Herbs on the Windowsill: Rosemary

The evergreen herb adds pungent flavor while it perfumes the air.

By FamilyTime


We offer a sometimes series on growing herbs indoors, which is a good way to ease the dreariness of winter. If you have a south- or east-facing window, you will have good luck growing herbs all year long.

Earth, Water, and Light

Rosemary does best planted in a roomy pot filled with a sterile, large grained potting mix or perlite combined with humus and potting soil. The loose soil means the herb will drain well. Straight potting soil is too compact and heavy for good draining.

Even on a full south-facing windowsill, the light will never be as strong as it is outdoors. If you live in a cool climate, the rosemary's environment will not be as warm and dry as it is naturally. Just being close to the window's glass lowers the temperature, regardless of where your thermostat is set.

This lower light and cooler climate means the rosemary needs less water than normal. And because this heady herb is native to dry climates such as those surrounding the Mediterranean, it does not require a lot of water.

Water the rosemary only when the soil feels dry. Poke your finger about half an inch into the dirt. If it's dry, give the rosemary a good drink, pouring in enough water so that it drains into the dish holding the pot. Don't go too long between watering, and yet it does the herb no good to overwater it.

Culinary Uses

Break or snip the branches from the rosemary plant, removing only what you need. If the stem is woody, pull the fragrant leaves from it. Don't let the branches get too spiky -- cut them back to keep the plant bushy.

Rosemary is a strong-tasting herb and as such enhances foods high in fat, such as lamb and pork. It also perks up bland foods such as potatoes, brown rice, and beans. It's great with chicken although not recommended for most fish dishes.

Rosemary is lovely infused in olive oil or vinegar and then the oil and vinegar can be used in sauces or to jazz up stews and soups. They may overpower vinaigrettes. 

Rosemary is also a great herb to bundle in  cheesecloth with other herbs and use to flavor stocks, stews, and soups. 

Poets say that rosemary is for remembrance, and when you keep it in your kitchen and use it liberally all winter long, your home-cooked meals will be wonderfully memorable.