Probably better known as a medeival herb, costmary is a delightful sweet smelling herb that has many uses. In medieval times it was a strewing herb to cover odors, as well as a flavoring for ale (it was also known as Alecost because of this). It’s basamic leaves and flowering tops were important in brewing to help clear and preserve ale, imparting an astringent, minty bitterness.
Later, in Colonial times, costmary leaves were used as bookmarks, mostly in Bibles and hymnals, giving it another name; Bible leaf. It seems that during long church services the parishioners would take a refreshing whiff or sometimes chew on the leaf to allay appetitie.
So, what can it be used for today? Used in small amounts, costmary is a lovely garnish for lemonades, iced teas and other beverages. When the leaves are young it can be added to fruit salads, cold soups and green salads. The fresh leaves can also be used much like geranium leaves by laying them in the baking pan before pouring in the batter. It makes a good addition to bath teas, and homemade astringents. The silverish foliage has a slightly minty aroma mixed with balsam that is refreshing.
Try with melted butter on peas and new potatoes or in poultry stuffings or fruitcakes.