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Candied Rosemary, a Sweet Garden Treat

Updated on March 18, 2016
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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

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At historic St. Mary's City in Southern Maryland, a historical reenactor prepares candied rosemary using the recipe to your left.After dipping sprigs in a hot cup of thyme-flavored water, the rosemary is sprinkled with sugar and placed on cheese cloth.The sugary rosemary is then set near a low fire to dry, just as it would have been done by 17th-century settlers.
At historic St. Mary's City in Southern Maryland, a historical reenactor prepares candied rosemary using the recipe to your left.
At historic St. Mary's City in Southern Maryland, a historical reenactor prepares candied rosemary using the recipe to your left. | Source
After dipping sprigs in a hot cup of thyme-flavored water, the rosemary is sprinkled with sugar and placed on cheese cloth.
After dipping sprigs in a hot cup of thyme-flavored water, the rosemary is sprinkled with sugar and placed on cheese cloth. | Source
The sugary rosemary is then set near a low fire to dry, just as it would have been done by 17th-century settlers.
The sugary rosemary is then set near a low fire to dry, just as it would have been done by 17th-century settlers. | Source

Candied Rosemary Recipe

3.3 stars from 20 ratings of Candied Rosemary

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.

Ingredients

  • 2 C. boiling water
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, washed
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3 springs fresh thyme, washed

Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil and pour over thyme.
  2. Steep three to five minutes. Meanwhile, place the sugar in a shallow bowl.
  3. Dip sprigs of rosemary into the hot water one at a time.
  4. Using a spoon, sprinkle each sprig generously with sugar. Set aside to dry.
  5. For a sweetly fragrant alternative, replace the thyme with rose petals.

Growing Herbs

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.

Growing Rosemary

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.

Growing Thyme

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

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have never tried this. I am sure I would love it. Thanks for the recipe.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
      Author

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Natashalh! Glad you stopped by. DF

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who is still making this historic treat! Voted awesome and up.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
      Author

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Give it a try, homesteadbound! It's ... refreshing, to say the least. Thanks for dropping by. --DF

    • homesteadpatch profile image

      homesteadpatch 5 years ago from Michigan

      I love Rosemary, why have I never tried this?! Thanks again TheDirtFarmer!

    • profile image

      The Dirt Farmer 6 years ago

      Awesome! Love to cook and can't wait to read your hubs too. (:

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 6 years ago from Citra Florida

      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

      New follower

      Thanx

      Lee

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
      Author

      Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

      Rosie, you should do a hub! Sounds delicious and unique.

    • RosieG profile image

      RosieG 6 years ago from Nerang Gold Coast Qld

      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 profile image

      Shelly McRae 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Candied rosemary sound delicious. I have rosemary in my garden so am anxious to give this a try. Great hub.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
      Author

      Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

      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 W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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 profile image

      Tina Julich 6 years ago from Pink

      I love rosemary and am anxious to try your recipe. Great hub!

    • profile image

      The Dirt Farmer 6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      marellen 6 years ago

      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.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
      Author

      Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

      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 profile image

      dearabbysmom 6 years ago from Indiana

      Looking forward to trying this very unique recipe. Have a "foodie" friend who will really enjoy trying the candied rosemary with strong tea.