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Vanilla or Herb Sugar

14 cup leaves and flowers of sweet herbs such as lemon verbena, rose geranium, lavender, mint (or one vanilla bean, split)
2 cups sugar
1 lemon, zest of, cut in strips


Gently bruise the herbs with a mortar to bring out their aromatic oils, then mix them with the sugar and citrus zest. Put the herbs and sugar in a jar and cover tightly. For the next two weeks, give the sugar a shake or stir every few days to spread the aromatic oils around and to break up any clumps. After 2 weeks, the sugar will be infused with the herb's flavor. Strain the sugar, discard the herbs and zest (you can reuse the vanilla bean or hard spices), and store, tightly covered in a cool and dry place. Will keep for up to one year. Makes a lovely gift in a jar, tied with a ribbon and herb sprig tucked in! Attach a recipe card, et voila!

Source: www.food.com