WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT LOVAGE--?
or maybe the question is--what is lovage?
According to Culpepper, the virtues are many. "It openeth, cureth, and digesteth humours,, and mightely provoketh women's courses and urine." In addition, it warms a cold stomach, easeth all gripings and pains, expels wind and resisteth poison and infections. Did I mention it removes spots or freckles in the face?
Lovage came to America with early New Englanders. New Englanders would candy the root and also chew on the seed during long church services to keep them alert.
The plant looks like thin, dark green celery, with leaves that look like a combination of both celery leaves and giant parsley leaves. The seeds look and taste a lot like what we buy labeled as "celery seed". I checked several national packaged culinary seed sources and didn't find anything labeled as Lovage Seed. Lovage garden seed is available at Nichols Garden Nursery in Philomath, OR and at The Thyme Garden in Alsea, OR.
Lovage can be used in salads, soups, also chicken or pork dishes. A word of caution: lovage is strong so start with just a leaf or two of chopped fresh leaves. The leaves can also be used in frittatas, egg salad and potato salad. If you like bloody Mary's the hollow stalk of the lovage is for you.
In the Netherlands, it is served with white asparagus and salt. In Romania it is used to add flavor to pickled cabbage and cucumbers, while in the UK it is made into an alcoholic drink called Lovage Cordial.
I started harvesting the young more tender stalks to dehydrate. I strip the leaves onto a paper plate and microwave for 1 minute at a time until dry. Usually it is 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes. At 1.5 minutes, you can leave the plate on the countertop to finish off. Storage is in a glass jar.
I found several recipes to add to the soup file that sound like fun to try on a cold winter's day.