Wednesday, July 03, 2013

From My Herb Garden: Lemon Balm



 One of my preferred sections of my garden is my herb patch. I planted it fairly close to the house so I can dash out and clip herbs as I cook. Lemon Balm (melissa officinalis) grows there, but it also seeds itself all over the yard. I yank it out regularly. Still, it's a pretty plant, and its tendency to wander is likely because of its family connections - related to mint. 

It's a useful plant as well. I dry leaves during the summer and in the winter, I throw a handful into a teapot, pour boiling water over, let steep and enjoy a lemony mint tea. The plant is said to have a calming effect. 


It can also be used in many of the same recipes as mint. We're enjoying warm days here - unusual for so early in the summer. I'm not complaining in the least, in fact, I'm soaking up the heat. But that doesn't mean that I want to spend much time in the kitchen. This Avocado Soup is one I've made for several years. It's creamy, refreshing, and takes about 5 minutes to pull together. And it uses lemon balm - or mint, if you prefer. 



A pitcher of cold water, with lemon slices and a few sprigs of lemon balm is a refreshing item to have in the refrigerator.

Does Lemon Balm grow in your garden? What do you use it for? I'd love to discover some new recipes.

16 comments:

Vee said...

Must try some of the infused waters...I have no lemon balm, though I do have mint...I have mineral water and some lemon...I'm going to give it a try. It looks so refreshing. I have grown lemon balm in pots before...perhaps I need a pot. I should head out to the greenhouse and see what's available.

Linda said...

I have no lemon balm either. I do have some mint growing in a pot!!! Love to throw it in iced tea or Mojitos!!! Enjoy the heat!!! We are having a rare low humidity day here on the Gulf Coast! It's delightful!

Pondside said...

Mint and Lemon Balm grow here like weeds. I love to rub the leaves, releasing the fragrance, as I go around the garden. I'll have to try that avocado soup!

ellen b. said...

I think I might have a wild lemon balm plant that grows by our shop. It always comes back no matter how far we cut it back. It looks like mint but has a citrus smell, too. Now maybe I'll be inspired to use it for something besides garnish!

Friko said...

I grow lemon balm - well, it refuses not to grow, actually - but I’ve never known what to do with it other than put it into a cold drink.
I shall make lemon balm tea, thanks for the hint.

aimee said...

We have both mint (three types) and lemon balm. I LOVE their delightfully refreshing fragrance but haven't used them much. Perhaps it is time...
Blessings,
Aimee

Chel C said...

My lemon balm has grown into a lovely round shrub and I only use it to bulk out my flower vases or brush against it for the aroma. I will certainly give the tea a go at the weekend. Chel x

Chy said...

My dh just built our first raised garden box and we put some herbs in to grow. One is Lemon Balm. Daughters are making sure all my babies, I mean plants, are being well looked after. Anxious to see how it's done while we've been away. Thank you for sharing the ideas of what to do with it!

Elizabethd said...

I often pop a few tiny leaves into a fruit salad, so refreshing.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Yum...to the avacado soup. I have lemon balm in my herb garden...and mostly use it for garnishes. You gave me a few new ideas.

Donna said...

I used to grow lemon balm and I loved adding it to my iced tea in the summertime.

Mary said...

I have lemon balm going crazy in the back garden - started it several years ago in a raised bed and then it escaped and is showing up all over - it's pretty though! I use it for garnishes mostly but will try the tea.

Thanks for the soup recipe Lorrie - sounds delicious and I will definitely try it soon on a hot Summer's eve.

Happy@Home said...

I also grow lemon balm, but haven't used if for much besides adding it to flower bouquets. Your soup looks so pretty. I love avocado so I think I need to try it. Thanks so much for sharing. Also, I do like the idea of the infused water.

GretchenJoanna said...

I do have lemon balm and I love it! But I rarely use it....I really should at least do the simple thing of putting some sprigs in a pitcher of water. I have a recipe for ice cream made with it - yum!

Jill said...

I haven't had lemon balm for a few years and when I did, I only used it for rubbing it, smelling my fingers, and enjoying it! Like most of my herbs! They are underused but NOT underappreciated!

Barbara said...

The soup looks good. Must try that with my Lemon balm. I have only thought about having it hot.