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Spice Up Meals with Rosemary

Rosemary is an evergreen bush with woody branches and needle-like leaves that adds a piney spice to meals. The herb originates from the Mediterranean region. It's a sun-loving plant that can grow 2-6 feet, producing little blue flowers.

It's an attractive addition to any ornamental garden and can be formed into a topiary. You often see it shaped like a tree and decorated at Christmas. When the holidays are over, plant the small bush in a sunny location, in well-drained soil. It will produce an abundance of this hardy herb.

Growing Tips

A member of the mint family, the scent of rosemary is spicy, with hints of camphor and pine.

It's a fairly low maintenance plant. Prune in the spring cutting away the tender stems and removing any dead wood.

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Common pests that attack this herb are mealy bugs, spider mites, white flies, and scale. Also, watch for powdery mildew in humid regions of the country.

Medicinal Benefits

Like many herbs and spices, rosemary has potential medicinal benefits. It is a source of vitamin B 6, calcium, and iron. It's been reported to alleviate muscle pain, improve memory and boost the immune and circulatory systems.

With any supplement, be sure and check with your physician before using it. There may be interactions with some prescribed drugs you may be taking. Other benefits include improved digestion, its use in anti-inflammatory compounds, and the antioxidants it contains.

Cooking Tips

Rosemary is often a "go to" herb in cooking. The aromatic plant provides flavor when added to red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, and lamb. It also enhances the flavor of tomato based dishes, and root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.

The herb is popular in Italian cuisine, but rosemary is just as tasty in many other dishes. A couple sprigs of rosemary placed in the cavity of a roasting chicken will enrich the taste of the meat.

Another use is infusing olive oil with a couple sprigs of the herb. Add the rosemary to the bottle of oil and let sit for several days. It makes a delightful dipping oil.

You can also flavor butter with it. Take a stick of softened real butter and put in a food processor. Remove some leaves from the rosemary stem and add to the processor. Pulse for several seconds before scraping the mixture onto plastic wrap. Form it into a log and store in the fridge. Use it on hot fresh bread or rolls.

People often think of rosemary as a winter herb because of its strong pungent scent. But it can be used year-round. A hint of rosemary goes a long way in cooking no matter what time of year you use it.

The next time you are making potatoes or pot roast, turkey or tomatoes, add a sprinkling of rosemary leaves for a little extra zest.

Rosemary will spice up your meals and provide you added culinary pleasure.

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