Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
Follow on X Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram Follow on Threads
Christine McFadden with students
Alternative Pancakes
A Taste of Rabbit
Beyond Carrot Cake
Bountiful Blackberries
Celebrating Celery
Cherries are the Only Fruit
Chuck, Flank and Shank
Cooking With
What You’ve Got
Cool Curries
Delectable Duck
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
Drupe Fruit
Excellent Eggs
Feel the Fear and
Cook it Anyway
Give Swede a Chance
Glorious Globes
Glorious Greens
Golden Orbs
Heavenly Herbs
King Cauliflower
Lovely Lovage
Meat of Kings
More Than Marmalade
Of Cabbages and Kings
Partridges and Pears
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Remarkable Medlars
Roasting Chestnuts
Rhubarb Renaissance
Ruffian Roots: Celeriac
Sensational Sea Buckthorn
Sicilian Utopia
Strawberry Fare
The Not-So-Humble Parsnip
Time for Pie
Time to Talk About Eggs
Watercress – a culinary hero
We Won't Go Until
We Get Some
Lovage herb leaves how to cook Christine McFadden
Lovage herb seeds how to cook Christine McFadden

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.

Lovely Lovage

I love the word lovage – it sounds comforting and cosy, like my grandmother’s shawl. It’s one of those old-fashioned herbs that inexplicably isn’t sold in food shops. Luckily it’s a good-natured perennial that’s easy to grow and comes back year after year. It’s certainly a welcome sight in my herb garden, emerging as a tiny acid-green clump poking through the detritus of winter and signalling the start of spring. Before long, it shoots up into a magnificent towering shrub that develops flavoursome seeds in late summer and autumn.

The flavour of lovage is punchy but curiously hard to define. British chef Florence Knight likens it to freshly cut grass with an intense herbal flavour, similar to parsley or the inner leaves of celery. It’s also been described as a mix of yeast and Maggi soup; interestingly the Germans call it ‘Maggikraut’. To me it’s curry-like and faintly redolent of celery and vegetable stock – although more like Marigold powdered vegetable bouillon than Maggi stock cubes.

When cooking with lovage, there’s a temptation to use a generous handful of leaves, but bear in mind the strength of the flavour. The seeds are a far better bet – they have the same flavour as the leaves but are easier to measure in a judicious amount.

Gardeners who grow lovage will be able to harvest seeds in late summer and early autumn. Non-gardeners can occasionally find the seeds online or in shops that sell Indian groceries. Otherwise it’s fine to substitute celery seeds or ajwain seeds ¬– they have a similar flavour and are more widely available.

I like to use lovage seeds to brighten up a lack-lustre soup – they’re especially good with carrots or parsnips, for example. They also add interesting flavour to cheese scones or wholemeal bread dough. And they’re excellent fried with crumbs in a generous amount of butter and poured over cauliflower florets, as in my recipe for Pan-Fried Cauliflower with Lovage Crumbs and Lemon. Do give it a try and let me know what you think.

© Christine McFadden, March 2023

    Photography:Christine McFadden    
© 2023 The Dorset Foodie | Website by Compass