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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