Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Herbal Flavors-Part 1: Lemon Balm Honey
In this summer months series on flavoring food with herbs, I will begin with a lemon balm honey which is super easy to prepare and can be made with many different herbs such as lavender, thyme,rosemary, lemon verbena,cinnamon basil, scented geraniums and many others. Herbs are abundant during the summer months-perennials, such as lemon balm and chives, having slept through the winter and coming into abundance now that the warm weather is here and annuals,like the many basils and cilantro,ready for the heat of the season to thrive.
Honey has been used as a sweetener for thousands of years long before sugar was available. Honeys can have many different flavors dependent upon which flowers bees have visited while gathering nectar.Single flavor honeys are more difficult to produce, hence are more expensive. However, you can create a very good single flavor honey in your own kitchen with a good basic honey and a few chosen herbs.
Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis) is a hardy perennial bush which grows to about 24 inches with serrated, lemon-flavored leaves and is one of the most popular tea herbs. It is excellent in salads, fruit dishes, chicken, fish, tea and summer beverages. Lemon balm marries well with other herbs such as chervil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, fennel and shallots, but use very carefully with garlic.
One of the easiest and most reliable kitchen herbs, lemon balm is a vigorous plant which tolerates both sunny and partial shade conditions. When planted in late April, the plant will have 6-inch stems by mid-June and by the end of the growing season, will have a height of about 18 inches. Lemon balm dies down in late fall, but reappears the following spring, just after the chives appear. I prefer to buy plants bypassing the seed process which can be difficult as the seeds are so minute.
Lemon Balm Honey
1 cup honey
1 sprig or several leaves of lemon balm
Heat the honey gently over a low heat. Place the herbs in a clean, sterilized jar and pour the warm honey over them. Seal and allow to mellow for at least a week before using. After a week, you can strain out the lemon balm and reseal the jar.
Lemon Balm honey is very tasty over grilled pineapple and vanilla ice cream as shown in the photo below.
In Part 2 of Herbal Flavors, I will feature an herb vinegar. Stay tuned.
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.