This lacto-fermented herbal sweetener is one of the latest "kitchen projects" I've undertaken. I am now using it as a sweetener for my herbal teas which, as you know, could range from simple ginger tea to ginger tea with a lemony twist or green tea or hibiscus tea. This is so simple to make and so chock-full of antioxidants simply because it is not heat-processed in any way and so the goodness of the herbs are all intact. It is also lacto-fermented which means it has good bacteria to boost your immune system. Best of all, it is a simple, inexpensive and extremely flavorful and fragrant sugar alternative that you will surely enjoy adding to your teas.
I first saw this recipe from dfordelicious.com and I've also seen a similar one at nourishedkitchen.com Let us get to it right away, shall we?
You need just a few ingredients really -- muscovado sugar, lemons, lemongrass and ginger. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, as you will soon see. The only thing to remember is that the more herbs you use, the stronger the herbal tones of your resultant syrup would be.
I want to zero in on the lemongrass as you need the bulbs only and not the blades or leaves. (You can use the leaves later for fish stew and other Filipino-style soups.) Cut the bulbs off and then cut them into thin circles.
Slice the other herbs as well -- the lemons into thin circles (along with the peels and seeds) and the ginger into small, thin pieces. D for Delicous used turmeric as well.
Have I told you just how simple and kinda' fun this is? You simply have to layer the ingredients in a mason jar or any glass jar -- in the order you want. In this case I made the following layer sequence:
- muscovado sugar (about a tablespoon)
- muscovado sugar
- muscovado sugar
Basically, it's just herbs separated by a layer of muscovado sugar. Simply repeat the sequence until your ingredients are all used up. Finally, top with a layer of muscovado sugar to cover everything.
Cover the jar with a lid and let it ferment for up to 3 days at room temperature in a cool, dark place. Now, don't be afraid as this will not go bad. If you're not familiar with lacto-fermentation yet, please read this post on the health benefits of lacto-fermented foods.
This is the layer of lemons just before I covered it with the last layer of muscovado sugar. Note the fresh, crisp look of the lemons.
After a full day of being kept at room temperature, the lemons assume a softened look and the sugar crystals turn liquid and syrupy and smelling faintly of herbs. Day 1 this is.
After the third day, here it is. The syrup is so fragrant by this time as the sugar is now thoroughly infused with the flavors and aroma of the herbs. My references say you should not lacto-ferment sugary foods beyond 3 days as you run the risk of getting the sugars to ferment into alcohol.
After 3 days, transfer your jar of syrup into the ref for cold storage. This will stop the fermentation process but will not kill the good bacteria. This will keep in the ref for up to two weeks. Use this very flavorful and aromatic syrup to sweeten your herbal tea. You will be delighted at the complex, herbal undertones your tea will have after you've sweetened it with this nutrient-rich, and probiotic fermented herbal syrup.
To give you an idea of the health benefits of this syrup, take a look at the profiles of its ingredients:
Please make one this week and the share with us your photos. I'd love to hear from you.