The Queen of Herbs Visits Pittsburgh 

Jekka McVicar chats herbs with CP

click to enlarge Jekka McVicar
  • Jekka McVicar
Britain's "Queen of Herbs" Jekka McVicar visits Pittsburgh this week; she'll be speaking at The Herb Society of America's conference on the medicinal use of herbs, as well as promoting her new book, Jekka's Herb Cookbook. (Lecture is 1:15-2:15 p.m. Fri., June 24. Wyndham Grand, Downtown. $15. 412-256-0514 or herbsociety.org.) McVicar entertained some of City Paper's herb queries, via email. 

Everybody has basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary. What's a less-common herb you encourage cooks to grow and use? One of my favorites is savory, especially Satureja montana, or winter savory. This hardy perennial has a strong peppery flavor which is great in stews, soups and breads.

Which herbs do well stored in the freezer? Chives is a classic. With scissors, snip them into empty ice cubes trays -- no need to add water -- and place the tray in a freezer bag. Pop into the freezer; then next day, very quickly so they do not thaw, pop the individual frozen portions of chives into the bag and back into the freezer. Other herbs that are easy to freeze are dill, parsley (curly and French), chervil and summer savory.

Are there herbs that are especially bee-friendly? The best herbs for attracting bees are those with blue/mauve flowers, [such as] borage, lavender, catnip and the most essential friend of the organic garden, comfrey.

Any suggestions for an herbed cocktail? I love elderflower cordial … a light, summer cocktail for a long glass: One measure of vodka, top up with fizzy water; add ½ measure of  [prepared] elderflower cordial, stir, then decorate with elderflower ice cubes and mint leaves. 

Have any herbs been traditionally used to relieve hangovers, if only to provide soothing? One of the best remedies I am aware of is rosemary tea made from a sprig no longer than 1½ inches. This settles the stomach and clears the head. 




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