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Tag Archives: Beverages with Herbs

Master of the Woods

Sweet Woodruff

If the title sounds like the name of a new novel, continue reading for a charming introduction into an often-forgotten herb, sweet woodruff – Waldmeister (Galium odoratum formerly known as Asperula Odorata.) According to German folklore it is known by many sources as master of the woods. Delving deeper into its history and uses, you may want to obtain some quickly for a refreshing sip of Maiwein to celebrate May 1st.

In the edible landscape we chose sweet woodruff because it is an ideal herb to use for planting under trees and along shady walkways. With its whorls of emerald green leaves and white starry flowers, it is a welcome sight in late spring while the foliage is attractive all season long.

Sweet woodruff prefers a rich, loamy, well-drained slightly acidic soil but tolerates both sandy and heavy, alkaline clay soils. The shady side of our hügelkultur bed provides it with an optimum growing environment. It typically grows to about a foot tall and spreads indefinitely by stringy yellow underground runners. In our Zone 8 climate it is considered an evergreen. A light covering of mulch this winter helped it survive during the freeze.

The German name, Waldmeister (master of the woods), reflect its habitat, the common name bedstraw, applied also to other members of the genus, refers to its use. During the middle ages it was used as a fragrant strewing herb and mattress filling. When dried, the leaves smell pleasantly of new-mown hay, honey and vanilla. 

Maiwein Garnished with Strawberries

Today, sweet woodruff is probably best known as an ingredient of German May wine. It is traditionally drunk on May Day both to welcome the season and as a spring tonic. Follow this simple recipe for a refreshing sip of an historical beverage. The recipe was taken from a German Culture website which specified that only the tender, young leaves should be used in this drink, before sweet woodruff is in bloom. As you can see from the photograph, our sweet woodruff fits that description, so we are ready to enjoy a glass of Maiwein on Saturday, May 1st!

Sweet Woodruff Wine


1 bottle dry German Riesling

7 sprigs young sweet woodruff


Tie the stems of the woodruff with a string and stuff it into the opening of the wine bottle, leaving the string outside the bottle. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes. Remove the bunch and serve the wine chilled. Note: Germans like to garnish the Maiwein with fresh strawberries and mint.

Here is a link to a wonderful recipe for Creamy Maiewien cake:

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Garden Water…Herbal Infusions and Flavors

Infused Herbal Water

No matter the season, there’s always work to be done in the garden. Seasonal challenges many times involve weather related temperature extremes serving as the determining factor. In north central Texas, we typically get socked in with sweltering temperatures mid June to early September. This week is no exception. The forecast is for temperatures over 100°. Our weather forecasters have advised caution for any type of outdoor activity. Staying hydrated is of supreme importance as we are reminded to drink lots of water. 

While doing those garden chores, how about some fresh ideas using herbal infusions to flavor your water? Easy to make and so refreshing, follow these simple steps for a cool thirst quencher:

Select the fruits, vegetables and herbs of your choosing

Give everything a gentle wash

Fill a pitcher with tap or filtered water

Add your preferred combination

Refrigerate and allow the fruit and herbs enough time to infuse the water

Fruit and herbs should be removed after 10 hours, or less, but continue to enjoy the water

Create a different flavor combination each day

At Raincatcher’s, taking a water break is a tasty and satisfying experience. We enjoy our time to “pause” and visit with each other. Sipping on herbal infused water gives us that refreshing lift needed to continue caring for our beloved gardens.

Thirst no more!  Here are the herbal infused waters from left to right in the picture above:

Cucumber, Salad Burnet and Borage Blossoms (Starla’s favorite)
Watermelon, Watermelon Flavored Mint
Orange Slices, Blueberries, Lemon Verbena (Linda’s Favorite)
Lemon and Lime Slices, Pineapple Sage
Strawberries, Balsamic Blooms Basil (Ann’s Favorite)
Apricots, French Tarragon

Other flavorful combinations to try:

Parsley and Lemon
Peaches and French tarragon
Cucumber and lemon thyme
Grapefruit and rosemary
Lavender and lemons
Oranges and sage
Strawberries, blueberries and mint

Look for seasonal inspiration in your garden and be creative with your combinations.

Linda Alexander

Photo by Starla Willis

Note: When using borage flower heads for culinary purposes, pick off by grasping the black stamen tips and gently separating the flower from its green back. Sprinkle over salads, or use to flavor water and other beverages.

Refreshing Beverages for Summer’s End

There’s nothing like summer and none of us want to see beach trips, long summer nights, and  carefree days  disappear. The only cure I know is to extend the things you like about summer. Drink it up with these two herbal drinks and remember the good times!

Basil limeade


Basil Lemon or Lime Syrup:

4 cups packed fresh basil sprigs

2 cups sugar

4 cups cold water

9 strips of lemon or lime zest

Basil Lemonade or Limeade:

2 cups basil lemon or lime syrup

1 ¼ cups fresh lemon or lime juice

2 cups cold water

2 cups ice cubes

Fresh basil and lemon or lime zest for garnish


Prepare the basil lemon or lime syrup by bringing all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Let stand at room temperature, covered for one hour, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold (about one hour).

Strain the syrup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard solids.  Makes four cups of syrup.

Prepare basil lemonade or limeade by stirring together all the ingredients in a large pitcher.  Pour into tall glasses half filled with ice.  Garnish with basil sprigs and lemon or lime zest strips.

Note:  The lemonade or limeade (without ice) can be made three hours ahead and chilled.


Lemon Lavender Cocktail is a champagne based cocktail with a lavender aroma that will caress your palate at every sip.  Its delicate and subtle lavender flavor infused within the citrusy essence of Rometti Limoncello is the perfect drink for a relaxing time with friends and family.

.Lemon Lavendar Champagne Cocktail



2 sprigs of lavender flowers

1 oz. gin

1 oz. Rometti Limoncello

½ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice



In a cocktail shaker combine lemon juice and Rometti Limoncello.  Strip the lavender flowers from the stem and muddle them into the lemon mixer, letting them release their aromatic oil.  The longer you leave the flowers in the mixer, the stronger the lavender aroma.  Add the gin and ice and shake well.  Pour the mixer into a champagne glass and top it with champagne.  Add a lavender flower to garnish.


For more summer beverages to sip try: Basil Citrus Cooler or Lemon Verbena Tea

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