Rosemary is a plant belonging to the family Lamiaceae, and is originating from the Mediterranean region. However, it might be found all over the world. It is a very aromatic plant, shrub-shaped with branches full of leaves, its height measures up to two meters and green leaves that produce a characteristic fragrance. It is traditionally used as a spice in cooking, as a natural preservative in the food industry, and was used as ornamental and medicinal plant in smaller, indigenous cultures. The scientific name for its genus, Rosmarinus, comes from the Greek ‘ros marinus’ (“dew of the sea”), named for its origins in the Mediterranean countries.
Taste of the herb
Fresh rosemary is usually dark green in color, although it ranges from brownish green to blueish green. The flavour is typical to this type of herbs – really strong, kinda floral, also peppery and lemony. It features notes of mint, lavender, and sage. The slightly bitter, almost eucalyptus-like smell and taste are characteristic of it and complement many types of meat, such as roasted lamb, chicken, and pork. It’s often an essential ingredient in many stuffing recipes, and the smoky flavour goes a long way with a bbq.
Rosemary is a herb that derives from the Mediterranean areas and the Far East. Thus, this herb is accustomed to quite hot temperature and a lot of water. Still, its particular types can be grown in cooler climates with sub-zero temperatures or lack of water. The crops can survive long droughts and live up to 30 years.
Rosemary is a herb that can grow in shade, but also in full sun, just as lavender does. Rosemary blooms almost throughout the whole year in the previously mentioned hot climates. Its flowers vary in colour as they may be white, pink, purple or even light blue. In cooler climates rosemary flowers in spring and summer. It can both grow outdoors and inside homes, working spaces.
Since the ancient times, rosemary was a herb used to improve cognitive abilities and brain functioning. That is why, Greek scholars often wore this herb for important exams. When it comes to greek mythology, rosemary is connected to Aphrodite – the goddess of love and tenderness.
Thus, later, it became the symbol of love and mystical qualities of the soul. Therefore, this herb was given to newly-weds as wedding gifts.
Rosemary is used in skincare because of variety of its benefits helping treating certain skin concerns. It has anti-inflammatory properties, concealing any redness or puffiness. It is a strong antioxidant due to 8% rosmarinic acid content. The acid increases the blood flow and cell rebuilding, helping to treat wrinkles and fine lines.
Additionally it works perfectly for combination to oily skin types, which may struggle with sebum production irregularities. Rosemary prevents any blemishes and regulates the oil production, without clogging the pores. Before use, do an allergy test. In some cases this ingredient can irritate the skin, especially if the percentage of it in the product is too high.
Rosemary’s anti-inflammatory properties can be used to treat conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis . Additionally, rosemary increases the blood flow and is used in aromatherapy to boost memory and decrease stress.
History of use
Introduced to China in 220 A.D. and the UK in the 9th century, rosemary has a rich history of cultural use, especially in Europe. It has had a prominent place in folklore, such as in Sicily, where it was believed that little fairies would sleep amongst its flowers, whereas in Italy it was used as a protection from witches and general evil. What is interesting, because it closery refers to Christian beliefs, in Spain rosemary is called ‘romero’ (‘pilgrim-plant’), referring to the story of the Virgin Mary, who rested under a rosemary bush while fleeing to Egypt with her child.
Due to its symbolism, as well as its tree-like appearance, rosemary also has a strong connection to European Christmas, where it was used decoratively and as a Christmas tree from as early as the 16th century. However it has since been replaced by pine trees in modern Christmas decorations.
Because of its spreading cultivation in English kitchen gardens, rosemary also became representative of women being in charge of the house. In The Treasury of Botany, John Lindley wrote that people would believe that only in households where there was a strong woman’s hand would it grow. This false belied led to the damaging of rosemary plants by lords and monarch who felt that they weren’t in control of their households.
Rosemary would often be planted in gardens of the housewives to show their dominance and organisation skills. In Greece people would put rosemary on their heads to keep their memory sharp during examinations. Rosemary is also a love and loyalty symbol and in some places it is believed that the herb protects from evil.
There isn’t a simple answer for this question, as it depends on the recipe you are using. For instance, although thyme is milder than rosemary in flavor, it is still our top choice as the best substitute for rosemary. When it comes to fresh rosemary, if you are planning to cook it in a dish, you can substitute it for fresh oregano or eventually fresh basil in 1:1 ratio. If you want to substitute fresh rosemary for dried rosemary, you have to keep in mind the differing intensities of the flavours – 1 sprig of fresh rosemary is approximately equal to 1 teaspoon of dried one. My second type of substitute would be to replace it with marjoram. It is a lesser-known herb that has a similar flavor to rosemary, as it is delicate with keeping balance between sweetness and bitterness. Marjoram pairs well with many types of meat and is usually used with rosemary together. Last but not least, sage would also be a great substitute as they both have a pine-like flavor, almost herbal flavor that has an earthy, slightly peppery edge and is balancing on the edge of sweetness and bitterness.
Top importers and exporters
Due to the countries’ climate, China, India and Egypt are the most prominent exporters of rosemary seasoning. Among these leaders Poland could be also mentioned as an important producer. Though the cool climate, rosemary is grown there to an expent that enables the country to export a lot of this herb to Europe and further to the West. When it comes to the import, the USA ships the most rosemary. Among the leaders in Europe, Great Britain and Germany also import a lot of this herb.