Sample the Herb of the Year, anise hyssop

This often overlooked plant will be featured at the Ozaukee Master Gardeners Plant, Herb sale May 25

    The herb of the year is anise hyssop, a plant that has been a feature in gardens for years.
    The perennial, a magnet for bees and butterflies, will be featured at this year’s Ozaukee Master Gardeners Heirloom Plant and Herb Sale, held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 25, at the Concordia University Wisconsin Fieldhouse in Mequon.
    Joining anise hyssop at the sale are proven favorites such as tomatoes, peppers, mints and lavenders. There will be 36 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, including 10 that are suitable to plant in containers, as well as 17 types of peppers.
    Among the new offerings are two varieties of monkshood, globe flower, maidenhair fern and Siberian Bugloos Alexander’s Great, a large version of Jack Frost.
    In all, shoppers can choose from 300 varieties of heirloom and herb plants, including 38 new offerings.
    The sale will also include the Perennial Plant Association’s perennial of the year, Stachys moonier ‘Hummelo,’ a cousin to Lamb’s Ear.
    Three varieties of anise hyssop will be available — Blue Fortune, Little Adder and Orange, so named for its orange flowers.
    Anise hyssop is a hardy perennial prized for its sturdy, upright flower spikes. Its leaves have a strong aroma, a combination of licorice and mint with a surprisingly sweet taste.
    A member of the mint family, it is loved by honeybees. In fact, many beekeepers will grow this plant near hives because it produces a rich flavored honey.
    Whether used dried or fresh, this somewhat unusual herb adds a sweet, licorice flavor to fruit, pastas, vegetables, jams, teas and desserts.
    Both the flowers and leaves are edible and pair well with fruits. It can be used for brewing teas and is said to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
    The best time to harvest the foliage to dry is when the flowers are just past full bloom. That’s when the oil content is the highest.
    The Heirloom Plant and Herb Sale will feature a bake sale, herbal tea table and children’s activity corner, and door prizes will be awarded.
    Boxes will be available, but shoppers may bring wagons or garden carts to make carting their plants easier. There will also be “herb to the curb” assistance to help get plants from the building to vehicles.
    A complete plant list can be downloaded from ozaukeemastergardeners.com.
    Following are a few recipes featuring anise hyssop from the Ozaukee Master Gardeners.

Anise-Hyssop Tea

2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried anise-hyssop leaves
Water

    Steep leaves in mug of hot water for seven to 10 minutes. Strain and serve hot or over ice.

Anise-Hyssop Flower Drop Cookies

1/2 cup anise hyssop flowers, chopped
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

    Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored.  Add sugar and flower petals and beat five minutes. Add vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt to egg mixture. Continue beating five minutes more.
     Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, spacing well apart. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Chocolate Butter Cookies With Anise Hyssop

1/3 cup anise hyssop flowers and bracts or leaves (flowers will add stronger flavor)
1 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

    Combine hyssop and sugar in the food processor and pulse until well blended.
    Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and the chocolate. Gradually mix in the flour and salt. The dough will be soft.
    Divide the dough into two pieces. Using plastic wrap to shape the dough, roll each part into a cylinder about 1-1/2-inches in diameter. Chill for an hour or place in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.             Remove the plastic wrap and slice the dough into 1/4-inch rounds. Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake in a 350-degree oven about 10 minutes, until cookies are browned.
    Remove the cookies from the baking sheets while they are hot and cool on racks.
    Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Doughnut Hole Muffins

2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
For topping:
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla.
    Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir just until mixed and no large lumps remain. Batter will be runny.
    Fill well greased muffin cups until two-thirds full. Bake in a 350-degree oven. For mini-muffins, bake 12 to 14 minutes. For standard sized muffins, bake 15 to 17 minutes.
    Remove from oven and let rest in pan for  five minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.
    To make topping, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip tops of cooled muffins in melted butter and roll in sugar mixture to coat.
    These muffins freeze well. Don’t add topping before freezing muffins. Thaw and follow topping directions.

 

Herbal Hot Chocolate

2 cups milk
2 teaspoons dried anise hyssop leaves
3 ounces milk, white or dark chocolate, roughly chopped

    Combine dried herbs and milk in a saucepan. Gently warm the milk until it begins to steam. Do not boil or simmer milk.
    Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Allow the herbs to steep for 10 minutes.
    Strain the herbs from the milk. Place milk back into the saucepan and add chopped chocolate. Heat gently, whisking until the chocolate is melted and the drink is hot, but not boiling, taking care not to scald the milk.
    Serve in a mug topped with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.

Anise Hyssop and Apple Salad

1 cucumber
Salt
2 apples
1⁄2 head iceberg lettuce, sliced
1⁄2 head bok choy or Napa cabbage, sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped anise hyssop leaves
5 anise hyssop flower spikes, flowers removed
For dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    Peel cucumber and slice thinly, then sprinkle with salt and leave for at least one hour. Wash salt off under cold water and drain.
    Core and slice apples. Mix apples, iceberg lettuce, bok choy, cucumber and anise hyssop leaves. Toss in the flowers, reserving a few to scatter over the salad.
    Mix together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss. Scatter remaining flowers over the salad and serve.

Anise Hyssop Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1⁄2 to 1 cup loosely packed anise hyssop flower heads and leaves

    Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.
    Stain out the leaves and flower heads. When the strained simple syrup has cooled, store in refrigerator or freezer.
    Use to flavor cocktails, fruit punches and sodas.

 

Anise Hyssop Gimlet

1 tablespoon anise hyssop simple syrup
1-1/2 ounces good quality gin
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Ice
Anise hyssop leaf or flower for garnish

    Place simple syrup, gin and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a anise hyssop leaf or flower head.

 

Cherry Cherry Salad

1 large ripe red heirloom tomato, sliced
6 red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons small, fresh anise-hyssop leaves, chopped
Anise-hyssop flowers, for garnish

    Divide heirloom tomato slices among four plates. Scatter cherry tomatoes and cherries on top. Drizzle with vinegar. Scatter hyssop on top.

 

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