Farmers Markets are slowly reopening in Chicago. I like this time of year, the produce tastes good, and it’s fun to be outdoors. But I often buy stuff just for the novelty of buying stuff, which is stupid. Sometimes, though, it pays off—like with the bunch of lovage that I impulse-bought at Green City Market on Saturday. I don’t see lovage very often, and I got excited. For those of you unfamiliar, lovage is herbaceous plant that tastes somewhat like celery—though more intense, and perhaps also a bit like lime. It’s delicious.
I improvised a syrup using the lovage I bought. After making the syrup, I remembered that I had come across a cocktail recipe using lovage at some point. I found it in the Franny’s cookbook. It was for a “celery” soda. It couldn’t be simpler, you combine some of the lovage syrup with a bit of lime juice and a couple of dashes of celery bitters (which we happened to have, though they are not strictly necessary). Add sparkling water and you have one of the freshest, most delicious soft drinks I’ve ever had—though a little gin wouldn’t hurt. It was so good that it got me thinking about a drink of summer—the drink of summer. This lovage syrup seems like a good starting point.
Fun fact: The stalks of lovage are hollow and can be used as straws. How Pinterest-able is that?
More information on lovage here.
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup (packed) lovage leaves
Combine the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add the lovage leaves and stir to combine. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 2-3 hours. Strain syrup into a glass jar (pressing on leaves to extract all of the syrup) and store in the refrigerator. The syrup will keep well for at least a couple of months.
Rebecca@Figs and Pigs says:
May 11th, 2015 at 12:20 pm
Never tried lovage curious to give it a go if I can find it. I like the idea of it in a drink sounds green and refreshing.
May 11th, 2015 at 12:58 pm
A couple of years ago I bought a lovage start from the garden store, because I don’t see lovage often either.
Apparently lovage likes New England weather and utter neglect. Every year it comes back bigger than before. I could never use it all.
So, if you like lovage and have any place at all to grow a plant, I recommend growing some.
May 11th, 2015 at 2:27 pm
The idea of a lovage syrup is very intriguing. I wonder if I could grow some here in Sweden. I can already foresee a lovage, watermelon and cucumber Hendrick’s g&t. Oh damn, now we’re just missing summer around here!
J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats says:
May 11th, 2015 at 2:49 pm
hahaha i can’t wait to see a ‘skinny lovage cocktail’ Pinterest post complete with lovage straw, loopy white cursive writing and step by step tutorial…
May 11th, 2015 at 3:33 pm
Have you tried Paula Wolfert’s herb jam recipe? Lovage is brilliant in that.
Shannon Murphy says:
May 11th, 2015 at 4:08 pm
I second the buy-a-plant recommendation. Easiest plant I’ve ever grown, and comes in handy when a recipe calls for celery and you want to cheat. For a quicker gin-and-tonic situation, you can just muddle the leaves with some lime and pour booze on top. Though I love the idea of this syrup for more sophisticated applications!
Katrina @ WVS says:
May 11th, 2015 at 4:38 pm
This drink looks so tasty! And I love how it would be good any time of year!
May 11th, 2015 at 4:40 pm
Katrina and JS- Would love to grow, but do not have outdoor space so it is not an option.
Deena- Thanks for the heads up!
May 12th, 2015 at 2:49 am
Lovage soup is wonderful, too. Chop a bunch (large hand full) of lovage very finely. Cut an onion into very small cubes, fry them in some butter until translucent, add half a tablespoon of flour, stir until coated, then add 2 cups of milk and a cup of water (or broth), stir, add the lovage and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Season to taste (salt is all you may need). If you want it smoother you can blend the soup.
Lovage freezes well in ice cube trays.
May 12th, 2015 at 5:51 am
This drink looks and sounds delicious. Seems like a good excuse to add lovage to my herb garden.
May 12th, 2015 at 12:54 pm
oh my gosh, this is right up my alley, and the name is so cute!! PLUS stalk-straws?! must. find. immediately.
May 12th, 2015 at 3:00 pm
i think you need to listen to this song while sipping this drink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKiXYveusc0
looks delicious =)
May 12th, 2015 at 4:15 pm
Is lovage the same thing as Chinese celery? I grew up eating Chinese celery, which is essentially a very strong tasting, herb-y celery. It has the same tubes though and looks pretty similar, except maybe the leaves are a bit thinner/lighter green! I’d be curious to see if it’s the same thing as lovage, just under a different moniker.
Ashley English says:
May 12th, 2015 at 5:05 pm
Well, hot damn! Glenn came home from the market with two lovage plants TODAY! Soon as I get them planted in the garden, I know what I’m making!
May 12th, 2015 at 8:32 pm
I grow lovage in my Northern California backyard. I bought it on accident (mistook for parsley)!but it’s the best mistake I’ve ever made. It is hearty and grows like a weed! I pick huge stalks and strip the leaves off the stalks to add to salads. Yum!!
May 13th, 2015 at 6:41 pm
The sauteed squid with lovage salsa verde from the Franny’s book is also excellent. Lovely summery post.
Amina | PAPER/PLATES says:
May 14th, 2015 at 7:42 pm
LOL @ Pinterest-able. I am excited for the return of farmers markets, too!
Nina Bell says:
May 15th, 2015 at 8:14 am
Long time reader – first time commenter! ;) I was psyched to see you giving lovage some…er…LOVE. We moved from Chicago to Maine a little over a year ago, and are renting a house in the country and had no idea what the weird, purple/green celery smelling stuff was that started coming up in the former garden next to the rhubarb. Someone finally identified it for us, and I’ve been determined to experiment with different ways to use it!
I’m pretty fond of the lovage pickles I made:
And drying it as an herb for cooking was pretty fantastic too:
It seems silly to only use the leaves, and although straws are fun I keep trying to find ways to eat more of the actual stalks. I bet they’d be great as a base for stuffing or something – but, sort of the wrong season. Last year, our patch grew to well over 6 feet and had the most beautiful yellow flowers.
Keep up the good work. :)
May 15th, 2015 at 9:17 pm
straws, yo! I heart you. but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen lovage down here? is it like rhubarb, which Yankees rhapsodize about all spring but which we have to pay an arm & a leg for? I’m going to check out the high-end grocery store here just to see if they carry it, because anything that you endorse as being a potentially good mixer for gin, this gal is interested in.
May 17th, 2015 at 8:15 am
Hi Nishta! Yeah, you’re unlikely to find lovage in a grocery store. I see it very occasionally at farmers markets. Maybe you’ll be surprised? Not sure it grows down south, and not sure it gets shipped anywhere….
Mary Anne says:
May 20th, 2015 at 5:50 pm
omggg i have lovage in my fridge right now! (That’s totally a brag, btw.) I am gonna make a cocktail RIGHT NOW! xoxo
Rima Rantisi says:
May 28th, 2015 at 12:56 am
who named this plant?
we don’t have lovage in beirut :(
June 3rd, 2015 at 6:12 pm
I, too, sometimes pick up something at the farmers market just for its novelty (I just tossed out some wild ferns I failed to make use of, much to my chagrin).
I just picked up some lovage at Green City this morning. I love the idea of this syrup with soda and gin and lime (maybe with the Letherbee vernal gin??). I also imagine lovage straws would be perfect in a Bloody Mary.
Urs Ula says:
June 11th, 2015 at 12:54 pm
to RIMA RANTISI: “levisiticum officionale” for LOVAGE – LIEBSTOECKL in austria/germany. also known as MAGGI herb. greetings!
June 11th, 2015 at 8:41 pm
cool – thanks so much for this post. I love produce of all kinds and have never heard of lovage before! eager to track down a plant for our garden this year or next. It sounds like something I would love.