What is Costmary? How to Use Costmary

Alecost (Britain), Bibleleaf (U.S.A.)

FR: Balsamite

GER: Balsamkraut, Frauenblatt, Marienblatt, Pfefferblatt IT: Balsamite SP: Balsam ita

BOT: Chrysanthemum balsamita (Tanacetum balsamita)

FAM: Compositae

This perennial is hardy, grows to a height of three feet and has yellow button-like flowers. It differs from tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) in not having feathery leaves, and has a pleasanter scent. In Britain it does not seed, so propagation is by division of creeping roots; in the United States it does seed. It grows easily in most soils, but dries satisfactorily and can be bought from herbalists.

What is Costmary? How to Use Costmary Photo Gallery




Costmary came from the East and was known to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans (who probably brought it to Britain). Culpeper, the sixteenth-century herbalist, calls it ‘common’. The colonists took it to America, where it now grows wild as a roadside plant in eastern and mid-western states.

It gets its name bibleleaf because the long leaves were used as bible markers by early American colonists, and alecost from ale (beer) and costis, a spicy herb. It was used for flavouring homebrewed ale. Costmary, therefore, means ‘Mary’s spicy herb’ and can be used in soups, game, poultry and veal, forcemeats, salads and even in cakes.

Cottonseed Oil

BOT: Gossypium FAM: Malvaceae

Cottonseed oil is expressed from the seeds which are a by-product of the cotton industry. The United States is the world’s largest producer, and the refined and deodorized oil is used in making margarine and as a cooking and salad oil. In the East, and particularly in Egypt, a less refined cottonseed oil is one of the most common of all local cooking oils and creates regional flavours. A high-protein flour is made from the seed as well.

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