Rosemary is an aromatic member of the mint family native to the Mediterranean region where it is utilized as a treasured culinary spice. It is a flowering evergreen, producing thin, needle-like leaves which are harvested for food or medicine. Rosemary plants are commonly cultivated and easily grown in many household gardens. They can grow prolifically and prefer full sun and well-drained soil, but can also thrive in pots on the windowsill.
There are many cultivators of rosemary worldwide, each with unique growth and flowering characteristics. Nevertheless, the flavor of rosemary is not highly variable and makes an excellent addition to many traditional dishes.
Teas and tinctures, however it is most popularly used in cooking. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy but should not be taken internally.
Rosemary adds a delightful flavor to cuisine all across the world. The younger leaves are preferred for a sweeter flavor, standing up well to cooking, even at high temperatures. The smell of rosemary is piney and fresh; familiar but also distinctive. It is baked into breads and crackers, and is classically used as a rub for pork and lamb.
Rosemary leaves and essential oil are used in herbal medicine. Food manufacturers add rosemary to meats and sauces as an antioxidant and stabilizer. The herb is also used to make liqueurs, such as Benedictine and Danziger Goldwasser.
The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices by T. Hill (pg. 267-269)