I absolutely love lovage (levisticum officinalis). It is a handsome, tall and proud standing aromatic perennial kitchen garden herb. Although it can be overpowering, it is lovely cut and kept in the kitchen in vases for early summer greenery, and is well-used sparingly in egg, greens and tomato sauces.
The RHS recommends that lovage leaves can be added to “salads, soups, stews and potato dishes, while blanched shoots can be eaten as a vegetable, and the roots are edible as a cooked vegetable or raw in salads. The stalks can be candied like angelica, while dried leaves can be used to make a tea.” (RHS, Plants: Lovage)
They are best planted in rich, deep, moist soil in sun or partial shade. Mature plants can reach heights of six feet or more. (Our stand of lovage is not there, yet.) Regular cutting during the growing season will encourage young new growth. Plants die back in autumn, but will re-emerge in spring. A light mulch of manure over the winter is welcome. Large clumps can, like all herbaceous perennials, be divided in spring.
Lovage is a perennial garden herb which I absolutely adore, and there are two good sized plants growing just to the right of the artichoke, so making a joint feast of these two garden plot neighbours particularly fitting. Lovage is very powerful and aromatic – somewhat like a combined flat leaf parsley and celery. It is sometimes considered like a wild celery, which to my mind is a little off the mark. In any case, it’s powerful and should be used sparingly for best results.
Regular trimming of the plant encourages young growth. I often cut lovage and have it in a vase of water as a touch of green in the kitchen, but use very little of it (I do the same with mint). Nevermind: vases full of lovage adds colour and scent to the kitchen, and leaves can be torn off from and added in small amounts to things like egg dishes (omelettes and scrambled eggs with onion, for example). Lovage also adds a certain je ne sais quoi to stir fries of allotment-fresh Swiss chard and spinach. The stuff you don’t use (which admittedly is most of the vase full of greenery) makes a good contribution to the compost heap, and I’m pretty sure the worms love lovage just as much as I do.” (Philosophising.com, 8 May 2020, what two weeks looks like)
“At one time lovage used to be blanched and cooked like celery, and eaten as a vegetable, while the stems were candied like those of angelica. Nowadays lovage is not much used, even as a herb. It deserves a place in the herb garden, however, for it is a handsome plant and yields a generous supply of leaves with a warm, robust flavour somewhat similar to celery. They preserve their flavour well, both on cooking and drying, so can be used all throughout the winter in one form or another. The chopped leaves are good alone, or combined with other robust herbs, in stuffings, stews and soups, and in fresh tomato sauce for pasta.” The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices and Flavourings, p.112.