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Herb Syrups for Summer Beverages

My herb garden seems to have taken off for the season and I already have excess with which to play. I don't usually get around to making herbed syrups until the end of June, beginning of July, but I already have lovely harvestable leaves on many of my plantings (with kudos to the Italian parsley which kept going all through the winter months, the one green corner of my herb patch.)

Herb syrups are great -- you can use them to zhuzh up lemonade or ice tea, add them to cocktails (mint syrup is excellent in a julep for example and lime balm syrup will elevate a classic vodka-tonic) or -- my favorite -- add a spoonful to an ice filled highball glass along with the juice of a lime and a sprig of the herb in question. Just top up the whole thing with your favorite sparkling water and you have an excellent summer beverage.

The two syrups above are mint and lime balm. Thyme and rosemary syrup are both excellent in lemonade in the place of sweetener, as is a splash of lavender syrup. Lemon verbena syrup is delicious in ice tea and also as a liquid in which to poach apricots. Shiso syrup lends itself beautifully to homemade limeade. The sky's the limit...

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup herb leaves of your choice (or half a cup of woodsy herbs like rosemary and thyme)

Heat the water and sugar together until the sugar has melted.

Wash the herbs that you are using and pick out any that are blemished or past their prime. Place the herbs that you are using in a container (I find a pint jar is perfect for this.)

Pour over the hot syrup and cover the jars. Allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating overnight.

The next morning (or up to 48 hours later) remove the herbs from the jar, making sure to press out all of the liquids from the leaves or stems to extract as much flavor as possible.


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