Harvesting rosemary is simple and can be almost intoxicating. Just brushing your hands across the plant will release an intense fragrance that's wonderful and hard to forget.
To pick rosemary, simply use shears or a knife to cut stems from the plant. You can cut the stems near the base of the plant or cut ones closer to the top. Cut as many stems as you think you'll need, but never cut more than 1/4 of all stems on the plant. This way you will be sure that your plant will survive and thrive to produce more sprigs in the future.
Rosemary has a much more intense flavor and fragrance if used fresh. Most of the time, you can just cut sprigs of fresh rosemary as needed. However, even if you don't plan to use it right away, your rosemary plant will do with a good trimming a couple of times a year. This allows new stem growth and prevents the sprigs from becoming too woody and tough.
After harvesting rosemary, you can remove the edible needles from the stem and use them in your favorite recipe. If you want to dry rosemary for later use, leave the needles on the stem and hang them up in bunches to dry. When the needles have dried out completely, they can be removed from the stems and stored in an airtight container for several months. We've also had good results by using a food dehydrator to dry our rosemary more quickly. Again, leave the needles on the stems and place them on the trays and let the dehydrator do its job. When dry, run your finger down the stem to remove the needles - we find it easiest to do this over a bowl or plate to catch the needles.
It may surprise you to learn that rosemary flowers are also edible. They are tiny, purple flowers that appear when the plant blooms. Some folks believe that rosemary is most fragrant and flavorful just before the blooms appear. The blossoms are best eaten fresh and have a mild, delicate flavor. They also look pretty on a plate.
Now that you know about picking rosemary, it's time for a few of our favorite recipes that feature rosemary.
Click here for some of our favorite rosemary recipes
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