By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Jamie Jo Washburn and I were chatting about the fun of HSA’s annual meetings, when we discovered some things in common – a love of lemon herbs and an interest in making herbed liqueurs. An 18-year member of The Herb Society of American, Jamie Jo is a founding member of the South Jersey Unit.
When we were done with our official business, our conversation turned to our mutual appreciation of all things herbal. That’s when Jamie Jo told me that she and her fellow HSA friend Mitzi Kowal have infused vodka with lemon herbs. If we could only turn that into popsicles my life would be complete.
I had to share their idea here while lemon herbs are abundant and in season throughout the country.
- Pack a wide-mouth, quart mason jar 2/3 full of softly flavored lemon herbs like lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon grass. You won’t want the savory bite of lemon basil or lemon thyme.
- Use a peeler to remove the outermost layer from a lemon, a lime and a grapefruit. Add the peel (without the bitter white pith) to the jar.
- Pour unflavored vodka into 1/3 of the jar.
- Make simple syrup by boiling 1 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cup water until dissolved. Cool slightly.
- Fill the remaining 2/3 of the jar with warm simple syrup.
“In five minutes, it’s drinkable,” says Jamie Jo. “In two weeks it’s divine.”
She suggests straining the liquid through cheesecloth after two weeks. “People get weird about green things they can’t identify floating in their liqueur,” she laughs.
I sampled mine every hour and strained it after four. The result is a lush mellow yellow with a sharp lemon bite. I’m going to refill the jar and let it sit longer to make another batch.
While this can be done with different herbs, fruits or herb-fruit combinations, Jamie Jo advises avoiding chocolate mint. That, she says, tastes like cough syrup. Regular mint, I can attest, duplicates many a crème de menthe.
In addition to sipping on small quantities, Jamie Jo says the lemon-herb liqueur is good in lemonade and hot/iced tea or sprinkled on fruit salad.
Do you have an herb liqueur to share? Post is here or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do a wrap-up.