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Fragrant Herb Syrup

Fragrant Herb Syrup 2.000

Susan Biddle for The Washington Post

Aug 25, 2010

Use herb syrup in place of the liquid in cakes, pie filling and all types of baked goods, brush them on warm muffins or pound cakes, drizzle them onto fruits and fruit salads (see related recipe), use them in beverages and to make sorbets.

Although this recipe uses a standard sugar-syrup ratio of water and sugar, you can cut the sugar back to 1 cup, or even 3/4 cup when preparing syrups for herbal libations. Herbalist Susan Belsinger prefers to use raw, organic sugar, but regular cane sugar will work just fine.

See VARIATIONS, below, for a range of herbs, flowers and spices that can be used to flavor this syrup. Make sure your garden ingredients are pesticide-free.

Make Ahead: Refrigerate in a container with a tightfitting lid for about 10 days, or freeze for 8 to 9 months.

Servings: 2 - 2.5 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups raw organic sugar
  • 8 to 10 herb sprigs or a large handful of leaves (about 1 ounce total; see VARIATIONS)

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Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and add the herb leaves, using a spoon to bruise them gently against the side of the pan.

Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes, to steep and cool to room temperature.

Discard the solids, squeezing them into the pan to extract all of the herbal essence into the syrup. Transfer the syrup to a clean bottle or canning jar and label. Seal and refrigerate for about 10 days or freeze for 8 or 9 months.

When freezing the syrup, be sure to leave an inch of headspace in the container for expansion. When you need just a little syrup for a recipe, remove the jar from the freezer and place it in the sink in a bowl of warm water. When it thaws a bit, pour off what you need and replace it in the freezer.

VARIATIONS: Amounts of fresh herb leaves, flowers and seeds used will vary and depend upon the flavor of each individual herb. The list below is for sprigs about 4 or 5 inches long.

Anise hyssop: 6 to 8 sprigs with flowers, or a handful of flowers

Basil: 6 to 8 sprigs of anise, cinnamon, green or lemon basil; flowers are good

Bay: 10 to 12 leaves

Bergamot: 6 to 8 sprigs, or handful of flowers

Calendula: Petals only from 10 to 12 flowers

Chamomile: Large handful of flowers

Elderflower: 6 to 8 flower heads

Ginger root: 5 or 6 thin slices of peeled root

Lavender: 10 flower spikes or 1 tablespoon of flower petals

Lemon balm, lemon thyme or lemon verbena: 8 to 10 sprigs

Mint: 10 to 12 sprigs of orange mint, peppermint or spearmint

Rose: 1 generous cup of petals

Rosemary: 5 or 6 sprigs

Sage: 4 common sage sprigs; 6 fruit-scented or pineapple sage sprigs; flowers, too

Scented geraniums: 12 to 15 leaves, or handful of flowers

Sweet woodruff: 1 generous cup small sprigs and/or flowers

Tarragon: 6 to 8 sprigs

Vanilla: 1 bean, halved and split lengthwise

Violas: 1 generous packed cup violets, Johnny-jump-ups or pansy petals

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Susan Belsinger's "Not Just Desserts: Sweet Herbal Recipes" (Herbspirit, 2005).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per tablespoon: 20

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 0g 0%

Saturated Fat: 0g 0%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 0mg 0%

Total Carbohydrates: 5g 2%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 5g

Protein: 0g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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