Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
Most people have heard of Lemon Balm, perhaps
grew a plot of the herb in their backyard. It is not a real show stopper,
however upon further investigating there are many unknown qualities the
“Melissa Officinalis” (a plant of the mint family) has to offer.
the history, amazingly this unassuming plant dates back to at least 2000 years. It is perhaps the plant that is
mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Early
herbalists used the plant for insect bites, believed it was good for heart
disorders, as well as for lifting the spirits. Brought over by the colonists to
America, we now have several varieties to choose from.
have found the variety “Quedlinburger Niederliegende” has the highest essential
oil content and over winters very well here in Michigan. We buy our seed from
Johnny’s Select Seeds. Germination is fairly easy, seedlings usually emerge in
7-14 days. Lemon balm is a wonderful addition to the herb garden, it is hardy
to zone 3. It produces best in fertile
soil with a pH of 5.0 To 7.0. You can
grow lemon balm in full sun or partial shade.
leaves are mild and lemony. Some of the ways we use fresh lemon balm are in
teas, beverages and salads. We dry a lot of leaves for teas for use in the
winter. This past growing season we
steeped the fresh lemon leaves and stems in organic virgin olive oil and let it
steep in the warm summer sun for weeks. Then we turned it into a healing salve
that can be used on anything from cold sores to foot care.
also experimented in making tinctures with the lemon balm leaves. Studies have shown that this herb has
sedative effect on the central nervous system, can aid with mild depression,
and can lift spirits. Teas can also be used for fighting colds, the flu,
headaches, and indigestion.
attribute of lemon balm I love is how the fresh stems look in bouquets and how
primitive the stems look when they are dry.
I gather bunches and hang them in the rafters in the shop, which offers
a nice aroma throughout the shop as they dry.
have included one of our lemon balm recipes in this article. Give it a try and
you will never look at the herb lemon balm the same.
Soothing Lemon Balm Tea
3 cups dried lemon balm tea
2 cups dried chamomile
2 cups dried lemon verbena
Mix together and store in container for future
use. Infuse 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup of
To refresh and lift spirits. Take a handful of
fresh lemon balm sprigs, clean and towel dry. Boil water and pour over lemon
balm leaves. Let cool and refrigerate. Drink liberally.
How to Dry Lemon Balm Quickly
When I am drying lemon balm for teas I use a
food dehydrator otherwise, it has
a tendency to turn black. Harvest the herb on dry, sunny days.
Look for more great recipes…..coming soon to our website!!
Karen at Country Cottage Primitives
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