Rosemary, properly cared for and placed in a good location, may well grow into a handsome bush of about two meters in height. However, optimal care also includes the correct harvesting of rosemary needles. We will show you what is important.
Harvest rosemary late morning or midday.
The right time to harvest depends on how you plan to use the rosemary afterwards. Rosemary that is to be dried or frozen is best cut late morning or midday. It should also be a dry, sunny day so that there is no excess moisture on the leaves. Also, by this time, any morning dew will have dried off. Moisture, especially when drying rosemary, quickly leads to mold. Furthermore, rosemary contains the highest concentration of aromatic essential oils at this rather late time of day. Rosemary for immediate use, on the other hand, can be harvested at any time of day.
Rosemary is a perennial shrub, the shoots of which tend to become woody and thus bald. For this reason, the young, still green branches need regular pruning. After all, fresh shoots do not sprout from the old wood. Accordingly, harvesting also serves pruning purposes, which is why, if possible, you should cut off not only individual twigs or needles, but entire branches as close to the woody part of the plant as possible. Pruning is done with a sharp, clean knife or scissors.
Detach rosemary needles
Rosemary needles can be cut from the stem either with nail scissors or, with significantly less effort, after first freezing the whole branch. The frozen needles can be easily stripped, although you should hurry – the plant parts thaw very quickly. Freezing does not affect the taste of rosemary.
Processing of freshly harvested rosemary
Process rosemary as soon as possible after harvesting to preserve as many of the volatile essential oils as possible. Use the whole needles if possible, as a lot of flavor is lost by crushing. The same applies to dried or otherwise preserved rosemary, which should be ground, chopped or rubbed as soon as possible before actual use. Freshly harvested rosemary can either be used directly, but can also be preserved by
- or pickling
Preserved rosemary should be stored in a dark place, as sunlight attacks the delicate essential oils. Use only vibrant green, healthy and undamaged needles. Wilted and dried leaves, on the other hand, are better discarded.
Tips & Tricks
In addition to regular thinning in the course of harvesting – make sure to prune the rosemary bush as evenly as possible and remove shoots that are too dense – topiary is done in the spring, when the plant can be cut back vigorously. This measure serves both to maintain health and rejuvenation. In autumn, on the contrary, a Mediterranean herb such as rosemary is not pruned.