esther Czekalski E.Czekalski.MA02Q.BULL.COM
Summer savory is sometimes called the bean herb because it goes so well
with green beans. It is a much more delicate plant than winter savory and
in my experience, can handle a little more shade. In my zone I can only
grow it as an annual; winter savory will overwinter and stay almost
evergreen if it's mulched a bit.

2.33.2 Harvesting savory

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Summer Savory: The leaves can be used fresh or dried in the usual way.
Winter Savory: The leaves can be used fresh or dried in the usual way, but
it is evergreen in the UK (again, exactly like thyme).

2.33.3 Using / preserving savory

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Winter Savory: It has a flavour somewhere between thyme and summer savory,
but is slightly bitter. It can be used as an alternative for either, and
makes an interesting change, but be careful not to use too much. It is
nothing like as bitter as hyssop.
Summer Savory: It has a special affinity for beans and is known as the
"Bohnenkraut" in Germany - adding it to bean salad turns horse food into a
delicacy! It can also be used in salads, and for other flavouring.

From: Esther Czekalski E.Czekalski.MA02Q.BULL.COM
I like to get a bite of summer savory in salads, too, lettuce salads,
potato salads, whatever. The leaves are fairly small so I just strip them
from the stem and throw them in; chop them if you don't love herbs as much
as I do. You can use it in soups and things but the flavor is so delicate
that you might not know that you did! It would be better served chopped as
a topping to hot dishes. (Put the winter savory in while it's cooking.)
The winter savory can be kept whole, tied with other herbs and taken out of
the soup before serving.
Has anyone ever used savory for it's smell? I wonder if it wouldn't add a
nice note to a lemony mixture. I just don't know if it lasts. Also, I have
never preserved either variety so can't tell you what works best.

2.34 Rue

Latin name: Ruta graveolens

2.34.1 Growing rue

From: (Nick Maclaren):
It is a short-lived (c. 5 years) evergreen perennial 1-2' high, and seems
totally indifferent to soil. It takes incredibly easily from cuttings and
responds very well to being hacked back when it gets leggy.
Apparently it can also be grown from seed. Jackman's Blue is the most
decorative variety, and tastes the same as the common green one. It is
hardy in the UK, but I don't know how much frost it will take.

2.34.2 Harvesting rue

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Don't bother, unless you are Italian!

2.34.3 Using / preserving rue

From: (Nick Maclaren):
It is extremely bitter, and is used in very small quantities in Roman
(ancient) and Italian cookery - but do experiment, because it really does
add something. There is an Italian liqueur called (surprise!) Ruta, which
has a branch of rue in the bottle, but is too bitter for most foreigners to
drink :-)

From HeK:
It is also considered slightly toxic nowadays. Sensitive people can develop
photosensitivity due to the coumarins in the plant when handling it; these
folks should not ingest it. Otherwise, small amounts not too often should
be OK - but if you can't take it then don't take it.

2.35 Rocket

Latin name: Eruca sativa

2.35.1 Growing Rocket

From: (Nick Maclaren):
It is a quick-growing annual about 2' high, and even in the UK will produce
seed in well under a growing season. Sow it every few weeks for succession,
and leave one early sowing for seed. It will probably escape, but is not a
pernicious weed. A late sowing will last until the first severe frosts.

2.35.2 Harvesting rocket

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Use its leaves fresh.

2.35.3 Using / preserving rocket

From: (Nick Maclaren):
It has a smoky taste, and is used to enliven salads - it gives some flavour
even to supermarket Iceberg lettuce! It is probably the best of the
traditional (but now neglected) salad plants, and is well worth the space
even in a very small garden.

2.36 Angelica

Latin name: Angelica archangelica

2.36.1 Growing Angelica

From: (Nick Maclaren):
This is a broad-leaved, monocarpic biennial or perennial (i.e. it takes 2-5
years to flower, and then dies) 6-10' high. It likes half shade (to reduce
the grass cover), and damp, rich soil. Given the right environment, it will
self seed and keep itself established. If you have a very hot, dry garden,
don't bother with it. It looks very much like lovage, but smells entirely

From HeK:
If you keep the flowerstalk down (break it off every time you see it
emerge) the plant will be perennial - until it does flower.

2.36.2 Harvesting angelica

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Cut the side-shoots (which can be quite thick stems) before they become
stringy - this is in May or June in the UK, and is just as the flower heads
start to open. You can also cut the flower shoots off a little earlier,
which will have the effect of keeping the plant alive for a year or so
longer, but it will die after about 5 years anyway.

2.36.3 Using / preserving angelica

Candied angelica stems
From: (Nick Maclaren):

Cut the shoots into strips about 6" long and 1/2" wide, and remove untidy
bits. Blanch them (i.e. bring them to the boil and throw away the water).
Then candy them, using gradually increasing strengths of sugar syrup. When
they are done, dry them and keep them, but don't throw away the syrup; it
keeps for at least a year in the refrigerator and for a long time just in a
They can be used for decoration, in fruit salad, in ice cream and so on.

The syrup can be used for sweetening such things, and adds a strong
angelica taste. I recommend angelica ice cream, made with the chopped
stems, syrup and Chartreuse (an angelica-based liqueur) - this recipe is my
own invention, incidentally, and this is the first publication :-)

The young leaves and stems are also naturally sweet, and can be used in
stewed fruits or other puddings, or used in pot pourris.


Home Candied Angelica
From (Helen Peagram), quoting Philippa
Davenport in "Country Living" (British), May 1987.

1 lb Angelica
1 lb Granulated sugar

The most important thing about candying angelica is to choose stalks that
are young and tender. In other words, angelica is only worth candying in
April or May when the shoots are new and softly coloured. Trim the young
shoots into 3-4 inch lengths, put them into a pan, cover with water and
bring to a boil. Drain and scrape away tough skin and fibrous threads with
a potato peeler, rather as you might prepare celery. Return the angelica to
the pan, pour on fresh boiling water and cook until green and tender. If
the shoots are as youthful as they should be, this will take 5 minutes or
less. Drain the stalks and dry them. Put them into a bowl and sprinkle
granulated sugar between layers, allowing 1 pound of sugar for every 1
pound of angelica.
Cover and leave for 2 to 3 days.
Slide contents of the bowl into a heavy-based pan. Bring very slowly to the
boil and simmer until the angelica feels perfectly tender and looks clear.
Drain, then roll or toss the shoots on greaseproof paper thickly strewn
with sugar, letting the angelica take up as much sugar as will stick to it.
Then dry off the angelica - without letting it become hard - in the oven,
using the lowest possible temperature. I place the stalks directly on the
oven shelves (with trays underneath to catch any falling sugar) and find
they need about 3 hours. Wrap and store after cooling completely. Packed
into pretty little boxes, home-candied angelica makes a charming present.


Angelica stem survey:
Have you eaten candied angelica stems? Did you like it? Would you eat them
again? Answers to the survey, so far:

* From Ingolfur Guðnason
Since you are asking: yes, I have tried to make candied angelica from
young leaf stalks. It is very nice. I keep a jar in my refrigerator
and serve it to guests as a curiosity.
In the times of the Vikings candied angelica was in very high esteem,
sold as a candy in the streets of Norway and British Isles etc.
* From Francoise Chevallier Allard
It is commonly used for cakes in central Europe, and in Italy for
icecreams. I think it is nice, but perhaps a little strong.
* From "Mike Toop"
I just made candied angelica (A. archangelica) for the first time. It
has... an interesting flavour. I would try it again. In fact, I'm
willing to try just about anything to use up the stuff... it is
growing like crazy in my garden!
* From (David Johnston)
Yes, I have eaten Candied angelica stems. When I was small, my mother
would decorate the top of an iced cake using angelica and glace'
cherries. The combination of the red and green detail on a ground of
white icing is very attractive visually. The trick was to cut the
(expensive) candied stems into thin slices to make it go further.
When I'd grown up, I bought some candied angelica for my own larder,
and permitted myself a taste in isolation. The taste is superb, and
memories from my childhood flooded back! I would eat candied angelica
all the time if it wasn't so expensive. As a result, I've been trying
to grow angelica for about 10 years. Finally, last year a seed
germinated and now I'm attempting to candy the stem. That is why I
looked up the FAQ!
* From "Duane Harding"
My dad use to buy it in New York City in the early 1970's. We used it
to flavour Christmas pudding.

2.37 Sweet Cicely

Latin name: Myrrhis odorata.

2.37.1 Growing sweet cicely

From: (Nick Maclaren):
You have a wild garden, a long way away from anywhere else? No? Then don't
grow this. Sweet cicely likes half shade and a moist, rich soil (like
angelica), but is horribly invasive when it likes the conditions. It is a
perennial 2-3' high, with deep roots. Like most umbellifers, the individual
plants are short lived, but it seeds itself like crazy. Its leaves are a
pretty mottled green, and are large and fairly deeply cut.

2.37.2 Harvesting sweet cicely

From: (Nick Maclaren):
Its leaves can be dried, though this is tricky, or its seeds can be

From Henriette: the seeds taste of anise only if they are still greenish.
Completely black seed have no taste whatsoever.

2.37.3 Using / preserving sweet cicely

From: (Nick Maclaren):
It is naturally sweet (like angelica), but has a mild aniseed flavour; very
pleasant, if you like aniseed. It can be added to stewed fruits, other
puddings etc., or used in pot pourris.

2.38 Mexican Mint Marigold (MMM) / Mexican tarragon

Latin name: Tagetes lucida (T. florida).
Common names: Mexican Marigold Mint, Mexican Mint Marigold, Mexican Mint
Tarragon, Mint Marigold, Texas Tarragon, Sweet Marigold, Cloud Plant,
Yerbanis, Hierba anis, Coronilla, Pericon

2.38.1 Growing MMM

From: Chris McElrath Mcmariah.AOL.COM
The following descriptive information is taken from "The Herb Garden
Cookbook" by Lucinda Hutson.
Characteristics of MMM: "Glossy lance-shaped leaves, finely serrated:strong
anise scent; brilliant golden marigold-like flowers in fall; perennial".
MMM likes "loose, well-draining soil; full sun"
Propagation: roots easily in water; readily reseeds Plant seeds in the
fall, germination in a few days.
Mature plant will be appr. 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide.
Especially good in hot, dry conditions where French tarragon won't grow.

2.38.3 Using / preserving MMM

From: Chris McElrath Mcmariah.AOL.COM
MMM is the best available substitute for Tarragon (see 2.11). The french
word for tarragon is "Estragon" which means "little dragon". MMM lacks the
fiery flavor of tarragon, but its anise flavor is more pronounced. In
Mexico MMM is used as a medicinal tea to calm stomachs and nerves, cure
colds, alleviate hangovers. Allegedly, the Aztecs used MMM in a numbing
powder which they blew into sacrificial victims' faces to calm their fears.
Besides as a tarragon substitute, MMM can be used as a pleasant tea
flavoring. It is tasty added to sangria, punches, mulled cider. Also good
in vinaigrettes.


From: Chris McElrath Mcmariah.AOL.COM

Mexican Mint Tarragon Chicken

This recipe I have tried and it is quite good. It comes from Lucinda
Hutson's "The Herb Garden Cookbook"

4 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
3 green onions, with tops
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp fresh marigold mint, chopped
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp white wine

Slightly flatten chicken breasts and trim excess fat. Sprinkle with salt
and pepper. Set aside.
Combine the remaining ingredients to make a thick paste. Place appr. 1 1/2
Tbsp. of the paste on each breast. Roll up tightly. Place seam side down on
a lightly oiled baking dish and dot breasts with any remaining herb
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Slice into
medallions to serve.

Marigold Mint Vinaigrette

1 egg yolk
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup MMM vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped MMM
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of salt and cayenne

Blend the egg yolk, garlic, mustard, pepper and honey with a fork. Add the
vinegar and chopped herbs; mix well. Slowly whish in the oil in a steady
stream until thickened. Adjust seasonings.

Tomatoes Rellenos

4 med. size tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp MMM vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp crushed dried red chile
3 tbsp marigold mint, finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels, chilled
2 small zucchinis, chopped
4-6 green onions, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Peel tomatoes (if desired) by plunging them in boiling water for 30
seconds, then immediately immersing them in cold water. Cut tops off
tomatoes and remove some of the pulp. Lightly salt the shells and invert
them on paper towels to drain.
Make the vinaigrette by combining garlic, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil,
dried mustard, tomato paste, brown sugar, and half of the fresh herbs.
Dribble a small amount of vinaigrette (reserve half) into each shell, and
Combine corn, zucchini, green onion, bell pepper, salt, pepper and the
remaining herbs. Mix with remaining vinaigrette and chill for several
Generously stuff each tomato with the corn/squash mixture, and drizzle any
remaining vinaigrette over the top.


From: Fran frich.TENET.EDU
Following is a really good marinade using Mexican Mint Marigold. It's from
our herb society's soon-to-be-published cookbook. I made it yesterday and
marinated some chicken breasts in it before grilling. Delish!
But first a comment about Lucinda Hutson, from who's book Chris took the
MMM info. She has come down from Austin (to San Antonio) several times to
speak to our club. She is one of the most delightful people! The first time
she had slides of her house and garden - to die for! The next time she
talked about her newest book on tequila and had slides of her travels in
Mexico researching it. She obviously had a *lot* of fun.
Now for the marinade.

Herb Marinade

(Marjie Christopher)

1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Mexican Mint Marigold or French Tarragon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Pour wine vinegar into blender jar. Add remaining ingredients; blend at low
speed for 10 seconds. Pour into jar with tight cover and refrigerate.
Makes 1 3/4 cups. Good as marinade for poultry, beef, pork, or lamb.

2.39 Shiso or Perilla

This entire entry is (c) 1999 by Terry J. Klokeid, Amblewood Organic Farm,

Latin name: Perilla frutescens
Japanese name: Shiso (Varietal names are aojiso and akajiso)
Other names: Fanciful names exist, e.g. cinnamon plant, beefsteak plant

2.39.1 Growing Shiso

Shiso definitely demands to be treated like a warm weather annual plant.
Set it out in pots or plant it outside when it's warm, in full sun. Or keep
it as a houseplant or in the greenhouse. Shiso seems to have no particular
pests apart from earwigs, and is not eaten by deer.

We have had shiso grow successfully in a variety of conditions, from
constantly wet soil near a pond, to very well- drained soil - having dried
out because one of us always forgets to water. But shiso can't stand
crowding, and it does need an adequate quantity of good soil, unlike many

2.39.2 Harvesting Shiso

Just pluck a few big, healthy shiso leaves when you want to eat 'em.

2.39.3 Using / Preserving Shiso

Shiso is popular in Japan to give flavouring and/or colour to just about
anything: tempura, sashimi, tofu, pickles.

The leaves of the green variety, aojiso, may be served as a garnish like
parsely, and may be sprinkled with shoyu (soy sauce). They can be used in
salads and to flavour sweetpotatoes.

In Japan, we have also enjoyed home-cooked tempura with leaves of shiso
cooked in it, just like a vegetable. Young shiso shoots are eaten with
sashimi (raw fish). Shiso leaves are included with mixed vegetables
preserved in miso (a paste of fermented soy and cereal).

The saved seeds from shiso are sometimes used on baked goods, like sesame
seeds, and are referred to as egoma.

The red or purple variety, akajiso, is the preferred variety in Japan for
adding flavour and scarlet colour to umeboshi -pickled sour plums- and
preserved ginger.

Some people find the taste very strong at first, so it's worth tasting just
a part of a leaf.

Other uses include red or pink food colouring and an edible oil from the
seed (which has also been used for paints).

Shiso leaves rapidly lose flavour and aroma when dried, so this is not a
suitable way to preserve shiso.

2.39.4 Which Shiso do you have?

Thre are two varieties:
1. Aojiso, Green Perilla
2. Akajiso, Purple Perilla (or sometimes Red Perilla)

Selections have been made for ornamental features. For example, the
'lanciniata' variety of akajiso has more deeply serrated leaves than common

2.40 Capers

By Miriam Kresh, in Tsfat, Israel

Latin name: Capparis spinosa, capers, thorny butterfly


Also see Pickled Nasturtium Pods or Seeds, ch. 2.12.3.

2.40.1 Growing Capers (or watching it grow, as it were)

Every day, I pass wild gardens thriving in the old walls of my town. In
late winter and spring, the succulent green disks of navelwort vie for
place with pellitory of the wall, dandelions, pink cyclamens, and sometimes
small, flowering almond trees. The wild mustard seeds itself willingly
between the stones and doesn’t mind the proximity of white veronica,
henbit, or the lovely, and poisonous, henbane. These, and other herbs make
their appearances on the town walls over the weeks of our short rainy
season, making a rich display to marvel at every year, regretfully to be
saluted as the days once more lengthen into summer. After a few really hot
days, the tender, moist vegetation dries, shrinks back, and disappears.

By mid-June, Tsfat’s walls are adorned with skeletons of the henbane, still
elegant, although dusty brown where their springtime yellow and purple
enticed the eye before. Seedlings of figs entrench themselves between the
cracks, and the pellitory, far less lush-looking than in spring, still
clings, holding its own against the dry heat. A welcome visitor to town and
field now is the prickly, but extravagantly beautiful caper bush.

Capparis spinosa is an edible weed of the Capparaceae family, with a
history stretching back to Pharaonic times. Tightly rooted in its wall
crack or rock crevice, it bushes out gallantly during the most arid months
of the Mediterranean summer. Small buds, closed tight as fists, spring
daily from the long shoots, opening eventually into exquisite white flowers
with violet pistils and stamens; they look like butterflies at rest. The
small, thumbnail-shaped leaves descend the reddish stem at short intervals,
armed at the joint with subtle, small hooks which discourage grazing
animals; it’s known that not even a camel will eat the caper. Caper fruit
resembles a small cucumber hanging down, and may be also be pickled, after
having been soaked. An innocuous red shoot, thrusting out from some crevice
in the sidewalk, may become quite a large bush which will catch at your
clothing with its thorns as you pass by.

The literature on the subject of capers is most concerned with its
rubefacient (skin-irritating) property, as the plant yields
isothiocyanates, or mustard oils, upon being crushed. That’s probably
another reason grazers stay away; I myself am prepared to come home with
hands pricked and stinging from a caper-picking expedition. Folk medicine,
however, knows the fruit and tender tips to be alterative, astringent,
diuretic, expectorant, and carminative. (With regard to the last, on
searching through the Net for pages relating to capers, I found a
Portuguese site devoted entirely to plants which relieve flatulence, where
capers were among herbs mentioned.) Some cultures consider capers a
specific for rheumatism. A Maltese study suggests that the presence of the
flavinoid rutin makes the caper a valuable medicinal herb, as it “improves
capillary function” (Rita Spiteri, University of Malta).

I also saw mention of an experiment with guinea pigs who had been
sensitised with a variety of animal and vegetable allergens. Those treated
with a preparation of caper root survived, while those who went untreated
died of shock (Khakberdyev et al., 1968).

Other edible capers a Capparis corymbifera, C. decidua,C. mitchellii,
and C. sodala. These are capers harvested locally and not exported. Known
best as a culinary herb, Capparis spinosa’s pickled buds are a gourmet item
whose cost is justified by the laborious and painful process of
hand-picking. The smallest buds, viewed as the choicest, are the most
expensive. (Large buds are those which are close to blooming, and could
become mushy in the pickling process.) Despite this, a new, giant variety
is gaining popularity. It is known as the caperberry, and can be
substituted for olives in many recipes. Spain and Africa supply most of the
world’s pickled capers, although they are cultivated (or grow wild) all
along the Mediterranean through Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. In effect,
climates where olive trees thrive are those good for capers. Rarely is the
caper found in the United States, although parts of Florida or California
are possibly suitable. It is known as an “exotic”: I have seen prices as
high as $2.50 for five seeds.

Capparis has a family of an estimated 250 species. Here are ways to
identify it in other languages:

French: prier, pres,
German: Kapper, Kapernstrauch
Italian: cappero, capperone (fruit)
Spanish: alcaparro
Portuguese: alcaparra
Hebrew: Tsalaf
Hindi: kiari, kobra

Ancient Jewish sources (The Bible and the Mishnah) mention capers as a
titheable crop, giving specific Hebrew names to each edible part; buds,
fruit and the tender new shoots. The Sages of ancient times compared the
Jewish people to the caper for their ability to survive even after being
cut down to the roots, and to thrive in the most inhospitable conditions.
The Western Wall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem is host to seven species
of herbs, the caper among them. Although henbane is the most common, when
people ask, “What’s the flower growing out of the Wall?” they mean the
eye-catching white and purple flowers of the caper bush.

2.40.3 Using / preserving Capers

You have to be dedicated to pickle the caper. Harvesting it means bearing a
certain amount of prickly agony. Tiny green buds appear daily on the
bushes, which must be constantly monitored for new appearances. The small,
closed bud with no streak of white on it is what you pick, if you want a
firm but tender product. For pickling the shoots, cut them into
finger-sized lengths and peel them. If picked too mature, the fruit’s seeds
will be large and bitter, rendering it unpalatable, so pick only the
smaller fruit.

Then your crop must be soaked for two days, changing the water once; this
allows a flavorful fungus which is on the plant to develop (good cheese
also needs fungus). Finally, get out your mason jar and cure the caper: any
simple salt or vinegar pickling recipe will do. The flavor of the finished
product will be piquant; bitter-sour. The walls of my small town in
Northern Israel provide me with all the caper I have desire to pickle.
Following, however, is an easy recipe using the capers you can buy in
little jars.

Butter Sauce with Capers

4-6 servings
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup capers
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt the butter, stir in remaining ingredients. Remove from the flame.
Serve over vegetables or fish, or incorporate into mayonnaise to perk it
up. Try stirring a small amount into cream cheese for super lox and bagels.

It’s worth viewing this lovely flower – here are some photos.

Images of the Capparacea family: and
Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plant Image list:

Anyone living where the caper bush grows will know that the flower, once
picked, is so frail as to almost dissolve in the hand. A beautiful way of
enjoying the bloom at home is to pick several maturing buds (for this you
actually want a white streak in them); put them in a glass bowl with water
almost up to the rim. They will open like Japanese paper flowers and float
there, reminding you less of butterflies than of water lilies. Put them in
a sunny place – window ledge or table - to highlight their exquisite

End of part 5 of 7
Henriette Kress Helsinki, Finland
Over 40 MB herbal .html files (FAQs, classic texts, articles, links), plus
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