I love the fresh herbs in my garden; using them in lemonade and tea and to cook with, is simply wonderful. For Christmas I like to use herbs in a totally different way, namely as sugared herbs! Coated with sugar they twinkle like glitter and make your cakes, desserts, cocktails, or basically any dish and even your house, look incredibly festive!
My favourite herb to ‘sugar coat’ is rosemary. In Greece it grows everywhere. It’s a very humble, elegant plant that we not only use for cooking, but also for home and garden decoration. There are some famous dishes that could not be prepared without rosemary, like some fish, lamb, pork and sausages dishes.
Rosemary is a beautiful plant with its purple flowers and light fragrance that fills the air in the afternoons, at our homes next to the sea. The name “Rosemary” derives from the Latin “Ros” and “Marinus”, meaning “Dew of the sea”. The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the Greek word ἄνθος, meaning “flower”.
In ancient Greece they used rosemary a lot for decoration in religion festivals, feasts and parties, and to decorate buildings. They burned it as incense for their interior spaces. My mother told me that she boiled the branches and used them for washing their hair and baby cloths. The Greek botanist Dioskouridis who lived in the first century AD talked about rosemary in his most famous writing, De Materia Medica, one of the most influential herbal books in history.
This sugared herb recipe can of course be used for many other herbs, like sage and mint. You can even use the same method for mandarin peel or flowers. Making sugared herbs is so easy, you should give it a try! What is also a fun idea, is to grind sugared rosemary and create rosemary sugar. You can then use it as an aromatic to add to cookies or cakes for that beautiful and unique smell and taste. Have fun trying!
Get some crystal sugar and water…
…and make a beautiful syrup!
Add the rosemary pieces and stir the branches in the syrup…
…then let the rosemary branches dry for one hour.
After an hour the branches are sticky and you can easily coat them in icing sugar. Have fun decorating your dishes!
Food photography: Annette Spaan
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