I want to show and tell a little more about the herbs before summer slips away. I can’t believe the Christmas magazines will be out in 8 weeks and stores are already preparing for Halloween! Let’s enjoy the summer while it is here, and try some flavored waters to beat the heat~
Each Sunday at the Rancho Santa Fe market, Raquel, Eugene and I take turns concocting flavored waters. Eugene started with pre-made syrups, but we moved into more spontaneous waters with my guidance. Start with whatever is fresh, in this case, strawberries and mint~
We talked about how herbs take so well to mediums like vodka and sugars; here the medium is water. Slice a pint of strawberries and chop a bunch of mint and pour several cups of boiling water on top, enough to cover the fruit and herbs. Let sit for 10 minutes. The hot water will draw the juice and flavor (not to mention the color) from the herbs and fruit.
Add a load of ice on top, and a little water; serve, ice cold if you please. If you are using citrus, you can use slices of the fruit, the whole peel, or both; it would be very pretty to have a fine zester to make a long ribbon of peel; I cut these oranges by hand with a large knife (the only one we could find at the market!), which is why they look so rough, with mint~
This simple recipe can be adapted for orange & mint, lavender & lemon; choose any combination you love~
Initially we added lemonade, but we got back to basics with just the herbs and fruits and a ice water; add lemon slices or lemon juice if you want a little more taste, though you will need to add sweetener to balance the acidity of the lemons~
My favorite sweeteners are agave syrup, honey, and raw sugar, but you can also use Splenda; garnish the top with more fruit and herbs~
Mostly, patrons of the market love a little refreshment while they shop, so we serve this up for free to shoppers at the information booth. Here, raspberry & mint with agave syrup. Adjust the fruit, herbs & sweetener to your taste, or that of your guests. This would also be great with Perrier instead of flat water. Delicious, pretty, refreshing, no calorie~
The addition of the herbs puts these combos over the top. We will try a little rosemary-blackberry mix next weekend, though I think the red fruits are best as they catch the eye and look so inviting. I’m going to do fancier versions for a party this Sunday.
Be creative, and see what you can come up with based on what is available locally, including from your own herb garden…..herbs…fruits…boiling water….ice…maybe a little sweetener….that’s it~ enjoy your summer~