Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Anise Hyssop - Mini Herb of the Week

I have posted about this plant before, but since it is one of the plants we will have at the Plant Sale for the Garden Club of Villa Park, I thought I would focus on it once more.

This flowering plant has spikes of lavender florets that bloom all though summer.  It is a great nectar plant for bees and butterflies and a must for a native garden or pollinator garden.

The mint-like leaves have toothed edges that taste and smell like licorice with a bright almost minty edge to the overall flavor.

To Grow

Anise Hyssop grows very well from seed, but if you want a long flowering version the first year, you want to get a nursery plant.  It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.  It likes a moderately moist, well-drained soil that is high in fertility.  You will want o spread compost around the base of mature plants in spring to give them a nutritional boost.

The plant blooms beginning in June and will continue all the way into September.  The flowers stay fresh and lively on the plant for up to 4 weeks.  They are a medium purple, shaped like little ears of corn.  To grows quickly and can gain 2 feet of height in just two months, so plant it with some space to expand.  It is a perennial so it will come back year after year to spread it glory and attract those butterflies.

To Use

Make a wonderful chilled astringent by steeping a Tablespoon of crushed leaves and flowers in a half-cup of boiling water. Leave covered until cool, then add the strained liquid to 1/2 cup of witch hazel extract.  It will act as an astringent to tighten pores if splashed on your face after washing and before moisturizing.  You can make a batch and keep it in the refrigerator for a week.

Black Bean Salad with Anise Hyssop

Minced Anise hyssop leaves emphasize the nutty flavor of black beans.  You'll want to make this salad just before you serve it so the black beans do not discolor all the other ingredients.

2 cups cooked back beans, rinsed if canned
1/4 pound cooked green beans, cut into one inch pieces
1 medium red or yellow tomato, chopped fine
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbls fresh onion or garlic chives, minced
1 Tbls anise hyssop leaves, minced
1 tsp anise seed
1 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine both beans, tomato, shallot chives, anise hyssop and anise seed.

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar and oil.  pour over the bean mixture and toss well to combine.  Serve in a nest of lettuce leaves immediately.

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