- Hide menu

Lemon Balm Herb (Melissa)

LoadingFavoriteAdd to favorites

A lot of things in life are acquired skills. I will be honest, I am an amateur when it comes to having a green thumb. Some people are born with it (my dad for instance) and for others (like me for instance) is it possible to learn such skills.  I have watched the slow death of many plants but I am determined to cultivate success in the garden! I can learn from my past mistakes as I move forward.

lemon-balm3Health Benefits

Lemon balm is also known as horsemint and Melissa. It is a wonderful herb that has relaxing properties which are helpful for soothing frayed nerves (aids in relaxation) and is known to help improve digestion. (1)

One other cool attribute it has that isn’t health related is that it attracts bees and butterflies. Gosh, I don’t know… seeing more butterflies in my life just might increase my health by bringing on more smiles. :)

It contains both Vitamin C and Thiamin (a B vitamin) and is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect. Elaine Moore states that using it as a tea can stimulate the menstrual period in women with amenorrhea (absent or scanty menstrual periods), and is particularly useful in women nearing menopause.  She also mentions that Lemon balm can also promote detoxification by stimulating liver and gallbladder function.

What does it taste like?

Lemon balm has a slight lemony flavor, just like the name might hint at.  It’s not intense like a true lemon but it will impart a light flavor that won’t overpower culinary dishes. Next time you come across a leaf, crush it between your fingers and take a deep inhale… it has a very clean and refreshing aroma.

Culinary Ideas

There are many wonderful things actually.  Let’s start with something easy… Toss a handful of the leaves in with your smoothies to impart that light lemon flavor. Mince some leaves to throw in your next green salad. For sweet dessert recipes where you want a hint of lemon, steep the leaves in milk creams or milk. Add finely chopped leaves (1 to 2 Tbsp) to your favorite cookie, scone or muffin recipe.

Lemon Balm Tea… Place one teaspoon of fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep for a few minutes, remove the leaves and enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be warm to enjoy it, try it over ice as well.  It can help encourage a restful nights sleep, so snuggle up with a mug and wait for the sheep to line up for counting.

Mosquito Repellent

The leaves can also act as a natural mosquito repellent.  My husband suffers greatly from mosquito bites… one bite turns into a lump the size of a golf ball, so finding ways to naturally detour them from his skin always perks up my ears.  To help repel those pesky buggers, plant lemon balm in potting containers and place them in outside seating areas. It puts off a strong, incense-like odor, similar to citronella grass.   And while you are sitting there, next to the lemon balm plant, pinch off a few leaves, crush the leaves and rub them directly on your skin, you know, to all those vulnerable places that mosquitoes like to bite.

Wish to grow some Lemon Balm?

lemon-balm2If you are a first-time herb grower, this is probably one of the easiest herbs to grow and a great one to start your green thumb off with. Lemon balm is extremely aggressive. I found this out after the fact.

It will spread and take over your garden like a weed if you let it. It’s fast growing, drought resistant and reseeds itself easily. It thrives in sun or partial shade.

There are many options when it comes to pruning and harvesting lemon balm. Leaves can be harvested as needed.  It is suggested to thin the plants during the summer to help improve air circulation. Especially if you live in hot and humid weather.

To do this, simply snap a stem off from the base. You can also cut the plant nearly to ground level for the three major harvests in Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Preserve the Abundance!

As mentioned before, lemon balm grows aggressively which can be a blessing… we just have to know how to preserve it.Let’s first start by drying it. It can be dried by hanging it upside down in bunches in a dark place that has plenty of circulation. Once dried it can be stored for 1 year in glass containers in a dark, dry place.

Learn how to make my Lemon Balm and Basil Pesto (raw, vegan, gluten-free).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *