Angelica is an herb that has several uses. The leaves are frequently added when cooking red currants, rhubarb, gooseberries and red plums to help reduce the acidity and sweeten these often sour fruits. Seeds may be mixed with stems and used to flavor alcoholic beverages, like gin, vermouth and chartreuse. Fresh chopped leaves may be mixed with spearmint and mayonnaise for a refreshing sandwich spread. Stems may be crystallized for decorations for cakes and jellies.
Its strong, clean flavor makes angelica stems an excellent candidate for crystallization. Its seeds are sometimes used in pastry. The stems are usually crystallized and used as a decorative pastry garnish. The leaves and stems impart a celery flavor if added to sauces, and vegetable dishes.
Long ago, Angelica was burned as incense to perfume the house. The herb takes its name from the story that an angel came to earth when plague was rampant and told people to hold a piece of Angelica root in their mouths to ward off pestilence.
The root of Angelica can be used for making tea. A syrup made from the stems and leaves can be stored and diluted to use as a drink and tea made from the dried leaves is said to be good for soothing the nerves, tension, colds coughs and rheumatism.
Cultivation of Angelica
Site: Angelica is best grown in a light shady area of your herb garden. When planted in full sun, take care to add mulch to the soil around the plant. Make sure that the soil is moist and deep.
Propagation: Allow plant to self-seed or sow fresh seeds in early autumn. Seeds lose their viability within three months so make sure you buy them from a reputable dealer that knows its stuff. This herb does not propagate well by division or by cutting the offshoots.
Growing: Sow angelica in early autumn where it is to grow. If you have to transplant the seedlings, it should be done in early spring before the taproot becomes has developed. A little protection from the wind is needed. It prefers rich, moist, well drained soil and partial shade. Regular watering in dry weather is necessary. Leave 2 to three feet between plants as plants can become quite prolific. It won't flower, seed, and die until the second or third year. If flowering is thwarted (not allowed to come to seed), the plant can survive for many years.
Harvesting: Cut stems before midsummer for crystallizing. The leaves of this herb can be harvested in the spring of the second year (before flowering), the roots in the fall of the first year, and the seeds when ripe in late summer.