Lovage is also known as love parsley, sea parsley, lavose, liveche, smallage, maggi plant, old English lovage. Grated fresh root can be cooked as a vegetable, used raw in salads, icings, syrups and some liqueurs.
Lovage is a hardy perennial herb, with ribbed stalks similar to celery with hollow stems that divide into branches near the top. It has yellow flowers and it leaves are dark green. Roots have a nutty favor.
Lovage has a strong taste and odor similar to celery and parsley. The leaves can be used fresh in salads, soups, stews, stir-fries, potato dishes, squash, has been used to make tea and wine.
Leafstalks can be eaten fresh or candied and hollow stems can be candied and used as straws in Bloody Marys. Seeds can be used whole or ground in candy, cakes, meats, biscuits, sauces, cheeses, salad dressings, or pickled.
Cultivation of Lovage
Site: The plants need a humus rich soil and should be watered often during dry weather.
Propagation: You can sow fresh ripe seed in late summer but it is more usual to buy a few plants from a supplier; then set them out 2 feet apart in spring.
Growing: Thin or transplant to 2 feet apart. Tie straw around stems 2 to 3 weeks before harvesting for blanched tender vegetable. Lovage looks like a giant celery plant. Usually it is 3 to 5 feet but it can sometimes reach 7 feet in height and will last for 3 to 4 years if well cared for. It grows well in climates where it can receive a period of dormancy in winter. Water deeply to encourage deep root development, and take special care that young plants are never allowed to dry out.
Harvesting: Pick young leaves as needed, but retain young central leaves (center of growth). Gather young stems in spring. Dig second and third season roots before flowers open each year. Gather seed when ripe.
Culinary Uses: Loveage leaves add a strong savory flavor to dishes, so use cautiously at first. The taste is like celery with a touch of pepper. Add fresh or dried leaves to stocks, stews and cheese. Add fresh leaves to salads. Rub leaf on chicken or around a wooden salad bowl. The seeds may be added to liqueurs and cordials or used crushed in breads.