I made roasted potatoes with rosemary today and was disappointed that it was not more flavorful. I just snipped 6" or so tips off my 9 year old rosemary 'landscape' plants (deer resistant is why!) out front. Just looked it up -- my cultivar is 'Blue Spires.' I strip the tiny leaves off and chop them.
Are there special culinary rosemaries or is it just too old and woody?
I find that I need to use more rosemary if cooking with fresh leaves instead of dried, possibly because drying concentrates the flavor. I recommend the variety named 'ARP', which has a good, strong flavor when grown in poor soil and given plenty of sun.
I also find that the younger the sprigs (not the plant, but the sprigs themselves) makes a difference. These will be a paler green than the older ones, more tender and, of course, seasonal. Here I get new sprigs in the spring and again in the late summer.
I use the older branches for aromatic flavor by putting them in the coals or on top of the gas grate when grilling. Or for skewers for kabobs. (Soak in water first.)
Also, I am unfamiliar with your variety. Mine too is arp.
There are differences in flavor between varieties, as well as with age, growing conditions, etc. -- just as with any herb. You'll need about 3 times as much fresh herb as you'd use if you were using dried herbs (instead of 1 teaspoon dried, use 1 tablespoon fresh).
Thanks for the thoughts. I did use a lot (it seemed because I find chopping rosemary tiresome) but maybe not enough for 3 lbs. of potatoes. And I do think maybe the plants are just too old and woody. I may live it up next spring and replace them. They have split open some, had a tree fall across them, the area has gotten shadier - the life of a plant here in the country.
A tip on chopping rosemary is to use a little cooking oil on the pile of leaves to help prevent them from jumping around while you are chopping. This really helps. And make sure to use the rocking motion of a chef's knife. Whack it with a cleaver and you will be sweeping the floor. :-)
If the plants are still working as landscape plants, try putting another rosemary plant in a sunnier spot for culinary use. I find one rosemary plant is usually plenty for my kitchen needs, once it gets growing. When you pick out a plant, go for one that seems yummy to your nose and strongly scented.