My herb garden runneth over

lemon balm

Other than make up a few batches of pesto, I really haven’t done much but admire the fragrant plants in my little herb garden.

This year I added lemon balm, although I had no idea what to do with it.  It looks alot like mint. I did rub some leaves on my stray cat because I heard the oils repel fleas and such.

At Braddock’s suggestion, I brewed up some fresh lemon balm tea and it was delightful. We added a few mint sprigs along with the brew.

tea

To brew fresh herb teas. Simmer 8 to 10 tablespoons (or more to taste) of a fresh herb such as peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm, or lemongrass in 4 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain and refrigerate for setpping iced tea, or serve hot. You can enhance herb teas by adding citrus peel or fennel seeds to the simmering water. You can also put the herb in a clear container and leave it out in the hot sun for a few hours to make “sun tea,” which is delicious iced.

Here are a few more suggestions I plan to try.

Freeze herbs: Freezing is the best way to preserve the delicate flavor of soft-leaved herbs, such as tarragon, chives, sage, and dill, when they’re at their summer peak. Using tongs to hold a few stems at a time, dip the herbs into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, then immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. Dry between single layers of paper towels, then place the herbs on wax or parchment paper, in single layers. Roll up the paper, press down to flatten, and store in a labeled and dated resealable plastic bag in the freezer. You do not need to unroll the entire roll to use the frozen herbs; just take them as you need them.

Make fresh herb vinegars. Clean some fresh herbs and pat them dry. Place individually in small plastic or glass containers. Cover the herbs with cider vinegar, red- or white-wine vinegar, or rice-wine vinegar. Seal and refrigerate for 2 weeks; strain and discard the herbs. Use herb vinegars in salads and marinades. If the herb flavor is too strong, add more vinegar to dilute.

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