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 Angelica has a long history with angels. It has been associated with Gabriel (who is said to have appeared to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation) and the archangel Michael. It is commonly believed that the name was given to a monk during the Great Plague of 1664-65 by an angel. The angel told the monk that the plant would provide protection from the plague and thus he named the plant. It has been promoted as protection from witchcraft and evil spirits, and used as a garland worn on the head to inspire poets.  In Europe young stems are candied, cooked with rhubarb, tart fruits and berries to reduce acidity. It can be added to jams or marmalade (ginger and angelica combine well),  and seeds are added to cookies. The seeds and roots are part of Benedictine, Chartreuse and other liqueurs. This is a greatly underused herb.

If you are trying to cut back on sugar in your dishes, you should become acquainted with Angelica.

Angelica & Rhubarb

Angelica has a pleasantly aromatic, slightly sweet taste, which enhances the flavor of rhubarb and reduces its acidity, so that less sugar is necessary. Only the very young leaf stems should be used, as older ones are coarse and stringy. Use two or three 6 inch pieces for each pound of rhubarb sticks. Cut them into small pieces and add to your favorite rhubarb pie or crumble recipe. Angelica is also excellent pureed with rhubarb to make a mousse.

Candied Angelica

Very old recipe books contain recipes for candying leaves and roots, as well as stems of Angelica. “Boil the stalks of Angelica in water till they are tender; then peel them and cover with other warm water. Let them stand over a gentle fire till they become very green; then lay them on a cloth to dry; take their weight in fine sugar with a little Rose-water and boil it to a Candy height. Then put in our Angelica and boil them up quick; then take then out and dry then for use.”