Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, is from the Lamiaceae family (mint family) and is closely related to basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, savory and thyme. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region. Due to its strong aroma, it is often used in small amounts.
Rosemary is a very difficult herb to buy online, as it can be hard to determine what type of "cut" a spice company is selling. The three most common are whole, cracked and ground. It's certainly easy enough to understand ground rosemary, but where it gets a bit trickier is whole needles vs cracked. Whole needles are often difficult to work with and can get caught in your teeth. Whole rosemary is an approximately 1" long needle like leaf that is best used in longer cooking processes such as goulashes or stews. For shorter cook times, or for using in blends, we prefer to use a cracked rosemary needle. This rosemary is considered cracked rosemary leaves.
Cooking with Rosemary
Rosemary has a distinctive, strong flavor that persuades the palate that herbs aren’t just dainty things only meant for garnishing delicate soups or gently sprinkling on baby vegetables.
Rosemary can be used as a sophisticated accent with just a pinch or two providing a subtle flavor to perk up a mundane sauce or pastry. Its flavor works exceptionally well with beef, chicken, fish, lamb, pork, veal and wild game.
Rosemary is found in recipes for cream cheese, cream sauces, herb vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, salad dressings, soups (especially eggplant and potato), stews and sauces.
Works well in combination with bay leaves, chervil, chives, garlic, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
Crush or mince the rosemary leaves (or needles) before sprinkling over or rubbing into foods.
Unlike many seasonings, rosemary doesn't lose any of its potent flavor or aroma during cooking, so it can be added early in the process.
What Does Rosemary Taste Like
Rosemary’s taste is a bit cooling, woody, minty, and somewhat balsamic, with a strong aroma. It is also warm and a little peppery.
Fresh vs. Dried Rosemary
Some herbs are better dried and others are better fresh. Herbs that are better dried than fresh include oregano, rosemary and thyme. Other herbs when dried lose some or most of their flavor -- especially basil, cilantro, curry leaves, dill weed, lemongrass and tarragon. These herbs are more commonly used fresh.