June 14 2017

Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding

What if I couldn’t buy lemons at the store? Where would I get that wonderful lemony flavoring from? The answer is Lemon Balm. It has an amazing citrus-like smell – the trick is to get the same citrus taste to come out in cooking. This Lemon Balm Pudding is flavorful and lemony. There’s only the slightest hint that the source of the flavor isn’t fruit; its an herb.

I had a few unsuccessful attempts last year at cooking with lemon balm. Nothing came out very flavorful. But for this dessert, I wanted lots of lemony flavor. At the same time, I wanted to avoid turning the pudding green. So I simmered the milk separately, and then allowed the lemon balm to steep in the milk for about fourty minutes. That let the milk soak up all the flavor, and then I was able to strain the lemon balm out.

When the pudding was done, the lemon flavor was pronounced. The next day, it was amazing. Success!

Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding
Print Recipe
A very flavorful lemony pudding, without lemons. The secret ingredient? Lemon Balm.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 40 minutes
Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding
Print Recipe
A very flavorful lemony pudding, without lemons. The secret ingredient? Lemon Balm.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 40 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Pour milk into a medium sauce pan, and slowly bring to a simmer. Once the milk is just starting to get frothy, take it off the heat. Add the lemon balm, and stir.
  2. Allow the lemon balm to steep in the milk for about 40 minutes.
  3. While the milk mixture is cooling off, combine the sugar and flour.
  4. Strain the lemon balm out of the milk. Whisk together the milk and sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Cook the milk-flour mixture on low heat.
  5. Add the egg yolks and salt, and allow the pudding to cook. Keep an eye on the pan, stirring occasionally, to keep the pudding from burning. The pudding will start to thicken, stirring more frequently as it gets thicker.
  6. Once the mixture is of about pudding consistency, take it off the heat. Pour it into serving dishes, and let it cool before serving.
  7. Top with fruit (if desired) before serving.
Recipe Notes

Lemony Lemon Balm Pudding is great the first day, but it is even more flavorful after it has had a chance to cool in the refrigerator over night. It also perfectly compliments seasonal fruit, like strawberries and mulberries.

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June 7 2017

Lemon Balm Cake with Candied Flower Syrup

Lemon Balm Cake

This mildly sweet cake tastes of flowers and lemons and sunshine. And when I say it tastes of flowers, I mean that literally. Lemon Balm cake by itself is a light lemony treat, but covering it in syrup made with chamomile flowers really makes it special! This herbal cake is a great way to use the herbs in your garden. Also, Chamomile and Lemon Balm compliment each other beautifully!

I can just imagine eating this cake with tea in a lacey white dress and hat, and feeling very refined.

Lemon Balm Cake
Lemon Balm Cake with Candied Flower Syrup
Print Recipe
A simple cake, flavored with Lemon Balm. What really makes it special is the candied flower syrup which gives it extra sweetness. It also looks pretty!
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Lemon Balm Cake
Lemon Balm Cake with Candied Flower Syrup
Print Recipe
A simple cake, flavored with Lemon Balm. What really makes it special is the candied flower syrup which gives it extra sweetness. It also looks pretty!
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 slices 10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Cake
Candied Flower Syrup
Servings: slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour an 8" round cake pan.
  2. Cream together butter, lemon balm, and sugar.
  3. Separate your eggs. Set aside the whites (preferably in the refrigerator!). Add the egg yokes and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to your butter mixture. Then add the buttermilk. You should have a thick batter.
  5. Beat your egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Fold into your batter until just combined. Do not over-mix!
  6. Bake your cake for approximately 20 minutes. When its done, the top will be a golden brown.
  7. While your cake is baking, put water and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved, and the water has partially evaporated.
  8. Once your water and sugar are slightly thickened (you want a light syrup), add your chamomile flowers. Stir to cover the flowers in syrup, and allow the syrup to cool.
  9. Pour the syrup over the cake once both have cooled. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Chamomile flowers give a syrup a lovely flavor, but you can use other edible flowers too! The orange flower in the picture is a Nasturtium. Other edible flowers include violets, and lavender.

The Lemon Balm Cake was inspired by this recipe from Magnolia Days.

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June 4 2017

Lemon Balm Iced Tea

Lemon Balm Iced Tea

There is something so refreshing about cold flavored drinks during the summer. That said, I’ve never been a fan of traditional iced tea. But this summer, I am faced with an abundance of herbs (including Lemon Balm). So I decided to try my hand at herbal teas. Lemon Balm has a light lemony flavor, and makes a great tea, hot or cold. But as it is summer, iced tea sounds better!

Lemon Balm has a relaxing effect. The sweet lemony herb is supposed to help with digestion, sleeplessness, and anxiety. In other words, it is healthy! It also grows like crazy during the summer, and makes a lovely tea. So why not make a large batch?

Lemon Balm Iced Tea
Lemon Balm Iced Tea
Print Recipe
This herbal Iced Tea is made with Lemon Balm for a refreshing summer drink. For extra flavor, add in your favorite summer fruit or a complimentary herb! Strawberries and Mint taste great with Lemon Balm.
Servings
8 glasses
Servings
8 glasses
Lemon Balm Iced Tea
Lemon Balm Iced Tea
Print Recipe
This herbal Iced Tea is made with Lemon Balm for a refreshing summer drink. For extra flavor, add in your favorite summer fruit or a complimentary herb! Strawberries and Mint taste great with Lemon Balm.
Servings
8 glasses
Servings
8 glasses
Ingredients
Servings: glasses
Instructions
  1. Fill a large saucepan with water, and heat on the stove. Once the water is simmering, take it off the heat.
  2. Immediately add the fresh lemon balm, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.
  3. Allow the tea to steep as it cools. Once it is cool, you can strain out the lemon balm leaves, and enjoy with ice!
Recipe Notes

Strawberries (and other fruit) taste great with Lemon Balm Iced Tea! Feel free to add 6-8 strawberries during the cooling process, and let them infuse the water.

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Category: Drinks | LEAVE A COMMENT
June 4 2017

Growing Lemon Balm (and what to do after!)

A sprig of Lemon Balm

Summer is here, and my hard work all spring has been paying off in the form of harvestable herbs, flowers, and vegetables! The happiest plant in my garden right now is my lemon balm. I bought this plant on a whim three years ago. Since then, the lemon-scented herb has followed me from my porch-bound apartment container garden, to the back porch of my house, to a place in my back yard. The warm winter was very kind to the plant, and now it is bushing out like crazy!

What is Lemon Balm?

Melissa Officinalis FlowerLemon Balm is named for its light lemony fragrance and taste. I can taste just a hint of mint in the leaves as well – which makes sense given that this bushy herb is related to mint.

The scientific name of the lemony plant is Melissa Officialis. Melissa is the Greek word for bee, and this plant is known to attract them! The Officialis part comes from Latin, and refers to the plant’s place in the herbalists storeroom. Don’t confuse Lemon Balm with Bee Balm, though! Despite the suspicious similarity of names, the two “balms” are different plants.

Medicinal Uses

Lemon Balm is a fairly safe and useful herb. It can be taken to help with digestion, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Some people even think it helps improve mental function!

Some people have an adverse reaction to eating Lemon Balm straight (ironically, it upsets their stomachs). I had a similar reaction the first few times I tried the herb. So I suggest trying it in tea before adding it to a salad!

Growing Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm HerbLemon Balm is a perennial herb. The lemon-scented plant will survive in many soil conditions, but prefers rich well-drained soil. Like many herbs, it does best in full sun. It also responds well to being harvested – cutting my plant back is just making it bushier!

Due to its invasive habits, many gardeners recommend keeping Lemon Balm in a pot. It will not spread via runners, so there’s no need to physically isolate it in your garden. But it will spread by seed, so it is advisable to regularly cut back your plant.

So far, my Lemon Balm is doing very well in my Zone 5 Herb Garden. It has survived being under-watered in a pot, being light deprived in a north-facing apartment, and the transition to being planted in the ground. I think its safe to say that this is one hardy herb! The only “weakness” I have noticed is that my plant droops a bit in a mid-day summer sun, but that might just mean it needs more water to get through the day. Illinois sun can be brutal!

Lemon Balm Uses

Lemon Balm Flower CakeLemon Balm makes a lovely tea, and imparts a light lemony flavor to baked goods. During the summer, you can harvest it fresh from the garden for immediate use. The herb can also be dried for use over the winter. So without further ado, here are some ideas on what to do with Lemon Balm:

  1. Lemon Balm Iced Tea – An herbal iced tea with a light lemon flavor.
  2. Lemon Balm Cake with Candied Flower Syrup – A moist lemony cake glazed with a sweet chamomile syrup.
  3. Lemony Lemon Balm pudding – A deliciously lemony pudding recipe, made entirely with lemon balm. No lemons required!
Category: Plants | LEAVE A COMMENT