Believe it or not, the mint family has over 6,000 species. Lemon balm is a part of this family, and like the many varieties of mint popular in the US, it grows rapidly and perennially in a wide range of conditions. For this reason, growing members of this family will provide you with ample quantities, sometimes even more than you know what to do with.
Making a simple tea by pouring boiling water over a cup of the leaves and letting it steep for several minutes, is popular all over the world. This tea is not only tasty and soothing to the mind and gut, but it also is rich in antioxidants.
One way to sweeten the tea and add even more of the mint flavor is to create a syrup with those leaves. But there are also so many other uses for simple syrup, ranging from being served on breakfast foods, to fruit salads, ice cream, in cocktails and more.
One cocktail I really enjoyed with this syrup was with homemade cucumber vodka and a lemon balm/cucumber/lime ginger bug soda. Quite a refreshing August drink! Full recipe to be posted soon. (Update: here’s the cocktail recipe with the link to the ginger bug recipe.)
This recipe will make around 6-7 oz. of syrup and, once cooled, will store well in an 8 oz. woozy bottle in the fridge.
- 1 cup of filtered or distilled water
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- ~50g lemon balm or mint leaves of choice (stems removed)
1.) Combine the lemon balm, water, and sugar in saucepan and set to high heat until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently
2.) Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.) Remove the leaves. Allow about 30 minutes to cool, then run the syrup through the fine mesh strainer into a storage container or, using the strainer and bottling funnel, into a sauce (woozy) bottle.
In a fridge, the syrup will last for months but some syrups can begin to crystalize over time.