Re­fresh­ing herb DRINKS & SYRUPS

Syrups, liqueurs, herb wines and old-fash­ioned wine cups all make re­fresh­ing, so­phis­ti­cated drinks for fancy soirees.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Favourite Herb Recipes -

Home­grown herbs aren’t just good for flavour­ing foods, they’re an ex­cel­lent in­gre­di­ent in home­made herbal wines and liqueurs. Donna Lee of Cot­tage Hill Herbs, who fre­quently makes her own tip­ples, says any­one can have a go. “The method is quite sim­ple. Use herbs and fruits or a mix­ture of ei­ther. Just make a tinc­ture-type ex­tract in a glass con­tainer by us­ing the herbs and/or fruit, cover with vodka and leave for about three weeks. Then strain and add sugar to taste by us­ing a dou­ble boiler and just enough heat to dis­solve the sugar. White sugar gives a lighter flavour; brown sugar a heav­ier, more full-bod­ied taste.”

Once your liqueur has been opened, keep it in the fridge. “If any cloudi­ness de­vel­ops, re­filter,” says Donna.

Try Donna’s lemon ver­bena liqueur. The sugar in this recipe doesn’t need heat­ing up, says Donna. It will dis­solve over the weeks with the shak­ing up.

In­gre­di­ents • ½ cup tightly packed lemon ver­bena leaves • 1 tea­spoon grated lemon rind • 4 cups vodka or brandy • 2 cups sugar

Put lemon ver­bena and lemon rind in a large jar with vodka or brandy and steep for 2 days, then add sugar and steep 3 more weeks, shak­ing daily. Strain and fil­ter, and trans­fer to bot­tles. Age an ad­di­tional 3 weeks.

Pre­fer to drink wine? Bushcraft in­struc­tor and wilder­ness guide Mark Lane (wilder­ness­guide.word­ of­ten col­lects wild ma­te­ri­als to create his own herb wines. “Wild blos­som, fruit and herbal wines open up a whole world of tastes and aro­mas that can make con­ven­tional wines just end up tast­ing, well, con­ven­tional.”

Mark’s primrose and dan­de­lion wine makes a fine for­aged wine. Pick the heads – at least a cou­ple of litres each.

First, boil 4.5 litres of water and dis­solve 1kg sugar, the juice of a lemon, the juice of an orange and 2 tea­spoons cream of tar­tar.

Put flower heads in a large con­tainer and pour in the water. Cover the con­tainer with a clean tea towel and leave for 3 days. Strain juice from the heads into a ster­ile demi­john. Add yeast and an air­lock. Leave un­til fer­men­ta­tion has fin­ished.

“You can bot­tle it as is, but I pre­fer a bit of a sparkle in all my coun­try wine, so I add a small tea­spoon of sugar to each bot­tle to prime it and then seal,” ex­plains Mark.

The prim­ing sugar will then start a sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion and put a fizz into the bot­tle. Make sure you use bot­tles (such as old sparkling wine bot­tles or plas­tic fizzy-pop bot­tles) that can stand the pres­sure. Leave for at least a fur­ther two weeks, or even longer if pos­si­ble. Serve chilled!

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