Fruit Salads: Add a few Tablespoons of chopped lemon balm leaves to fruit salads to impart some lemony flavor without making it sour or too tart. Also, try mixing some chopped leaves with yogurt to use as topping for fruit salads.Use lemon balm leaves, only the small ones in salad dressing. This dressing is wonderful for all leafy greens or cucumber salads as well as over boiled eggs and as a topping for fish. I use 1 pint sour cream, about 1/2 cup buttermilk, or yogurt, lemon juice to taste, a pinch of sugar and salt, freshly ground pepper, stir together to make a creamy dressing. Adjust to your taste. Then add lots of chopped fresh herbs: lemon balm, parsley, chives, dill, young leaves of sorrel and borage and any other spring herb you can find.
Infused Vinegar: Fill a jar half full with fresh leaves, top with white wine vinegar (champagne vinegar is nice too) and seal. Place in a cupboard for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain and bottle the vinegar. Use in salad dressings, chutney, even fresh salsa for a delightful hint of lemon.
Use lemon balm in anything you’re cooking. just the right amount of ‘wow, what did you use’ Roasted Chicken: Mix 2 Tablespoons of chopped lemon balm with 1/4 cup of softened butter. Rub this mixture under and on top of the skin of a whole chicken prior to roasting. Toss a handful of the leaves in the cavity prior to cooking too. Try this with fish!
Put it in iced tea! Pick a handful and put it in pitcher with sugar and pour hot brewed tea over it. Then pour over ice. It’s so refreshing
Use it in lemon cake! The green flakes is so pretty in the cake and tastes so good!
Lemon Balm is very good in relieving agitation in patients suffering with Alzheimers/dementia. Also good for anxiety.
Use lemon balm to ward of mosquitoes. Infuse the plant in olive oil and allow it to set for three to four weeks, turning it end over end a few times each week. Once the plant is infused into the oil, pour into a spray bottle and spray on open skin (do not get on clothing…it is an oil, so it will stain the clothing). Another way is dab the oil onto your skin with cotton balls, but this takes awhile.
Dried For Tea: it has a multitude of uses like fighting colds & flus with its antiviral properties and using it for its calming effects on the nerves. It is recommended for drinking it as tea.
Smoothies: Lemon balm does indeed have a lemony flavor. It’s not intense or tart like lemons but the light flavor is great in a number of different culinary dishes. Toss a handful of the leaves in with your smoothies to impart that light lemon flavor. Try it with frozen pear chunks, the end of last summer’s shredded and frozen zucchini, and a handful of lemon balm.
Simple Syrup: 1 Cup of packed lemon balm leaves – 1 Cup of Water – 1 Cup of Sugar. Bring to a boil, for 1 minute until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 30 minutes. Strain the leaves from the syrup. Store the syrup in the refrigerator. Use to sweeten lemonade and iced tea. Pour into club soda for Italian sodas or mix with club soda and vodka or whiskey for a summery cocktail.
Infused Honey: Just like making mint infused honey – pack a jar half full of lemon balm leaves, fill it with honey. Let sit for a month before straining and use the honey to flavor tea, desserts, and more.
Cordial: This is not intended to be a medicinal tincture, though without the sugar it could be, this is simply a pleasantly sweet and lemon flavored adult beverage. Fill a clean glass jar half full with packed fresh lemon balm leaves. Fill the jar with vodka (use the cheap stuff here). Let sit for one month in a dark cabinet, shaking when you remember. Strain the lemon balm. To the infused vodka add some simple sugar syrup to taste and bottle. Serve over ice as a pleasant dessert drink. It does turn a lovely light yellow color too, all on its own, no food coloring here.
Fresh in Jams and Desserts: When making jams, berry jams especially, toss in a handful of chopped lemon balm leaves just before putting the jam in jars and processing. It helps impart a lovely light herby flavor and often adds a wonderful texture to the final product. Fruit crisps, pies, and jam bars, all get an occasional handful of chopped lemon balm to the fruit layer for added flavor.
Lip Balm for Cold Sores: Lemon balm has been studied as an effective treatment for cold sores. Infuse the lemon balm in almond oil and add some beeswax to make a lip balm. When you feel that little tingle announcing a cold sore is coming, start applying the balm liberally.
Hey Anne, thanks for you post. Lemon balm is one of my favorites since childhood. You did not miss much, so i only have this to add.
I learned a kid struck by hayfever and the resulting headaches about lemon balm trough the use of 'eau de melisse' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmelite_Water The french wiki is far more informative.
Only later my family began to grow it. BTW the plant reacts very well to having its top leaves harvested. It reacts by forming 2 alternative shoots under the cut. Keep repeating this and you get a bushy plant full of good, fresh stuff. After the growing season you can harvest and dry the stalks for use in tisannes. During a dry spell the leaves may wither and dry. Just cut the plant down to a fresh looking part of the stem. It will probably form new shoots and be good for another year.
It's also a good plant to combine near a patio to keep musquito's away and it's great in attrackting pollinators. Another plus, it germinates well. Take the drying stalks and shake the seeds wherever it suits you. You have an excellent chance of having plants there in the following season.
I use and grow lemon balm mostly for tisannes (both dried and fresh). Dried it looses mucht of it fresh lemony taste and aroma. Fresh it does well in all kinds of drinks, deserts etc as you mention. I also use it in vinaigrettes and salads in combination with peppery tasting herbs and one or more varieties of mint.
What lovely ideas for using Lemon balm as a food item. I can add some data on how it effects the thyroid. (Not edited, as from a book I am working on and have not yet edited the endocrine chapter.)
Lemon balm ‑
Melissa officinalis in the Lamiaceae or Mint family.
Part used: Flowering herb.
Taste/Smell: Slightly lemon smell and taste, sweet, sour, aromatic.
Tendencies: Slightly warm.
Constituents: Citronellal, geraniol, geranyl acetate. isogeranial, citral, E-caryophyllene, carvacrol, flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds (including rosmarinic acid), monoterpene glycosides and aldehydes.
Dosage: Infusion: 1 tablespoon per cup of water; or 1:0.8 fresh + dry liquid extract: 10-60 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water. Juicing the plant and drinking the juice or saving it as an ice cube is the best and most clinically effective method of using this plant.
Mental picture and specific indications: Lemon balm is indicated with anxiety, restlessness, palpitations, headache, depression, hypertension and irritability associated with stress or hyperthyroidism.
Use: (a) Nervine, (b) Sedative, (c) Mild antidepressant, (d) Mild antispasmodic, (e) Vasodilating hypotensive, (f) Carminative, (g) Diaphoretic, (h) Antiviral. (i) Antianxiety, (j) Antithyroid.
The diagnostic picture for Lemon balm is one associated with hyperthyroidism. People who will be helped by this plant will present with anxiety, restlessness, palpitations, headache and irritability.
lemon balms interferes with the binding of thyroid stimulating hormone to thyroid cell membranes, inhibits iodothyronine deiodinase, thereby preventing incorporation of iodine into T4 synthesis and peripheral conversion of T4 to T3 and blocks the thyroid binding of the stimulating auto-antibodies found in Graves’ disease. 89, 90, 167, 168
Mechanisms of Action: In vitro research shows Melissa Officinalis produces a significant inhibition of antibody binding to thyroid stimulating hormone and ultimately significant inhibition of thyroid stimulating hormone binding to its receptor. This research suggests that constituents contained in Lemon balm may block both the binding of thyroid stimulating hormone to its receptor by acting on the hormone as well as the receptor. 1329 Other research has shown it interferes with the binding of thyroid stimulating hormone to thyroid cell membranes, inhibits iodothyronine deiodinase, thereby preventing incorporation of iodine into T4 synthesis and peripheral conversion of T4 to T3 and blocks the thyroid binding of the stimulating auto-antibodies found in Graves’ disease. 89, 90, 167, 168
Clinical Case or Bits of Wisdom: I have found Melissa is not as strong as Lycopus and have always used Lycopus rather than Melissa. Using it fresh was not the answer as it was for Lycopus. Although fresh Lemon balm is much better than the dry, it simply necessitated too large of a dose to make it useful to me. However Ryan Drum came up with the idea that you could juice Melissa and freeze it in ice cubes to use later. This gives you a more concentrated and more active form for clinical use. This works well for some people while others are simply annoyed at having to juice and make ice cubes.
Contraindications: It is contraindicated with hypothyroidism and in pregnancy unless used under the guidance of a qualified health care practitioner.
May You Walk in Beauty,
Sharol Tilgner ND
Sharol's books available at website
I like all your suggestions! I also grow lemon balm and one of my uses is a lemon balm salve. I infuse olive oil with lemon balm and then melt beeswax into the oil to make a salve which I use in place of neosporin. It's great and I gave some to my friend who had shingles and she loved it.
7/2/17 - about a week ago I made an infusion: Scoop 1-3 tablespoons of dried herb into a strainer or use 1 cup fresh herb. I used 1 cup fresh Lemon Balm. ~ Heat 1 cup of water until it just comes to a boil. ~ Pour hot water over herbs and cover to keep the essential oils from escaping. ~ Steep for 15 minutes to 1 hour and strain.
I did not strain mine as I wanted it to continue getting more of the herb by letting it sit out overnight and the stay in the refrigerator for a week. Then I strained it and made a tincture (if this is the right phrase.)
I took some last night and it was very calming though it did not put me to sleep.
I am making more of the Lemon Balm infusion and making some tinctures to see which is more effective.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Thanks for the recipes! Here is one of my favorites:
Lemon Balm Pesto
Puree 4 parts lemon balm (leaves and tender stems) with one part nut oil or neutral oil, and cashews or other nuts to taste. Optionally, mix some ricotta in with the puree. Serve with pork, lamb, chicken, or similar.
Jean Valnet in his aromatherapy book, gives a recipe for Chartreuse, a liquor traditionally made by monks, that includes lemon balm. Only the expensive monk version in a wooden box, that looks like it glows in the dark, is good. One drop under the tongue, a "Wood" dose named after herbalist Matthew Wood, can, possibly only for regular meditators, put one in a very deep meditative state.
I take handfuls of lots of different herbs from my garden, including lemon balm, and throw them in the cuisinart or Vitamix to make an herbal dip, which can also be drunk as a smoothie. it's great served with fresh veggies to dip in it...You can add olive oil, or a few drops of toasted sesame oil, or avocado or walnut oil if you want, or soaked raw nuts, or garlic, or spring onions. You can use fresh lemon or lime juice to further heighten the already very alive flavor....It's addictive!
"May all things move and be moved in me and know and be known in me. May all creation dance for joy within me." Chinook prayer
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