Science

We have two sage plants in our back yard.  They’re at least four years old and they’re huge and vigorous and more or less indestructible.

They started blooming early this month, and by this weekend they were covered in purple flowers.  Now, you’re supposed to pick the flowers off before they bloom.  Something about making more leaves that way.  We don’t need any more leaves (and we’re kind of lazy), so we’re not all that good about the flower thing.  But Saturday we were doing yard stuff, and in a fit of unusual diligence, The Boy picked all the flowers off.  Just for continuity, this picture was taken Wednesday morning after Saturday’s plucking…the flowers are back.

We’ve put herb flowers in honey before, and that’s delicious, but this was way too many to use that way.  Even we don’t eat that much honey.  This was about 3 big double handfuls of flowers.  I couldn’t stand the idea of throwing them away, so I decided to make simple syrup with them.

Given the amount of sage flowers, I knew I’d be making a lot.  I brought about 7 cups of water and 7 cups of sugar to a boil.  Then I filled a steamer basket with the sage flowers and set it in the syrup.  I left the heat on for about 30 seconds (just in case there was something icky on the sage), then turned it off.  I let the whole thing sit and steep for about 3 hours, then strained it into jars.  You can see in the picture above that they syrup a lovely golden color.

The plan all along had been to use this stuff for making lemonade.  I think it would be good to sweeten iced tea too, but we haven’t gotten that far yet.  Now for lemonade, you need lemon juice.

Well, around here it’s a combo lemon/lime juice sort of thing.  I like about one lime for every two lemons.  It’s extra tasty that way.  Note again that the juice is sort of a cloudy pale yellow.  So far so good.

Now imagine my surprise when I combined the (yellow) syrup and the (yellow) juice and got this.

Do you see that?  The decided pink color of the resulting concoction?  I’m totally smitten.  I’m guessing it’s the acid in the lemon juice doing something to whatever comes out of the sage flowers.  But still…pink!

It is, by the way, exceptionally delicious.  We’ve been mixing about 2 ounces of it with about 8 ounces of seltzer water and drinking it with great dedication.  A bit of experimentation has revealed it makes for tasty mixed drinks too.  I highly recommend this if anyone out there has some overly vigorous sage plants.  We’ve got plans to try the same thing with thyme and oregano flowers if those plants get to the same size as the sage.