Cheers! With Home-Grown Herbs (Pineapple Mint)
Using aromatic herbs which you have grown yourself in punches, cocktails and alcoholic coolers always adds a festive touch. Even ordinary tap water tastes better with a sprig of fresh mint floating in it.
Herbs with a tropical flavour like pineapple or lemon, are very popular to flavour alcoholic cocktails or drinks. A touch of lemon grass or lemon verbena is always refreshing, while pineapple sage and pineapple mint supplies a sweeter, more exotic and fruity flavour. Spearmint, peppermint, and garden mint are other tasty choices.
When using herbs in cocktails, a strong infusion is made first, which is then added to the other ingredients. For a concentrated infusion use equal amounts of fresh herbs and water.
Heat the water to boiling point, remove from the stove and add the herbs. Allow to steep for 15 minutes and strain into a clean jug. The strength of the infusion hinges on the amount of fresh herbs used and not on how long it has steeped. A strong herb infusion can also be cooked up with sugar into a syrup to be used as a base for alcoholic drinks as well as herb infused lemonade.
A basic recipe for punch
You can use any of the above mentioned herbs for this recipe. When serving your punch, you can garnish it further with fresh fruit like strawberries or cherries and crushed ice.
1 cup of herb leaves like pineapple mint, pineapple sage or spearmint
2 cups of boiling water
250 ml fruit concentrate in any flavour that you like
500 ml soda water
500 ml ginger ale
Pour the boiling water over the herb leaves and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the herb mixture and add to the fruit concentrate, soda water and ginger ale in a punch bowl. Add some lemon slices, a few fresh herb leaves and sprigs and lots of crushed ice. To add kick to the punch, pour in some vodka or cane.
Two pineapple flavoured punch herbs
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is a semi-hardy perennial with oval, velvety green leaves with a pineapple flavour and aroma when rubbed or crushed. In summer, the plant produces a mass of scarlet red tube-like flowers which are irresistible to birds and butterflies. Pineapple sage will grow to a height and width of 1m. You can grow it in a pot on a sunny patio, between other perennials in a flowerbed, or use it as a floral hedge in the herb or veggie garden. It likes full sun and moist, compost enriched soil which drains very well. Keep it neat by pruning it lightly after a flower flush.
Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens variegata) like all other mint types, loves compost enriched, moist soil and a little shade. Like other mints, it can become invasive with enthusiastic growth so, it might be a better idea to cultivate it in a large pot if space is at a premium. This plant grows about 30 – 50cm high with a spreading habit. The green and rich cream variegated leaves are very attractive and aromatic – easy on all the senses. The leaves can also be used in potpourri, to add fragrance to household cleaners and allow one to have a relaxing, aromatic, but refreshing bath after a long day. Just like other mints, it can be used to ease the digestive system after overindulging a bit.