The Sonoran desert may be most well known to outsiders by our cactus and other injurious species of plant life, rattlesnakes, tumbleweeds, and the powerful unrelenting sun which shines about 290 days a year. In other words, a sun-soaked landscape of briary natural beauty.
But not to be reduced to the sum of its most severe parts - as many herbalists will repeat, “the medicine that is needed is growing nearby.”In the desert, remedies for the the zealous sunshine and triple digit temperatures are slimy, cooling, and emollient and they are in great abundance right here in one of the driest and hottest regions in the US.
Cactus and aloe, of course, are the most well known, with innards all slippery and slimy and perfectly suited for burns caused by overexposure to our most bountiful natural resource, the sun. The fruits of the Opuntia cactus, popularly known as prickly pear, even exhibit a refrigerant effect, helping to lower the body’s temperature so much so that over-consumption may even cause flu-like chills and residual body aches in some individuals.
But let's not stop there, lots of other plants are treasures to the dry and irritated individual in mid July….one way to determine which plant allies are there to help at this particular time of year is to look around and see who seems to be thriving in the harsh summer conditions. Hollyhocks, Palo Verdes, Desert Willows and Bouganvilleas are putting off radiant blossoms in the spring and summer. Not be outdone, of course, cacti and certain trees begin putting off fruits! If it wasn’t so familiar it would seem counter intuitive that at the most brutal time of year, so many of our luscious plant species would be flourishing!
The result is a proper cornucopia of summer vegetation to complement our most sizzling season.
This summer, I collected a few of my favorite summer allies and mixed up one of the most sumptuous syrups that I’ve tasted for Nomadica's Botánica Sonora Share. Our new Bouganvillea Cordial is an opulent companion to helados, respados, cocktails sipped on warm breezy nights, and even pancakes! This blend includes bougainvillea flowers to sooth throats and dry coughs, juicy apricots, tart lime and spicy chiltipín peppers to help to release heat, and extracts of Passionflower and Motherwort to calm the spirit and pacify the heart (the organ associated with summer according to traditional Chinese medicine, and easily over stimulated at this time of year).
I encourage anyone in search of a sweet respite to make the recipe at home and find your own favorite ways to enjoy the desert’s own Bouganvillea Cordial - and if locally crafted Sonoran remedies like this one peak your interest, treat yourself to our Botánica Sonora subscription.
(This subscription is no longer available, but read on for our delicious syrup recipe!)
The following recipe makes about a quart of syrup - plenty to share with friends!
2 hand fulls of fresh bouganvillea flower
1 cup of pitted and fresh apricots
1 fresh lime
3 cups water
1 cups local honey or organic sugar
4-6 (or more, if you like heat) chiltepín peppers
1 cup Brandy (less if you like, more will help preserve the syrup and prolong the shelf life)
Optional: your favorite nervines and heart appeasing herbal extracts (ie passionflower, motherwort, desert lavender, hawthorn berry or Mimosa bark. *Up to 1 ml of total extracts per serving depending on the suggested dosage of the herb)
Pulp the apricots by hand or in a blender and simmer with bouganvillea blossoms on low heat until the water is reduced to a third.
While the botanicals decoct, blend the chiltepíns into the brandy (you can do this in the blender for a couple seconds - OR - grind dry peppers in a coffee grinder, add to brandy in a sealed glass jar and shake well), let sit for 10 minutes and strain out particulate.
Separate the flowers and fruit from the liquid infusion and, while still warm, dissolve the sugar or honey into the mixture.
Stir in the brandy and add fresh squeezed lime juice
…refrigerate & enjoy!
*The syrup will thicken-up considerably once it is sufficiently cooled.
How would you love to enjoy this summer time syrup? Share your favorites in the comments below!