What is kompot/compote? It is a non alcoholic drink made with a combination of fresh fruits ( stone fruits and berries), sweetener (sugar or honey) and spice (cinnamon, clove, vanilla, etc.) It is not fermented like kvass or an oxymel. It can be served hot, room temperature or chilled. It is popular in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the former USSR. It was created to use up large amounts of fruit and in times before canning or certain types of food preservation. It is very refreshing in summer or warming in winter. It is often very lovely to look at too, ruby red is a common result.
My teens were totally willing to try this once I called it “rhubarb lemonade”. Lots of ice is really essential to the aesthetic experience on a hot summer day. It was a big hit with my family. “Leftover fruit” can be mixed into yogurt, granola, turned into a spread, put in a smoothie etc.
Rhubarb and Lemon Balm Kompot
Bring 6 cups of water to a roaring boil in a large stock pot.
Add 1 generous bunch or handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, do not chop.
Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain out the lemon balm with a slotted spoon, leave the infusion behind
3 stalks of rhubarb coarsely chopped-2 cups
2/3 cup of sugar
1 apple coarsely chopped-2 cups
6 whole crushed green cardamon pods
1 whole lemon, seeds removed and sliced.
1 tsp of finely chopped fresh ginger root, peeled first.
Reduce to low and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off heat.
Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and serve over ice.
There is no need to strain out the cooked fruit and spices. They are part of the beverage.
Lemon balm is a perennial found in the Mint family. Its many tall, auxiliary, four sided stems have very small two lipped flowers at their tips. A favorite of bumblebees these can be white, lavender or pink. The leaves are brilliant green, heart shaped/oval with a point. These are oppositely arranged with slightly serrated margins. Most members of the Mint family possess highly aromatic essential oils which repel pests. Mellissa has a unique smell of artificial lemon. This herb can grow as high as two feet tall. Easy to grow- it prefers moist, rich, well drained soil in shade or partial sun. Lemon balm grows well in pots and in most climates but can self seed and become an invasive plant. Remove volunteers/babies as they appear to prevent this.
Melissa is versatile and has a long history of use. It is cooling, calming, and cleansing. Its antispasmodic action makes it useful for treating menstrual cramps, general pain, headaches and infant colic. As a digestive it reduces indigestion and gas. High levels of the volatile oil cintronellal are helpful for depression, insomnia, restlessness, nightmares, teething, and anxiety. Lemon balm is a favorite tea with children due to its mild taste. Powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties make it popular to treat childhood illnesses, the flu, colds, and viruses in the herpes family. As an antihistamine it is useful for allergies and eczema.
Lemon balm can be applied externally on sunburn, wounds, burns, insect bites, and boils.
Medicinal Parts:leave and immature tops. Due to loss of volatile oils it is better to use it fresh or frozen rather than dried.
Energetics:sour, cool, dry
Contraindications:Hypothyroidism. If you have a bee venom allergy do not use the essential oil in homemade bug repellant as bees love the smell.
Lemon balm appears in recipes to wrap fish. It can be a substitute for basil or parsley in pesto, salsa and tabouleh. Replace it for green in salad, soups, and sauces. Try it in a jelly, curd, or butter. Slip it into muffins and other baked goods.