Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For the Love of Lemon Balm

So sweet in the spring
Melissa officinalis aka: Lemon Balm is a wonderful and versatile member of the mint family.  I have it growing throughout the yard for it's beauty, hardiness and sweet lemon fragrance.  

Unlike most mints, lemon balm tends to form clumps rather than runners and so is much easier to contain than others.  However, if left to go to seed you may find starts all over your yard & garden.  To avoid this, simply cut it back when it blooms before seeds are produced.

Why add lemon balm to the garden?  
Lemon balm is a great addition to perennial borders, amongst your herb bed and even in the veggie patch.  One wonderful feature of this citrus scented herb is the way it attracts honey bees into the garden and every gardener knows, bees are the best pollinators.  Along with it being a lure of bitty buzzers, the shiny green foliage provides a nice frame for fancy flowers like dahlias and roses.

What can you do with lemon balm?
This special mint is known to be calming and soothing to the nerves as well as being full of antioxidants.

Tea Time
The most common use for it is as a tea.  Just add a large handful of fresh leaves in hot, but not quite boiling water.  Let it steep for several minutes then remove the leaves and sip away.  Add honey for a sweeter treat.

It's said that rubbing the leaves on exposed skin will help prevent mosquito bites although I haven't had a lot of luck with this, but it does make you smell lemony fresh!

Substitute lemon balm in any recipe calling for mint or lemon juice for a tangy flavor twist.  Mojitos made with lemon balm have a nice lemon/lime flavor. 

In the springtime pinch out some of the young tender leaves and add to a salad for a punch of flavor.

A bowl of lemony goodness and good for you too!
My absolute favorite use for lemon balm is a twist on my "world famous" fresh summer salsa!  Here's my recipe.....

Finely chop the following:
  • 1 large tomato [or use 1-2 romas or a handful of sweet cherry toms]
  • 1-3 fresh jalapenos peppers [remove seeds and veins]
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic [garlic in a jar it has an odd flavor in this dish]
  • A handful of lemon balm leaves
  • A handful of cilantro leaves
  • Juice from 1 fresh lime 
Combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to sit for at least an hour for flavors to meld.  There's one last item to really give the salsa a nice kick and a full bodied flavor.  My secret ingredient:
  • 1 small can of El Pato tomato sauce with jalapeno

More recipes:
Here's some more lemon balm recipes I found for everything from cocktails to dessert to perfume....


What a fantastic addition to the home and garden.  Now you can see why I love Lemon Balm!


  1. I fell in love with lemon balm this spring. I planted some in the front yard, and some in a pot. It smells so wonderful, I hope it takes off. Thanks so much for this post! I had to laugh when I saw this on your blog today, I was going to post about it too - huh, small world! Peace. :)

  2. I have lots of lemon balm but never thought of using it in food now that cake sounds interesting :) thanks for the tips...

  3. I've grown lemon balm mainly for drinking simply as tea, but I have never cooked with it. Ice-cream has been on my mind for a while, but you've shared so many other recipes - so thank you so much for sharing these. I know i'll be making some of them.

  4. Michelle - you know what they say, great minds think alike ;0)

    Melissa - I was pleasantly surprised by the number of recipes I found online when looking up lemon balm.

    Mangocheeks - MMMM lemon balm ice cream sounds yummy. Let me know if you find a good recipe for that!


Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear what you think!


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