Rosemary, a Prized Culinary and Medicinal Herb

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Illustration
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Illustration
(Photo by: Franz Eugen Kohler/Wikimedia Commons)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb which belongs to the mint family. Most people recognize rosemary as a famous culinary herb. Additionally, it also has some medicinal uses in addition to its various culinary uses. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia. However, due to its popularity, this herb can be found growing around the globe.

Edibility and culinary use

Rosemary has a strong yet subtle flavor; it’s minty, pine-like, and somewhat bittersweet. It also has a pungent, minty aroma. The leaves can season a wide variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. Rosemary’s unique taste goes well with almost everything, such as cheese, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, steak, grain, mushroom, potatoes, assorted greens, and many more. Rosemary also complements the natural sweetness of fresh fruits and honey really well.

You can also make rosemary-infused oil and butter. Doing this can help preserve the flavor and aroma of this herb. Rosemary oil and butter make for delightful substitutes for the regular oil and butter. You can also boil fresh rosemary sprigs to make a delicious herbal tea. Lastly, you can use this herb to spice up some lemonade. Simply drop a few sprigs in a pitcher of lemonade. Let it sit for a couple of hours to allow the flavor to infuse the lemonade.

Health benefits

This herb is often used to aid digestive problems such as excess flatulence, upset stomach, heartburn, and loss of appetite. It also increases blood flow, boosts red blood cell production, controls blood pressure, and increases overall energy level. Rosemary herbal tea can also help heal coughs, menstrual pain, and headaches as well as relieve stress and anxiety. It can improve liver and kidney health, promote a healthy menstrual cycle, enhance memory and concentration, prevent brain aging, fight off brain damage, as well as prevent tumors and cancer.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Bush
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Bush
(Photo by: Natalie Maynor/Flickr)

Rosemary oil can also be applied topically. This oil promotes hair growth, prevents baldness, treats dandruff, slow hair graying, and moisturizes the scalp. You can also include this oil in your skincare routine. It can improve the appearance of your skin, fight off UV rays, and reduce blemishes. Lastly, it can also heal eczema, muscle pain, joints pain, gingivitis, and even toothaches.

Cultivation

With evergreen, needle-like leaves and tiny yet vibrant flowers, rosemary makes for a great ornamental plant. This lovely herb can grow nicely outdoors as well as indoors. A single pot of rosemary will make your kitchen smell fresh while giving you a steady supply of the culinary and medicinal herb. And you’ll be delighted to find that rosemary works great as a companion plant. Its pungent aroma can help repel pests. It will increase the yields of other plants, such as carrot, cabbage, broccoli, kale, beans, and other leafy greens

For best growth, plant rosemary in loamy and sandy soil that’s rich in nutrients. This evergreen herb also loves the sun, so make sure to place it in a bright and sunny spot. Water this herb regularly to keep the soil moist, but allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Cold winter weather may harm this plant. It’s recommended to plant it in a container so you can bring it inside when winter comes around. You can plant it directly in your garden, but make sure to plant it a protected spot away from the harsh winter wind.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in Bloom
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) in Bloom
(Photo by: Clinton & Charles Robertson/Wikimedia Commons)

You can easily buy rosemary from a local plant nursery. You should be able to find both matured plants and starter plants. If you buy starter plants, set them out in the spring and place them about 2’ to 3’ apart from each other. Later, you can grow more plants from seeds or cuttings. Plants grown from cuttings are especially good since they mature faster.

Once settled, they can be harvested at any time of the year. This herb can be used fresh or dried for later use. Remember to trim and prune this plant often to keep it in check, particularly in the spring after flowering. If not trimmed, the plants can grow up to 5’, especially in warmer climates.

Cautions

Using rosemary as a culinary herb poses no risk at all. Meanwhile, using it in medicinal amounts is generally safe. However, pregnant women should avoid consuming rosemary in medicinal amounts as it may affect the uterus or induce menstruation. This herb might also increase the risk of bleeding and bruising. So, avoid use if you have bleeding disorders or are about to undergo surgery. Lastly, it might worsen seizure disorders worse, so use cautiously.

Conclusion

There’s a reason why rosemary is very popular. This beautiful aromatic herb possesses numerous uses, culinary and medicinal likewise. Its unique flavor and fragrant are very versatile. Enjoy rosemary as an addition to various recipes or on its own. While you can easily get dried rosemary from the supermarket, nothing beats the taste of a fresh sprig of rosemary. With proper care, you’ll be able to grow rosemary in your own garden and get a constant supply of this amazing herb.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Red Clover, a Powerful Herb with Great Healing Powers

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Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
(Photo by: Sanja565658/Wikimedia Commons)

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a wild edible that has distinctly beautiful red round flowers. It’s a herbaceous perennial plant that’s native to Europe, western Asia, and northwestern Africa. But, due to its beauty as well as culinary and medicinal uses, this plant has been naturalized in almost every region of the world.

As mentioned previously, this plant has numerous culinary and medicinal uses that vary from each region. For example, in North America, this plant is mostly used as livestock fodder. Meanwhile, in China, it’s a traditional herbal medicine ingredient. Likewise, many other cultures in the world have also incorporated this herb as food and medicine in their daily diet.

Edibility and culinary use

Nearly every part of red clover is edible. Its leaves and seeds can be used in various recipes, but the widely preferred part of this edible plant is its flowers. The round red blossoms have a sweet, bean-like flavor. They can be eaten raw as an edible garnish in salads and other dishes. Aside from that, the flowers are often made into jelly and herbal tea. They can also be dried and ground to make highly nutritious flour. Red clover flour can be used alongside regular flour to add flavor and nutrition in recipes or as a gluten-free substitute.

Red clover leaves taste similar to the flowers, but when cooked, they have a vanilla-like flavor. They can be eaten raw or cooked. These leaves can be tossed in a salad, added into soups, or cooked like other greens. Dried leaves can be ground to make a gluten-free flour or chopped and sprinkled on different dishes to boost their flavor.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Flower
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Flower
(Photo by: Tony Wills/Wikimedia Commons)

Lastly, its seeds can be sprouted and used in salads or stir-fry dishes. Red clover sprouts’ nutritional value is said to be comparable to that of alfalfa sprouts. Avoid eating unsprouted seeds. The seeds contain a compound which can interfere with your body’s ability to digest protein. This compound will only be destroyed after the seeds have sprouted.

Health benefits

Red clover is a great source of essential nutrients including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C as well as calcium, chromium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. This herb also contains antioxidants and isoflavones, compounds which act like estrogen in the body.

This herb can treat various ailments, such as indigestion, upset stomach, cold, cough, asthma, and bronchitis. Due to its isoflavones content, red clover is also great for treating menopausal symptoms in women, such as hot flashes, as well as prevent osteoporosis. It can relieve PMS symptoms and reduce menstrual pain as well. Aside from feminine health, this herb can also help maintain cardiovascular health. It can lower cholesterol levels and control high blood pressure. Lastly, due to its high antioxidants content, red clover consumption may prevent cancer.

Cultivation

Red clover is a terrific addition to any garden. Its round, red flowers will add a cheerful splash of color to your garden while also attracting pollinators, such as bumblebees. This plant is also a wonderful nitrogen fixator which means it can increase your garden’s soil fertility. And of course, you’ll also have a reliable source of a medicinal and culinary herb.

Luckily, it’s not hard to cultivate this plant. It can grow in poor soil, but for optimum growth, make sure to plant it in well-drained, fertile soil. It prefers partially shaded area but can tolerate full-sun exposure as well if the weather is not overly hot.

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Field
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) Field
(Photo by: R. R. Smith/Wikimedia Commons)

You might be able to get a red clover plant from your local nursery. In that case, simply roughen the soil to prepare it and transfer the plant to its permanent location in your garden. But, if you can’t find any red clover plants, try buying the seeds instead. Prepare the soil in a similar way and sow the seeds in late spring. Water them generously and they should germinate within 5 to 7 days.

The plants can be harvested within 40 to 60 days after sowing. This plant usually lasts around  3 years and it will produce its maximum yield in its second year. You can harvest most red clover plants twice in a year, once before mid-bloom and once more between August and September.

Cautions

Consuming red clover may cause some adverse side effects, such as headache, nausea, rash, muscle pain, acne, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, breast tenderness, and vaginal spotting.

Additionally, consuming this herb may slow blood clotting and increase the chance of bleeding. So, use with caution and avoid it at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Then, due to its isoflavones content, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume this herb in medicinal amounts. Isoflavones act like estrogen and might disturb essential hormonal balances during pregnancy and the nursing period. There are also some concerns that overconsuming red clover for an extended period of time may reduce fertility.

Conclusion

Red clover has so much to offer to you besides its beautiful appearance. Including this amazing herb in your daily diet can improve your health immensely. Start foraging wild red clover in meadows and grassy pasture. Or, if you’re unable to find this wild edible in your area, cultivate them in your garden and reap its benefits!


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



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Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

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Kudzu, an Invasive Weed with Hidden Virtues

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Kudzu (Pueraria montana)
Kudzu (Pueraria montana)
(Photo by: Jud McCranie/Wikimedia Commons)

Kudzu (Pueraria Montana), or also known as Japanese arrowroot, is a perennial blossoming vine which hailed from Asia. This plant was originally brought over to the US from Japan in the 1800s. It was cultivated as livestock feed at first, but over time, it becomes an invasive weed. Kudzu poses a lot of danger for nearby plants as it can cover, shade, and eventually kill them. These days, kudzu can be found growing across the US. This plant is especially rampant in the South and Southeastern US, giving it the name “the vine that ate the south”.

However, despite being a dangerous invasive species, kudzu actually has some hidden benefits. Almost all parts of this plant, except for its seeds and seed pods, are edible. Moreover, kudzu can also be used as a herbal remedy for many ailments. In fact, it’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Edibility and culinary use

As mentioned before, kudzu is edible and safe to eat. In fact, it’s considered a staple vegetable in Japan. Just make sure the plant you harvested is safe to eat. Most kudzu vines in the wild have been sprayed with herbicides. Don’t eat them if you’re unsure whether they’ve been sprayed with chemicals or not.

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Seedpods
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Leaves
(Photo by: Jud McCranie/Wikimedia Commons)

Kudzu leaves and young shoots can be served raw or cooked. They can be tossed on a salad, added into soups, deep-fried, or stir-fried. Then, much like the common arrowroot, kudzu roots are also full of edible starch. This starch is a powerful thickening agent which can be used in soups, stews, and sauces. Kudzu starch is also gluten-free, making it a great wheat flour substitute for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance. Lastly, the fragrant blossoms can be served raw, cooked, or pickled. These flowers can be used as an edible garnish on salads and desserts and at the same time, they can also be made into jelly, syrup, and candy.

Health benefits

Despite being considered a pesky weed, kudzu has so many health benefits to offer. To begin with, it’s rich in dietary fibers, making it a good and filling energy source. It’s also a great source of minerals, such as iron, sodium, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese. Lastly, this plant contains isoflavones which act like estrogen in the body. For this reason, it’s often used to treat menopause symptoms. Studies also suggest that kudzu’s isoflavones may be able to prevent and help treat breast cancer and uterine cancer.

Kudzu is also a popular herb among those with drinking problems. This herb can treat alcoholism and relieve hangover symptoms, such as headaches, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. It’s believed that kudzu can combat drinking addictions by increasing blood flow and making drinkers feel the alcohol effects sooner. This way, drinkers are more likely to drink less and stop drinking earlier.

Additionally, kudzu is also used to treat other ailments, such as cold, fever, flu, hay fever, sinus infection, migraine, upset stomach, diarrhea, dysentery, muscle pain, and neck stiffness. It can also treat skin problems, such as itchiness, rash, and psoriasis. Kudzu can help control blood sugar levels in diabetic patients as well. Lastly, it’s also great for treating cardiovascular diseases. The flavonoid-like compound in it increases blood circulation and flow. For this reason, kudzu works great to treat high blood pressure, stroke, cholesterol, angina, and even heart attacks.

Cultivation

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Seedpods
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Seedpods
(Photo by: Pollinator/Wikimedia Commons)

As mentioned earlier, kudzu vines can be found easily throughout the country. This invasive plant grows easily and spreads rapidly. It shouldn’t be hard to find kudzu vines to harvest. But, if you’re afraid some of these vines had been sprayed with herbicides, you can cultivate this plant in your own garden. Just remember that this plant has the potential to take over your entire garden; a single vine can grow up to 15’ to 75’ in length. So, be sure to prune the vines regularly to keep them under control.

To start, you need to get the seeds. You can get kudzu seeds online, but you should be able to gather seed pods from wild kudzu vines as well. Then, pick where you want to grow this plant. This hardy plant can grow essentially anywhere, just make sure it gets full sun exposure. Then, simply scatter the seeds in the spring and bury them in a layer of soil. Young shoots will appear not long after planting.

After the plant starts to grow, it doesn’t need too much maintenance. You only need to water them once or twice a week. You should be able to start harvesting the leaves in fall. This plant can be harvested any time of the year, except during the winter when it loses its leaves.

Don’t forget to control the growth of the vines. You can do this by pruning them regularly, digging up the roots, picking its leaves in large amounts, and covering it under heavy mulch.

Cautions

Be careful when harvesting kudzu as its leaves look similar to poison ivy leaves. The easiest way to differentiate both plants is to remember that kudzu is a vine which grows outwards in every direction, while poison ivy is a ground vine which grows vertically to the sky. Make sure you don’t accidentally harvest the wrong plant. If you’re unsure about the identity of the plant you harvested, don’t eat it.

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Flower
Kudzu (Pueraria montana) Flower
(Photo by: Clinton Steeds/Flickr)

Kudzu may slow down your blood’s ability to clot. If you’re about to undergo a surgery or have a bleeding disorder, it’s best to avoid consuming this herb. There are also some concerns it might interfere with cardiovascular functions. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and affect heart rhythm. So, avoid it if you’re suffering from any cardiovascular diseases or undergoing cardiovascular treatments. Lastly, it can also affect blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Pay attention to your blood sugar level when consuming this herb.

Conclusion

Despite being feared and even hated for its aggressive nature, it turns out that kudzu holds so many potentials as well. This wild edible is versatile and can be used in numerous recipes. As a medicinal herb, this plant is also useful for treating many different ailments. If you want to include kudzu in your daily diet, it’s recommended to grow it in your own garden to avoid accidentally consuming herbicides. Just remember to keep the vines in control and don’t let them take over your entire garden.


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Writen by Cornelia Tjandra
Cornelia is a freelance writer with a passion for bringing words to life and sharing useful information with the world. Her educational background in natural science and social issues has given her a broad base to approach various topics with ease. Learn more about her writing services on Upwork.com or contact her directly by email at cornelia.tjandra@gmail.com



Featured Videos - eattheplanet.org


Many of our readers find that subscribing to Eat The Planet is the best way to make sure they don't miss any of our valuable information about wild edibles.

Subscribe to our mailing list

our facebook page for additional articles and updates.

Follow us on Twitter @EatThePlanetOrg



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