Welcome to summer! Time to start thinking about lemonade. But I don’t mean just any lemonade. Save the overly sweet, watered-down stuff for the kids and their lemonade stand. To honor the change in season I rummaged around the garden and came up with pitcherful of Pineapple Lemon Verbena Lemonade. I often add other fruit to lemonade for an extra touch of summer sweetness (such as blueberry and pear). After all, why settle for the same old puckery summer sip? Exotic flavors, unlikely combinations, and a splash of ingenuity can reinvigorate the summer’s classic beverage. All you need is a pitcher, plenty of lemons and inspiration.
Pineapple Lemon Verbena Lemonade
I often get my inspiration from the plants in my garden. A recent addition to my collection of perennial herbs is lemon verbena.
I planted lemon verbena for its seductive floral-citrus scent. It’s a graceful herb that makes a lovely cuppa tea. However, it’s too hot for tea, so I turned my attention to Pineapple Lemon Verbena Lemonade.
The herb is a natural addition to lemonade because it adds a complex grassy note that’s lemony – but barely so. Lemon verbena has a distinct lemon lilt, though I don’t consider it a replacement for the lemon in this Lemon Verbena Lemonade. In fact it doesn’t taste like any of the other lemon-based herbs you may be familiar with, like lemon balm, lemon mint, lemon thyme and lemon grass. It has a lighter, less aggressive flavor which can be best described as lemon perfume. It has none of lemon’s astringency, its clean, herbal taste evokes warm weather – powerfully fragrant with no hard edges.
If you want to make your own Lemon Verbena Lemonade (with pineapple or without) I must warn you, it’s almost impossible to buy as a cut herb. Growing your own is your best bet. Once it’s established in a semi-sunny spot, it should flourish in most gardens. Here in California it slows down in the winter, losing most of its leaves. In colder climes it may die back entirely but return in the late spring (provided it’s well-mulched). Just to be clear, the herb you’re looking for is Aloysia triphylla (not to be confused with a common flowering plant, also called verbena). GREG