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Rocket has undergone a huge revival in popularity, even though it has been cultivated since the Middle Ages. It is native to the Mediterranean and was prized among the Romans and Persians. It fell out of use for 200 to 300 years. It only in the 1990s that the Italians started using it in ‘designer salads” that it regained its popularity. Medieval Monks were not allowed to grow Rocket in the cloister gardens as it was considered an Aphrodisiac.CULTIVATION
Rocket is a fast growing annual. It will often reseed itself 3 times in the Summer. It demands little attention and will thrive in full sun on compost and regular water.PROPAGATION
Collect seeds from dry pods. Sow from early Spring until mid Autumn. They can be sown in trays and planted out. Once planted out do not move them.HARVESTING
Pick the leaves and flowers often. The more you pick the more it produces.
Medicinal: Rocket has been used to treat bruises and sprains. Crushed seeds are spread on top of a warmed flannel bandage and holding against the skin without allowing the seeds to touch the skin. Crushed petals are made into a paste to treat skin blemishes. In Medieval times the flowers and green seeds were crushed and mixed with honey to treat coughs. Rocket is an invigorating tonic taken when tired or anxious. To make the teas, use 1/4 cup rocket and 1/4 cup parsley, pour over 1 cup boiling water, allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Drink slowly.
Cosmetic: Rocket juice is used as a facial cleanser for oily skins. It is often used to treat itchy inflamed spots, bites and rashes. Rocket seeds, pounded and mixed with Olive oils is used to treat broken nails and calluses.
Culinary: Rocket is used in many Italian dishes and designer salads. Steam the leaves and make a rich white sauce, and use over baby potatoes of leeks. Rocket pesto is also a firm favorite.
Rocket Cashew Nut and Chili Pesto Recipe
1 cup fresh Rocket leaves
1 clove garlic crushed
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
50g crushed Cashew nuts raw
1 small chilli
Place all ingredients in food processor, blend until smooth, more Olive oil may be added to make into a creamy paste.
Bottle and enjoy with all your favorite pesto meals.