Lemon balm is an easy to grow herb that not only attracts bees to the garden, but is also a great anti-viral with relaxing properties that are helpful for soothing frayed nerves and calming overstimulated children.
Traditionally, it’s been used to gently treat colic and upset stomach in everyone from infants to elders. A leaf can be chewed to freshen the breath or crushed and placed on a bug bite to help ease the itch.
These are recipes using both dried and fresh lemon balm, as lemon balm is really easy to grow and you should definitely include it in your garden this year! It grows best in a container, as it spreads just like mint, easily taking over.
Make a sleepy time herbal syrup:
This is a delicious way to calm and relax everyone from children to adults!
- Place about 3/4 cup lemon balm leaves into a small pot and add enough water to just cover the leaves.
- Simmer, covered partially, until the liquid is reduced in half.
- Strain out & compost the leaves.
- While still quite warm, measure out about 1/2 cup of the concentrated tea and stir 1/4 cup raw honey into it.
- Add more honey to taste, if you wish.
- Store in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
- Dose by the spoonful at night to help calm and relax.
Note: You can make larger or smaller batches – keeping a ratio of about 2 parts lemon balm infusion to 1 part honey.
Make a lemon balm bug spray:
A wonderful way to help use up some of my abundance of lemon balm and other herbs!
- Gather a handful of fresh or dried lemon balm leaves plus a generous pinch each of basil, catnip and mint.
- Stuff a glass jar full of the herb leaves (if fresh) or half a jar (if dried), then pour witch hazel extract over them, almost to the top.
- Cap the jar and set it in a cool, dark cupboard for a week or two. Strain and store out of heat and light.
- When you’re ready to mix up a fresh batch of spray, fill a small glass spray bottle or mister half way with the infused witch hazel. You can buy the little bottles from SpecialtyBottle.com.
- Fill the rest of the bottle with water, but not quite to the top.
- At this point, I add a few drops of essential oil, to boost the spray’s power.
- 1 drop basil essential oil
- 1 drop citronella essential oil
- 1 drop lemongrass (or lemon eucalyptus) essential oil
- Screw the spritzer top onto the glass bottle and shake well.
- Spritz on and around you as needed for bug control, shaking thoroughly before each application. We’ve found this exact combination will last an average of one to two hours before needing to be reapplied, but that will also depend on your particular body chemistry and how heavy the bug load in the area is.
- Once you’ve mixed up a batch with water, store in the refrigerator and use within 1 week. The remaining undiluted witch hazel will last about six months.
Chop fresh leaves and sprinkle on salads or in baked foods and goods:
Drizzle the salads with honey or a dressing and garnish with lemon balm.
Make a rub for roast chicken with olive oil, lemon balm, sage, oregano, salt and pepper.
Try adding finely chopped leaves (1 to 2 TBSP) and lemon zest (a pinch) to your favorite scone or muffin recipe.
Make Lemon Balm Ice Cubes
Fresh leaves can also be frozen in ice cubes to dress up a summer beverage.
Make a glycerite:
Glycerites are a sweet way to dose herbal medicine without the alcohol that regular tinctures contain. Herbal infused glycerin can also be used as an ingredient in lotions, toners and aftershave recipes.
Make a lemon balm glycerite:
Glycerites are a sweet way to dose herbal medicine without the alcohol that regular tinctures contain.
- Fill a jar with lemon balm leaves.
- Cover with a mixture of 3 parts vegetable glycerine to 1 part water.
- Cap and let this sit in a dark place for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Dose is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed to relax and calm.
- Store in your refrigerator for several months.
Make a relaxing, tummy soothing tea:
Lemon balm tea is soothing and safe for almost anyone!
- Fill a jar with lemon balm leaves.
- Pour simmering hot water into the jar then cover the top with a saucer so that none of the vapors escape.
- Let steep until cool enough to drink. Sweeten to taste & enjoy!
Make a relaxing bath:
A great way to relax and rejuvenate!
- Fill a bath bag with lemon balm leaves and rose petals.
- Hang from the spigot and let the water run through as the tub fills.
- For even more relaxation, try throwing a cup of Epsom salt into the tub as well.
- (No bath bags handy? Try a thin white sock with a knot tied at the top.)
Make a ginger & lemon balm cold syrup:
This Ginger & Lemon Balm Syrup is a ramped up version of a basic ginger syrup, with lemon balm added for its extra antiviral properties.
- 1/4 cup chopped, fresh lemon balm leaves (or 1/8 cup dried lemon balm)
- a 2 inch (5 cm) section of fresh ginger root, peeled & chopped
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) simmering hot water
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) raw honey, or more to taste
- Place the chopped lemon balm leaves and ginger root into a heatproof 8 oz (half-pint) canning jar. Pour the simmering hot water over the herbs, cover with a saucer and let steep for around an hour. Strain the resulting tea.
- Pour the 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into a 1/4 measuring cup and then fill it the rest of the way with strained lemon balm/ginger tea. (If you’re allergic or can’t use lemon juice, just omit it and use more tea in its place.)
- Combine the tea & lemon juice combination with 1/4 cup of raw honey and stir well. Don’t heat the honey or it will lose some of its beneficial properties, so just keep stirring until it all combines.
- Cap, label and store the finished honey in your refrigerator for around 2 weeks. Stir before each use.
Make candied lemon balm leaves:
These are delicious and can be added to baked goods or just eaten straight!
- Beat an egg white with a tiny bit of water.
- Dip lemon balm leaves in the mixture, then dip in sugar.
- Lay the coated leaves on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven until the leaves look dry, but not browned.
- Check after 20 minutes and every 5 to 10 after that.
- Add to bakes or simply enjoy!
Make an herbal water:
This subtly flavored water is so refreshing on a hot summer day!
- Fill a jar with lemon balm leaves and a thinly sliced lemon.
- Pour in hot water until it reaches the top and then let cool.
- Refrigerate for several hours and garnish with fresh leaves and lemon when ready to serve or with lemon balm ice cubes.