4 practical facts about myrtle and its use in cooking

4 practical facts about myrtle and its use in cooking

Myrtle might be a dainty and lovely accoutrement flower, but its uses are versatile in cooking as well. Here’s what else you need to know.

Myrtle’s rich history

  • Myrtle was a symbol of peace in the Old Testament, and of honourable victory in ancient Greece and Rome.
  • It was woven into the crown at the first Olympic Games. Dedicated to the goddess Venus, also venerated under the name Myrtia, it was grown at the foot of the temples which were dedicated to her.
  • Brides still put sprigs of myrtle in their bouquet.
  • Here are more facts about this plant.

1. Other common names

  • Jew’s myrtle
  • Nerte
  • Lagui grass

2. Parts used

  • Leaves
  • Buds
  • Flowers
  • Fruit

3. In cooking

  • The myrtle leaves, buds and fruit are all ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Corsica and Sardinia.
  • They are used to flavour pork, lamb, pâtés/dough and small game. They are also added to sauces and certain liqueurs. The berries have a light flavour of juniper.
  • The flowers and fruit are ground into a spice of the same flavour. The infused oil is used in teas, salad dressings, dishes of chicken and fish, desserts and pastries.

4. Wax myrtle

  • Myrica or wax mrytle is an evergreen shrub, with flowers in catkins with grey berries with a waxy appearance, which is used to make candles and soap.
  • The fruit is heated in water to recover the wax floating at the surface.
  • The bark extract, which is very astringent and antibacterial, is prescribed for digestive disorders or infections of the upper respiratory tract.
  • It is also applied locally to stimulate hair growth. There are different myricas in North America.
  • Some are planted as hedges or for ornamental purposes in difficult areas or places, because they tolerate sandy soil that is not well-drained.
  • Sweet gale or bog myrtle grows in moist soil throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Its bitter and resinous leaves have the same flavour as the laurel. It makes a tasty herbal tea, and adds an unusual flavour to soups and stews.
  • In Yorkshire, England, it traditionally replaces hops in brewing Gruit beer, a drink dating back to the Middle Ages.

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