This recipe was inspired by food "up-cycling" at a few of our local restaurants. Using cucumber and citrus skins and rinds to flavor the table water in spring and summer adds just a little somethings more and makes for a truly refreshing, intriguing drink.
I wanted to see what might happen if I took it one step further, infusing the flavors of cucumber and citrus (in this case orange,) along with a hint of lemon thyme into a basic simple syrup. What I came up with is a new take on savory/sweet, herbs/fruit, vegetables/citrus in an old favorite: Italian Soda. Great for a warm summer evening! —Pastry Ninja
Start by washing your herbs, fruit, and veggies to remove any dirt and dust from the skins.
Since we're using whole ingredients, skins/leaves intact, ORGANIC INGREDIENTS ARE MUCH PREFERRED. Any toxins that can exist in the whole foods will most likely exist in the skins and leaves and can be easily transfered into your syrup... no fun.
In a medium sauce pot over low heat, combine sugar, water, and honey. Stir to dissolve.
Skin your cucumber, slice your orange into quarters, strip and lightly muddle your thyme leaves.
Turn your heat up to medium and add cucumber skins, orange 1/4, and thyme leaves to the sugar water.
Bring your mixture to a medium simmering boil and cook until the syrup goes transparent (about 2 minute). Let the mixture cool 2 minutes.
Strain the cooked syrup through a fine wire sieve to remove large solids and whole pieces then again through layered cheese cloth to filter out any remaining particulates.
This syrup can be canned via a traditional boiling method and will keep, once opened for 3 - 4 weeks in the fridge.
Orange, Cucumber & Lemon Thyme Italian Sodas
Frost your glasses in the freezer 1 hour prior to using them.
Fill glasses half way with ice and a few cucumber shavings.
Top ice with your simple syrup and limonciello [optional] then fill with sparkling water. Garnish with an orange slice.
Serve on a warm, breezy summer evening, garnished with friends and family!