In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
December, 2012
Regional Report

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Herbalist and educator Jeannine Vannais and daughter Dory prepare raspberry and lemon herb cordial for holiday gift-giving.

Delicious, Fun, and Beautiful Gifts From the Garden

Newtown, Pennsylvania herbalist and educator Jeannine Vannais is tickled with the sunlight glistening through colorful jars and bottles on her windowsill. I'm fascinated with what's inside. Raspberries with lemon and herbs in vodka, pears with ginger and cinnamon in brandy, jalapeno peppers and lime in tequila. All ready to decant into handsome bottles for holiday gifts.

Jeannine and her daughter, Dory Graham-Vannais, have been preparing these yummy elixirs together for years. They gather the herbs and fruits fresh from the garden when available and buy the rest at farmers' markets.

They follow the old way of steeping the ingredients according to the moon's cycle. Then they strain out the fruit and herbs with muslin cloth, taste the elixir, and add simple sugar as needed. Filling attractive bottles and labeling are the last steps. Well, maybe a bit more sampling, too.

Here's the recipe for one of her delicious concoctions for you to try.

Jeannine's Raspberry Cordial
1 1/2 pints fresh raspberries
1 quart vodka
3 cups of 2:1 Simple Syrup (recipe below)

Place raspberries in a clean quart canning jar, then fill the jar with vodka. Seal the jar and let sit on a warm windowsill for a week to a month. Shake daily. When a rich red color and fragrance develop, strain through an unbleached muslin jelly-bag, allowing the mixture to drip for 24 hours. Discard the fruit. Add simple syrup to mixture to sweeten to taste. Pour into in sterile bottles, labeled and dated. Store in cool dark place to age.

2:1 Simple Syrup
In pot on the stove, add 1 cup water to every 2 cups granulated sugar. Boil gently until liquid becomes clear. It will thicken slightly. Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.

If you don't have the time or supplies to make cordials, below are other ways to share your love of the garden with friends and family.

Thoughtful, Small Touches

  • Wrap sprigs of rosemary and lavender with ribbon to decorate food-related presents such as a cook book, apron, or crepe pan.

  • Tuck a sachet of lavender and mint with rose petals in with a scarf, sweater, top, socks.

  • Make an attractive booklet of your favorite recipes using herbs. Decorate the wrapping with packets of dried or fresh garden herbs.


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