Rosemary Key facts Rosemary partners very well with roast lamb and with astringent, sharp fruits such as redcurrants and citrus fruit. If you steep the herbs in hot water briefly, this will increase the amount of essential oil that leaches out, resulting in more flavour.

The ancient Greeks said that rosemary was good for the brain – a theory that persisted through the centuries (so we find Ophelia presenting it to Hamlet 'for remembrance').

Be that as it may, the Italians love its strong spicy flavour in the kitchen and make no excuses for using it. The French are more subtle with it, but there are many countries that hardly use it at all. There are those who say that rosemary can be unpleasant if it gets stuck between the teeth – but this doesn't happen if the needle-like leaves are stripped from their stems and then chopped before using.

It has a strong affinity with both pork and lamb and can be chopped and sprinkled over joints and chops before baking (you'll find you can make a lovely rosemary-flavoured sauce with the juices left in the tin with some stock and a little wine).

Rosemary grows very easily into a sturdy bush and can be used fresh all through the winter. Dried rosemary is all right, but I would recommend that it be chopped as finely as possible since it's much more spiky when dried.

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