Rosemary is a herb that grows wild throughout the Mediterranean region. The plant is identified by its thin branches covered in stiff, thorn-like green leaves. It is characterized by a strong scent and flavor. Rosemary is also known as « encensier » (incense burner) in the Provençal language, in reference to its similarity to the strong smell of incense. Like thyme, sage, and tarragon, rosemary is used to make the Herbes de Provence mixture.
Rosemary is harvested throughout the year. It is sold fresh in bunches in the fruit and vegetable section of supermarkets together with other fresh herbs, or in markets. Packaged dried rosemary in packets or jars can be found in the herbs and spices section of supermarkets. Fresh rosemary is more aromatic than dried.
Like all fresh herbs, rosemary should be washed and dried before use.
The aromas of rosemary intensify when subjected to heat. It can be used in dishes requiring long cooking times.
Rosemary has a strong flavor, so it should be used sparingly. It is very suitable for grilled (barbecued) meats and fish, and with “Mediterranean” vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant (aubergine), and zucchini (courgette). It also does wonders for potato, whether pan-fried or baked. It is also perfect for making marinades and flavored olive oil. Finally, adding a sprig of rosemary when making apricot jam or preserves or chocolate ganache will add an original touch to desserts.
Fresh rosemary will keep for several days in a glass jar. Dried rosemary can be stored for a much longer time. To preserve its flavor, it should be kept in an airtight container protected from light, heat, and moisture. You can also buy fresh rosemary and dry it yourself. To do this, hang it in a dry, shady, and well-ventilated place for about two weeks. The only thing left to do is to pluck the leaves and store them in an airtight container.
Rosemary is known for its medicinal qualities. It is particularly known to provide relief from digestive problems.