Spice up your kitchen with Lovage, the Maggi herb, with fragrant leaves.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale) was a prevalent spice in antiquity and the Middle Ages. It is also known as the Maggi herb because of its fragrant leaves. The kitchen herb was present in every garden a hundred years ago.
Today, you can rarely find the classic soup spice. However, the umbelliferae, which can grow up to 2 m high, are an interesting spice and an effective medicinal plant. Insects enjoy flowering Lovage because it is an excellent pollen and nectar supplier.
The perennial, hardy Lovage is a tall perennial with celery-like leaves. It grows to a height of 1.50-2 m and is very easy to care for. The foliage freezes in winter and sprouts again in spring.
How the Lovage got its name is not clear. Rumor has it that the name for the herbaceous plant from the Umbelliferae family goes back to the Latin “Levisticum,” from which the term Lovage developed over the centuries.
Lovage probably originated in the Near or Middle East, from where it also spread to Europe. Above all, it likes it warm, so it is only found in southern countries, apart from herb gardens. The umbel flower grows up to 12cm tall and has up to eleven bracts with many flowers. However, the yellowish-to-greenish flowers are insignificant, and brown fruits develop in August/September.
In the kitchen
Lovage tastes spicy, with a typical smell, like celery and yeast. A few leaves are often enough to season a dish. Too much of it can uncomfortably dominate a dish. The leaves have the best aroma before flowering.
Lovage is ideal for hearty stews, soups, and vegetable one-pots. In contrast to many other herbs, the intensely fragrant leaves tolerate heat very well, so you can cook them. On the Ligurian coast in western Italy, it is still often found in the kitchen. There, it is used in tomato sauce and minestrone.
Combine with hearty herbs such as marjoram, onions, celery leaves, and garlic. The dried seeds and fruits can also be used as a seasoning to prepare stews. You can also season potatoes with it by adding a stalk of Lovage to the boiling water. That saves some salt.
When cooking, you can use the fresh leaves. Their sharp, slightly bitter, celery-like taste goes very well with soup, salad, chanterelles, and other mushroom dishes. You can use the finely chopped leaves to flavor soups, salads, and various stews.
Also, the dry seeds you can use in cooking. They go well with stews, but the seeds are also popular when baking bread.
Dried lovage fruits are also traditionally used for indigestion and flatulence. The whole or cut, dried rhizome, and the roots are suitable for flushing therapy for urinary tract infections and to prevent kidney stones.
The herb was already a popular remedy in ancient times, used, for example, for throat diseases and to treat wounds. It was considered digestive and stomach warming and was used to treat stomach colds and chest congestion.
In traditional folk medicine, Lovage is also used for menstrual disorders. The strengthening effects on the abdomen unfold best if you make a brew from it and use it as a bath additive.
Homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine use Lovage for middle ear infections.
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