Lemon Balm Bonanza
Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2012
I have a bumper crop of lemon balm. A bounty, a bonanza, a bush-sized plant. I’m figuring out ways to use it in my cocktail creations. I made ice cubes in this spiffy tray I found in Tokyo, by laying sprigs of lemon balm in each cubby, and covering them with water. Some of the leaves didn’t sink and get completely covered with water. But they stayed bright green, and still looked attractive after their night in the freezer. A true cocktail geek might be judgy about my cloudy cubes. I keep reading about how to make crystal clear ones, and with a simple home freezer, it sounds like a too-much-extra-work process.
Next up is some lemon balm simple syrup. I’ll bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil with an ample handful of lemon balm sprigs. As soon as the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat, and let the lemon balm infuse some more while it cools. Remove the lemon balm before storing the syrup in your fridge. There are a bunch of splendid ways to use herbal infusions.
My third project is creating lemon balm scented sugar. One recipe said to dry the leaves overnight on racks. Well many of the leaves started to turn black as they dried, which isn’t going to work. No one wants to find a black leaf in their sugar, even if it smells heavenly. Now I’m layering fresh leaves between layers of sugar, to see if the leaves dry closer to their original green. I’ll keep you posted.
And if you have any more suggestions of ways to use lemon balm, I’d love to hear about them.