By Hazel Rain Watkins of Mother Medicinals
An herbal syrup in the summer?
Yes please! Most people know of herbal syrups due to the beloved wintertime wellness elderberry syrup, helping you and your family steer clear of sick days during cold and flu season. As the seasons change and river season swings into full effect herbal syrups become a thing of the past. With these 80 to 100 degree days and late summer nights herbal syrups are the perfect go to for all your cocktail, mocktail, hydrating refreshment needs!
But wait, what exactly is an herbal syrup anyways?
An herbal syrup is a preparation combining a strong infusion or decoction of one or more herbs with either honey or sugar (I personally prefer honey). The honey or sugar acts as a natural thickening agent and preservative, the more you use the longer it will last and the sweeter it will taste! In some recipes it calls for a small amount of alcohol to further preserve your syrup. I like to use herbal infused brandy if I decide to add alcohol.
Okay, so what herbs can you use?
I like to make syrups with herbs I know already taste good like rose, lemon balm, peppermint, lavender, lilac, rosemary, tulsi, hawthorn berry etc. It’s also a great way to disguise those not so great tasting herbs, especially for children!
Having a hard time deciding on an herb to make your syrup with?
Think of herbal actions and energetics. This time of year it’s hot and if you live here in Nevada County it’s also very dry! For a sweet summertime syrup you’ll want to use herbs that are cooling and or diffusive in nature like peppermint, elderflower or rose. These cooling herbs in combination with honey, which is moistening and soothing to irritated and dry mucous membranes. makes for the perfect summer syrup to add to any drink, helping you stay hydrated and cool.
You made an herbal syrup, now what?
Use it or lose it! There is nothing more disappointing than letting good medicine go to waste. Most syrups have an especially fast shelf life and they need to be used up quickly. Recently in this heat I've been making a hydrating tea with hibiscus flowers, peppermint and rose hips, serving it on ice with a splash of bubbly water and rose syrup! Syrups aren’t strictly for drinking though, you can add your herbal syrups atop ice cream, pancakes salads etc. Herbal syrups are a great way to incorporate herbal medicine into you, your family and your friends everyday life. They make a delicious treat to add to almost any beverage and are a simple and easy thing to bring to any picnic or party. Enjoy the sweet treats the bees and the plants offer us in these hot summer months!
Our Staff Picnic where we served the Cooling Summer Rose Syrup.
Cooling Summer Rose Syrup Recipe
- Organic dried red or pink rose petals
- Organic local honey
- Start by filling a quart sized mason jar ¾ the way to the top with organic dried rose petals. In this case I used both red and pink petals.
- Boil water on the stove top, once the water has come to a boil pour the water into your mason jar, covering the rose petals and filling the jar to the top. Put the lid on the jar and wrap the jar in a kitchen towel to keep the heat in. You have now begun the infusion process! You can leave your jar on the counter overnight to ensure a very strong infusion or you can let the herbs infuse for a minimum of one hour. The longer the herb is in the water infusing the stronger the tea will be.
- Once your herb has infused into the water for your desired amount of time, strain the herb and pour the liquid into a pot on the stove top on low heat.
- Now comes the honey! The more honey you add the sweeter it will be. You can choose to do a 1:1 ratio which is equal parts liquid to honey. This will preserve the syrup for much longer and give it a very sweet taste. You can choose to do a 1:2 ratio, which is half the amount of honey. In this case I did a 1:3 ratio, which is only ⅓ the amount honey as there is liquid. The reason being, I really wanted the full flavor of the rose to come through in the syrup and not be overly sweet.
- Start to stir your desired amount of honey into the pot with the rose infusion, stir on low heat until the honey has become one with the liquid.
- Take liquid off of the stove and pour into a large measuring cup (or something easy to pour with) Let the liquid cool for about 1 minute and then add in the juice of 1-2 fresh squeezed lemons. You will then see the color of your syrup change and some serious magic happen!
- Pour your syrup into your desired serving bottles, let cool completely before capping and enjoy!
It’s important to remember not to add the lemon while the liquid is still on the hot stove, as the lemon won’t have the same desired colorful, magical action if the liquid is too hot.
Please note, the more honey you add to your syrup the longer it will preserve it. This recipe only calls for ⅓ the amount honey and will only last up to two weeks if properly stored in the fridge.