Drinking shiso

Shiso drinkThe garden produced an abundance of shiso this year (as noted in the spring sprouting of hundreds of shiso seedlings).  Since the shiso is beginning to grow its beautiful flowers, which will be followed by thousands of seeds that I do not want to self-sow, I look for ways to eat lots of shiso.  My current favorite is making shiso into a cool drink on these remaining hot summer days.

The first step is gathering the shiso from this prolific bed . . .

Shiso bedNext I selected the best leaves from the bunch of shiso I harvested.

Harvesting shisoI pinched off the freshest leaves which were not bug-eaten.  Usually this meant taking the leaves from the tip of each stem and branch.  If any spiders or other unwanted visitors made it into the house in the bunch of shiso, I carefully took them outside again to live on for a while longer.  Here’s the finished one cup of selected shiso leaves in the four cup glass container.

Shiso in measuring cupWhile I chose the leaves, I heated water in the teakettle.  When the water was very hot, but not quite boiling, I poured it over the shiso leaves until the four cup measure was full.

Pouring waterI let the leaves steep for at least 15 minutes before pouring the liquid through a strainer into a quart jar.

PouringThe next step is adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of honey.  With 15 minutes of steeping, the water had turned a light pink color.  When the lemon juice is added, the mixture deepens to a rose color.

15 minutes brewing

When I allow the leaves to brew in the hot water for a longer period of time (say an hour or so), the initial color is a darker rose or purple.  After the lemon juice is added, the color deepens to a gorgeous red.

Longer brewingI actually enjoy the longer brewing time as it gives me a better taste of the shiso vs. the honey sweetener.  Also, the type of honey used creates a subtle flavor difference.

After allowing the drink to cool to room temperature, I pour some of it into an ice cube tray for freezing.

Shiso drink in ice cube trayAny remaining shiso drink goes in the refrigerator to chill.  When the shiso ice cubes are ready, I put a few in a glass and pour the chilled shiso drink over them.  The result (as shown in the top photo) is beautiful to see and delicious to drink.

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