The infusion of sweet botanicals is extremely simple. Dried herbs and fragrant flowers will willingly release their active ingredients and soothing aromas when allowed to marry with things like honey, liquors or oils. It also works fantastic with maple syrup and tis the season to cook that sap down to experiment with what our own woods can provide.
Dried chamomile flower first was discovered in ancient Egypt and its popularity as a medicinal drug grew throughout the Middle Ages, when people turned to it as a remedy for numerous medical complaints including asthma, colic, fevers, inflammations, nervousness, skin diseases and cancer.
Recent and on-going research has identified chamomile’s specific anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and sedative properties, and currently the herb Chamomile is included as a drug in the pharmacopoeia of 26 countries. Chamomile is an ideal herb for an infusion it’s normal use is that of a soothing tea that is wonderful with honey and lemon. It’s by far my favorite to infuse in maple syrup…
In the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico vanilla beans have been reportedly been used for their potential stimulant and aphrodisiac effects. It flavors in baked goods and ice creams surpass none when added to a sweet dish. It smells wonderful and tastes even better, so it’s going in the pot today as well.
When making an infusion into sugar syrups the liquid is typically boiled (or brought to another appropriate temperature) and then poured over the herbs. When infusing syrup, boil to it’s final stages about one to two hours remaining before syrup is formed, then add a cheese cloth bag of about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of herbs and a vanilla bean that has been split open, to about three to four cups of syrup. Cook down until it reaches a temperature of about 215 degrees on the hydrometer, candy thermometer or to your specified syrup consistency. Then remove the bag of herbs and filter twice through additional cheesecloth to remove any sediment. (I would buy two packages for this project) If you don’t sugar your own sap, this can be done easily with real maple syrup from the market. Just pour into a pot and add the herbs and allow to steep on very low for about an hour.
The next batch for me will be a lavender vanilla infusion and going forward you can use anything combination you like. Cinnamon, chili peppers, rosemary, coffee beans or rose petals, the sky is the limit. Bottle and label, as an added step I found some decorative sealing wax to close up the cork. Give as an Easter gift to your favorite neighbor or someone you care about. You can keep it out of the fridge for a few days, but to prevent mold you should keep it in the refrigerator for four to six months.
Just be creative and you will really make those pancakes, French toast and waffles something to talk about. Aromatherapy at it’s finest and if it ever reaches my breakfast it will be a miracle… I will probably drink it all as a soothing tonic just sipping it straight from the bottle. Enjoy.