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Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Asteraceae (aster family)
Temperate Europe and Asia .
Used plant part
Leaves, best cut immediately before flowering .
Bitter and aromatic.
The essential oil (0.03 to 0.3%) contains a wealth of different terpenes and terpene derivatives, e.g., 1,8 cineol, camphor, linalool, thujone, 4-terpineole, borneol, a-cardinol and further mono- and sesquiterpenes. Quantitative and qualitative composition varies strongly with soil, climate, fertilizing and harvest time.
Mugwort: Leaves front and back side, flowers
Like the closely related southernwood, mugwort is only occasionally used as a spice. Its slightly bitter taste fits best to fat fish or meat (it is sometimes suggested for goose or mutton); occasionally, it is eaten raw as a salad.
The most important application for mugwort, however, seems to be roast goose, which is a traditional Christmas food in Germany (Weihnachtsgans). In the simplest case, a few sprigs of mugwort are placed in the bird's cavity before baking; if the goose is to be stuffed, the stuffing is often flavoured with mugwort. The most popular stuffings for this festive dish are such based on apples and chestnuts, which go well with Mediterranean spices.
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