Lemon balm is a delicious and versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. If you have a lemon balm plant, you may be wondering how to preserve the leaves so you can enjoy them all year long. Here are a few tips on how to preserve lemon balm.
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What is lemon balm?
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial herb that grows in zones 4-9. The leaves have a citrus flavor and can be used fresh or dried in teas, as a flavoring for baked goods or added to salads. Lemon balm is also used to make an essential oil.
The plant has a square stem and blooms small, white or pale yellow flowers from mid to late summer. The leaves are opposite each other on the stem and have a scalloped edge. The plant can grow to be 2-3 feet tall and wide.
Lemon balm prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It prefers well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Once established, it is drought tolerant. Lemon balm will spread via underground runners and can become invasive if not kept in check. It is best to divide the plant every 3-4 years to keep it under control.
Lemon balm is susceptible to several diseases including rust, powdery mildew and leaf spot. It is also attractive to aphids, slugs and Japanese beetles.
Why would you want to preserve lemon balm?
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a beautiful, fragrant herb that belongs to the mint family. It’s easy to grow and can be used in many different ways — as a flavoring for food or drink, added to baths and potpourris, or made into a soothing herbal tea.
If you have an abundance of lemon balm, you may want to preserve it so you can enjoy it throughout the year. Here are a few different methods for preserving lemon balm.
Drying: Drying is the most common way to preserve herbs and it’s also the easiest. Simply tie bunches of lemon balm together and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Once the leaves are dry, crumble them and store in an airtight container. You can also use a dehydrator if you have one.
Freezing: Freezing is a good option if you want to preserve large quantities of lemon balm. Wash and dry the leaves, then place in freezer bags or containers. To use, simply remove the desired amount and chop while still frozen. The leaves will turn black when frozen but this doesn’t affect the flavor.
Making Lemon Balm Oil: Lemon balm oil is a versatile product that can be used in many different ways — as a massage oil, added to baths, or used as a natural insect repellent. To make your own lemon balm oil, fill a jar with fresh lemon balm leaves (you can also use dried leaves) and cover with olive oil or another light carrier oil. Seal the jar tightly and store in a dark place for at least two weeks before using (the longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be). When ready to use, strain the oil through cheesecloth or coffee filters.
The best way to preserve lemon balm is by
Lemon balm is a delicious herb that can be used in a variety of recipes, from savory dishes to sweet desserts. If you have a bumper crop of lemon balm, or if you simply want to enjoy this herb year-round, you can preserve it by freezing it.
Freezing is the best way to preserve the flavor and freshness of lemon balm. To freeze lemon balm, wash the leaves and blot them dry with a paper towel. Then, place the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them for about an hour. Once the leaves are frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe storage bag and store them in the freezer for up to six months.
When you’re ready to use frozen lemon balm, there’s no need to thaw it; simply add the frozen leaves to your recipe as desired. Keep in mind that frozen lemon balm will be more delicate than fresh leaves, so handle it gently and use it promptly after thawing.
Other ways to preserve lemon balm include
Other ways to preserve lemon balm include freezing, drying, or extracting the oil. You can also make lemon balm tea, tinctures, or infusions.
Tips for using preserved lemon balm
Once you have preserved lemon balm, you can use it in a number of ways. It is great in vinaigrettes, as a filling for tarts or used as a topping on fish or chicken. You can also add it to homemade butter or cream cheese. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your preserved lemon balm:
-When using preserved lemon balm in cooking, be sure to remove the sprigs from the liquid before adding it to your dish.
-If you want a more intense flavor, scrape off some of the zest (the yellow part of the peel) and add it to your dish along with the balm leaves.
-If you find that the flavor is too strong, simply rinse the leaves under cold water before using them.