I like to turn my weekly trips to the farmers’ market into my own version of Iron Chef. I seek out ingredients that are new to me, that I’ve never cooked with or eaten before, and then try to think up creative recipes to translate them into something amazing.
Recently said ingredient was fresh chamomile. Yes, I’ve had chamomile before in dried, tea form. But never had I come across it fresh. And suddenly when I saw it at Seedling‘s booth I found myself drawn to it’s scent. Vaguely applely, it smelled like an orchard at the peak of the season. (Side bar: This is why I love farmers’ markets. They smell of produce and flowers rather than bleach and pungent seafood.) And at $1 for a large handful the price was right for experimenting.
I scooped up two large handfuls, which made for brimming bag and headed home. And I did the first thing I often do when faced with a new ingredient – I Googled, looking for recipes to make with fresh chamomile. My search turned up – sadly – very little. If other home cooks were equally giddy about scooping up fresh chamomile flowers they certainly weren’t posting about it online.
I decided to start with a recipe that I knew would be simple and versatile – Chamomile-Infused Simple Syrup. It’s a smart choice because simple syrup keeps quite awhile in the refrigerator, greatly extending the shelf life of an otherwise quite perishable flower. It also can be used in an almost infinite number of ways. So far I’ve stirred 1/4 cup of it into 1 cup of plain low fat yogurt and 1/2 cup peach puree for a floral and fruity flavored yogurt. I also made a summery cocktail by adding a splash of it to a mixture of vodka and lemon juice. And I don’t plan on stopping there. I also think it would be amazing used to sweeten sangria (thinking that recipe is soon to come) or to flavor homemade Popsicles. Or your could use it to moisten sponge cake before frosting. See? Oh so versatile. I also love the sunny yellow color the flowers give the syrup. It looks like happiness in a bottle. No fresh chamomile? Dried will work just as well. I found it at my local Argo Tea, but you can look for it anywhere that sells loose teas.
This simple syrup will keep in your refrigerator for up to a month so it’s great to keep around for cocktails and other creative applications.
-1 cup water
-1 cup granulated or raw sugar
-1 cup fresh chamomile blossoms
Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook until sugar has dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add chamomile blossoms. Allow mixture to steep for 15 minutes and then strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container until ready to use.
Do you like chamomile? Any other ideas of what I should make with it should I spy it again?