Hello guys! After quite a few rainy days we are finally getting some sunshine here. How’s your herb garden doing? I am inquiring because if you want to preserve some of your mint, now’s the time to do it. I found that mine is healthiest and lushest around this period. After overblowing in June, it’s growth slows down and shoots become tougher. Academic literature (a.k.a. google) too advises to harvest before the plant blooms, although it’s never mentioned why. If anyone knows, enlighten me please! It is also said that harvesting herbs is best in the morning just as the dew evaporates, before the heat of the day to get the highest essential oil content.
There are several ways to conserve herbs and today I’m going to show you how to make mint infused syrup to step up your beverage game.
Simple syrup is nothing more than a solution of sugar in water, a commonly used ingredient in many drinks and thus an indispensable part of your arsenal as a cocktailian. Referred to as one-to-one, it’s made of 1 part sugar and 1 part water. So easy, I just can’t believe people are buying it premade.
To make, combine sugar and water in a small pan, turn heat to medium and stir occasionally to dissolve crystals. Bring to a boil than remove from heat, allow to cool, bottle and refrigerate. For a more flavorful syrup, consider using raw brown sugar, it maintains more of a molasses character.
A stronger version, known as rich syrup is the same thing with a larger proportion of sugar. Some bartenders make it with 1.5 parts sugar to 1 part water, while others go up to a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Rich syrup gives you the advantage of using less per drink and it also keeps longer before spoiling. The reason? Sugar acts as a preservative (think jams, which are also called preserves).
Syrups have a decent shelf life when prepared and stored properly, that is, made with boiling water and stored in a sterile container in the refrigerator. That, needless to say, doesn’t mean interminable — syrup can get moldy, so make quantities you’re likely to use within a reasonable time frame. As a rule of thumb 1:1 hot-process simple syrup should last 2 months, while 2:1 simple syrup should last 6 months. Always check for mold and you’d be ok.
To infuse your syrup, roughly chop 1 bunch of fresh mint (about 1 cup), stems and leaves together.
Add to sugar and water, make syrup with lid on. Essential oils are volatile, they will evaporate easily in the increased heat otherwise. Let cool with the lid still on, strain through a sieve and can up. You can discard of the mint, it has served its purpose.
Use it for making all kinds of refreshing drinks, and be sure to try drizzling over chocolate ice-cream.