Spring The Cookbook White Peach and Lemon verbena

Monthly Recipe/Skye Gyngell’s White peach and lemon verbena

This beautiful drink takes me back to my teenage years in Sydney, to Bill and Toni’s, where I used to drink coffee and hang out with my friends. Just beyond the coffee machine were little glass bottles of wonderful Italian soft drinks, such as chinotto and fruit juices, all lined up in a row. The peach nectar, a thick, velvety, ambrosial nectar, was my favourite.

Here, I’ve flavoured fresh peach juice with lemon verbena. I love this herb’s clear, sharp, citrusy flavour and use it in many desserts and drinks. Look for peaches that are ripe without any bruises.

Makes about 700ml

6 ripe peaches
180g golden caster sugar
1 litre water
6 lemon verbena sprigs
2 little squeezes lime juice
crushed ice
sparkling water

Wash the peaches and pat dry. Put the sugar and water into a heavy-based medium pan and add the sprigs of lemon verbena. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring every so often to help the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar syrup has come to the boil, turn the heat down slightly and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the peaches to the pan and cook until tender when pierced with a knife; this will take about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

When the peaches are cool enough to handle, lift them out of the syrup and peel away the skins. Chop the flesh roughly, discarding the stones. Discard the verbena sprigs from the sugar syrup.

Now purée the peaches with the poaching syrup in a blender until smooth. It is best to do this in a couple of batches, adding a little squeeze of lime juice to each batch.

Put plenty of crushed ice into a jug and add the peach purée. I like to dilute it with a little gently carbonated water.

Extract from the cookbook Spring by Skye Gyngell published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd.