When it comes to herbs, finding the right balance is key not only in terms of pairing but also in how they can enhance a recipe. Lavender’s nuance can offer a subtle floral notes, while too much can taste soapy. In this recap I’ll take you through incorporating lavender into lemonade for a very easy and refreshing summer drink, but also on how to take adding herbs effortlessly into your recipes.
I’ll admit, something I don’t do enough of is simply smelling when eating. After all you do use all your five senses when eating: touch, smell, sight, sound and of course taste. Your sense of smell can drastically change how a food tastes. Have you ever been stuffed up and tried to cook something, let alone eat it? You tend to lose taste sensation because all your senses work together to provide that full experience for you.
Your sense of smell can help you to identify key pairings even before you taste them, but also help you taste different flavor notes in a food. Here’s an example for you to try from Vosges Chocolate. Take a good quality chocolate bar and break off a piece (if it “snaps” you know it’s of high quality). Place the piece on your tongue and allow it to melt, keep your mouth open and breathe through your nose. Notice what flavors come across. Try that also with your mouth close and allowing the chocolate to melt and breathe in. If you concentrate on doing this, you’ll notice very different subtleties. That’s why we should take note from the Europeans on how they savor their food!
Thanks to some of my friends at our local farmer’s market, I’ve been taught how to smell fresh herbs and gain each individual nuance of that variety. To do this, simply press lightly on the leaves of the herb and rub gently between your fingers. Pull your fingers back to your nose and inhale deeply. This is a great trick to try when buying plants for your home garden to see if you like what you smell without harming the plant. This little trick helped me to find a variety of fresh lavender in order to pair with my lemonade. While I truly love all varieties of lavender, there were some that simply didn’t appeal to me when I thought about consuming them.
Once I chose my lavender, it was as simple as steeping it as you would tea and adding it to a basic lemonade recipe. What I garnered from this experience is that you can easily over power your taste buds. It’s better to air on the side of caution with something like herbs when incorporating them into a recipe, you can always add more, but you cannot take them out. With my own trial and error, I found the right balance for the type of lavender I was using. I encourage each of you to start with that amount, and simply trial it from there- you add less next time or add more depending on how you prefer it. I should also mention that be sure you’re choosing herbs free of pesticides, you don’t want to be tasting that later on, let along ingesting that.
Now that we have herbs down, some additional knowledge I wish to impart is make sure you wash your lemons, or any fruit you’ll be enjoying this summer. This snapshot below is the lemons I purchased at the store. I always soak them in apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water for about a half hour while I’m prepping everything else. You can see the gunk floating around, and honestly I don’t care to have that in my food, let alone have it traveling on my knife into the fruit I’ll be juicing. Everyone has their tricks, but I love apple cider vinegar for cleaning most of my fruits and peppers.
For those individuals who cannot have sugar, or choose not to have sugar in their diets- I invite you to swap out the sugar I call for in the recipe for what you’re able to consumer. You may find that by sniffing the honey you have on hand, you’ll find a perfect herb to go alongside it. Just don’t be afraid to enjoy some lemonade this summer too!
For those individuals needing a lift to their lemonade, adding spirits can enhance your lemonade recipe and make your day all the more merrier. You can even add some sparkling water to give it a little fizz. I definitely encourage customization and making your own unique blend.
When it comes to lemonade, you can use this basic recipe and substitute everything from basil, thyme and mint instead of the lavender. You can smell it out and start to think about what to pair your flavored lemonade with. Lavender would be perfect for brunch or tea time with the girls served with little pastries. Basil would be perfect served with dessert or a bright light lunch you’re serving. Mint would be really refreshing after a day in the heat or to open up your palate before a meal. Thyme would be great served alongside dinner that you’re grilling or roasting. So many options, so little time! In order to make this even more elegant, freeze some ice cubes with the herb you’ll be using in the lemonade- be sure to boil the water before freezing to get rid of the cloudiness.
I look forward to seeing what wonderful creations you can come up with in making your own lemonade this summer,
To Full Plates and Eating Your Tarte Out.
5 cups of Water, divided in half
1 cup of Sugar
1 tablespoon of Lavender
1 cup of Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine Sugar and 2 1/2 cups of water. Stir until Sugar has dissolved and mixture has come to a simmer. Turn off burner, add Lavender and cover. Let steep for one hour.
Gather together a pitcher to hold your lemonade. Take a fine mesh sieve and place overtop of the pitcher, pour your sugar mixture over top to remove the Lavender. Add in your Lemon juice and remaining water, stir.
Place ice into glasses, pour lemonade over top and enjoy!