I love this perennial.
It has taken a few seasons to figure out what it wanted (or didn't want); some plants sadly withered away and never returned the following year. The kind folks at a local organic nursery explained how to care for it; since then, this no-nonsense perennial returns and brings bees and butterflies with it. (In short, it doesn't like direct watering or to be in close proximity to other plants...which is challenging in a narrow urban garden.)
We got a fair amount of flower blooms and once it started to die back this fall, some beautiful leaves that are gently dried and turned into this Monarda (Bee Balm) Oxymel. Oxymels are the ancient preparation of herbs using honey and vinegar. This preparation is awesome for stubborn thick coughs.
Bee Balm Oxymel
- Fresh or Lightly Dried Bee Balm (or Rosemary, Thyme or Oregano)
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Local Raw Honey
Roughly chop herb and place in jar. If using fresh, fill the jar; dried, 1/2 to 3/4 full is good. Fill the jar half way with honey and other half vinegar. Stir well using a wooden chopstick or spoon. Use a plastic lid to seal the jar; or use a piece of wax paper with metal lid. The vinegar will corrode the metal lid and make your oxymel unusable.
Continue to stir for a few days until you see ingredients have incorporated. Let the jar sit for at least two weeks to a month; shake or stir every once in a while. The herbs can be strained out or left in.
Label jar with date and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. If you don't use it for sickness; try it as a marinade or salad dressing!