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The herb Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae).  It grows as a small and large perennial shrub and as a trailing plant, and has white or delicate blue flowers.  Both shrub and trailing Rosemary are used in landscaping, the shrub as a hedge (it is easy to shape and a favorite for topiary), the trailing form in rock gardens and also planted so it tumbles over walls and fences.  Its thin green leaves look like pine needles, minus the sharp point.  It has a heady scent of pine and mint with a little eucalyptus, clove and pepper thrown in, and a strong taste that is piney and peppery.  It is used in many soaps, oils and shampoos and sewn into drawer freshening sachets.  Rosemary’s leaves are the main cooking ingredient, though the mature woody stems also make good grilling skewers.

The name Rosemary comes from one of two sources.  It is either a combination of ros and marinus, meaning “dew sea,” referring to the misty sea air of the Mediterranean, where it originated and grows in abundance, or it means “rose of Mary,” referring to a legend that the Virgin Mary dropped her blue cloak on a Rosemary bush when fleeing Egypt, turning the flowers blue.  Perhaps the most famous reference to Rosemary is Ophelia’s line in Hamlet, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance,” from its age-old association with memory and fidelity.


Rosemary is best in the Fall.


Rosemary is available all year long.


As a child of the Mediterranean, Rosemary grows well in sandy soil with good drainage and it loves the sun. It grows well in the ground or in pots, and thrives on very little attention. Its North American growing season is spring through summer, though as a perennial its roots can survive a mild winter.

It is a good choice of a plant to grow yourself—it sprouts easily from cuttings, it looks and smells wonderful, and using the fresh herb instead of dried makes a big difference in many dishes. Garden has good information on growing your own Rosemary.




When buying fresh Rosemary, the leaves should be dark green on top and a lighter grey-green underneath with no yellow or brown spots.  Dried Rosemary leaves will be more faded, but should still retain a little green color.


Fresh Rosemary will last about a week refrigerated.  Place it in a plastic bag or container or stand the sprigs in an inch or two of water (change the water every few days).  It can also be wrapped in foil and plastic and frozen for several months with little loss of flavor.

Culinary Uses

There are two schools of thought for how to remove Rosemary leaves from the stem.  One says hold the sprig in one hand and run your other hand’s thumb and fingers down it from top to bottom, stripping off the leaves as you go. 

The second school claims you should do the reverse, move from the bottom of the sprig upward, plucking off the needles, which avoids including any unwanted bits of stem or bark, which can happen with the first method.

Rosemary blends well with a number of other herbs and spices, but it can easily run away with the whole show. When cooking with it, you need a light hand.    It can stand up to strong ingredients like Garlic, Onion and wine and is often paired with them. As early as the Middle Ages, whole sprigs were Grilled or Roasted with meats, and it is still used with many Meats and Fish, (especially longer branches as Skewers for Kabob), but its horizons have widened considerably.  Nowadays it appears in recipes for roasted potatoes, starchy beans, nearly any Mediterranean vegetable—Tomato, Zucchini, Eggplant—also in breads and baked goods, and is a common ingredient in many Marinades and Sauces.  A Rosemary-infused oil is easy to make and wonderful to keep on hand for grilling, and Rosemary vinegar makes a good salad dressing.

Fresh Rosemary is the best choice for cooking, but dried Rosemary will still retain a lot of the desirable flavor of the fresh Rosemary.  However, dried Rosemary leaves can stay hard even when cooked and definitely need fine Mincing or Puree.  Another alternative is to use the powdered form, which also has good flavor.

Portion Size

Allow 1-2 t of Rosemary per recipe.


Savory, Tarragon, Thyme

Nutritional Value

Nutritional Value USDA
Amount Per 100g
Calories 131
%Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 26mg
Potassium 668mg
Total Carbohydrate 20g
Dietary Fiber 14g
Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Rosemary has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities and is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins A, B-complex and C.  It also contains a number of minerals, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and a good amount of iron.

Gluten Free


Low Fat


Low Calorie