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Varieties of Rosemary

Varieties of Rosemary

Which Variety?
As far as use in cooking is concerned, it does not matter greatly which variety of rosemary you use. However, from a garden point of view there are upright varieties and ground cover varieties.

In addition, there are a number of flower colours available and different varieties grow to different heights, some up to 1.8m (6ft).

picture of rosemary, herb

The original rosemary variety is Rosmarinus officinalis and this is a good upright one to choose if you want the traditional variety. It grows to about 1m (3ft) tall. Its a slow grower but it will eventually become too woody. If you prefer to go for one the other varieties, then a good dwarf variety (10cm / 4in) is Rosemary Capri. Suitable for the very smallest garden, this variety also does well in a window box.

Rosemary Genes Gold is a compact plant that does not become unwieldy. It is variegated with yellow edged leaves. Prostrate Rosemary is a good ground cover variety which looks great growing over the edge of a window box. Left to its own devices it will grow to a height of around 5cm (12in). Another good creeping variety is Severn Sea which also grows to about 5cm (12in) and has lovely dark blue flowers. This variety is not fully frost hardy so it needs protection and a climate without deep frosts.

If you really want an unusual and hard to find variety go for "Silver Spires". The foliage has silver coloured edges and blue flowers. On the internet we found it was available on the following website:

Cooking With Rosemary

Rosemary can used fresh or dried for cooking, but it's best picked from the garden and used within a day or so. If kept in the fridge, fresh rosemary will last about a week. It enhances the taste of many meats and vegetables including lamb, veal, pork, chicken and more exotically rabbit. When roasting meat simply place a sprig or two of rosemary on top as it cooks. If you are traditionally roasting lamb, cut about ten 2cm (1in) lengths of rosemary stem and insert them into small cuts in the meat before roasting. The flavour is delicious!

It is often added to stuffings to give a strong flavour. Simply strip the leaves from the stem, chop them up finely and add to the stuffing. Rosemary imparts a superb flavour when the leaves are finely chopped and added to the traditional British dish "bubble and squeak" (cooked mixture of potatoes and cabbage). Rosemary goes well with most potato dishes. Try sprinkling finely cut rosemary over potatoes before they are roasted.

Rosemary is also a traditional ingredient in Italian dishes, chop the leaves finely and add them to pasta dishes and tomato sauces. When you've finished stripping off the leaves the remaining stem makes a superb barbecue skewer which will add a subtle rosemary flavour to the meat. If you want to add  scent to barbecue smoke, simply throw five or six stems of rosemary onto the hot barbecue. The aroma may well encourage the neighbours round for a share of your barbecue, so beware!

Rosemary is often used to flavour salad dressings. Add a sprig or two to a bottle of vinegar, leave it for a week to let the flavour mingle, then combine with olive oil to make a salad dressing fit for a king.