This fragrant syrup is the perfect introduction to the allure of lemon verbena. Imagine the taste of lemon peel, basil, anise, and resin all rolled into one powerful wallop.
To me, it tastes like lemon peel, basil, anise, and resin all rolled into one powerful wallop. I associate it with old world cottage gardens like my grandmother always had.
In Grandma’s garden, lemon verbena spilled out over the walkways and scented the air as you walked past. I would stop to crush a few leaves between my fingers and then rub the “perfume” over my neck and arms. Intoxicating.
It may have never occurred to me either. But as luck would have it, I spent many years living in the country near the original Fall City Herb Garden in the Cascade Foothills. With that influence, cooking with fresh herbs became second nature. Eventually, my own garden overflowed with every imaginable herb. They pretty much took over.
Leaving the acreage behind, I now live a different life in downtown Portland, Oregon, far above the ground below. But even though my “garden” consists of a covered deck filled with large pots, I still make room for growing fresh herbs.
This year there’s lemon verbena (of course), spearmint, Thai basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, and rose geranium. I also grow culinary grade roses, pansies, violas, and nasturtiums. I concentrate on the herbs and flowers I use the most. (I would grow basil too, but I’ve never had any luck with it.)
So quick, grab a few potting plants while they are still available this fall and tuck them into your garden or a pot on the deck. You’re going to love what you can do with this very fragrant, very delicious herb.
This beautiful syrup is the perfect introduction to the allure of lemon verbena.
2 cups water
1½ cups sugar
handful (? ounce) fresh lemon verbena leaves
- In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar crystals. If sugar doesn’t fully dissolved by the time the syrup boils, lower the heat, continue cooking until syrup clears, and then bring back to a boil.
- Remove from the heat.
- Stir in lemon verbena leaves, cover the pan, and let steep for at least 30 minutes.
- When steeping is complete, remove lemon verbena leaves from the syrup and discard.
- Decant syrup into a glass container and store in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze it.
Makes 2 cups.
This is my favorite way to use Lemon Verbena Syrup. I love to serve it to unsuspecting friends. The response is nearly always, “Wow, what is this?” Followed closely by, “Is there more?”
Technique Note If you want the lemon verbena flavor to be even more pronounced (me me), use a cocktail shaker and cocktail pestle, and muddle several large leaves of lemon verbena with some of the ice; add ice and muddled herb to the two drinks and stir.
Or use a mini processor, and process several chopped leaves of lemon verbena with 1 tablespoon sugar; divide between the two drinks and stir.
1 cup cold water or soda water
½ cup Lemon Verbena Syrup
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tips or 4 leaves of lemon verbena
2 wedges of lime
- Fill two 12-ounce glasses with ice.
- In a small pitcher or 2-cup measuring cup with a pouring spout, add water, Lemon Verbena Syrup, and lime juice. Stir to combine.
- Divide limeade between the two glassed and garnish each with lemon verbena and a lime wedge.
Makes two 12-ounce drinks.
Copyright 2015 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.