Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata is a plant native to central Europe. It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant, with finely divided, feathery leaves with small white flowers produced in large umbels. The seeds are slender and broad.
Its leaves are used as a herb, with a rather strong taste reminiscent of anise; it is used mainly in Germany and Scandinavia. Like its relatives anise, fennel, and caraway, it can also be used to flavor akvavit. Its essential oils are dominated by anethole.
Toss unripe seeds which have a sweet flavor and nutty texture into fruit salads. Chop into ice cream. Toss ripe seeds into cooked dishes such as apple pie or use crushed. The seeds are what are used to flavor chartreuse liqueur.
The leaves of sweet cicely can be chopped fine and stirred into salad dressings and omelettes.They can also be added to cream for a sweeter and less fatty taste. Leaves may also be added to soups and boiled cabbage.
The roots can be chopped and peeled and served raw with salad dressing. Or they may be cooked as a root vegetable and served with butter.
Cultivation of Sweet Cicely / Myrrh
Site: Sweet cicely likes a soil that is rich and on the moist side. It also does well in a shaded location. If you are in a hot climate the shade is really important, and the moisture because it doesn't do well in the heat.
Propagation: Sweet Cicely is difficult to germinate the seed because it needs to freeze, then thaw before germinating. Also the seed needs to be fresh to get a good germination rate. It's easiest to look for a plant.
Growing: The individual plants are short lived, but it seeds itself like crazy and can become quite invasive if it likes its conditions. . Its leaves are a pretty mottled green, and are large and fairly deeply cut.
Harvesting: Harvest young leaves and stems for culinary use at any time. Leaves wilt quickly, so pick them just before use. Sweet cicely leaves are best when fresh, as they do not dry well and lose some of their flavor when frozen.
Harvest seed heads while the seeds are still green and unripe. Collect seed heads with a small portion of stem attached. Hang upside down by the stems to dry. Store dry seeds in an airtight container.
Culinary Uses: The fresh leaves can be used in salads and you can chop it to use in dishes containing rhubarb, gooseberries and other fruits. They can also be used in fruit salads and drinks. You can use the leaves when baking fish for a nice change or use in omelets. Sweet cicely has a flavor that is similar to anise, but lighter. It can be used in herb vinegars as well.
The root of sweet cicely can be boiled and eaten as you would a root vegetable, or steamed and cooled and chopped into salads.
Toss unripe seeds into fruit salads for a sweet nutty flavor. It can be added to ice cream in place of walnuts or pecans. Ripe seed can be added to sweet dishes such as pies, cakes, and desserts. The seeds are used to flavor chartreuse liqueur.