Lovage: Budgetwise Plant For Health and Taste

Posted by on Jun 25, 2017 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 21 comments

Lovage

         Lovage in my Garden

Lovage is such a useful herb yet it is seriously underused. Known in Holland as the Maggiplant it is a perennial herb that once planted keeps on producing forever, basically giving you a celery type product for free. It smells somewhat like beefy celery and makes a fabulous substitute for celery in soups and stews besides having a myriad of other uses, including cosmetic and medicinal.

Growing Lovage:

As lovage plants and seeds are difficult to find locally it makes more sense to buy a plant from a Herbal Garden Centre. (One plant is all you’ll need.) It is easy to grow, requiring average, moisture retaining soil and a sunny spot (some shade in hot climates). It is a tall plant growing to 5-6 feet (2 metres) so should be planted at the edge of the garden or at the back of the flowerbed. It is one of the first plants to appear in the Spring and one of the last to die in the Fall.

Lovage can be harvested throughout the growing season. Like all herbs, pick after the dew has dried. Cut the stalks and pull off the leaves. It is best used fresh but can be frozen – simply chop the leaves and stalks and freeze in ice-cube trays covered with water or, even easier, place the leaves and stalks in freezer bags. 

Lovage – Medicinal: Lovage will deliver its many health benefits either as a tea or when added to food.

Lovage Tea (tastes like a broth):

To make: Add 1 tsp. finely chopped lovage leaves, root or rhizome (underground stem) for every 1 cup of boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes or to taste. Health benefits:

  • Boosts immune system;
  • Coughs, colds and bronchial problems – contains eucalyptol which soothes irritated tissue; it is an expectorant which helps loosen phlegm and mucus;
  • Boosts kidney health – encourages healthier urination which decreases the risk of kidney stones; helps prevent urinary tract infections;
  • Menstrual relief – can relieve menstrual pain including severe cramping and bloating; may also act as a mood booster during this time;
  • Digestion aid – as an anti-inflammatory, lovage tea will help reduce irritation of the bowels, reduce bloating and flatulence, soothe upset stomachs; may improve appetite;
  • Anti-allergenic – contains quercetin (histamine inhibitor) which reduces allergic reactions, itchy eyes and runny nose;
  • Anti-inflammatory:
    • Relieves migraine headache pain;
    • Improves blood circulation;
    • Relieves arthritis, rheumatism, gout and other joint pains.

As with all herbs, lovage must be used with care. I believe strongly in the adage “All things in moderation”.

Pregnant or nursing women should avoid lovage. Anyone with chronic health issues, especially kidney or heart disease, should NOT use this herb without prior approval from their doctor.

Lovage is an aquaretic which stimulates healthy urine flow without losing electrolytes. This increases water loss when fluid retention is a problem. However, to prevent excessive water loss, anyone taking water pills should avoid this herb.

There have been some reports of increased photosensitivity associated with lovage use. This could increase risk for sunburn and skin cancer which makes sunblock and protective clothing a must.  

Lovage – Cosmetic/Medicinal:

Leaves applied directly to skin can:

  • Reduce the itch and redness from psoriasis;
  • Help control acne.

A decoction used as facial wash or added to the bath can:

  • Increase blood flow to the skin which improves skin tone, making skin feel and look smoother and healthier.

To make a decoction: Place a ¼ cup chopped lovage leaves in small pan, add 4 cups cold water, cover and place on low heat to slowly simmer for 1 hour. Strain through cheesecloth into a quart size glass jar. Pour additional boiling water through the strained herbs to fill the jar. Cover.

Lovage – Culinary:

Lovage

Lovage and Potato Soup

Lovage has a much stronger taste than celery – start with ½ tsp. chopped leaves to replace one celery stalk – more can be added to taste. Use leaves, stalks, roots or rhizomes in:

  • Broth – replace meat or bones with lovage to make broth – great for vegetarians;
  • Soup – especially vegetable or chicken;
  • Replace (or add to) spinach in chicken roll-ups;
  • Stews and Casseroles;
  • Roast Poultry – rub the poultry with lovage leaves or place one or two leaves under the skin or replace the celery with lovage in the stuffing. Just a few ideas to get you started.
  • Pesto – make a batch of pesto with lovage and lemon;
  • Use the stalks as straws for tomato based drinks.
Lovage

Vegetable Drink with Lovage Straw

Here’s a link to my favourite Lovage and Potato Soup Recipe: Old Fashioned Soup  NOTE: This recipe calls for 1 kg cubed potatoes – that is roughly equivalent to 4 heaping cups (6-8 potatoes).

For more lovage recipes, check out this site: Recipes-Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall

Having something to replace celery, which is not only expensive but part of the ‘dirty dozen’ list of vegetables, makes lovage a two-way winner. You can buy a plant for less than $5.00 and from that point on have a free organic celery substitute for ever. Definitely my kind of product.

Talk to you again soon,

Lenie

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21 Comments

  1. Pretty interesting. Never heard of lovage. Maybe someday someone will proclaim it a new superfood and they will start serving lovage salads in trendy restaurants.

    • Hi Ken – more people are becoming aware of lovage all the time. It used to be it was impossible to find lovage recipes – now there are quite a few. As to restaurants service lovage in salads, that could actually be happening. A few small baby lovage leaves add a lot to a salad although my favourite way is still the soup. I could eat it every day but not a good idea – it does make you pee a lot. 🙂

  2. Lovage is a completely new plant to me. I don’t eat or cook with celery, so I’m not sure I need to add it to my diet or garden (oh, that’s right, I live smack dab in the center of a big city and don’t have a garden). That is not meant to be snarky. It is intended as rueful recognition that I have the opposite of a green thumb—it’s sort of like my poor sense of direction.

    • Hi Suzanne, I got a kick out of your rueful recognition – don’t know if you’re aware that rue is also an herb with health benefits so your statement just hit my funny bone. Anyway, lovage is a plant that doesn’t need a green thumb – even black thumbs can’t kill this plant. Your living in the centre (notice the Canadian spelling?) of a big city with no garden probably has greater impact on why you can’t grow the herb. 🙂

  3. Lenie – firstly this is the first I have heard of lovage. Secondly who would have known a herb had so many uses, from treating acne to helping relief menstrual pain.

    • Phoenicia, lovage does have an amazing amount of health benefits. People are becoming more aware of it – I think it’s only been in the last 5 years that you could actually find lovage recipes. I always just used it to replace celery in soups and stews and sometimes to make a tea to deal with a specific problem. But it’s a great easy to grow plant.

  4. In Swedish it’s called libbsticka. Have heard of it but it’s not something that you find in supermarkets and I honestly don’t know if I have ever used it. Or consumed it without knowing what it was, for that matter. Good suggestions you make. Just not sure if I can get hold of lovage because growing it is out of the question as far as I’m concerned. .

    • Hi Catarina, thanks for telling me what it’s called in Sweden – libbsticka. I love information like that. Again, I’m not sure where or if you can buy it in supermarkets. I would send you a sample but am afraid that by the time you received it, it would be the worse for wear. 🙂

  5. I’ve never heard of lovage…not sure they sell it near me. It sounds very healing. I will say that i’m able to get organic celery at a pretty reasonable price near me. But if I ever bumble into lovage, would love to give it a try!

    • Hi Erica, probably because a lot of celery is grown in California is why you can buy it at a reasonable price. Even non-organic celery here is expensive so for me having a no-cost tasty replacement is great. I think maybe you could find lovage at an organic market but not sure of that.

  6. I have never heard of lovage before but I love adding herbs like it to my meals. It seems like there are so many health benefits as well. You have given us many ideas on how to use it. Thank you.

    • Hi Emily, don’t you love it when a inexpensive (or no-cost) product isn’t only good for you but also tastes good? I’m going to be cutting much of mine down and then using the regrowth for freezing in ice cube trays for winter use. Hope you can grow it or buy it where you are.

  7. I’ve never heard of lovage either Lenie, but the list of uses and benefits is impressive. The height alone makes it unrealistic for my little deck garden but I’m definitely going to watch for it in the grocery store to give it a try. Thanks!

    • Hi Marquita – to bad you don’t have the room to grow lovage – it really is a great plant to have. My favourite thing – Health benefits aside, (although they are impressive) is that it replaces expensive celery in many foods and at no cost. I don’t think it’s available yet at grocery stores but with the renewed awareness that may happen sooner rather than later – we’ll just have to wait and see.

  8. I never heard of lovage. I will give it a try. I will mix this herb with my other vegetables when I make my drink.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  9. I’ve never heard of Lovage, but I love that it tastes like broth. I would try it for that reason alone. I’ve been drinking bone marrow broth for health benefits, and would love to find more ways to flavor it by adding soup base that tends to contain salt.

    • Jeri, try and find a plant at an herb outlet and stick it in a sunny corner of your yard. Since you need very little you could harvest it and soon as it’s taken hold and starts growing. You would only need to add up to a quarter cup of chopped lovage to the broth to get the flavour you’re looking for. If you can’t find a plant try basil – it’s readily available and it also adds flavour to broth and has health benefits. The best of luck. 🙂

  10. If memory serves I once mentioned that my mother periodically made hamburger stew for dinner, and she always put celery in that stew so lovage sounds like it would have been right up our alley, BUT the “does make you pee a lot” business would not have gone over well with us, so we would have stuck with that ‘dirty’ celery.

    • Andy, You have no idea how much I look forward to your comments but this time you did it – you finally flabbergasted me. I truly don’t know what to say to this – the best I can do is say “you gotta do what you gotta do”. I’ll try and do better next time 🙂

      • Lenie, the last week and a half have been stressful for me as my brother and I had to stage an ‘intervention’ with my elderly father toward the end of moving him into an assisted living facility (I’ll spare you the details, although I may blog about this at a later point), and I’ll admit I was feeling ‘off-kilter’ a bit as I made that comment last night – it certainly wasn’t my intention to ‘flabbergast’ you.

        • Andy, I am so sorry. I know what you’re going through and you have my deepest sympathy – and for that matter so does your father. What a tough time for your family. I hope everything settles down. Take care and know that my fondest thoughts are with you, your brother and your father.