We recently noticed rue at our farmers' market herb stand. Our only familiarity with the plant was from Shakespeare (Ophelia used it in her garland), so we asked our vendor for recommendations. She told us that rue has traditionally been used in folk remedies, but that most people find it too bitter to eat. She also had another intriguing suggestion...Put it in the kitchen, she said – it will keep flies at bay! So, we grabbed a bunch and found the perfect opportunity to test its effectiveness when we brought home a stem of fresh dates. Hung by the window to ripen, the dates soon attracted a small cloud of fruit flies. We tucked a few sprigs of rue between the fruits and, lo and behold, the flies quickly lost interest. In fact, they disappeared altogether. (One might even say they rued the day they entered our kitchen!)
Although flies hate the strong aroma of rue, fortunately it's pleasant to humans. We will definitely be keeping the herb around our fruit bowls from now on. Have you ever used rue or other herbs to repel kitchen bugs?
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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