Vegetables and Herbs

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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vegetables and herbs, the leaves, stems, roots, and nonsweet fruits of any edible plant, can be sweetened to deliver what our ancestors valued as happiness—the taste of the sun and the promise of ripeness. Candidates most suited to this transformation from everyday foodstuff to pleasure giver are those vegetables and herbs whose stems or fruits or leaves are sufficiently fleshy and bland to allow them to absorb and retain the effect of applying sweetness in whatever form is most appropriate.

Among plant foods of Eurasian or African origin, the fruits of nonsweet melons and gourds, aubergines (eggplants), and the fleshy stems of chard, lovage, celery, artichoke, angelica, fennel, and celery are traditionally sugared, candied, or preserved in syrup. See candied fruit and fruit preserves. Among roots and tubers similarly available for sugar-treatment are ginger, dandelion, parsnip, turnip, carrot, yam, and eryngo, while seaweed is also eaten sugared in Eastern traditions. Herbs and seeds traditionally sugared or candied (rather than used for flavoring) are usually those with digestive properties, such as mint, cumin, and aniseed. See comfit and confetti.