Lemon Balm (also known as Melissa)
Lemon Balm is a really great, really under-appreciated herb which has great culinary and medicinal uses. This herb is native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa and has been used for over 2000 years.
A popular use of the herb is Melissa Tea. The tea is thought to cure headaches, insomnia, cold and flu, lower blood pressure and even help with indigestion. Not only is Melissa Tea helpful for many ailments but it is also a refreshing beverage.
A Lemon Balm Tincture is highly concentrated and keeps for a long time. The tincture can be added to drinks, lotions, and salves and can help with the ailments listed above and is also thought to help lower stress. The tincture can be sparingly applied directly into the mouth to help ease the pain of a tooth ache.
Lemon Balm leaves are also said to be an effective mosquito repellant! Rub the leaves on exposed skin to ward of the little blood suckers!
Lemon Balm is great when added to cakes and cookies adding a slightly tart, delicate lemon flavor to the dish. The leaves can be chopped and added into any batter or steeped in the required liquid before preparation. It can also be added to homemade sorbets and ice creams.
Lemon balm is wonderful in savory dishes and pairs well with poultry, pork and fish. It is great when added to sauces, marinades or even stuffing. Chopped leaves can be added directly into your favorite dish.
Fresh leaves can be stored in a plastic bag for several days in the fridge. Leaves can also be frozen. Leaves can be spread out to dry in a dark airy place and can then be stored in airtight containers for several months. Dried leaves do lose some of their flavor.
Please remember that when using herbs for medicinal properties you should always consult your doctor first. No medicinal qualities listed above have been proven and are only suggestions for use and should not be used in place of visiting with your physician.
Recipes – Below you will find several recipes for Lemon Balm. For printable recipe cards, click the titles of each recipe or click the Recipe Cards Tab at the top of the page.
Fresh Lemon Balm Leaves or dried Lemon Balm Leaves
Sugar, honey or other sweetener
Hot Tea – Use 2 Tbs. of fresh chopped leaves or 1 tbs. dried leaves per cup of boiling water. Place the leaves in a mesh tea ball and pour boiling water over it. Allow the leaves to steep for about 5 minutes or until desired taste is achieved. Add sugar to taste and enjoy hot.
Iced Tea – Prepare tea as above. Place tea into a pitcher and store in the refrigerator. Drink within 2 days.
Sun Tea – In a large 2 quart jar add approximately ½ cup (more or less to taste) of torn fresh lemon balm leaves. Cover leaves with cool water and seal the jar. Place in a sunny location for a few hours. Strain out the leaves, add ice and sugar as desired and enjoy.
Note- Mint, chamomile and black tea leaves make a great addition to any of the methods above.
¼ cup Dried Lemon Balm leaves Sterile Glass Jar
½ cup Vodka Dark Glass Jar with dropper
½ cup water
Lemon Balm Tincture is best made with DRIED Lemon Balm Leaves.
Chop ¼ cup of dried lemon balm leaves in a food processor or clean coffee grinder. Place the chopped leaves into a sterile glass jar. Cover the herbs with the vodka and water. Tightly seal the jar.
Allow the jar to remain covered in a cool dark place for two weeks. Vigorously shake the jar daily to help with the infusion of the herbs. After two weeks, strain out the herbs and store the liquid in a dark glass jar with a dropper. Be sure to label your jar.
Adults take 4-6 ml of the tincture daily. Remember to consult your physician when using for medicinal purposes.