One More Idea From Your Herb Garden
Make some simple syrup for recipes, cocktails, and easy desserts. Here is how to find another use for your prolific herb garden. If you grow herbs in your garden, on pots on the patio, or in the kitchen window, you have plenty of material to work with. Make rosemary-infused syrups, and other, herbal flavors and citrus, fruit, peppers, and your favorite sugar.
Another Use For Your Herb Garden
Simple Is The Word
Can you boil water? Then you can make simple syrup. It is equal parts water and granulated sugar. This liquified sweetener is easier to mix into any cold beverage as well as fruit and baked goods. But then things get interesting. What you add to your syrup will make it captivating and delicious.
What It Is
- Basic Simple Syrup, use equal amounts of sugar and water, simmered (not boiled), cooled, and stored—1:1 ratio.
- Rich Simple Syrup, make this with twice the sugar. The result is more syrupy and fills the mouth. Bartenders love to work with this. It has become my choice as it has a thicker texture and adds more body to drinks. See what suits you—2:1 ratio.
- Infused Simple Syrup adds another flavor element to your syrup. This will add a whole new quality to your food and drinks.
What Sugar To Use
- Plain white granulated sugar, always available and easy to use
- Demerara sugar-a raw cane sugar is made from the first pressing of the sugar cane. It has a large grain, a pale gold color, and a crunchy texture. It will give your syrup a distinctive flavor of molasses, toffee, and coffee.
- You can substitute light brown sugar, which will give a mild molasses and caramel taste. Try it in coffee or winter cocktails.
Choosing Herbs for the Infusion
Use small sprigs of your favorite fresh herbs. Choose herbs to compliment the flavors of the syrup. Trim the twigs to remove broken stems or leaves when using fresh herbs. This will make the straining process easier.
Can I use Dried Herbs?
You can, but it is a little more work. Adequately dried, the herbs will have flavor, but they are more likely to break into small pieces making the straining process a little harder. There are fillable tea bags available. Another alternative is to grow small amounts of fresh herbs in pots indoors during the non-growing season. They will be helpful in many dishes you make.
Preparing the Syrup
- Wash the herbs and pat dry or air dry.
- Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, stir until the sugar dissolves , and when liquified, cool down.
- Add the herbs to the syrup and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Strain the syrup using a fine strainer and/or cheesecloth.
Storing Your Simple Syrup
- Story your syrup in glass jars with tight seals.
- Wash the container thoroughly, and allow to air dry.
- Store your containers in the refrigerator, plain simple syrup lasts one month, syrup with fruit lasts two weeks.
How To Use Your Simple Syrup
- Add to cocktails with a sweet element. Some examples might be, Mojito, Mai Tai, Daiquiri, Bramble, Lemon Drop Martini, Amaretto Sour, Whisky Sour.
- Cold summer beverages, lemonade, limeade, fruit limeade, iced tea.
- Sorbet floats.
- Sparkling water.
- Make your own soda with sparkling water and simple syrup.
- Serve over ice cream.
- Topping for cake, moisten cake layers.
- Fruit desserts and salads.
Some Herb Ideas
Quantities are suggestions for volume of one cup water to one or two cups of sugar.
- Basil, 5 sprigs (about 5-6″ long). Try over fruit or in a gin gimlet.
- Rosemary, 4 sprigs. Try this with vodka, gin, or white rum.
- Thyme, 6 sprigs. Use with gin, vodka, or bourbon cocktails: cocktails, lemonade, ice cream, and fruit.
- Bay Leaves, 8 leaves. Tea, hot or iced, with dark rum and soda.
- Lemongrass syrup. Use in a mint julep or over mango and papaya.
Simple Syrup-Herbs Plus
- Lemon rind with thyme or basil.
- Jalapeno slices with thyme; use this with a Margarita or sparkling water on a hot day.
- Rosemary and ginger, use with sparkling water and lime juice.
- Thyme and ginger.
- Raspberry, blueberry simple syrup. For one cup of water and sugar, add 1/4 cup of raspberries and blueberries, and 6 basil leaves. Use over ice cream or yogurt and fruit or sparkling water.
- Ginger simple syrup, chop the fresh ginger root in small chunks or rounds. Wash the ginger, but you will not need to peel it. Simmer for 30 minutes or more until you can taste the ginger flavor. Use this in two delicious drinks; Ginger Limeade and a memorable Gimlet with your choice of gin or vodka.
Some Good Ideas From A Mixologist
This article is an interview with Pernod Ricard USA’s chief mixologist. He makes some important points about using your simple syrup in cocktails.
On the subject of herb syrups he prefers to let the syrup cool to room temperature, add the herbs., let them steep like tea and remove. This prevents damaging the herbs. Here is the whole interview. I found it very helpful, I hope you do too!
The Blue Ginger Gimlet
This is the recipe for the Blue Ginger Gimlet. This is the gimlet mentioned above. It was the signature cocktail of a fine restaurant (the Blue Ginger) we once enjoyed in Wellesley Ma. It served its community for 20 years before closing. Try the syrup and the gimlet, both delicious.
Whenever it is hot outside, everyone enjoys the sweet-tart flavor of ginger limeade with it’s slight ginger spiciness.
For the syrup: see above.
For the lime flavor you will find that about 10-20 limes will produce about 1.5 cups of juice, mix this woth water or soda to your taste. Add the ginger-lime syrup and chill thourghly. This is a big seller for our local botanical garden. After visiting its various gardens you will be happy to wait in line for the limeade!