Sometimes I get bored with water.
Still, I don’t want to drink too much soda for health reasons. Now, I’ve landed on a pretty good compromise when I’m looking for some novel refreshment: homemade herbal syrups.
I love the variety and the different flavors I can create, and I love that I can pull together herbs at whim from either my own garden or that of the farm I subscribe to.
So far, I’ve done:
- Thyme and lemon thyme – It’s supposedly good for fighting a cold, but the jury’s out for me
- Hyssop anise – I was wholly unfamiliar before this year. The flavor is not really like the former and delicately like the latter.
As a bonus, I use a Soda Stream at home to create the seltzer water on-demand, so I’m not even supporting the fossil fuel expenses of shipping liters of beverage long distances (or the more modest investment of me running to the store).*
All I do is add the herbs to some boiling water and let it steep. You can adjust the ratio of herbs to water to suit your tastes. As a practical note, you’re going to want to consider how much syrup you want to store before going crazy and adding too much water. I would start small (around one cup of water and a couple or so good handfuls of the herb of choice) because you can certainly… water it down later.
Once I’ve steeped the herbs in water to my satisfaction, I remove the herbs and boil the infusion together with a sweetener (I’ve been using sugar) to make the syrup itself.
This sort of syrup may also be good for that trick of making cakes more moist by brushing them with a simple syrup before assembling and decorating them, though I’m not sure how strong the herbal infusion would have to be to stand out enough.
Certainly, the idea has some potential for cocktails as well (though, as of this writing, I have been too pregnant for too long to really explore that direction as yet).
*There’s a reason why Coca-Cola gained an early advantage in global soft drink exports from the U.S.: they were the first to realize it would be far cheaper and more flexible to ship only their syrup globally and have the water sourced locally.