After quite a few rainy days we are finally getting some sunshine here. How’s your herb garden doing? Asking 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 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 pan, set heat to medium and stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil than remove from heat. Add a handful of chopped mint, cover (essential oils are volatile) and allow to cool. Strain through a sieve, bottle up 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. The choice is yours.
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.
Use it for making all kinds of refreshing summer drinks, and be sure to try drizzling over chocolate ice-cream.
Image: fresh green paper mint leaves in greenhouse via freepik