In their book Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants (Ten Speed Press, 2017), Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis provide 47 ways to use plants from your garden throughout the seasons. Here are two drink recipes from their book we can’t wait to sip on this summer: huckleberry shrub and marigold bitters.

Photo by: David Fenton.

HUCKLEBERRY SHRUB

Takes approximately 1 week to make.

Makes 1½ to 2 cups, enough for about 10 drinks

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh huckleberries
  • 1½ cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • Carbonated water

Instructions

  1. Place the huckleberries in a 1-quart canning jar or fermentation jar.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and vinegar to a brief boil to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the berries in the jar. Gently macerate, or crush, the huckleberries with a fork to release their flavor.
  4. Seal and store the jar in a cool, dark place for 4 or 5 days. (Note that shrub can be made using the refrigerator in the heat of summer if cool, dark places are hard to come by. Refrigerator-made shrubs take a little longer to mature, about a month total.)
  5. Strain the shrub through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a clean jar. Cover and chill.
  6. Taste the shrub, and if it’s too vinegary let it rest for another couple of weeks.

Once it’s to your taste, the shrub can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months (although, it’s so good, we don’t think it will last that long!). Just pour into carbonated water to serve.

MARIGOLD BITTERS (AMARO)

Photo by: David Fenton.

Herb-infused bitter liqueurs were originally served as after-dinner digestifs, chilled or over ice, and later mixed into classic cocktails. Gem marigolds are a perfect component because of their distinct bitter flavor and for the lovely amber hue that results. Plan ahead: This takes at least 6 weeks to make.

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

  • Enough herbs and edible flowers to fill a 1-quart jar; for example:
    • 1 cup gem marigold flowers and leaves
    • 1 to 3 sage leaves
    • 2 to 6 anise hyssop flowers and leaves
    • 1 sprig rosemary
    • 1 to 6 lavender blooms
    • Small bunch of thyme (such as French, English, or lemon)
    • 1 to 6 calendula flowers
    • 1 to 6 bee balm flowers and leaves
    • Small handful of rose petals
    • 1 to 8 viola petals
  • 5 to 10 alpine strawberries or other berries
  • Rind of 2 Chinotto oranges
  • 2 - 750 ml bottles good-quality unflavored vodka

For simple syrup:

Makes about 1¼ cups

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup organic sugar

Instructions

  1. Gently rinse the herbs and flowers, leaving the blooms intact to capture the bitter attributes of their centers. Add them all, along with the berries and citrus rind, to a 1-quart jar.
  2. Fill the jar with vodka to just below the rim (you might not need it all) and seal with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Store it in a cool, dark place.
  4. Check the amaro daily or every couple of days, and give it a good shake to ensure that there are no floating leaves or flowers.
  5. After 4 weeks, taste the amaro. If you prefer it stronger, allow it to infuse for another week or so.
  6. Once you’ve achieved the flavor you like, strain out the herbs, edible flowers, berries, and rind.
  7. Make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a nonreactive pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to prevent sticking. Once the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes), remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly.
  8. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the strained amaro liquid and let infuse for an additional 2 weeks, then taste. If you find the amaro more bitter than you’d like, add more simple syrup, but remember the sweetener is meant to take the edge off the bitter taste rather than mask it.

Store indefinitely.

Reprinted with permission from Harvest, by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis, copyright © 2017, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2017 by David Fenton.

This bonus content accompanies “Sips of Summer”—an article featuring the book Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants by Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis—in the Summer 2017 issue of Garden Design magazine.

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