This week we will experience the Full Strawberry Moon and next week is Summer Solstice. The days continue to get longer and hotter (we are headed for five straight days of 90-degree+ temps this week), and the garden bugs are beginning to feast on all the plants! That’s the way of things this time of year. There is a season for everything, right?
With the heat and the bugs come some of the most wonderful gifts from our garden and our local farmers. This week we feasted on the first green beans and yellow squash. We are seeing more butterflies each day and fireflies each night. And just as strawberry season is winding down, one of my favorite summer herbs, holy basil, is beginning to flower and flourish. So, this is the absolute perfect week to combine the new, fresh leaves of holy basil (also known as Tulsi) and the sweetest, sun-kissed strawberries of the year to make one of my favorite concoctions – a drinking vinegar.
I add the fresh, chopped tulsi leaves and some muddled strawberries (from McAdams Farm) to white wine vinegar in a sterilized jar and let it sit for two weeks. Then strain and add sugar or honey. The resulting bright red fermented vinegar is called a shrub and stores in the refrigerator for several months. As strawberry season winds down and the heat winds up during the height of summer, this Tulsi-Strawberry shrub is the perfect mixer for a summer mocktail. I have mostly given up alcohol, so making an herbal mocktail is a nice, healthy substitute. I add the shrub to a glass of sparkling water and ice for a tasty and elegant afternoon refresher.
If you want to give it a try, there’s an excellent recipe from the Mountain Rose Herb blog here.
I’ve noticed peaches are beginning to show up on roadside stands and at the farmer’s markets, so my next summer shrub will likely be one with peaches and perhaps rosemary or basil. Drink up and stay cool, y’all! Happy summer.