Several years ago I decided I wanted to grow lemon balm. Great idea, right? Well, now I am constantly looking for new uses for lemon balm because the stuff is growing like a weed and taking over the back of my house. Seriously. Why can’t I get my cucumbers and squash to grow like this? Well, from lemon balm syrup to natural mosquito repellent, here are a few things to do with lemon balm this month.
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Tips For Growing Lemon Balm
Growing lemon balm might have been a great idea but it requires near-daily maintenance to make sure it stays where I put it. This stuff is hardy! If you want to grow your own lemon balm, plant it in full sun. It will tolerate shade, however, it really prefers full sun. You also want to plant it in well drained soil. Water it deeply enough to saturate the roots, then allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.
Creative Uses for Lemon Balm
If you have too much lemon balm in your own yard, here are a few things I have found so far to do with it.
Make a Lemon Balm Syrup for Better Sleep
Check out the medicinal uses for lemon balm and keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Don’t take medical advice from strangers but lemon balm is great as a relaxation aid.
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Lemon Balm Syrup Recipe:
To make a sleepy time syrup, simmer 1 cup of lemon balm leaves in just enough water to cover them. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until you have reduced the liquid by about half. Let cool and strain. Add honey (about 1/4 cup) and stir until dissolved.
How to use this DIY lemon balm syrup: A tablespoon or so at night of this lemon balm syrup may be helpful for better sleep. DO NOT give to babies and toddlers or anyone else that shouldn’t have honey. Store this in the refrigerator or a week or two before tossing.
Use in a steam facial
Steam helps open up your pores and improves the clarity of your skin. Adding fresh herbs to the hot water not only makes it smell good but can also help open up your sinuses, improve mood, etc. depending on the herbs you use. Check out this post about making an herbal steam facial for a few tips.
Add to water…cold or hot
One of my favorite uses for lemon balm is to add it to cold water for a refreshing summertime beverage. You can also add it to hot water for a nice cup of tea. You can muddle the lemon balm leaves before adding ice cubes and water to boost the flavor. If you are using hot water, you really don’t need to muddle the leaves since the heat will extract more of the oils.
Does lemon balm plant repel mosquitoes? YES!
Mosquitoes hate the smell of lemon balm so take advantage of this! Grow lemon balm right by the back door and every time you go out, rub a few crushed leaves onto your skin. Just grab a handful, rub in your hands for a second, and then rub all over your arms and legs to protect from bugs.
Make Lemon Balm Jelly
Check out this recipe for Lemon Balm Jelly from Just a Pinch. This stuff looks seriously delicious. It’s just some lemon balm, lemon juice, water, sugar, and pectin. Put on toast, in a bowl of plain yogurt, on top of cream cheese to be scooped up with crackers or wherever you want that sweet/tangy flavor of lemon and sugar.
Make Homemade Smoothies
Lemon balm has a light lemon flavor without all the tartness from actual lemons. Add a handful to your morning smoothie for a light, fresh flavor.
Can lemon balm be used in cooking? DEFINITELY!
We eat a ton of fruit salad in my house. To add a bit of a fresh, lemony taste to it, just roll up a few lemon balm leaves and finely slice them. Toss into a salad and enjoy! You can also add it to many other recipes as well. Check out my recipes for baked rice or Thai lettuce wraps if you need inspiration.
Make it into compound butter
Herb butters are delicious and easy to make. For lemon balm butter, just soften a stick of butter and mix in about 1/4 cup of finely chopped lemon balm. Add a dash of lemon zest and salt. You can replace some of the lemon balm with other herbs like rosemary or thyme. Use this herb butter recipe on top of seafood or vegetables the next time you make dinner.
Make infused vinegar
Fill a mason jar half full with fresh lemon balm leaves. Top them with white wine vinegar and add the lid. Place the jar in a dark place for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain out the leaves and bottle the vinegar. Use lemon balm vinegar in homemade salad dressings, tuna, etc. for a delightful hint of lemon.
Like these creative uses for lemon balm? Try these herb growing tips, too:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs: A wonderful gardening resource for anyone who wants to start growing their own herbs.
- How to Preserve Fresh Herbs for Maximum Flavor: Knowing how to preserve fresh herbs can save you a ton of money at the grocery store.
- Herb Gardening: Essential Herbs for your DIY Beauty Products: Fresh herbs not only make your homemade beauty products smell good, they also have a number of healing properties as well.
Don’t Let Fresh Lemon Balm Go To Waste!
There are a ton of creative uses for lemon balm that I really want to try in the coming months. I am getting tired of just pulling it all out and tossing it in the compost bin! Do you have other ways to use lemon balm? If you can’t think of ways to use it NOW, invest in a dehydrator and dry lemon balm for use throughout the year. It goes great in lemon balm tea, even when dried.
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.