I adore Lemon Balm it’s a fantastic herb, can never resist rubbing its leaves as I walk past and always grow it near pathways just so I can enjoy its lovely lemony fragrance. The Latin name for it is Melissa officinalis. Melissa was the goddess of bees and honey, and there’s this lovely saying that if you have Lemon Balm near your hives, you’ll never have unhappy bees.
Lemon Balm makes a great substitute for lemons peel in all sorts of recipes and as a bonus you lose the tartness of the lemon but still get the flavour and fragrance, its also magnificent for cooking with rhubarb. You know quite often when you cook rhubarb, it makes your mouth dry after? Put in a big handful of lemon balm. I actually put the stalks in as well. I tie it up with string and I put that in, and as I’m stewing my rhubarb, that removes the tartness and cuts down your sugar by about 50%.
I especially like to toss a few fresh leaves into a salad or a bowl of mixed fresh fruit or to use it in a vinaigrette for marinades and salads. It also makes great herb butter. Lemon balm makes a delicious accompaniment to fish and chicken dishes, fruits and vegetables, and even salads and drinks (it is used as an ingredient in liqueurs, such as Benedictine and Chartreuse).
Lemon Balm works well with Basil, Chives, Parsley, Mint and Dill. It is best used fresh as the process of drying it reduces the flavour. Why not try mixing Lemon Balm with Mayonnaise and adding it to freshly boiled new potatoes for a delicious lemony potato salad? Or chop the leaves and sprinkle them over grilled fish and chicken dishes?
Lemon Balm makes a great accompaniment to fresh peas, and is fantastic in a meal with new potatoes, peas and broad beans. Simply boil the potatoes until they are cooked and serve with freshly cooked peas and broad beans (if they have just been podded they only need to be boiled for just a couple of minutes). Chop the Lemon Balm and toss it together in a large pan with the broad beans, peas, potatoes and a large knob of butter. Season to taste. For more recipe ideas click here.
Lemon Balm is superbly effective for treating coldsores I make a little pot of lip balm which is handy to carry around with you.
Lemon Balm has been scientifically proven to reduce stress. It is loaded with antioxidants that protect cells from free radicals. The list of powerful antioxidants includes ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and quercetin. To find out how to use Lemon Balm medicinally and in your beauty regime click here.
The use of lemon balm goes back thousands of years to the time of the ancient Romans and Greeks. More…