With Canada Day this weekend and the 4th of July soon thereafter, here is a cooling, soothing option that you and your guests can enjoy. In folk remedies lemon balm is believed to have calming effects. Check further into the aromatherapy/Alzheimer’s connection if that holds a place in your life.
Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa, (Greek for bee) belongs to the mint family, so plant it in a pot or it will take over the garden. The leaves of this perennial herb, which have a mild lemon aroma, are infused in a simple syrup before being is combined with water, soda or white wine.
John Evelyn wrote that “Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully chasing melancholy”.
Sipping it as a freshly infused tea is another option as is letting it sit in honey for several weeks and taking a spoonful to aid in relaxing before bed.
Gerarde, a classic herbalist said, “It is profitably planted where bees are kept. The hives of bees being rubbed with the leaves of bawme, causeth the bees to keep together, and causeth others to come with them.” Pliny agreed ‘When they (the bees) are strayed away, they do find their way home by it.”
You will need:
1 cup demerera sugar
1 cup agave syrup
3 cups fresh lemon balm leaves, slightly compacted in the measuring cup
1 8 to 9 inch sprig of Rosemary
3 freshly squeezed lemons, strained (or more )
3/4 cup rasperry puree
Fresh lemon balm leaves
Stop a moment before beginning to gather yourself and your intentions. Take a deep breath and shift focus into the present moment. Release your nigglies as you breath out. Repeat if needed. Invite the compassionate spirits to join you and begin.
Thank the plant life that is going into the infusion for its life force. Strip the lemon balm and rosemary leaves from their stems and take out any blemishes. Add them to the simple syrup, stir, and put the lid back on. Let the pot sit, off the heat, to infuse for about two hours or longer, if the syrup is still warm.
Strain the entire mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass jar. This will separate the herbs.
Add lemon juice and raspberries to the lemon balm-infused simple syrup and stir. Take a sip from a spoon and choose to add more lemon juice or more agave to suit your personal preferences. Sweet or puckery? It is up to you. Put the top on jar and chill until needed.
I find it easier to wait to add, water, soda or white wine until just before serving. The ratio is 1 part syrup to 3 or 4 parts mix and that just takes up too much room in my fridge. I pour the syrup into a glass when ready, add 4 parts water which should bring me to 3/4’s full n the glass. Stir and top with ice and a sprig of lemon balm and/or a couple of raspberries.
Something red to relax and enjoy on the coming holidays. I will leave the white and possibly blue up to you.