My experience with lovage first began as an experiment…
“I have no idea what this plant is… but let's give it a try!”
Now, lovage is an integral part of my kitchen garden!
This is the 1st post in our Forgotten Plants series — plants that were once prolific in the kitchen gardens of our ancestors, but now are so rare that the average person hasn’t even heard of them. Many of these plants deserve to find space in our gardens again!
Did you know that Charlemagne believed that lovage was a must-have for all royal gardens? Yes! The history of lovage dates back hundreds of years — and spans continents. Colonists first brought it to the New World.
My father-in-law actually recognized the plant immediately because it used to grow outside his grandmother's house — although he's not sure if she used it in the kitchen.
Planting & Harvesting
Lovage belongs to the same plant family as celery. Its dark green leaves grow on thick stalks, like celery, but with a stronger taste. Its stems are tall and hollow.
In the spring, this perennial is one of the first to poke out of the earth, and provides a continuous harvest well into the fall.
I grew my lovage from seed planted directly in the garden, but like most perennials it grows by root division as well. So ask around as see if anyone you know already has lovage growing in their garden!
Give lovage plenty of space to grow in a sunny or partially shady location. Keep in mind that they grow tall, too! Mine is about 6 feet.
Lots To Love About Lovage
Why exactly does lovage deserve a spot in our kitchen gardens? Reasons abound!
Not only is the entire plant edible — from root to seed! — but it has a long history of both culinary and herbal use.
Use it as you would celery, except perhaps a bit more sparingly. I regularly add whole stalks to the stock pot, include finely chopped leaves in soups and stews, and add small amounts to egg dishes. It pairs beautifully with either chicken or fish, and a few slices of lemon.
Eat the young leaves raw in salads, or peel the roots to eat like a veggie. The hollow stems even make fun straws for summer drinks. I've even read that the ground up seeds make a tasty salt substitute.
Additionally, it freezes well, so it can be enjoyed all year round.
As an herb, it benefits digestion, aids the respiratory tract, provides relief from rheumatism and urinary tract complaints, and helps with menstrual troubles and poor blood circulation.
Isn't it amazing that one plant can do so much?! It seems obvious why the settlers found the plant important enough to bring with them on their long journey to the New World.
Are you ready to try lovage?
Lovage and Lemon Roasted Chicken
Adapted from this recipe.
- 1 handful lovage, leaves and stems
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 4 whole chicken legs
- 1 onion, chopped
- several carrots and/or potatoes, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lay a bed of lovage in the bottom of a large baking pan. Tuck a lemon slice and lovage leaves under the skin of the chicken thighs. Place the thighs in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Throw some chopped onion and carrots in around the chicken.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, and then uncovered for another 30 minutes, or until the skin of the chicken is crisp.
Do you grow lovage, or any other “forgotten plants” in your garden? What are some of your favorite ways to use them?
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