With its pronounced lemon-pine flavor, rosemary is one of the most assertive herbs.
SEASON: Summer and fall; year-round in temperate climates
CHOOSING: Look for fresh stems with no sign of curled, brown, or molded leaves. The leaves should be firmly attached to the stem, not shedding.
STORING: Rosemary stems will last longer if they’re well hydrated and stored cold. Cut the woody stems with kitchen shears or garden clippers, ideally while holding them underwater in the sink or a bowl. Place the freshly cut stems in a glass of water for about an hour. Leave them there if you plan to use them quickly, but to maximize their life, place them in a produce bag in the refrigerator (but not in the vegetable bin). They’ll last up to two weeks.
GROWING: Rosemary is a shrub that’s suitable for use as both a landscape plant and a culinary herb. Selecting the right plant for your garden can make quite a difference in plant form, hardiness, and flavor.
Rosemary is generally winter-hardy where the temperatures do not drop below 15 degrees to 20 degrees. If you garden in a borderline area, try one of the more cold-hardy types, such as Hill Hardy or Arp. Spring planting is recommended so your rosemary will be fully established by winter. Keep in mind that trailing rosemary is the least hardy of all.
Plant in an area with full sun and good drainage. Wet soil, especially in winter, is certain death. Water new plants weekly for a couple of months or until they’re established. After the first year, rosemary is remarkably drought-tolerant. Oddly, rosemary grown in containers is not. Gardeners in cold climates may wish to put rosemary in a pot that can be brought indoors for the winter. Just remember, if it dries out enough to wilt, it probably will not revive.