December 15th, 2011 Associated with much mythology, rosemary derives from the Latin for "dew of the sea." According to Greek legend, the goddess Aphrodite rose from the sea with rosemary draped around her shoulders. And it is said that the Virgin Mary spread her cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush while resting one day, and the flower turned blue; the shrub became know as the "Rose of Mary. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean, though it now grows throughout most of Europe and North America. It is reasonably hardy in cooler climates and can withstand droughts. The plant flowers in spring and summer; its flowers are white, pink, purple, or deep blue. Belonging to the mint family (Labiatae) and also an evergreen shrub, rosemary’s leaves resemble pine-tree needles: dark green in colour on top, with silvery-white undersides. It’s flavour too, is pine-like, pungent, and rich. It is unique in this sense, evoking both earthy forest and fragrant sea. It has been a prized culinary and medicinal herb for millennia. Rosemary’s popularity is much associated with the widespread belief that rosemary simulated and strengthened memory, for which it is still used to date. In ancient Greece, students tied rosemary sprigs in their hair while studying and rosemary was placed on graves as a symbol of remembrance. In England, rosemary’s associations with memory made it into a symbol of fidelity, seen often in weddings. Rosemary has been used in cosmetics since the fourteenth century and as a digestive aid since the sixteenth century. Rosemary bushes can also be used as an ornamental plant in gardens and for xeriscape landscaping. It can be pruned into formal shapes and low hedges and is often found in topiary form. Fresh rosemary should be stored in the refrigerator either in its original packaging or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. You can also place the rosemary sprigs in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried rosemary should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months. Before using, quickly rinse rosemary under cool running water and pat dry. Most recipes call for rosemary leaves, which can be easily removed from the stem. Alternatively, you can add the whole sprig to season soups, stews and meat dishes, then simply remove it before serving. In cooking, rosemary can be used both fresh and dried. Some find it has a bitter, astringent taste, and is highly aromatic. Rosemary’s versatile flavour compliments a lot of different foods. Leaves can be used to make an herbal tea and as a flavouring smoke when barbequing. Try some of these ideas: add fresh rosemary to omelets and frittatas; rosemary is a wonderful herb for seasoning chicken and lamb dishes; add rosemary to tomato sauces and soups; even better than butter—purée fresh rosemary leaves with olive oil and use as a dipping sauce for bread. Rosemary contains a number of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds, such as camphor, caffeic acid, usolic acid, some of which may help prevent or treat cancers, strokes, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Rosemary is also high in iron, calcium, and vitamin B6.