Everything You Need to Know About Rosemary

We're sharing how to grow, store, and dry the herb for easy use.

Rosemary is a great addition to any garden because of its culinary and holistic uses. In cooking, rosemary adds flavor and character to some of your favorite dishes. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and, according to the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), it has long been known as a memory strengthener. Growing your own rosemary is easier than you'd expect, and since it's considered a perennial in some regions, you may not have to replant it year after year.

picking fresh rosemary from garden
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How to Grow Rosemary

When deciding what kind of rosemary to grow, Evangelia Koutsovoulou of Daphnis and Chloe, a Greek spice and herb company, says that the options seem endless. "There are hundreds of rosemary varieties around the world; some are purely decorative [while] others are suitable for culinary use. So first do your rosemary variety research and pick one that is suitable for culinary use," says Koutsovoulou. "Rosemary is quite sturdy and will grow in many places, but it won't always taste the same way. Soil composition, sun exposure, temperatures, and humidity play an important role. For a higher rate of success, you should pick a local variety or at least one that prospers in climates similar to yours."

Once you've selected the right type for your needs, find a space that will accommodate your rosemary, giving your plants enough room to grow up and out. When it comes to watering, Eric Tomassini of Ave 33 Farm points out that rosemary is drought-tolerant, so it will do well with some dryness and sun. When it comes to soil, rosemary requires excellent drainage, according to the NYBG. It likes porous, dryer soil, and grows well in containers. After planting the right rosemary for your needs in a sunny spot it can grow high enough that some people use the herb as a privacy guard around their home.

Growing Rosemary Indoors

Growing rosemary indoors is a great option, especially in colder climates. The same sun, soil, and watering requirements apply to its outdoor counterparts, according to the NYBG, but it's important to make sure not to overwater or let the plant sit in a pool of water when growing the herb in a container.

When growing indoors, the kind of rosemary you plant may come into question, due to having inherently less space for the plant to flourish. Tomassini suggests finding a shorter rosemary variety, like Boy Blue Rosemary. When it comes to a pot he suggests something larger, she says, "It will want a bigger pot since it grows as a bush."

When to Harvest Rosemary

The ideal time to harvest rosemary is spring or summer, and in the morning when the plant's essential oils are at their peak, explains Koutsovoulou. "We choose to harvest when [the plants] start blossoming because that's when the leaves are at their peak," she explains. If you're cultivating for home use, it makes sense to harvest by just cutting back the parts you want to dry and leave the rest for the bees and for decorative purposes, she notes.

How to Dry Rosemary

When it comes to drying rosemary, Koutsovoulou says, "You need a dry, well-aired room. Lay the branches in the shade for a few days. A large table or shelve should do. You want them to dry fast because otherwise the quality might get deteriorated during this stage. Drying is an art, and plays a very important role in the quality of your outcome! Start with smaller quantities and observe." You'll know your rosemary is ready to store in jars once it's crumbly and completely dry.

How to Store Rosemary

When storing fresh rosemary keeping it damp is key. Greg Lofts, our deputy food editor, says to place fresh herbs in a glass with water, much like you would for fresh cut flowers. He suggests putting a produce bag on top of the herb, wrapping it over the grass so it's covered, and tying it off to act as its own greenhouse.

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