Bee Balm Petals

Monarda didyma / scarlet bee balm in the writer’s garden, July 2022

This morning, I tasted, for the first time, bee balm petals. I have had parts of the plant in teas, salads, and stews before, but the petals on their own are a surprising delicacy. Pollinators can’t be wrong. I give them credit. It is one of the best tastes ever! A bit like honey, orange blossom, vanilla, vanilla sugar, Mediterranean herbs and rose, but still somehow its own. It lends itself as an exquisite topping for desserts — particularly harmonious with strawberries and crisper fruits — , baked goods, pancakes, ice creams, plant-based ice creams… In the sweetness, there is a light note that is almost as refreshing as mint. But I wouldn’t compare bee balm petals to mint. Mint is zesty, assertive and cooling; while monarda petals are sunnier, more complex, more floral in comparison. 

What a fabulous ingredient for recipes.

Bee balm petals also have that attractive saturated colour. So try sprinkling some petals on dishes that need that little extra oomph.

Bee balm petals compliment sweet and semi-sweet dishes a bit more than savoury and salty dishes (by all means, try all these combinations, they all could be great!) — because the honey-like flavour and the hints of vanilla will enhance what is already sweet in the ingredients. The petals will also combine well with cinnamon.

9 July 2022 

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