Sweet cicely
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Sweet cicely
Last updated 6/12/2012 1:25:47 AM. Recipe ID 59890. Report a problem with this recipe.
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      Title: Sweet cicely
 Categories: Harned 1994, Herb/spice, Info
      Yield: 1 Info below
      1    Info below
  Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is in the Umbelliferae family. It's a
  hardy perennial with a scent that's been compared to lovage and which
  has also been described as having a spicy flavor like licorice. Sweet
  cicely can be substituted for caraway seeds in baking. Press fresh
  sweet cicely leaves firmly into bluefish before grilling them, or
  grate the root and add it to quick breads and muffins.  Anise can be
  substituted for sweet cicely.
  Flowers are white, numerous, 2" across and are in compound umbels of
  5 to 10 smaller umbels.  Inner blooms are male and outer blooms are
  bisexual. The leaves are fernlike, two or three times pinnately
  divided and in toothed or finely lobed leaflets.  They are whitish,
  downy and spotted underneath.  Leaf stalks wrap around the stem. The
  fruit is shiny, dark brown and the seeds are sharply ridged and to 1"
  long. The plant flowers in May and June and is native to Europe and
  naturalized in North America. It's hardy to Zone 3 and prefers moist,
  well-drained, humusy soil and partial shade.
  Rodale writes:  "Here's an herb that seems to have made it onto
  everyone's 'Most Often Overlooked' list, but not into very many
  gardens. Although some gardeners have found it difficult to
  propagate, it will reward the persistent with a beautiful ornamental
  form, a sweet anise taste and a few medicinal uses.
  "Although the plant has been in use in cooking and medicine at least
  since Roman times, little seems to have been written about it.
  Indeed, the old herbalists spent most of their words in comparing it
  to other plants like hemlock, chervil, lovage and anise.  It was used
  as a preventative in time of plague, as a tonic for young girls and
  old people, and as an aromatic, a stomachic, a carminative and an
  "Uses: Medicinal: Sweet cicely is employed in folk medicine in some
  parts of the world, but its uses have not been tested scientifically.
  It does seem to increase appetite and decrease flatulence, and we
  know that the roots are antiseptic.  All seem to agree that it is
  harmless, which in a way seems to be damning it with faint praise."
  "Culinary: Sweet cicely's flavor is a combination of celery and
  anise. The leaves of the plant are used fresh as garnishes, in salads
  or in recipes where a sweet touch is needed. The root is steamed,
  simmered or cooked and pureed like a parsnip, and the seeds are used
  in candy, syrups, cakes and liqueurs.
  "Sweet cicely cooperates with carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnips,
  Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cream soups and sauces, and fish, and in
  fruit soups, stewed fruit, fruit salads, pies and tarts.
  "Ornamental: The lacy foliage and large white blossoms that bloom in
  spring make it a good plant for mixed flower beds. The seeds are
  decorative enough for winter bouquets."
  "Cultivation:  If possible, start from purchased or dug seedling
  plants, or divide the plant in the fall. The seed needs to have
  undergone rather mysterious patterns of freeze and thaw and is
  notoriously slow and finicky about germinating.  If you do use it,
  use fresh seed and sow in the fall.
  "Harvesting and storage: Harvest leaves throughout their growing
  season. One plant will yield 4 cups of leaves and 1/2 cup of seeds in
  a season. Plant parts are seldom dried."
  From _Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs_, Claire Kowalchik
  and William H. Hylton, Editors. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc., 1987.
  Pg. 474. ISBN 0-87857-699-1. Electronic format by Cathy Harned.

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Recipe ID 59890 (Apr 03, 2005)

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