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VICTORY GARDEN GAL

Infusing herbs in the victory garden

Posted on June 7, 2021

ColumnsLocal news

DeeAnn Rivera

DeeAnn Rivera

In case I haven’t mentioned it lately, I’m a huge fan of thrift stores. Some of my favorite things in my house and garden have come to me secondhand.

Since I have shopped in consignment stores their whole lives, my children and grandchildren don’t mind thrifting with me. Each child has an unusual affection for certain items. My grandson has found a love of “fancy” glasses, and we often bring home mismatched goblets and delicate wine glasses so we can drink our “fancy” drinks out of them. We call him a “mixologist,” but he only makes non-alcoholic beverages.

My grandson is 10 and knows that he can talk me into buying him almost anything. Fortunately, the “fancy” glasses he likes at the thrift stores are usually really cheap. One thing he likes to do is mix up drinks in the fancy glasses.

I came home to one of his mixing sessions and I was served a bright yellow drink in a tall, skinny wine glass. He was overly eager for me to try the drink, but would not give me a clue as to what was in it. I was expecting a lemon or pineapple-flavored drink based on the color.

I sipped hesitantly and got ... no flavor. He laughed and laughed. 

He had served me water with yellow food coloring; every person got his or her own individual color. Mine looked like urine. I’m not sure if he was laughing because it looked like I was drinking pee, or if he was just proud of his creations.

In case you don’t have a mixologist, it’s easy to liven up your everyday cuisine and drinks by turning to our victory gardens for a solution! Grab a few herbs and flowers and try some of these simple, yet delicious combinations to add some variety to your diet. The benefits of herbs range from making our food taste great to improving our health.

There are some adjustments to make between using dried or fresh herbs. When I have an abundance of herbs (especially lavender), I like to dry some to keep on hand. Dried herbs are ideal if you plan on long-term storage or gift-giving. In this form, herbs retain usefulness and flavor for a longer period of time.

Also, keep in mind that dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh herbs. As you infuse, adjust and taste-test along the way to avoid overly pungent flavors.

Fresh herbs are ideal for infusions that are immediately consumed.

Sprinkling herbs into our drinking water is the simplest way to start infusing. Also, those who have a hard time staying hydrated may find these water flavors an easy and enjoyable way to get more water!

Mint, Basil, Cucumber and Lime Water

This tasty combination of herbs is anti-inflammatory and great for digestion! If you’re looking to boost your digestion before a meal, or just have a delightful drink, this recipe is one of my favorites:

• 1 cup of water.

• 1-2 basil leaves (or 1 teaspoon of dried basil).

• 3-4 mint leaves (or 2 teaspoon of dried mint).

• 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice.

• 3 slices of cucumber (peeled).

Add in these ingredients to your flat or sparkling water for a summery, fresh twist. To get the most flavor from your mint and basil, you can use a mortar and pestle to slightly crush them. I just put them in my hands and “clap” them, which works great, too. (To turn this recipe into an adult fusion, add in 1 ½ ounces of vodka!)

Lavender and Lemon Water

A sip of this citrus, floral water will detoxify your gut and improve digestion. This is a great choice for those who enjoy the balance of sweet and sour. To try it, use these measurements:

• 1 cup water.

• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.

• 1 tablespoon dried lavender or 2 sprigs fresh lavender.

  Optional: Add 2 tablespoons of honey to sweeten.

This infusion is ideal for a soothing, nighttime glass of water.

You can also double the recipe and add in 1 cup of fresh lemon juice and 1 cup of sugar to create a full-on lavender lemonade! (Adjust the water to your taste.)

Rosemary and Peach Water

• 1 cup water (flat or sparkling).

• 1 sprig of fresh rosemary.

• 3 slices of fresh peach (frozen peaches will work as well).

This is an earthy drink that is perfect anytime!

Mint and Watermelon-Celery Water

• 1 cup water (flat or sparkling).

• 2-3 leaves of fresh mint.

• 3 cubes of watermelon.

• 1 celery stick.

I love to drink this combo after a workout. It has a crisp flavor with a hint of sweetness.

The combination of herbs, fruit and vegetables is truly unlimited (I don’t recommend broccoli, but if it’s your favorite, you may love it infused in your water).

Pull out your fancy glasses or mason jars or just some mismatched cups and mix up a unique combination that you can claim as your signature drink. The weather is perfect for iced drinks — add in some family and friends and it becomes a festive (yet easy) way to dress up ice water.

Don’t forget: the Spring Hope Garden Club is hosting a Fourth of July Children’s Parade. The club’s next meeting is June 17 at the Spaulding Center. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and all are welcomed and encouraged to come.

Happy planting!

DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident who blogs at VictoryGardenGal.com. Email her at VictoryGardenGal@gmail.com.

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