5 Herbal Recipes to Brighten Your Holiday Season
When the weather outside is frightful, fresh herbs are even more delightful! Indoor herbs thrive inside during the winter and are a great way to keep the gardening joy alive all year long. Adding fresh herbs to holiday recipes is a great way to put a new spin on old traditions or simply to highlight the flavors of your herb garden. Each of these five recipes pairs traditional holiday tastes with fresh-earthy flavors. If you’re looking to try something new, or share your herb garden with family and friends, try out these recipes for your next holiday gathering!
Cranberry Sage Elixir
What flavors describe the winter season better than cranberry and sage?
If you want to create a lively mocktail that will spice up any holiday party, look no further! This elixir is simple and sophisticated, perfect for anyone looking to show off their homegrown sage paired with the familiar tang of cranberry. Better yet, since this drink doesn’t contain alcohol, it is a great way for everyone to feel included in the holiday fun!
To make this cranberry sage elixir, start by blanching ¼ cup of fresh cranberries. For every serving, muddle at least six cranberries, one orange wedge, one lime wedge, and three fresh sage leaves in the bottom of a shaker. Add ½ cup fresh cranberry juice and ¼ cup fresh orange juice. Generously drizzle with agave, add ice and shake. Strain out the contents of your shaker into a glass and fill the remainder of the glass with tonic water.
Garnish with fresh cranberries and sage, sit back and start sipping!
Rosemary and Sugared Plum Tonic
Dreaming of sugar plum fairies? This refreshing winter spritzer is sure to get some attention at your next holiday gathering. The fresh earthy rosemary compliments the sweet bite of sugared plums in this holiday tonic.
To make this tonic, start by making a sugared plum syrup. Combine two cups of granulated sugar in a small saucepan with four cups of cold water. Bring to a boil. Add a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, one sprig of fresh rosemary, and seven large plums (peeled, cored, and diced) to the saucepan. Allow simmering on medium-high for five to seven minutes. Add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice from about ¼ of a lemon. Blend or mash the mixture until smooth. Strain with a fine mesh strainer into a glass jar. This syrup can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for later use.
To prepare your tonic, start by adding 3 tablespoons of pre-prepared sugared plum syrup to a glass with ¾ cup of tonic water and ice. Add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and drizzle with honey. If you’re feeling extra jolly, add some three ounces of gin for a fresh cocktail, or leave it as is for a yummy mocktail. Garnish with fresh rosemary and plum slices.
While it does take a little bit of planning to make the dreamy sugared plum syrup ahead of time, it is well worth the effort. The syrup is a yummy ingredient in all sorts of sodas, mocktails, cocktails, and other sweet goodies. Try making a big batch of plum syrup at the beginning of the season to enjoy stress-free tonics all winter long!
Spiked Hot Cacao
Love the thought of a warm cup of hot chocolate, but aren’t so sure about all the processed sugar? This drink is sure to warm up any herbalist’s holiday season. The coziness of cacao, combined with the rich taste of Irish cream, is sure to bring a little bit of joy to long winter nights.
In a small saucepan, combine one cup of milk of your choice with ⅛ cup of raw cacao powder, three tablespoons of agave, and a splash of vanilla extract. Bring to a low simmer, stirring constantly, until all ingredients are evenly combined. Remove from heat, pour into your favorite holiday mug and add three tablespoons of Irish cream. Garnish with a fresh peppermint spring and enjoy!
An Herbalist’s Gingerbread Cookies
This holiday season, it’s time to rethink how you decorate gingerbread cookies! Decorating gingerbread cookies is a staple for holiday traditions in many families. But more often than not, you’re left with a stack of stale gingerbread stuck together by chalky icing and stale, sticky candies.
This year, try out some fresh decorations for a new twist on an old holiday tradition. For a fun way to include some fresh herbs try decorating with fresh mint and edible flowers. Include candied ginger, chopped dates, orange zest, coconut flakes, dark chocolate chips, dried goji berries, fruit (both fresh and dried), seeds, and nuts.
Think outside the box and find ways to incorporate some of your family’s favorite treats into a fun holiday tradition!
Fresh Peppermint Tea
Sometimes all you need is a piping hot cup of tea. For anyone with an herb garden, fresh teas are a lot easier to make than you might think. This winter, put your herb garden to work by trying your hand at making your own peppermint tea.
Start by harvesting fresh bunches of peppermint from your backyard garden or indoor herb garden. Gather your harvest into bunches and secure them together at the base using a rubber band or string. Your bunch should look like a bouquet of flowers when it is secured together.
Once your herbs are tied together, find an ideal trying spot in your home. Look for an area that is cool, dark, and gets adequate airflow. Avoid moist areas of your home, like basements, as you want your herbs to dry as quickly as possible. Once you’ve found a spot, hang your peppermint upside down.
Leave your herbs to dry for one to two weeks, or until the herbs are completely dry and brittle when crushed between your fingers.
Once your herbs are dried, measure two tablespoons of fresh peppermint into a tea bag or tea strainer and soak in hot water for up to ten minutes. Enjoy the fresh peppermint flavors all season long!