~The Awesomeness of Rosemary~

As one of my Ostara projects this year I am planning on starting (and hopefully nurturing and keeping alive!) a kitchen herb box.  My own garden is tiny, paved and mostly for the dogs so I am not able to grow things in the ground, and nothing below 5 feet will be safe for consumption, so I have to think of what I can grow in containers.  I am not a gardener, although I love being outdoors and interacting with Nature, so I think starting small with some basic kitchen herbs would be a step in the right direction.

I had a little think about what herbs to have in my windowsill box and I’m going to keep it simple, herbs that I use often in cooking and for other properties: thyme, basil, sage, and rosemary.  All are common kitchen herbs, and part of looking after them will encourage me to read about their properties, uses and herb lore. 

As rosemary is particularly poignant at this time of year, and used a lot in Ostara and Easter dishes, I thought I’d share what I found out about this humble herb!  I had no idea that rosemary could be used in so many different ways until I did a bit of digging…

 ~Rosemary~ The Herb of Clarity~

Rosemary translates from it’s Latin name of Rosamrius Officinalis as “dew of the sea”.  It has been utilized throughout history for it’s medicinal purposes, and was used in ceremonies during Ancient Greek times.  Rosemary is a perennial plant (lives longer than 2 years) native to the Mediterranean and has been grown in Britain since the Middle Ages.  As well as healing qualities and being a delicious ingredient in cooking, rosemary can be used in aromatherapy, and as part of healthy skin and nail treatments.

Health Benefits

This highly scented herb has traditionally been used as a disinfectant, to help ease muscle pain, boost the immune system, circulation, digestion as well as promote hair growth and aid with memory, focus and concentration.  Rosemary contains iron, calcium and B-6 with anti-inflammatory properties.

***BE WARNED*** Too much rosemary can be toxic in high quantities, and can also trigger miscarriage, so pregnant women should avoid rosemary products.  Rosemary can also have an affect on certain medicines (anticoagulant drugs (blood thinning medicinces), ACE inhibitors (high blood pressure meds), Diuretics (urine related perscriptions), and Lithium (found in some anti-depressants) so be sure to check with your pharmacist or GP if you have concerns.  Other side effects of high doses of rosemary to be mindful of are vomiting, spasms, coma and pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs).

However, in small, healthy doses rosemary can be beneficial.  The antioxidants found in rosemary help to neutralize harmful particles known as “free radicals”. In Europe it is used to help with indigestion, and the Journal of Food Science reported that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduced the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during the cooking process.  Rosemary extract has also been proven to slow the spread of cancerous cells that can cause leukemia and breast cancers.  Further research has revealed that carnosic acid found in rosemary can also significantly support good eye health.

Studies have also suggested that the aroma from rosemary can improve concentration, efficiency, accuracy and lifts mood.  In aromatherapy rosemary is used for mental clarity to help with making decisions and to help maintain focus which is ideal for those in study or where memory recall is needed.

Rosemary in the Kitchen

There are many different ways to get the goodness of rosemary into you using it as an ingredient to many dishes. The secret to releasing the scent and to encourage the flavour to come out is to rub the leaves a little just before use.  Always use dried rosemary when infusing with oils as using fresh/damp herbs could cause bacteria to grow during storage.

Tea: Rosemary tea is very simple to make and is as easy as popping a nice dried sprig of rosemary into some boiled water, leaving it to steep for 5 minutes before removing the sprig and enjoying (leaving it any longer will make the tea taste bitter!).  Rosemary is good to mix with other herbal teas like lavender or thyme.

Oil: To make a rosemary infused oil to add to dishes whenBisvuit cooking, simply take a seal-able clean glass jar/bottle, add in 3-4 dried sprigs of rosemary, 1-2 peppercorns and a sprinkle of sea salt then fill with olive oil and make sure it is in air-tight and kept in a safe place (a sunny window will help to infuse the oil) for 3-4 weeks before using.

Sugar: This is delicious for sprinkling on cakes, biscuits, muesli, Greek yogurt or in toppings on fruit crumbles: very finely dice and chop one sprig of dried rosemary and mix with 120 grams of sugar and the dried, grated zest of a small orange for a zingy and refreshing sweet hit.

Butter: For an easy fresh herbal taste to sauces and casseroles just stir finely chopped rosemary leaves and lemon zest into softened butter, pop into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Short-bread Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon Icing

These biscuits are quick, simple and very cheap to make!  With a fresh and zingy flavour, the rosemary short-breads are a Spring themed treat, perfect for Ostara feasts and rituals.  The following recipe makes 12 biscuits and will keep for a week when stored in an air tight container…

Biscuit dough: 50 g caster sugar, 125 g unsalted room-temperature butter, 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, 175 g self-raising flour

Decoration: 6 tbsp icing sugar, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 4-6 rosemary leaves per biscuit

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 6/200 degrees C/fan 180 degrees C.  Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the rosemary, flour and a pinch of salt.  Form a dough and divide into 12 equal pieces, and press into the holes of a muffin tin.
  2. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly golden.  Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn the tin over and tap to release the biscuits on a cooling rack.
  3. For the topping, mix the icing sugar with 1 and a half teaspoons of lemon juice to make a runny icing.  Once the biscuits are cooled, drizzle the icing over and sprinkle the lemon zest and a few rosemary leaves.  Leave the biscuits to set for 20 mins, until the icing is solid, and then enjoy!

Multi-Purpose “Power of 3” Home Cleaner

Rosemary in the past was used in medicine to heal as well as to clean and disinfect with it’s antifungal, and antiseptic properties.  Switching from chemical, commercial cleaners to home-made cleaners is more eco-friendly as it’s natural and biodegradable and cheaper than buying multiple products, as well as reducing waste as you’ll be using less product bottles.  Vinegar has a hundred practical purposes in cleaning, and in as a cleaner is excellent at cutting through grease and giving shine to glass.  Lemon is a natural disinfectant, a stain remover and leaves a fresh scent.  Rosemary also lends it’s scent to this mix and brings its antibacterial qualities to help fight germs.

This simple DIY cleaning solution is completely natural, bio-degradable, non-toxic and can be used to clean and disinfect a wide variety of household messes including:  kitchen and bathroom surfaces, on appliances, as a glass cleaner or carpet stain remover, for pet cleanup, and on no-wax floors.

To create your very own eco-friendly, all-natural disinfectant cleaner with a fresh, herbal scent, simply add 2-3 dried rosemary sprigs with the peel of 2 lemons and 470 ml water and 470 ml white vinegar to an air tight container and leave in a cool place to infuse for 10-14 days.  Transfer to a spray bottle and it’s ready to use around the home- you can either strain out the lemon peel and rosemary or leave it in to decorate the bottle.

Skin and Hair Enhancer

Nutrients found in rosemary can support healthy skin by protecting cells from damage caused by the sun and free radicals. The natural antiseptic properties of rosemary provide a powerful disinfectant for our hair and skin, encourage hair growth and is even reputed to prevent premature greying!  

DIY Rosemary-Based Hair Oils & Mask

The oil can be used as a conditioning rinse or as a hair mask when massaged  into the hair from scalp to roots and covered with a towel for an hour before washing out; use 1 tsp for short to mid-length hair and 2 tsp for longer hair).  The rosemary sprigs should be well dried before being infused with the oil to prevent bacteria growth during storage.  Air-tight, glass containers with secure lids should be used for storing the blend.

Method 1: Mix 25 drops of rosemary essential oil with 1 ounce of olive oil in a clean bottle/jar, secure the lid and shake to mix.  This is ready to use as soon as it is blended together.

Method 2: This recipe uses the dried herb version at 1 ounce of rosemary to 10 ounces of olive oil.  Massage the rosemary leaves or smash in a pestle and mortar before placing inside an air-tight glass container and add the olive oil.  Seal and leave on a sunny windowsill for 2-4 weeks.  Strain out the leaves and re-bottle before use.

DIY Rosemary Skin Blends

Thanks to it’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, rosemary can be used to help reduce spots and blemishes when used as part of a skin care routine.

Anti-Acne: Mix 2 drops of rosemary essential oil with 1 tsp of grapeseed carrier oil and use a cotton ball to wipe across the affected area after washing.  The natural anti-bacterial properties of rosemary will help prevent spots from forming.

Reduce redness for blemishes, scars and stretchmarks: Mix 3-4 drops of rosemary essential oil with 4 tbsp of coconut carrier oil and massage onto skin 1-2 times a day.

Facial steam to deep cleanse: Add 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil to a bowl of freshly boiled water, then lean over the bowl so your face is exposed to the steam and use a towel to cover around your shoulders, head and bowl to trap the steam.  This 5-10 minute treatment will help to open and clean your pores.

 Rosemary in Aromatherapy

Rosemary is used to help with keeping focused and helps the brain to fight free radicals, aiding in memory recall and concentration, so it’s perfect for bringing our awareness to the present which can help us in making decisions and during studies, or helping maintain our focus for periods of time.  There are many ways to harness the super scent of this fragrant herb…

 Essential oil: Mix 1-2 drops of rosemary essential oil with 2-3 drops of olive oil or grapeseed oil or coconut oil for a massage blend to release stress and soothe the skin.  You could also anoint a drop of rosemary essential oil onto your wrists and centre of your chest just before going in for a job interview or exam.  Burning a few drops of rosemary essential oil in a burner in your place of study or work space will help you focus on your projects.

Pot Pourri:  Hang sprigs of dried rosemary around the areas where you need to concentrate and rub the leaves for a quick scent release.  Add a few sprigs of rosemary to bouquets for an extra herbal scent.  Small sewn pouches of dried rosemary are great to keep in your pocket or car or bag for when you need moments of clarity on the go.

Candles: Rub a couple of drops of rosemary essential oil onto a scentless candle and let dry before lighting for use in meditation or in ritual work.  You could also finely grind some dried rosemary, annoint a candle in olive oil and then roll the candle in the rosemary and allow to dry before using.

I hope this inspires you to try some new things with rosemary to help make every day life a bit more magical!