Balm, perhaps better known as lemon balm, is a herbaceous perennial and member of the mint family, Labiatae, that also includes basil, rosemary, and ajuga. It is native to the Mediterranean area, North Africa and central Asia but was introduced to North America by the early colonists who used it at a culinary and medicinal herb as well as for cleaning, and making cosmetics. It has a light lemon flavor with a touch of mint and has been used to make liquers as well as wine.
Here is the recipe from the book Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines by my paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright.
Take ten pounds of sugar, six quarts of water, boil it gently for two hours; skim it well and put it into a tub to cool. Take three-quarters pound of the tops of balm, bruise them, and put them into a barrel with a little new yeast, and when the liquor is cold, pour it on the balm. Stir it well together, and let it stand twenty-four hours, stirring it often. Then close it up and let it stand six weeks. Then rack it off and put a lump of sugar into every bottle. Cork it well, and it will be better the second year than the first.
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