52 Weeks Fresh: Tisanes (Herbs and Flowers, Sun and Moon)

By: Michael Blakeney

As tempting as it is to save all of the garden’s bounty for meals, the herbs and flowers coming into bloom now are just as good in the glass. Lavender, peppermint, lemon and lemon balm can each be used to make great simple syrups for cocktails, like lavender in a mojito garnished with lavender sprig and mint. The syrups are great with soda water for homemade spritzers, too. But one of the easiest, most-refreshing drinks is an iced tisane (like iced tea, but without tea).

Depending on your favorite flavors, the best add-ins can be peppermint, lavender, chamomile and lemon verbena.

Try mixing chamomile and lavender flowers together in a glass container filled with cold water. The measurements are pretty flexible, but I use a 2-quart jug and measure the herbs by packing my palm with leaves and flowers, then letting them loose in the water.

Like sun tea, these are best steeped outside for about six sunny hours (or overnight during a full moon). They’re just as pretty as they are tasty. Simply strain the liquid through a sieve into a fresh jar before refrigerating. Tisanes keep for two weeks and are great on their own, served with flavored ice or mixed with lemonade.

PRODUCE REPORT: Prune your basil plants to avoid flowers developing and to keep the leaf production high. Tomatoes are flowering. Quinoa is about 1 foot tall now.

EAT WITH THE SEASON: It’s time for fried squash blossoms. Here is a recipe from Debi and Gabriele.

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