This summer we grew a small herb garden and grew ingredients for small craft scratch brews and other kitchen essentials. We have lavender, chamomile, coriander, fennel, and peppers.
Coriander can be used in cooking for homemade hummus and falafel, in sautés, and sometimes even on plain pasta.
Coriander is cilantro that has gone to seed so if you are a lazy gardener this is the plant for you! Coriander that isn’t fully dried tastes bitter so once you have picked your seeds be sure they dry completely. We live in Seattle so our coriander was ready to be harvested in early September.
Brewing: The seeds are a traditional ingredient in Belgian White beers and holiday ales. They have a sweet, clovelike flavor. The fresh leaves have a strong, distinctive scent and flavor used as a regular ingredient in Mexican and Chinese cooking. Use from one sprig to one ounce of fresh leaves or 1/4 to 2 ounces of seeds at the beginning of the boil for flavoring. (The Homebrewer’s Garden pg.73)
Lavender- If you ask my mom what CAN’T lavender do!? And she’s not the only one, lavender is known for its relaxing qualities as well as its gentle smell.
Cut the leaves and flowers 6 inches below the flower spikes just as blooms open.
Lavender has a history as a brewing ingredient dating back to at least to the 1600s. It contributes a complex bitterness much like that of heather. Use 1/2 ounce of fresh or dried flowers late in the boil. The flowers can also be used for dry hopping (The Homebrewer’s Garden,pg.86)
Chamomile has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.
Harvesting: You’ll harvest the flower heads at their peak and dry them whole. After they are completely dry, you can crumble them up to store them. No stems and no leaves. OR You can use chamomile fresh by keeping dried herbs as whole as possible. Crushing/crumbling releases the volatile oils and there goes the flavor and medicinal value. You can crush as you use the herb.
Brewing: Mild when stepped, it begcomes bitter when boiled. Use 1/4 to 2 ounces of fresh flowers at the end of the boil for bitterness. (The Homebrewer’s Garden, pg.71)
This is the most obvious beer ingredient in our summer’s bounty. Hope growing in the Pacific Northwest is a proud tradition dating back to the late 19th century. We got our start from our landlord and neighbor. He had some old hop variety in his garden that wasn’t growing, so he gave us some of our own to try out. In a matter of weeks we had a growing thriving hop plant in our yard.