Lemon Balm, a member of the mint family grows profusely all around my cinder block raised bed garden. It is the only plant that comes back every year more prolific than the last year no matter how much I neglect it and try to rip out unwanted leafy sprouts throughout the garden.
According to several authorities on herbs, lemon balm, a member of the mint family, possesses a pleasant aroma, strikingly similar to that of lemon. The herb can grow to nearly five feet tall, producing small white flowers. The Latin name “Melissa” translates to “bee,” referring to the plant’s ability to attract honeybees and other insects.
One redeeming quality of this plant is it is purported to deter deer, a home remedy I hope will work this year in reducing unwanted visits from the destructive and hungry critters.
In Europe, lemon balm is known to support calm and relaxing sleep. It has also been approved in supporting the gastrointestinal tract. In clinical trials there are reports that lemon balm supports memory and thinking skills.
As I have wondered what to do with this aggressive herb, I found a recipe for a drink concentrate made with simple sugar syrup and known for its sweet and sour minty fresh flavor. The article suggested that this medieval Middle Eastern drink would provide a better way to quench thirst on hot summer hikes and dusty drives.
With a plentiful crop of minty lemon balm already growing in my garden I wanted to try making it because there are only three ingredients, all of which were in my pantry. So for an inexpensive summer thirst quencher, try keeping a supply of this concentrate in your refrigerator or in your cooler.
Here is the recipe for Sekanjebin
4 Cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar (not Balsamic)
1 Cup whole fresh mint or lemon balm leaves
In a large suace pan, pour the sugar into 2 cups of water. Simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add the vinegar; remove from heat. Stir in the mint leaves and allow to steep for a half hour; strain. To drink, add several Tbsp to 8 or more ounces of plain or sparkling water to your taste. Garnish with lime and cucumber slices.