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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Herb Sugars Add Flavor to Summer Dishes and Drinks

By mid-June our herb garden is bursting with basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and (of course) mint, and we take full advantage, mixing and matching the leaves to liven up whatever we're cooking. But we've just discovered how great herb-infused sugar can be.

Sprinkled over cut melon or strawberries, mixed into black tea or lemonade, or used to rim a cocktail glass (mojitos or Liberators, anyone?), these simple herb-and-sugar mixtures provide a powerful flavor boost. And they could not be easier to make. 

Most recipes call for large amounts of both herbs and sugar—a cup of sugar, half a cup or more of herbs—but unless you're planning on using a large amount right away, you could end up with depressingly blackened herbs. Basil, for one, does not like hanging around after it's been cut. Given how easy it is to make a batch of herb sugar, why not whip up smaller portions you can easily use? Say, a couple of tablespoons of minced basil, cilantro, or mint combined with a quarter-cup of sugar. 

Some recipes call for pounding the herbs with a mortar and pestle to release more of the flavor, but a food processor works very well. Just add your herbs, add your sugar, pulse a few times, and you're ready to go. 

If you know of other uses for this amazingly easy and delicious ingredient, please let us know. 

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