What is Rosemary?
Rosemary is an evergreen of the mint family whose origin is the source of an interesting legend. It is said that the Virgin Mary spread her blue cloak on a white-flowered bush one night. The next morning, when she removed the cloak, the flowers on the bush had turned blue and have remained so ever since. Legend has it that the plant became known as the “Rose of Mary.” A more scientific explanation comes from its botanical name (ros meaning foam or dew, and marinum, of the sea). Rosemary is often found on the coasts of the Mediterranean thriving under the fog and spray of the sea.
Under proper conditions, the rosemary bush can grow to a height of 5 to 6 feet producing pale blue flowers, narrow leaves and woody brown stems. The leaves are the primary source of the spice and have an appearance that is similar to pine needles. Though the plant has historically been used for medicinal purposes and funeral rituals, it is cultivated today primarily for its spice value to flavor foods.
What is it used for today?
Rosemary is a component of numerous herb blends particularly those for seasoning potatoes and green vegetables. It is found in lamb dishes as well as several soups and stews. Bakers have also begun to use more of the spice in herbed breads and croutons for its pleasant bittersweet flavor and aroma.