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How to Cook with Lemon Balm?

 
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Lemon balm is my favorite herb.  I have use it as a tea and to make an infusion.

I don't know much about cooking with it, so I want to learn how to cook with it.

Any thoughts or suggestions for learning how to cook with lemon balm? What is it good with?



 
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Well it's a mint, but one with some distinctly citrussy notes. So I'd think you could use it in an herb blend with meats like lamb, pork, or chicken.
I think maybe if you look at eastern Mediterranean cuisine, they seem to use a lot if mint, and experiment with replacing the mint with lemon balm.
I'm gonna have to see if we have any sprouting out yet to give this a try.
Let us know if you have any success (or failures for that matter)
 
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when I've cooked with it before Lemon Balm seems to loose it's distinctive flavor/smell.  
Personally I would suggest adding at the very end of the cooking, or after.
 
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I mix dried lemon balm and mint for my winter tea. In spring and summer I just pick some of each and brew.  This doesn’t answer your question, really I’m afraid, but it’s what I use it for!

There’s http://www.herbexpert.co.uk/cooking-with-lemon-balm.html
 
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I haven't cooked lemon balm, but I chop it fine and throw it in salad, hoping it gives a little fragrant burst of aroma with some bites. I've also chopped it fine and mixed it in after cooking, in hot soups that already have a lemony or sour edge.
 
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I took a cupful of lemon balm, finely diced it, and added it to muffin batter along with a spoonful of lemon balm extract/tincture. It had a nice subtle lemon balm flavor.

The book Alchemy of Herbs has a recipe for lemon balm and orange chicken that I want to try. It adds the lemon balm leaves at the end of cooking, just after the chicken has been removed from the heat.
 
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Because of its "citrussy" flavour, it goes well with fish.  As mentioned above, use it in salads but also in fruit salads, my preference is to chop the leaves finely rather than just adding them whole in the salad, but each to their own.  Cookies and ice cream.  You can also make a pesto that is good with fish or pasta. Or a lemon balm butter, I guess the possibilities are endless and experimenting is part of the fun!
 
Anne Miller
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My lemon balm was getting rather unruly, so I decided it was time to make another simple syrup using it.



https://permies.com/t/141755/kitchen/Lemon-Balm-Simple-Syrup


I made some lemon balm tea:




Then later I used the syrup in a lemon balm lemonade:



 
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I tried taking some lemon balm tea to soothe my nerves a few times... it sort of worked, but every time I had trouble sleeping that night... so I stopped.

Anyways, my favorite way to enjoy it is just to pinch off a few leaves and enjoy the aroma while I'm walking around my garden! And I think that is a perfectly valid use for it.
 
Anne Miller
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Lemon Balm does smell really lovely.

I found it as relaxing as tea.

A few years ago I had a really bad gout attack where I could not walk for over a week.  My lemon balm died at that time.  I still have dried lemon balm and two bottles of the tincture.

Very rarely, though every now and then I use the tincture to help me sleep.

I left a sprig of the lemon balm in the tincture so as I use some I refill the bottle and so far the tincture has kept renewing each time.
 
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Did anyone try to do pesto with it?
 
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Just speculation, I haven’t done this, but you could make a test batch of lemon balm pesto, and see if you like it😊, it might or might not retain its citrus note.

If you wanted it to be more citrusy, add some lemon peel.

Pesto keeps in the freezer.  I keep mine in a jar, covered with a layer of olive oil.  Some people freeze it in an ice cube tray, then put the frozen cubes in a jar or bag.  It saves them prying out a chunk..

Also use in broth, something like lemon basil chicken.  

Include in a green smoothie….

Lemon balm essential oil has antiviral properties, good for when you have a cold, or other viral affliction.

Essential oils are the plant’s way of cooling itself, so if you WANT the lemon flavor, (or the anti viral properties), harvest when you have reached the hottest time of year. Once dried or made into pesto, store air tight, in cool dark place.

If you’re wanting the greens, any time will do.
 
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Don't know if this comes within your range of interest, but Lemon Balm is also anti-viral for some viruses. It can be made into a cream or salve for cold sores, chicken pox, shingles, and other herpes-family type sores. Most good herbal formularies will have directions for making a cream. Basically, you infuse the herb into an oil, and add melted beeswax to slightly thicken it so it not liquid at room temperature. Then while it is still warm, beat it with an mixer while slowly adding a tea of the herb. The cream will be an oil-water emulsion (like mayonaise) which is more easily absorbed by the skin than a simple oil would be.
Alternatively, you can just infuse it into coconut oil, which is fairly solid at room temperature and absorbs well into the skin.
 
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  Lemon balm looses its essential oils when dried, not like peppermint. So it it best to use it fresh in tea (just steep in closed container) or make tincture with fresh lemon balm. Not sure, how freezing would preserve it, I should try.
 I wish my lemon balm would spread like peppermint, but clumps are usually quite small. Maybe it depends on the specific climate and shade/sun combination?
 
Jamie Chevalier
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It likes moisture and shadier conditions that most mint. Another plant that is particularly happy under fruit trees, with their combination of filtered sun, moisture, and humusy soils made by fallen leaves. While it generally stays in clumps, I have seen it spread by runners in particularly moist cool conditions where it has trouble reproducing by seed.
 
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Jamie Chevalier wrote:It likes moisture and shadier conditions that most mint. Another plant that is particularly happy under fruit trees, with their combination of filtered sun, moisture, and humusy soils made by fallen leaves. While it generally stays in clumps, I have seen it spread by runners in particularly moist cool conditions where it has trouble reproducing by seed.



Maybe that's why. I live in the dry climate.
 
Jamie Chevalier
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Yes, it was in the Southeast Alaska coastal rainforest that I saw it spread that way. Here in California, I see it in tidy clumps, spreading by seed. It has a particularly long season of bloom, and the Latin name, Melissa, means honeybee. It is one of the single best pollinator plants.
 
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I grow it, dry it , crumble it and use in when baking fish, or mix dried lemon balm with other spices for a rub on fish. The flavor doesn't "cook out"  since fish takes little time to cook/bake/fry etc.
Among other uses, it tastes good with fish. It's like a slice of lemon without a lemon slice
 
Thekla McDaniels
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When I had tons of water, I grew lemon balm in full sun and although it didn’t spread with runners, seedlings became huge clumps, then became even bigger clumps each year.

I wonder if the plants with runners were looking for stronger sun!
 
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Jamie Chevalier wrote:It can be made into a cream or salve for cold sores, chicken pox, shingles, and other herpes-family type sores.


Jamie, we use this along with lemon balm/ spilanthes tincture orally and applied directly to cold sore with good results.
 
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I haven't seen anybody post this, so I will add that it is a great mosquito repellant.  Take a few sprigs of lemon balm and rub it all over your arms, legs and neck and you will be amazed as to how well this works!  Plus as a bonus you will smell great!
 
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Joshua LeDuc wrote:I haven't seen anybody post this, so I will add that it is a great mosquito repellant.  Take a few sprigs of lemon balm and rub it all over your arms, legs and neck and you will be amazed as to how well this works!  Plus as a bonus you will smell great!



Now I have something to do with it after I enjoy the aroma!

I'll be reporting back with some anecdotal evaluation of how well this works later in the year because lemon balm and mosquitoes are two things I have plenty of!
 
Joshua LeDuc
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Please do report back.  I've been using it for years and it really does seems to work.  

L. Johnson wrote:

Joshua LeDuc wrote:I haven't seen anybody post this, so I will add that it is a great mosquito repellant.  Take a few sprigs of lemon balm and rub it all over your arms, legs and neck and you will be amazed as to how well this works!  Plus as a bonus you will smell great!



Now I have something to do with it after I enjoy the aroma!

I'll be reporting back with some anecdotal evaluation of how well this works later in the year because lemon balm and mosquitoes are two things I have plenty of!

 
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