Harvest to Table

Lovage or Levisticum officinale is part of the Apiaceae family which also includes carrot, celery, coriander, and dill. The perennial herb is believed to have originated in the Middle East before spreading across South-East Asia, North and South America, and Europe. Today, it is widely cultivated across the world for its edible leaves, roots, and seeds.

Growth and harvest
Lovage seeds are best sown in spring. Between 20–25 degrees Celsius is the ideal environment for germination which usually occurs between seven to 21 days. Once seedlings grow 5–10cm tall, they should be moved to larger pots or planted in the ground as they can grow up to 2m in height and 1m in width.

Lovage requires moist, fertile soil and partial shade to full sun. It can take three to five years to fully mature, with some plants living up to 15 years as they are perennials. Leaves are usually ready to be picked around the 90-day mark. The roots, however, take longer to become edible and should be harvested when the plant is two to three years old. Lovage plants produce small, yellow flowers in clusters at the top of the stem.

Appearance and flavour profile
At first glance, lovage looks like a mix between parsley and celery due to its flat, green leaves and long, thick stalks. It’s a similar story when it comes to flavour, too. Lovage has a comparable profile to celery with added notes of parsley and anise. As it is quite strong, it should be used sparingly in dishes.

Culinary applications
The whole lovage plant — leaves, root, and seeds — can be used in cooking to bring a fresh, celery-like flavour to dishes. Lovage leaves can be used raw in salads or cooked in soups or stocks. The leaves can also be chopped up and added to poultry and seafood stuffings.

Lovage stems hold a lot of flavour and are usually blanched before being added to salads, stews, and soups. Lovage seeds can be crushed and used in a similar way to celery powder. The seeds are also often used in salt blends and pickling brines as well as on cheese platters as an accompaniment