Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sweet Cicely - Myrrhis odorata

Sweet Cicely is up in my garden.  Here is a spring shot of the plant coming up around April 1st.  I am looking forward to using the tasty fronds in salad and tea.

My first sweet cicely plant, shown here, was purchased from Commanda Country Gardens.  Later I learned that it is not only beautiful but also edible.  Last summer my plant spanned a metre and was also a metre high.  Very prolific once established.  Sweet Cicely has naturalized in North American but it is originally from Europe

Sweet Cicely does well in half shade and half light, rich soil and good drainage.  It likes moist soil and mine is near a rain barrel that often overflows.  The flowers produce seed heads and you can remove these if you don't want it to seed further.  The young offshoot plants are also easy to identify and dig up and relocate or give to your gardening friends.  Bees love this plant and watching them buzz around the flowers is a favourite summer pass time on the back porch.  

Culinary: the flavor is a combination of celery and sweet anise and goes well with carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cream soups and sauces, and fish, and in fruit soups, stewed fruit, fruit salads, pies and tarts.  

Leaves - the delicate fronds are ideal to garnish food plates, summer drinks and even your table.  They can be used fresh or dried as tea.  Fresh young leaves also go well in salads, cabbage slaws, stuffing/dressings etc.  You can also add the leaves and stems to tart fruits like rhubarb to reduce acidity.  

Roots - The root can be steamed, simmered or cooked and sliced or pureed like a parsnip.  Grate it and add to quick breads and muffins.  

Seeds - The seeds are used in candy, syrups, cakes and liqueurs.  Substitute for caraway in baking.

There is an excellent recipe for a Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely pie if you follow this link posted by the Goddess of Cake - great blog out of Finland.  Now I just need my rhubarb to get a bit bigger and I can make the pie!

MEDICINAL USES: the plant improves appetite and reduces flatulence.  Read more about Myrrhis odorata at this excellent site "Plants for a Future - edible, medicinal and useful plants for a healthier world.

© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
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Anonymous said...

Sweet cicely on first of April? I wish! My cicely - bush is still totally under snow.. thanks for linking to my pie!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Nancy for this tip. I've been looking for edible perennials to grow in my garden which I am establishing this spring.