Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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myrtle Myrtus communis, a fragrant shrub which bears white flowers and blue-black berries, is native to S. Europe and the Near East, where it has long been cultivated in gardens.

The ancient Greeks considered it sacred to Venus. However, this did not inhibit them from eating the berries, which are pleasantly acid and sweet with an aromatic quality slightly resembling that of juniper. They make a pleasant jelly, and can also be boiled to produce a beverage, but the main traditional use has been to dry them and use them as a spice. The flower buds may be used similarly.