Lovage is an herb that can grow 1-2 meters tall. It is a perennial plant that, depending at what latitude and altitude is growing, will sprout in the early spring and bloom in June-July. As a garden plant, it is extremely low maintenance. It is widely spread in the Nordic countries as it endures cold weather remarkably well and its seedlings will easily sprout by itself the following spring.
Lovage is a good diuretic and has antibacterial properties. This plant is also thought to contain a soothing agent called eucalyptol, which may help to reduce irritation in the lungs and promote healing of some types of respiratory disorders (such as pleurisy). (source)
In the past, lovage had a versatile use as a medicinal plant in the treatment of many diseases and ailments, such as gout, sore throat, cough, even bronchitis, asthma and gingivitis, and to improve appetite and reduce flatulence. (source)
How to Forage
Lovage is not originally a Nordic herb, but it was brought here in the 17th century. Since then it has been grown in home gardens in Finland. Being a perennial plant, lovage can be easily found in old yards where it was once planted as a crop residue. If these kinds of yards are not owned by anyone anymore, it’s possible to pick lovage or take a small seedling in the spring to plant in your own garden.
The leaves and stalks are better looking and tasting in spring and early summer.
Lovage tastes a bit like celery and has hints of parsley and anise, so you can use it as you would use celery. Both leaves and stalks and even flowers and roots can be used.
These are my favorite ways to use lovage:
- Soups and velvet soups
- In the Italian ”soffritto” together with onions and carrots, but leaving out the celery
- In salads, both leaves and flowers, used sparingly
- With meat stews
- In fish dishes
- In risottos, sautéed
- As an herbal tea, using fresh or dried leaves and flowers
Lovage salt will quickly become your secret weapon in the spice cupboard, I assure you. It gives to virtually any dish that gourmet depth of flavor that will elevate your cuisine. I made lovage salt for the first time last year and have loved it ever since. I used to make it by drying first the lovage and then blend it with the salt, but then I found Hannele’s Recipe and stuck with it because I find that both the flavor and the color of the final result improve to no end.
It’s as easy as this: mix in a blender equal parts of grossly chopped lovage and big grain salt and blend. Spread the lovage salt on a baking paper and let it dry for a couple of days at room temperature, possibly in a sunny place. When the salt has completely dried, blend it once again in order to obtain a finer and more uniform texture.
Lovage salt has an incredibly long shelf life, so don’t spare yourself with quantities when making it and consider making some to give as a gift to your friends.
More from the Nordic Foraging
- Fireweed Syrup
- Strawberry Basil Tiramisù
- Nordic Foraging: Lovage
- Gelato Fior di Latte and Spruce Tip Honey
- Nordic Foraging: Birch Leaves
- Antipasto, Aperitivo & Apericena – A Mini Guide
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