*Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
*hardy perennial plant, can grow up to 6 feet tall
*best in zones 5-8
*closely related to both angelica and celery
*dies down in the winter but comes back in early spring
*leaves and stems, seeds, roots, both fresh or dried
*rich, moist well-drained soil
*full sun to partial shade, but use light shade if summers are hot where you live
*you can propagated by seed: use cold stratification for 1-2 weeks, then sow indoors in seed flats/trays and transplant when plants are healthy and after frost danger
*you can also propagate by division in spring
*remove older, yellowing leaves throughout harvesting season to promote fresh growth
*you can cut older plants down to about 1 foot high to encourage fresh foilage and growth in midsummer
*give the plant plenty of compost for best flavor and health
*For cooking, pick leaves as required
*For medicinal purposes, pick the leaves before flowering
*dig up roots in spring of fall after the 3rd year
*you can dry all parts of the plant
*you can freeze the leaves in sealed plastic bags.
*Some references say that the leaves do not dry well and should be frozen, other references say you can either dry OR freeze, other references say to dry them. Which is correct? I will experiment and let you know. You can also tell me what worked for you…
*harvest seeds when they begin to turn brown. Tie a paper bag over their heads and hang upside down in a dry, airy place. Collect the seeds that fall in the paper bag
*good for digestion and flatulence
*good for upset stomachs
*has excellent deodorizing properties
*do not take if you have kidney problems
*often called “false celery” due to its’ similar taste to celery
*can be used in sauces, condiments, soups, etc.
*the seeds are added to liqueurs and cordials and breads
*blanch the stems in a similar way as rhubarb or eat them raw in salads
*if using the root as a vegetable, remove the bitter-tasting skin
I dry lovage and I have had excellent results. As with all my extra spices (that aren’t nut or seed-like) I help preserve their flavour longer by placing them in the freezer. It definitely lasts long enough till the next harvest.
Thanks for the cold stratification tips, I will try that! I have divided the plants in the past – they don’t like it much but they did come back for me.