Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a perennial herb that is native to North America. It thrives in sunny locations, has long spikes of lavender flowers that generally bloom in the summer, and is a member of the mint family.
I have a large patch next to my back deck: because it grows in a “clumping” manner, it has spread out a great deal since I planted it two years ago. It is a favorite of honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
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.
I also enjoy adding the flowers to salads, and I like to combine them with different fruits as in this delicious peach jam.
Recipe for Peach and Anise Hyssop Jam
Yield: approximately 2.5 cups
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- 3 pounds ripe peaches
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh anise hyssop flowers
- 1.5 teaspoons Pomona Universal Pectin powder
- 2 teaspoons calcium water
1. Cut a small, shallow “x” in the bottom of each peach.
2. Blanch peaches in a large pot of boiling water until skin loosens, 1-2 minutes. Place peaches in a colander and run cold water over them.
3. Peel the peaches and cut the flesh away from the pits. Combine with sugar, lemon juice, and anise hyssop flowers in a large bowl and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Add calcium water and pectin and mix well.
4. Transfer fruit mixture to a large heavy pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 20 minutes,. Stir briskly at first to dissolve the pectin, then, stir occasionally until the jam reduces and thickens.
5. Skim any foam from the surface of jam, then ladle into sterile 1/2 pint jars (I wash and dry mine in the dishwasher). Wipe rims, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
–Winnie Abramson writes the organic gardening and food blog Healthy Green Kitchen.
Photo credits: Winnie Abramson