When you start thinking about herbs as a focus in your eating life, you find them everywhere. I made some tarragon white wine mustard, yesterday, for example. And dinner was pasta with peas, and a gorgeous bunch of fresh chives, with crème fraîche.
This little jar of syrup has been on my mind for a while. I've been thinking aboutbitters, a preparation of herbs in alcohol, which is a simple or complex operation depending on how you look at it. I opted for the simple, of course, and instead of being steeped in alcohol, I opted for a syrup. Which may or may not eventually get steeped in alcohol. (Not that syrups are any easier than a true bitters. But check out this recipe. This guy is serious.)
What I like about this syrup is that, mixed with seltzer and on ice, it's like a drink without the alcohol, and as a digestif, there are health benefits as well. Now, why bother, if there's no alcohol, you ask? Good point. I think it would be great with gin, as well. But sometimes, with lunch al fresco, you want a little something to drink but don't want to nap just yet. This is lovely. The wormwood is very bitter, so don't add any more than that teaspoon. The hibiscus give it that pretty color, and a little acidity. Think campari and soda. Go outside and sit on your café chairs and enjoy.
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
1 tablespoon of nettles
1 teaspoon of wormwood
10 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of fennel seed
a stick of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of hibiscus
Boil water and steep with herbs overnight. Strain and add sugar. Boil for ten minutes. You can process this in a boiling water bath for ten minutes to make it shelf stable. Otherwise, put it in the fridge.