I have yet to experience the pleasures of blue fenugreek.
Blue fenugreek plants
Blue fenugreek flowering
Blue fenugreek flowers
Eastern Europe or Western Asia.
Blue fenugreek is found in the Alps, in the mountains of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and in the Caucasus.
All aerial parts, harvested at flowering time and always used dried.
Fabaceae (bean family).
Dried blue fenugreek as an aromatic, spicy flavour, similar to dried fenugreek herb, but somewhat milder.
For the etymology of genus name trigonella and common name "fenugreek", see fenugreek. Species name caerulea is a Latin reference to the blue colour of the flowers (probably from caelum "sky").
The German name schabziegerklee alludes to the herb's usage in cheese making, ziger being a Switzerdeutsch word for the milk proteins (casein) that remain after the whey has been separated. Most other names allude to the characteristic blue flowers, which distinguish blue fenugreek from its relatives of genera trigonella, trifolium and melilotus. Examples of the adjective "blue" in such names are Italian azzurro, Swedish blå, Latin caeruleus (from coelum "sky"), Polish błękitny and Estonian sinine.
Some other names are motivated by the aromatic fragrance of blue fenugreek, e.g. Italian balsamo and French trèfle musque "musky trefoil".
Blue fenugreek is a culinary herb native to the Central and Western European Alps, used to flavour foods typical of the Alpine region and little known elsewhere. In Switzerland it is added to a few cheese varieties and in the South Tyrol it lends a special flavour to local rye breads.
Cheese flavoured with blue fenugreek known locally as schabzigerkäse is a speciality of the Swiss canton of Glarus. This cheese is twice ripened, ground, mixed with blue fenugreek powder and then cast into its final shape. Blue fenugreek not only gives a unique flavour, but also a pale green colour to this cheese which is mostly used as a flavouring. It makes a tasty alternative to Italian parmigiano for pasta dishes and can be used for several types of stuffings or mixed with butter to give a milder bread spread.
Blue fenugreek may also be used as a component of the Georgian spice mixture khmeli-suneli as blue fenugreek grows wild in Georgia. It also appears in another alpine specialty, namely rye breads giving rise to the name brotklee "bread clover". These breads, already quite flavourful, acquire a unique taste from the addition of ground blue fenugreek leaves. The herb is dried by a special procedure including a fermentation step as a result of which it acquires a strong, characteristic aroma.