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Herbs - Storing Tips

Herb Oils & Vinegars

Herb Butters & Mayo

Herb Sugars & Syrups

Herb Salsa & Pesto

Herb Soups

Herb Cakes & Biscuits




Spinach etc.

Herb Sugars and Syrups

Herbs are not just for savoury dishes, they lift the flavour of fruits and add to the appeal of puddings. Sugars and syrups are also a good way of preserving their flavour: sugars will keep, in a screw topped jar, for several weeks in the fridge and syrups should keep for months. You only need to put them in the fridge once the bottle or jar has been opened.

Herb Sugars
One of the most useful is made with Peppermint, preferably the fantastic Chocolate Peppermint which really does smell and taste like After Eights.
Herb sugars are incredibly simple to make: put some granulated, or caster, sugar into a bowl, finely chop the herb and mix the two together.
For the Peppermint sugar use the younger leaves from the ends of the stems which will have the best flavour. Sprinkle it over strawberries or fresh peaches, both absolutely delicious.

The sweet, green, aniseedy flavoured seeds of Sweet Cicely also make a good sugar. Use the seeds while they are still young and tender, as they get older they get more stringy. They also loose their flavour and the dry seeds have hardly any flavour left. Chop the green seeds very finely and sprinkle over anything made with rhubarb; stewing rhubarb or gooseberries with leaves of Sweet Cicely helps to reduce the acidity and the amount of sugar you have to add.

Herb Syrups
Robust flavoured herbs like Rosemary and Hyssop can be boiled with the syrup, but delicate flavoured ones like Rose Petals are best infused with the hot syrup once it has been made.

For a basic sugar syrup which will allow you to make a few different flavoured syrups you will need
500 ml water
500g sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Put the sugar and water in a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and boil rapidly for 5-7 minutes until the syrup starts to thicken.

If using Rosemary or Hyssop add a small bunch of stems to the sugar/water mix, about 5 twigs of Rosemary or 10 twigs of Hyssop.

Rosemary syrup is excellent with oranges or a winter citrus fruit salad, it also goes very well with anything gingery.
Hyssop has a special affinity with peaches and apricots: a Hyssop syrup is glorious added to a dish of fresh peaches and if you poach either peaches or apricots in Hyssop syrup you can transform some not very flavoursome bought fruit into a mouth-watering dessert.
A flan case filled with apricots poached in Hyssop syrup, with extra syrup poured over is really delicious, and a few of the beautiful blue Hyssop flowers sprinkled on top at the last minute looks stunning.

Rose Petal Conserve
This fragrant and pretty syrup can be used in lots of ways: to pour over strawberries or vanilla ice cream, to swirl into yoghurt or whip with cream and to make ice cream and syllabub. The conserve will keep for months in the fridge - but is usually used up long before.

1 litre measure of rose petals, lightly pressed down
1 litre water
juice 1 lemon
1 kg sugar
Pick the rose petals on a dry, sunny day when their fragrance is at its best. Choose red or pink heavily scented roses for the best result. Put the petals into a saucepan with the water and bring gently to a simmer. Add the lemon juice which will turn the petals a deep pink, they go disappointingly grey without, then add the sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and boil fast for 10 minutes. Pour into jars and seal.

To Make a Whipped Syllabub,
half a pint of whipping cream 1 tablespoon brandy
5 tablespoons Rose Petal Conserve or other herb syrup
Pour the cream into a bowl and whisk lightly, add the brandy and continue to whisk until the cream thickens. Fold in the conserve and pile into 6 glasses. Chill before serving.