Lovage herb 790 xxx
photos by george billard

7.7.10 All You Need Is Lovage

Meet lovage (Levisticum officinale), known to the French as céleri bâtarde, or fake celery. It really is like celery but without the stalk; its lush leaves have a very similar green, herby, slightly salty flavor. Since it's considered a "magic bullet" companion plant—one that improves the health of all surrounding plants—it always has pride of place in our vegetable garden. It's second only to capers in its concentration of quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid that has anti-infammatory and antioxidant properties. The Greeks and Romans chewed lovage seeds to aid digestion and, perhaps because of its name, lovage has been used in tonics and potions to conjure up true love. An infusion of the seeds is said to to erase freckles, although it may also cause photosensitivity. The plant grows easily and quickly; pinch it back to make it bushier and to deter the flower spikes. Once they start showing, the flavor becomes quite strong. Use the leaves to make a compound butter, in soups and stocks or, our favorite way, in a simple syrup. This is ideal for cocktails or simply mixed in with sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.
Tagged — infused syrup