Spice support: lovage

lovage salad

Nothing beats an easy-to-grow perennial herb. Not only do they add interest to your garden, they are useful in the kitchen as well. One of these herbs, lovage (levisticum officinale), has been all but forgotten by modern gardeners, who instead opt for more exotic fare. If you live in a temperate climate where it doesn’t get bitterly cold, you should consider adding lovage to your plantings. 

The aroma and taste of lovage closely resembles celery, although the stem can be tough so it is best to use the leaves and ends of the stems. The plant grows to about 5 feet tall and will tolerate a wide range of sunlight options, making it handy for those hard-to-fill corners where a sun-loving herb like lavender refuses to grow. 

In On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee notes that lovage belongs to the carrot family and is native to western Asia. McGee describes the aromatics as possessing characteristics of celery and oregano, along wih a “sweet, flowery note.” The ancient Romans and Greeks used lovage, and referred to it as Ligurian celery. 

Jerry Traunfield of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington, says in The Flavor Bible that he loves the combination of stinging nettles and lovage. He uses the combination in ravioli fillings or with crab as a sauce for a souffle. Blogger Kerstin Rodgers (Ms. Marmite Lover), uses lovage with sorrel in a refreshing summer soup as well as in the Smoked mozzarella, broad bean and lovage salad pictured above. Kerstin shares a little known fact: lovage is also known as ‘love parsley’.

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  • lolapandele  on  July 29, 2017

    All above so true and much more….I have two plants on my patio, they are thriving and resist even in harsh winters. In the spring they come back to our delight. I cut and freeze the mature stalks and have them in almost all soups, mostly with sour ones.

  • mjes  on  July 30, 2017

    Lovage is thriving in my herb garden. It is commonly used in Finland if you are looking for recipes using it.

  • TrishaCP  on  July 30, 2017

    I have lovage in my herb garden too- it grows like a weed.

  • Braco777  on  July 30, 2017

    In Croatia, we call it Maggi plant too since it is an essential part of the Maggi condiment.

  • leilx  on  June 28, 2019

    I adore my lovage plant. I live in Wyoming, and it is a strong perennial. It grows huge, and requires no care at all, and is one of the first things up in the spring. It's a very pretty plant with lush foliage. I recommend it. I also enjoy snacking on leaves in the garden.

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