Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Anise Hyssop Simple Syrup & An Announcement

Back in mid-summer I was planning a post on using the scented herb anise hyssop in a simple sugar syrup for my Cook the Books post about Erica Bauermeister's novel "The School of Essential Ingredients" when my poor computer had a hard drive meltdown. There went my photos and draft blog post, so I turned to another cooking project, a lovely fried eggplant salad, to do justice to the book.

However, I have since used my anise hyssop syrup several more times and am delighted with its wonderful bouquet (I think it is reminiscent of lavender), so I did want to share my findings with you all. I like to try a couple of new plants in our home garden every year, and two years ago I planted seeds for anise hyssop. This perennial herb was slow to grow and flower so I didn't harvest any cuttings that first garden season. However, it grew nice and bushy this summer and sported some deep violet-blue flowers that tantalized our local bee population, so I was able to cut some of the branches to use in the kitchen.

Anise hyssop is a member of the mint family, so it has a lovely perfume and is suitable for steeping into tea. According to my copy of "Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs" a tea from anise hyssop can be used as a mild expectorant and has been recommended for bronchitis and sore throats. I find that the taste is heavily dependent on the aroma of the herb, so I thought I would preserve both aspects of this delightful herb for later by steeping the leaves in a simple sugar syrup.

To make Anise Hyssop Simple Syrup:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup anise hyssop leaves (and flowers)

The anise hyssop is a woody little plant so I stripped the leaves from the branches and then chopped them up with a few of the deep blue flowers.

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small pot, stirring to dissolve sugar. When it is at a rolling boil add in anise hyssop and turn off heat. Cover pot and let steep 1 hour. Cool and refrigerate in a clean glass jar with a cover.

Makes 1 cup simple syrup.

I used this syrup to poach fresh fruit this summer, including a mixture of white nectarines and fresh peaches that had gone a little too soft in my fruit bowl. Delicious! The scent of the anise hyssop perfumes the fruit so well.

I am sending this post over to Anna's Cool Finds, who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #251. This weekly blog event not only showcases blog posts about herbs, but veggies, fruits and edible flowers as well. Weekend Herb Blogging is headquartered over at Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once.

And now for the announcement. Earlier this month I noted that Katz Gluten Free had sent me a sampler of their gluten-free baked goods and was good enough to allow me to offer two prizes to share with my blog readers. I randomly selected the first prize winner Chris, who left comment number 9, to receive $25 in goods from the Katz Gluten Free website. The second prize winner is Stephanie, who will receive a free sample pack of Katz GF goodies. Congratulations ladies! Please send me an email (oldsAratoga books AT gmaildot com) with your shipping address so that I can forward it to the Katz folks.