Hyssop is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial evergreen bush that can grow up to 60 cm tall (2 feet.)
The bush will bloom all summer with flowers that grow in spiky clumps at the top of branches. The flowers can be dark purplish-blue, white or red. The plant is often grown as an ornamental. It is a very bee and butterfly friendly plant.
The small, narrow, dark-green leaves taste somewhat like mint with sage or thyme added. Some find the taste weak, some find it strong. It will depend on the variety, how happy the bush is, and certainly on whether the herb is fresh or dried — the fresh is stronger.
Hyssop is used in Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs, and in making Absinthe, both the original and the new one.
Taste first before using, to see how strong your variety of Hyssop leaves are: you may only want to use it in small amounts.
Hyssop can use in flavouring sugar syrups for fruits. The leaves can be used in salads. The stems, leaves and flowers can be used in cooking for flavour, though most of the flavour is in the leaves.
Goes well with fatty meats and oily fish, and in stuffings for poultry and pork. Dried Hyssop is also used for tisanes.
Sage, mint, marjoram
When collecting leaves for drying, harvest them just when the plant starts to bloom. The leaves at this stage will have the maximum amount of flavour.
Hyssop is believed to have originated around the Black Sea. It was popular in the Middle Ages, being used to flavour stuffing and soups.
Called “esob” in Hebrew, “hyssopos” in Ancient Greek. The Catholic Encyclopaedia considers that the plant translated as “hyssop” in the Bible was probably not our hyssop, but rather Syrian Wild Marjoram (called both Origanum syriacum and Origanum maru). It’s because of the mistaken belief that it was the hyssop of the Bible that one French word for hyssop is “l’herbe sacrée“.