There are a number of uses for lemon balm: it can be infused in oil, used in tea, or dried for cooking and crafts. Lemon balm can also be frozen in ice cubes.
Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis) is part of the mint family. Like many mints, it grows robustly and is best grown in zones 4-9. Lemon balm spreads by seed, not by runners, so it is not as invasive as other mints.
Clipping the herb back can control it when it flowers. It will reach approximately 1 1/2 feet in height and will add a lemon aroma wherever it is planted. Lemon balm that is shaded during the hottest part of the day will have deep green leaves and a stronger aroma.
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In full sun, or poor soil, lemon balm leaves become yellow and lose their strong scent. Lemon balm makes a beautiful, aromatic addition to herb gardens and has many uses including teas, cooking, crafts and personal care.
Related: 29+ Different Types Of Mint Plants With Pictures (Identification Guide)
Harvesting and Preserving Lemon Balm
When harvesting lemon balm, always cut the lemon balm at least four inches above the ground. Be sure to leave several leaves on the plant to prevent it from dying.
After harvesting lemon balm, rinse it immediately and dry it or freeze it. Lemon balm is best dried in a dehydrator away from sunlight. To freeze lemon balm, place it in ice cubes for a special treat in summer beverages.
Making Lemon Balm Oil Infusions and Uses
Lemon Balm can be infused into oil quickly and easily at home. These oils are wonderful for treating mild depression, insomnia, or in everyday personal care products to prevent the spread of viruses.
To make a lemon balm herbal oil infusion at home, chop the lemon balm and place it in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover the lemon balm completely with olive oil or other carrier oil. Vegetable oils work well and are often more economical than carrier oil purchased specifically for skin care, such as jojoba oil.
Allow the lemon balm to infuse into the carrier oil for at least 2 weeks shaking it daily. At the end of two weeks strain the lemon balm from the oil infusion to prevent mold. Label the lemon balm oil and store it in a cool, dark area. Lemon balm oil uses include using it directly on the skin or as a base for creams or ointments. Lemon balm is also used as a conditioner for oily hair.
Lemon Balm Uses in Tea and Cooking
Dried lemon balm can be useful in cooking. Dried and ground it makes a wonderful addition to sauces, stuffing, root vegetables, chicken, and fish.
Dried lemon balm makes a good substitute for the flavor of lemon in recipes when there is no lemon on hand. The lemon balm oil infusion prepared above can also be used in cooking if the oil is refrigerated properly.
Dried lemon balm also imparts a wonderful flavor into herbal tea. As an herb it is gentle and relaxing. It is good alone, or to add flavor to less palatable herbs in making tea.
Dried Lemon Balm Uses in Crafts
The dried leaves add a lemon aroma to craft projects. Lemon balm is a nice addition to potpourri kept in the bedroom or crafts used in the bedroom, such as sachets and sleep pillows, because of it’s gentle calming nature.