I’ve often dried anise hyssop leaves for a note of licorice flavor in winter pots of herbal or black tea. Last summer I stuffed a handful of fresh leaves into a canning jar, covered them with gin let them steep for a couple weeks – that sure made for good gin and tonics, and was pretty outstanding poured over watermelon chunks too. Adding flowers probably would have tinted the infusion a nice color; I’ll try that next time.

This year my friend Julie taught me a new trick that I’m having a lot of fun experimenting with. She makes simple syrup with Anise hyssop leaves, then stews apples in the syrup, after which they can be eaten, frozen or canned.

Anise Hyssop Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup lightly packed leaves

Combine sugar and water and boil medium-low until sugar dissolves

Add the leaves and simmer 15-20 minutes on low


It’s a simple as simple can be. Here’s what we do with it

  • Make ice cubes to freeze
  • Julie uses the Anise hyssop ice cubes in gin and in beer /lemonade shandys
  • I love it in plain seltzer, it’s really complex and subtle
  • Even better if you add grapefruit juice and gin to your seltzer
  • Cut up peaches and douse with the syrup; let sit out for an hour or so and serve at room temperature. It’s even better the next day, better yet with ice cream on top.
  • What to do with a pint of over-ripe Italian prune plums too mushy to eat? I tried adding enough water to keep them from sticking to the bottom of a saucepan, doused them with Anise hyssop syrup, tossed in a couple organic orange peels I’d been saving to do something or other with, and simmered til saucy. A handful of chia seeds cooked on low for 15 minutes and chilled overnight made a terrific superfood pudding.

Slapdash improv cooking has many rewards!