Herbal Essence

Today I noticed that the lemon verbena was looking a bit long-of-tooth, and because it’ll lose its leaves this winter anyway, I didn’t feel at all guilty giving it all a good autumn haircut! I’m drying lemon verbena and orange mint tea as we speak, and brewing lemon verbena oil (which will take a couple of weeks), but this morning I created this–lemon verbena essence, a process that uses condensation to distill a very potent liquid. If you’ve never distilled an essence before (and you could use any aromatic herb, actually), you MUST try this! It’s easy, and makes a sublime end product!


Start with cutting the lemon verbena, and then separating the leaves from the branches.  We’ll be using the leaves only for this project.


Get out your water bath canner.  The lid to the canner is really key; it will be placed on the stock pot portion of your canner upside-down because this will make a concave surface to hold ice, which will cause condensation inside the canner.  The essence will drip from the handle.


Next, choose a ceramic bowl, which will balance on the wire jar holder portion of your canner in a moment.


With the wire jar rack in place, place the leaves in the bottom of the stock pot part of your canner.


Then add enough clean water just to cover the leaves.


Next, place your bowl inside the canner, balancing it on the wire jar rack.


Place the lid on the canner, and place ice cubes in the concave surface of the lid.  Turn you burner on the lowest setting possible.


Allow all the ice to melt.  This will take a while.


Then carefully remove the water-filled lid and–viola!–you’ll have a potent lemon verbena essence!



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