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Living Inspiration

Just One Plant, So Many Uses - Basil

Just One Plant, So Many Uses - Basil
We all know that adding plants into your living space is a great way to add a pop of color to a room, but they can be so much more. Through our ‘Just One Plant’ series it is our goal to teach you fun and interesting ways of utilizing your plants one at a time by showing you techniques to introduce flavor and aromatic ideas into your home. Our helpful hints will serve as something you can easily learn in just a few steps so you won’t skip a beat when creating your own flavors in your kitchen or bar cart.

 

#1: Basil

Basil provides a unique herbaceousness to food and drinks unlike anything else. Its ability to bring fresh yet savoriness to dishes and cocktails makes it a must-have for crisp and refreshing mixes. Basil plumes in freshness when activated as an aromatic, while its expressive oils in the leaves play well with citrus and berry fruits alike. Using techniques like muddling,

is a simple way to introduce the flavor of basil to things like garnishes for drinks, or for acting as a rapid infusion for syrups. One of our favorite ways to use fresh herbs is to make an oleo saccharum (translation: “sugar oil”), a simple syrup concentrate that can then be used as a replacement for glazes in baking, or as a start for punches and cocktails. Working as a concentrate allows the oil to be lengthened by citrus, spirit, or seltzer in drinks, and when utilized in baking allows an immediate punch of flavor to each bite.

OLEO SACCHARUM

Essentially a sugar oil, an oleo saccharum works where a simple syrup or glaze would typically be used, however, its concentrate of flavor enlivens a more demanding flavor to your food and drink. While simple syrup creation requires a burner and waiting for a boil, an oleo saccharum can be made overnight. Utilizing the expressive oils of basil and lemon peels, their flavor is extracted by simply covering with sugar. As you gently shake your jar from time to time and leave it overnight, the sugar will work at extracting the oils from the basil and peels with the result being a delightfully pungent syrup ready for use. Use in cocktails requires less than you would generally pour of simple syrups as its flavor can be lengthened by liquid. 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 Bunch Basil Granulated Sugar
  • 2-3 Large Lemons
  • Mason Jar With Lid
  • Peeler or Paring Knife

PROCESS:

Remove peels from 2 lemons with a peeler or knife making sure to get just the skin above the pith (the white part) to avoid any bitter notes. Pluck the leaves from one bunch of basil (about one cup packed) and cut into ribbons by stacking leaves, rolling, and cutting.

Place 1/4c sugar into the mason jar, add lemon peels, and basil. Seal jar, shake to cover contents with sugar, and leave it on your countertop. Give the jar a slight swirl Now and then, whenever you think about it, and by the next morning, the oil should be separate. Stir remaining contents to dissolve remaining sugar particles and run through a strainer to remove solids.

To speed up the process, you can gently press the contents of the jar with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. This process should produce 1⁄4 c of oleo and should be refrigerated after each use. Chilled, it will keep for up to four weeks.

GIN THE GARDEN

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • American Style Gin (London Dry adds too much juniper) or a Non-Alcoholic substitute such as tea.
  • Basil Oleo Saccharum
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice(Avoid store-bought when possible)
  • Seltzer or Club Soda
  • Jigger or Measuring Device
  • Shaker Tins or Mason Jar with Sealable Lids
  • Collins Glass
  • Paring Knife or Peeler
  • Lemon
  • Ice

RECIPE:

  • 1.5oz Gin (or Non-Alcoholic Substitute, Tea) .
  • 25oz Basil Oleo Saccharum
  • .5oz Lemon Juice
  • 4oz Seltzer

Process:

  1. Add all ingredients other than seltzer to a shaker tin, or jar with a sealable top and shake with ice until well chilled. Strain over new ice in a collins glass and top with seltzer. Garnish with smacked basil and peel of lemon*.
  2. Grab three basil leaves and fan them in your palm. Lightly smack the leaves to express the oils and place between ice and glass. Express lemon peel over basil, and place snugly with the fan of leaves.

The Gin The Garden is a crisp and refreshing way of enjoying your overnight syrup. This recipe is easily scaled up so that it may be enjoyed from a pitcher or bottle for gatherings making it easy to top off the glasses of your guests. The same oils in basil and lemon peel that created your sugar oil are used as your garnish so that on the first approach you can smell what you will then taste allowing you to fully enjoy the drink with every sense.

BUMBLE TEA

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Lemon cut into half-moons
  • Honey
  • Black Tea
  • Mason Jar or Old Fashioned glass
  • Muddler or Wooden Spoon
  • Basil
  • Bumble Tea

RECIPE:

  • 6oz Black Tea
  • 2oz Ginger Beer
  • .5oz Honey
  • 3 Half Lemon Moons
  • 6 Basil Leaves

Process:

In the bottom of your mason jar or old fashioned glass place lemon moons, basil leaves, and honey. Using your muddler or back of a wooden spoon gently press basil into lemons and honey until mixture is combined. When muddling it is important to do so gently so as to lightly introduce the flavor of the basil and let it combine with the other ingredients. Add ice, black tea, and ginger beer to glass and gently stir to combine. Place lemon moon and 3-4 fanned basil leaves between ice and glass for garnish.

Basil does well with citrus, so creating a flavorful slurry of sorts with the lemon and honey at the beginning of this process creates an overwhelming freshness. Delicious black tea and spicy ginger beer keep this simple sipper light but interesting. Feel free to play around with what citrus, or tea you are using to create your own intricate flavor profiles at home. While this drink is non-alcoholic, you can change that by simply adding a shot of vodka or bourbon to the mix.

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