Good morning, good Yarrow
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium – Usually the first herb in most herb books, yarrow is another herb you will have seen in meadows even if you dont know the name or its healing properties.
The flowers are often white, although there are variants with yellow, pink and even reddish flowers as well. Yarrow is not fussy as to what soil it grows in but thrives particularly well in soil that is moderately rich in nutrients and moisture. It will also be grateful for a sunny position.
Yarrow is a hardy perennial which blooms in spring and summer but really, it is attractive all year round. Growing to about 30 to 60 cm (1-2 ft) in height, it will attract beneficial insects to your garden and help sickly plants by providing disease resistance. Add to compost to accelerate decomposition.
This is an ancient herb, said to have been used by the soldiers of Troy to treat battle. The druids would use yarrow in meteorology and the Chinese still use it to foretell the future (I Ching). An old world spell which is said to reveal one’s true love goes :
Good morning, good morning, good Yarrow
And thrice a good morning to thee;
Tell me this time to-morrow,
Who my true love is to be.
Although mainly used as a medicinal herb, yarrow can be used in the kitchen as well. Its feathery leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals with a taste similar to spinach. Use to stuff a chicken, in sauces or curries. Try small amounts in salads or combined with mixed spring herbs.
It is in medicine where yarrow truly shines. Yarrow has styptic properties which will stem all manner of bleeding such as cuts, grazes and nosebleeds. Fresh leaves can be made into a poultice to treat rashes, scratches and eczema, you could also use an infusion as a skin wash to do the same. Inhale the steam from a yarrow infusion for the treatment of mild asthma and hay fever. Drink yarrow tea for respiratory congestion and a well known tea blend for colds and flu is a combination of yarrow, elderflower and peppermint. Also ideal for chesty colds and flu is a rub made with eucalyptus, peppermint, hyssop (or thyme) oils. Use a total of 20 drops to 25ml carrier oil (I’d use almond oil). Rub into chest when needed.
There have been (rare) occurrences of allergic skin reactions so make sure that you can tolerate yarrow on your skin. Yarrow is a uterine stimulant, so do not use in therapeutic doses during pregnancy.
You know I love bringing you unusual recipes for the kitchen so I was pleasantly surprised to find a cooking recipe of a yarrow dish. In the article Wild Things on Food & Wine.com Marc Bittman quotes well know New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten “This is incredible stuff,” he said. “It’s got the sweetness of dill, but it’s piercing, almost like menthol. And I taste some thyme in there; it would be perfect for shrimp.” So here is a recipe he came up with (also from Food & Wine.com )
Shrimp with Yarrow and Baked Lemon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh yarrow leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
24 large shrimp–shelled, deveined and cut almost in half lengthwise down the back
1. Preheat the oven to 450° and light the grill, if you”re using one. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil and garlic. 2. Cut the pointed ends from the lemons so they will sit flat, then halve them crosswise. Set them flesh side up in a glass or ceramic baking dish and spoon 1 tablespoon of the sugar on each half. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and the pulp is soft. Preheat the broiler, if using.
2. Sprinkle the chopped yarrow inside the shrimp and pinch closed. Brush the shrimp with the garlic oil and season with salt and cayenne. Grill or broil the shrimp 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque. Squeeze some of the lemon juice over the shrimp and garnish with the yarrow sprigs. Serve at once with the baked lemons.
SERVINGS: 6 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS
I am looking forward to harvesting some young leaves to try this recipe.