Prospect Farm has been fortunate to have a great crop of herbs growing in our raised beds, containers, and interspersed here and there in the in-ground growing plots between tomatoes or kale plants. Before I left the farm after our work day yesterday, I snipped some several sprigs of what I thought was mint, but turned out to be lemon balm.
If you’re not familiar with lemon balm, it’s an herb in the mint family that looks quite a lot like spearmint but has a delicate lemony fragrance and flavor. When I was growing up it grew like a weed around our house, but we rarely used it except for an occasional garnish on a glass of iced tea. But there is much more you can do with lemon balm. It’s lemony-minty flavor makes it perfect for refreshing beverages and cocktails, like the Honey Lemon Balm Spritzer, Lemon Balm Martini or the ridiculously good-sounding Rhubarb Lemon Balm Spritzer.
Here’s our own recipe for Lemon Balm Simple Syrup. As the name suggests, it’s an incredibly easy way to try out lemon balm and has many uses: stir into carbonated water to make a soda, add to lemonade or iced tea, use as a mixer in cocktails, or drizzle onto vanilla ice cream.
LEMON BALM SIMPLE SYRUP
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
6 sprigs lemon balm
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves completely, about one minute. Remove from heat. Immediately add lemon balm sprigs to the mixture, pressing gently on leaves with a spoon to muddle them a little. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes, then strain the syrup into a glass jar. Store in the fridge up to two weeks.
Note: This recipe works well with a number of herbs, including mint, lavender, and rosemary.