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!

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

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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.

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

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

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Then add enough clean water just to cover the leaves.

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

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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.

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

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

Enjoy!

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