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Food & Garden
2014 June
Pg 9 - The Sunshine Express
and beyond. In India, the medicinal herb was
popularly regarded as Iranian in origin.
Medical Value
Hyssop has been used as medicine since its
discovery. Ingesting its juice before it blooms can
be beneficial in promoting appetite, reducing
sweating, and relieving bodily aches and pains. A
poultice made from its leaves can aid the heal-
ing of cuts and wounds. The herb can be taken to
activate blood, especially for aiding menstruation.
When applied topically, hyssop can treat colds,
bronchitis, pharyngitis, and coughs, but should be
avoided during pregnancy.
History & Religion
In the Book of Exodus, Moses commanded the
Israelites to use hyssop to brush their doors with
sheep¡¯s blood during the ¡°Passover¡± so that their
eldest sons would be spared from death by the
wrath of God. The Gospel of John 19:30 recorded
that Jesus, nailed to the cross, gave his last breath
saying ¡°It is finished¡± after being given vinegar
soaked in hyssop by the guards.
In old Judaism, hyssop stood for spiritual purity as
recorded in Psalm 51:7, ¡°Cleanse me with hyssop
and I shall be clean, wash me and I will be whiter
than snow.¡± Hyssop was not only used by the Jews
in the ceremony of purifying the soul but also for
cleansing bodily diseases such as leprosy.
Usage in Cooking
The use of hyssop as herbal wine ¡°Hyssopotes¡±
was recorded in the passages of a Roman writer
in 1 BC. In the 10th century, hyssop was used as a
sweetener in a French Chartreuse abbey. Today,
hyssop is mainly used in western cuisines and is
popular in French and Mediterranean epicures.
A dash of hyssop can perk up the flavor of an en-
tire dish. Hyssop is ideal for meats due to the lipo-
lytic function of the herb in helping digest greasy
foods. Amazingly, tough and gamey meats coated
with hyssop leaves are easier to cook in making
such dishes as stewed sirloin and braised lamb.
Hyssop is also flavorful and beneficial for stuffing
sausages and pies and making cheeses and sauces.
The minty hyssop also complements fruits, des-
serts, and beverages such as icings, fresh fruits
or fruit salads, and cocktails. Hyssop is also used
today for flavoring liqueurs. The flower, leaves,
and buds are great for enhancing appetizers, potato
salads, and vegetable soups. Palestinians living
in the Holy Land dry the herb as condiments for
cooking. Hyssop is also an exotic seasoning widely
used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. The essence
of the herb can be obtained by steaming, however,
the fragrance should be kept from becoming too
strong when cooking.
Pick young leaves at any time of year and preserve
by drying. For medicinal purposes they should be
harvested on a dry day at the peak of their matu-
rity and the concentration of active ingredients is
highest. Dry quickly, away from bright sunlight
to preserve the aromatic ingredients and prevent
oxidation of other chemicals. The dried leaves can
be stored in clean, dry, airtight containers, and will
keep for 12-18 months. Collect the flowering tops of
Hyssop in August and use fresh or dried in the sun.
(by KingDaddy & Moonstruck)
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