Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Lovage is a pungent perennial herb with close associations with the parsley and celery families.
Lovage’s flavour is similar to celery or parsley, however is much more distinct, strong and tenacious.
Lovage is aromatic with musky overtones and hints of lemon and anise.
Lovage’s leaves (as a herb), stems (as a herb), roots (as a vegetable) and seeds (as a spice) can all be used in cooking. Lovage hasn’t gained a lot of popularity outside Europe where it is used in casseroles, soups, stews and potato dishes. Ground lovage seeds are used in pickles, sauces, breads and biscuits. Due to its strong flavour it should be used sparingly, however its pungency diminishes in cooking. Lovage loves apples, carrots, zucchini, cream cheese, ham, mushrooms, potatoes, rice, smoked dish, sweetcorn and tomatoes and marries with bay, caraway, chilli, chives, dill, garlic, oregano, parsley and thyme.
Lovage is easy to grow from seed or root division in rich, well-drained soil and in a sunny or part-shaded position. The plant often lays dormant in winter and its best to cut back once or twice in summer to increase leaf supply.
Lovage is native to Western Asia and Southern Europe. The Pilgrim Fathers are believed to have introduced lovage into North America and the ‘love’ in the name steams back to its use in love potions and as an aphrodisiac.
Lovage is known to herbalists as one of nature’s antibiotics and therefore has been used in sore throat gargles, to relieve mucus congestion and bronchitis. Its deodorant properties make it an ingredient in perfumes.
Facts about Lovage
Lovage is said to improve the health and flavour of other plants growing in the same garden, however ensure you give the plants lots of room as they tend to be bulky.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can I substitute lovage with anything else?
Lovage can be substituted with celery, celeriac or parsley however these do not have the same strength as lovage so you may need to use a little bit more.