I’m giving away an Imprint Comfort Mat this week. If you’d like to enter to win this great eco-friendly, anti-fatigue mat that’s perfect for the kitchen or anywhere else you stand a lot, please see this post for details. Thanks!
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a beautiful plant, a perennial herb that is native to North America. It thrives in sunny locations, has long spikes of lavender flowers that generally bloom June through September, and is a member of the mint family.
I have a large patch in my garden: because it grows in a “clumping” manner, it has spread out a great deal since I planted it two years ago. It is constantly buzzing with honeybees…
…and butterflies and hummingbirds love it, too.
Apart from it being lovely to look at (the cut flowers enhance any arrangement), anise hyssop can and should be consumed. The flowers have a very sweet licorice-like flavor, and it makes a delicious tea that is said to benefit the digestion (steep 2-3 tablespoons of bruised fresh leaves in 2 cups of boiled water for 5 minutes or so, strain and drink hot or iced).
In The Good Herb: Recipes and Remedies from Nature, author Judith Benn Hurley suggests using the tea to poach peaches, a fantastic idea I am definitely going to try.
The leaves can also be added to baked goods, including fruit tart/pie crusts, and I’ll certainly be giving this a go, as well.
I recently discovered that anise hyssop leaves make a wonderful addition to salads. Yesterday, I combined some sauteed greens with cherry tomatoes, cooked fava beans, and naturally smoked mozzarella. I drizzled on some extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, and then sprinkled it with chopped anise hyssop. Yum!
According to Hurley, anise hyssop also has some notable medicinal uses: the Cheyenne and Chippewa used the flowers and leaves as a cold and cough remedy. In a month or two, I plan to dry the leaves and then preserve them in honey to have on hand for treating illness over the winter.
More Anise Hyssop Ideas:
Blueberry Hyssop Ice Cream from Isabelle Boucher
Anise Hyssop Sauce Recipe from Chow
“Fancy” Watermelon With Chevre and Anise Hyssop from the Washington Post
Beet and Fennel Saute with Anise Hyssop from Heart of Cooking
This spotlight on anise hyssop is my contribution to this week’s edition of Summer Fest, a cross-blog food event celebrating peak harvest season. The focus this week is on beans, greens and herbs: check out the links to all the main summer fest posts here, and make sure to check out the comments section at each of the host blogs, too, for even more greens, beans, and herb recipe links!
This post is also linked to the 5th edition of Simple Lives Thursday.