To make your own scented sugar, you need a clean glass jar. As there will be no heat processing later, I prefer to sanitize my jars in boiling water and let them dry completely before use. The jar in my pictures is huge, because we were making bottles of rose sugar and lavender sugar to give as favors for a party, but you can use any size. This jars was too big to easily submerge in the water, so we poured a little room temperature water into the bottom to prevent cracking, poured the boiling water in on top, then heat dried the jar with a blow drier.
Pour a third of your sugar into the jar, then add half of your plant material (use approximately 2 tablespoons of dried leaves or flowers, or spices to each cup of sugar; 1 fresh rose or 3 fresh leaves to a cup of sugar).
Layer sugar over the plant material, then add the rest of the plant material over the sugar layer, and top with the rest of the sugar. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar and secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band. Place the filled jar in a sunny window (the heat will help release the plant oils into the sugar). Make sure to shake the jar once a day to prevent clumping. This is especially important if you are working with fresh plant material, as the moisture from the plant will be imparted to the sugar. (SEE NOTE)
Your scented sugar will be ready in about three weeks. Sieve out the plant material and store in a decorative container.
If you prefer, plant material can be buried in your sugar jar and sieved out as the sugar is used.
Ideas for plant materials to choose include:
edible flowers, such as roses, lavender and violets (make sure they are food grade and unsprayed)
scented geranium leaves (likewise, unsprayed)
spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom
citrus peel (which has been allowed to dry for a day)
The sugar usually stays white, so if you are giving it as a gift, make sure to label it so that the recipient will know what flavor it is. This is also a great time to add a gift tag with a recipe or suggested uses for the scented sugar.
Scented sugar is excellent stirred into tea or coffee. It can add a subtle fragrance to baked goods, working especially well with light-flavored choices such as sugar cookies and pound cakes, which provide a backdrop while letting the sugar's flavors shine through. Scented sugars also go well in syrups for fruit salads, and in fruit desserts such as poached pears.
I sometimes use it as a base flavor when making jam. The last time I did this, I used Vanilla Scented Sugar to make a Vanilla Strawberry jam. I took the vanilla beans that had been buried in the sugar and cut them open so I could scrape the seeds into the jam mix. Then I added a couple tablespoons of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. This resulted in a bright strawberry top note, with a cool vanilla undertone.
If packaged as a gift, scented sugars can become an elegant gesture. Served at a party, they can be a conversation starter. And for yourself, scented sugar can be a way to add a special touch to your day. So make a batch using your favorite flavors.
NOTE: Some sources recommend placing the jar in a cool, dark place rather than a sunny window. I find this results in a less intensely flavored sugar.