Sweet Cicely: How to Use
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Maureen Moir
Posted on: August 22, 2000

I am inquiring about Sweet Cicely for a neighbor who wishes to have some information on this herb. She is interested in what part of the plants to use as well as any recipes for jams or jellies. She does not have a computer so would appreciate you sending any information to me.

The leaves, roots and the unripened green seeds are used. All parts of the plant have a sweet, licorice-like flavour.

Deni Bown, in her "Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses" (available from Richters), recommends the leaves in soups, stews, and "wine cups" and as a low-calorie sweentener for stewed fruit, yogourt, and even whipped cream.

The fresh roots are cooked as a vegetable and eaten cold in salads.

Robert, our marketing director and chef extraordinaire, uses the fresh leaves to line cake pans. And because the leaves have an attractive fern-like shape he lays them on baked goods like a stencil before sprinkling powdered sugar. On removing the leaves the intricate outlines of the leaves remain. Robert also uses the fresh leaves in tea as a sweetener.

A favourite midsummer thrill of mine is to collect the green seeds soon after they form and before they turn black. At this stage they are wonderfully tender and sweet with a strong licorice flavour. They can be eaten raw like candy, or used in salads for a wonderful twist.

This herb deserves experimentation. And because it has little or no calories, it is ideal for people on sugar-restricted diets.

We did not find any recipes for jams or jellies, but Robert says that if you are trying to make a jam or jelly without sugar, it certainly is possible using sweet cicely, but you will have to adjust the pectin to get the consistency you want. How much you pectin you need would be a visual thing that you determine as you are stirring the pot because each fruit is different. Without the sugar, though, jams and jellies have a much shorter shelf life, and must be refrigerated, Robert warns.

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