Jill Spencer has been an online writer for over nine years. Her articles often focus on gardening.
Although they may not seem like candy to us, sweetened herbs such as rosemary have served as culinary treats since antiquity.
According to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat's The History of Food, early inhabitants of the Middle East, China, India, and Egypt routinely coated nuts, fruits, and edible flowers and stems with honey for dessert. The Greeks and Romans did, too.
Later, sugar was used. These delicacies, known as sweetmeats in Britain, were called candy in the United States from the Arabic word qandi, meaning "made of sugar."
If you're a fan of martinis, you'll love them even more garnished with a sprig of rosemary covered in sugar.
Like to bake? Sugared rosemary makes a gorgeous edible cake garnish, too. Or try this moist and fragrant pound cake recipe from Martha Stewart. It features both rosemary and rosemary honey. Yum!
Sweet & Refreshing
Candied rosemary has a sweet, refreshing taste. And it's aromatic, particularly when made with thyme or rose petal-scented water.
At Historic St. Mary's City in Southern Maryland, historical reenactors demonstrate lots of early American recipes, including candied rosemary.
An Historical Reenactment
Candied Rosemary Recipe
Quick & Easy
You don't need a fancy recipe to candy rosemary at home. You don't need a special occasion either. (Or a costume.) In fact, if you're an herb gardener, you can make sugared rosemary in about five minutes and enjoy it with a strong cup of tea in about 30.
Just follow the recipe below. It's been around since the 1600s.
- 2 C. boiling water
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, washed
- 1/2 C. sugar
- 3 springs fresh thyme, washed
- Bring the water to a boil and pour over thyme.
- Steep three to five minutes. Meanwhile, place the sugar in a shallow bowl.
- Dip sprigs of rosemary into the hot water one at a time.
- Using a spoon, sprinkle each sprig generously with sugar. Set aside to dry.
- For a sweetly fragrant alternative, replace the thyme with rose petals.
If you don't have rosemary and thyme at home, you can always purchase sprigs in the produce department of your local grocery store.
But why not grow them yourself?
Herbs are among the easiest of plants to cultivate—hardy, fragrant, useful, and naturally resistant to pests and diseases.
Even people who don't have a yard can grow herbs like rosemary and thyme, which are excellent pot culture plants.
Rosemary officinalis has small blue blossoms. Like all herbs, it doesn't mind poor soil, but it hates wet feet. Plant it in a well-drained, sunny spot in the garden. Or, grow it in a terracotta pot.
Because it flowers on new growth, prune rosemary in the summer after the blooms have died. In winter, protect its roots from freezing by bringing pots of rosemary indoors. Place them in a sunny window. Even during the shortest days of winter, rosemary needs at least two hours of sun each day.
R. officinalis is available in several attractive varieties, including R.o. prostratus, which has weeping branches; R.o. albus, which has white flowers; R. o. roseus, which has purple-pink blossoms that fade to mauve; and R.o. augustifolium, which smells like pine needles and makes a charming miniature Christmas tree.
No matter what the variety, rosemary has long been a symbol of remembrance, affection, and friendship.
There are over 100 varieties of thyme. Although all of them have tiny leaves and tiny blossoms, they vary in color and texture.
Two of the most commonly grown varieties are creeping thyme, Thymus serpyllum, also known as wild thyme, and common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, which is used for cooking. Both are easy-to-grow perennial herbs.
Plant wild thyme between stepping stones or use it as a fragrant replacement for grass. Common cooking thyme grows well in pots. Like its creeping cousin, it's a low grower.
© 2011 Jill Spencer
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 30, 2014:
I have never tried this. I am sure I would love it. Thanks for the recipe.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 09, 2012:
Thanks, Natashalh! Glad you stopped by. DF
Natasha from Hawaii on March 09, 2012:
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who is still making this historic treat! Voted awesome and up.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on October 27, 2011:
Give it a try, homesteadbound! It's ... refreshing, to say the least. Thanks for dropping by. --DF
homesteadpatch from Michigan on October 27, 2011:
I love Rosemary, why have I never tried this?! Thanks again TheDirtFarmer!
The Dirt Farmer on July 02, 2011:
Awesome! Love to cook and can't wait to read your hubs too. (:
Lee Raynor from Citra Florida on June 30, 2011:
Hey Dirt Farmer
What an interesting idea! Never heard of this with herbs, I'll have to try it, 'specially with a martini. I've only recently gotten back to gardening after years of neglect so I'm re-learning the skills needed
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2011:
From the sound of it you must have just munched on the sugared rosemary like one eating candy? I still have not tried it although I have all the herbs growing outside. Saw this and it refreshed my memory. Thanks again!
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on June 30, 2011:
Rosie, you should do a hub! Sounds delicious and unique.
RosieG from Nerang Gold Coast Qld on June 30, 2011:
I love Rosemary, and will try this I have never heard of it. I love to put chicken on Rosemary twigs and barbecue them. Toss the chicken with chopped garlic and salt before you skewer it onto the twigs. very yummy.
Shelly McRae from Phoenix, Arizona on May 11, 2011:
Candied rosemary sound delicious. I have rosemary in my garden so am anxious to give this a try. Great hub.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on April 20, 2011:
Hi Peggy! If you're using the old recipe(not one with egg whites) air drying will work fine, but if you want to eat them warm (without building a campfire)you could experiment with placing them in a warming oven (about 170 degrees) for a bit. I had the old recipe version right off an open fire. It was sort of like eating a giant warm mint. Have fun!
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2011:
I have the rosemary, thyme and also roses growing. Will have to give this a try! Never heard of candied rosemary and it is intriguing. Do you just let it air dry or do you use heat? Thanks for this interesting hub.
Tina Julich from Pink on April 06, 2011:
I love rosemary and am anxious to try your recipe. Great hub!
The Dirt Farmer on April 02, 2011:
Good luck to you. I've killed it before, too, when I lived in Texas. Although rosemary hates to sit in wet soil, if you miss a crucial watering, it's outta there. Thanks for reading!
marellen on April 01, 2011:
I will try your tips on growing rosemary. Its everywhere I look but I can't seem to keep a plant alive. Thanks for the great hub.
Jill Spencer (author) from United States on April 01, 2011:
I'd never tried it before until last Sat. when we went to the local historical park. It smelled luscious by the fire, and they were making candles, too. Thanks for reading!
dearabbysmom from Indiana on March 31, 2011:
Looking forward to trying this very unique recipe. Have a "foodie" friend who will really enjoy trying the candied rosemary with strong tea.