Botanical Recipe for July: Herb Infused Lemonade

Botanical Recipe for July: Herb Infused Lemonade

Some herbs really lend a delicious highlight to the traditional flavor of lemonade. Basil, rosemary, or (my favorite) lavender add a beautiful accent and can make your lemonade something extra special. The trick is to mix your lemonade with tea instead of water. 

Now, I'm not talking about some weird herbal version of an Arnold Palmer, oh no! There's more to it than that! 

You start with your basic homemade lemonade recipe. Feel free to use your own, if you've got a favorite, but here's mine:

  • Mix the juice of 5 or 6 lemons with about an equal volume of sugar. (adjust the sugar up or down depending on your taste) Then add enough ice and water to make one gallon. 

Yep! It really is that easy. To make it an HERBAL lemonade, just do these little extra steps. 

  • bring a quart or two of water to a full boil and add ¼ to ½ cup herb of choice (fresh or dried, it doesn't matter.) Turn off the heat and let steep, covered for about 20 min.
  • Let cool and strain that into your lemon & sugar mixture.
  • Add additional water and ice to make a full gallon.

It's really just that simple! But you can take it even a step further and make a medicinal herb lemonade!

 Let's be honest. The reason you see the same old suite of herbs in most commercially available "health" teas is because not all herbs taste nice or can be easily masked. Some herbs, while useful and beneficial, have strong or bitter flavors and it can be challenging to enjoy them. Sure, you can pinch your nose and take them like medicine, but why suffer when just a little creativity you can turn a bitter funk into to delightful drink! The sweet and sour extremes of lemonade are the perfect disguise!

One of my favorites is Lavender and Feverfew lemonade. I use dried lavender and fresh feverfew, but only because that's what I have on hand. 

Feverfew is a wonderful summer herb. Clinical trials have found that it can reduce the severity of migraine headaches and, if taken daily, can prolong the time between migraines for some chronic sufferers. It's also shown itself to be effective in reducing inflammation and comforting the ache of arthritis. When used with the legendary cooling and relaxing properties of lavender, it's a real winner for a relaxing drink amid the exertions of summer. Here's how I make mine:

  • bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  • add ½ cup of dried lavender flowers and immediately cover and turn off the heat.
  • Wash a bunch of feverfew and chop to bits (like parsley) and add that to the pot.
  • re-cover and steep for 20 min. 
  • While steeping, juice 5 or 6 lemons. I like the pulp, so I just strain the seeds, but if you use a fine strainer, you can remove the pulp as well.
  • Strain the tea from the stove (compost the spent herbal material) and add the cooled tea to a heat-safe vessel.
  • Add 1 and a half to 2 cups of sugar to taste. (It will dissolve better in the warm liquid.)
  • Pour the sweetened herb tea into a 1 gallon jar or pitcher.
  • Add the lemon juice. (Sure, you can add the lemon juice first, if you like, but I like watching the color change when you add the acidic lemon juice to the tea mixture. It becomes a lovely purplish-pink!
  • Add additional ice and water to make a full gallon. 
  • pour a glass over more ice and garnish with a lavender stem or feverfew flower. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Watch me make it on my YouTube Chanel

 

The Herb Collector

The Herb Collector

Some things don't keep and should be enjoyed at their peak. Herbs are in this category. In my 20s I would try to save my most special tea for special occasions and rare treats. What a mistake! It seemed to make sense to me to save things for when I really needed them. I'm so glad I got over that.

In the beginning, I kept a small wallet full of tiny baggies with dried herbs. I never used them. I started it in high school and kept this little wallet with me through my early college years. I just liked the idea that I could brew up a medicinal tea if I really wanted to. I liked having the knowledge of which herbs were used for what even if I didn't have a garden or kitchen to actually work in. It was important to me as a talisman of what how wanted to see and identify myself. I was confusing what I was with what I wanted to be (a common mistake of new adults.)

I'm not sure when things began to change, but oh how they have! Now at age 51, I use herbal preparations every day and whip up a batch of something at least every weekend. I share goodies with family and friends and open my apothecary cabinet several times a day for one thing or another. I don't really even make a point of it. It's just an ordinary thing like using the milk out of the fridge. I thought it would be "cool" to be an "herb woman". Now I just am one and it seems like no big deal. Running out of Yarrow is just like running out of eggs, an annoyance. I can always get or grow more. The yarrow in my jar doesn't make me an herbalist. The empty yarrow jar does.

Thanks for stopping by,

Angie Hilbert

(reprint: original post 4-29-19)