Herbal syrups may be one of the most delicious ways to use herbs! Herbalists most commonly use them for cough remedies but they're used for many other medicinal purposes as well. Herbal syrups can also be used for culinary purposes. An herbal syrup is a lovely addition to a pile of pancakes, on ice cream, or in a cup of tea.
What is Herbal Syrup and how is it used?
An herbal syrup is made by steeping herbs through infusion or decoction- starting in the same way as making a very strong tea. This mixture is then combined with honey or sugar. For culinary purposes, think of it like maple syrup or flavored syrups that are often used in coffee. For medicinal purposes, think of them as soothing cough syrup on a sore throat.
How is it made?
This is one of the shorter herbal preparations to make. The syrup itself will have a longer shelf-life than a tea might but not as long as a tincture.
Note- Strongly flavored herbs are best to be used sparingly or they will overpower your syrup! Research the suggested ratios for the herbs you hope to use before making your syrup.
-Make a decoction with the desired herb(s) in a pot with a lid
Remember, a decoction is harder materials only, add leaves/flowers later on. Or make a separate infusion with them, strain it, and add the infusion now.
-Simmer the decoction with the pot partially covered until your liquid has reduced by about half
-Remove from the heat and add any leaf/flower herbs- let them steep for 20+ minutes (skip this step if needed)-Strain and return to the pot (warm-up if it’s cooled off)
-Mix in the sugar or honey over low heat- stir constantly- until well combined and the right “syrup-y” texture
-Cool completely and bottle
These are stored in the fridge. The shelf-life will depend on what type of sweetener and what herbs you used. 1-3 months is most typical. Some herbalists add a bit of alcohol to their syrup as an extra preservative.
What are commonly used herbs?
Fresh or dried herbs can be used. Most herbs work well in syrups.
Those often used include-