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Peach Leaf Tea

A peach tree showed up one year beside our driveway in an obscure spot behind our neighbors garage. It went unnoticed for quite some time, but one day I saw peaches draped across the forsythia. I recalled how once or twice over the years, my children had buried peach seeds. Maybe it was from one of them? That’s where the trash cans sit as well. Maybe a seed or two missed the mark? I don’t know for sure how it got there, but now there are several more — seedlings from this little tree’s fallen peaches. Did you know peach trees would seed out like that? Apparently they even naturalize in some areas.

Now the tree is eight feet tall with the cutest rounded crown. When its pink blooms faded this spring, I picked and dried some of the fresh new leaves.

I think it’s interesting how infrequently we use the leaves of fruit plants. Peach leaves smell wonderful. It’s a subtle but peachy scent with a hint of sweet almond. I like to open the jar of dried leaves just to smell them sometimes. The leaves of raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and various citruses all smell fruity and delicious, too. Most make good teas. We should use them more.

Peach Leaf Tea

◊ First, pick your own leaves, if at all possible, and dry them yourself. If you grow your own tree, you can be sure they are organic, plus you won’t miss out on the enjoyable process of interacting with the plant. Early season leaves are most tender and best. Yes, you can buy peach leaves, but they are surprisingly expensive.

◊ Once you have the dried leaves, crumble a few so that you have around a teaspoon of crushed leaves.

◊ Put the leaves in a tea ball or strainer.

◊ Pour boiling water over them.

◊ Cover the cup. This is an important step because essential oils and flavored steam escape when you don’t.

◊ Steep for 5–10 minutes. You can steep longer, but keep it weakish until you’ve tried it a time or two to be sure you tolerate it well.

 

Peach leaf has a fruity flavor with a hint of bitterness. The bitterness is one of the reasons peach leaf is used for digestive issues, including nausea, indigestion, and constipation. A little bitterness is good for us, but the typical American diet has very, very little of it.

Honey is a good addition of course, especially if the bitterness bothers you. Ginger honey is particularly good and adds another layer of digestive help if you want that.

Try it and tell me what you think!

Blackberry Honey

I wasn’t sure what to call this, because it’s not honey from blackberries. In other words, the bees didn’t forage blackberry blooms. It’s a little thicker than a syrup, and not sweetened with sugar. It’s almost a butter, like the apple, peach or pumpkin kind. But it isn’t spiced, you cook it faster, and it isn’t quite as thick as those. Whatever you call it, it’s what happens when you flavor honey with blackberries, and it’s delicious!

I made a tiny amount because I had only a couple of handfuls of blackberries, but you could certainly double the recipe. Here’s how I did it.

Blackberry Honey

INGREDIENTS

1–6oz clamshell package of blackberries
½ cup apple cider
¼ cup orange juice
¼–⅓ cup honey, or to taste

DIRECTIONS

Put the first three ingredients in a saucepan and bring them to a full, rolling boil.

Lower heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.

If you want to remove the seeds, strain it now.

Then return to the pot and stir in the honey. Bring back to a boil. This will activate the pectin in the apple cider and thicken the mixture a bit. Honey will foam, so watch to be sure it doesn’t boil over.

Boil until it starts to coat a cold spoon, about 10–15 minutes.

Pour into a half-pint jar and let it cool. Refrigerate. It will continue to thicken some as it gets cold.

I’ve spread Blackberry Honey on toast and stirred it into tea. It would make lemonade luscious and gorgeous. The color is deep and rich.

Pizza Popcorn

popcorn

After a hot day touring gardens in Greenwood, SC, with a group of garden blogging friends, we were offered some much appreciated refreshments. Pizza Popcorn was my favorite. Served with refreshing pineapple mint lemonade, it made for a fun treat at the end of the day. When I got back home, I decided to try to make it myself. I added a couple of embellishments (parmesan and tomato powder), but it’s good with only the herbs, too.  A big thank you to the garden/herb clubs of Greenwood for the hospitality—and the inspiration!

Pizza Popcorn

INGREDIENTS

¼ rounded cup popcorn kernels, popped

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon paprika

⅛–¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste

½ teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon (or more, to taste) tomato skin powder,* optional

2–4 tablespoons melted butter, to taste, also optional

DIRECTIONS

Grind all spices and parmesan cheese in a blender or spice grinder. Add tomato skin powder. (What, you don’t have tomato skin powder lying around? It is entirely optional, but if you want, you can make some! See below.) If you’re using butter, mix it into the freshly popped corn. Sprinkle with spice mixture and toss.

Yields approximately 2 quarts.

___________

*Gayla Trail of the You Grow Girl blog posted a genius use of tomato peels a while back — talk about using every little thing! — and it suddenly occurred to me that tomato skin powder would be a perfect addition to Pizza Popcorn. I am not inundated with tomatoes just now, so I used a vegetable peeler to thinly peel just the large one I was going to eat for lunch. The peels dried thoroughly in about half an hour at 250°F. Yield was about a teaspoon of powder.

http://yougrowgirl.com/tomato-skin-powder/

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