Mid-summer in the herb garden is full of glorious smells, but it’s hard to beat the fragrance passing by the lemon balm patch. Lemon balm is at it’s fullest when temps are hottest in the summer. Unfortunately, it’s hard to take time to find lemon balm uses during the busy summer season.
More often than not a beautiful patch of homegrown lemon balm doesn’t make its way into the kitchen. That’s a shame because there are so many delicious lemon balm recipes out there just waiting to be made.
Even if you started with a small lemon balm seedling, just give it a year or two and it’ll have grown into a huge sprawling plant. That’s not a bad thing, it just means that you’ll have plenty of lemon balm to go around. That also means that no one way to use lemon balm will do the job, you’re going to need to come up with a few tasty recipes so that wonderful herb doesn’t linger unused in the kitchen garden.
I always plan to use lemon balm, but it’s fresh and fragrant right at the busiest time of year. I grab a leaf or two passing by the ever-growing mass of lemon balm plants in the corner of the garden, promising myself that I’ll take a break at some point for some lemon balm ice tea. When I do finally sit down to a cup of lemon balm ice tea, I keep thinking to myself that this wonderful flavor would be perfect for so many things…
But then it inevitably happens. The summer carries on, with all it’s busy garden commitments, and I never make it past lemon balm ice tea. This year’s going to be different and I’m planning ahead with plenty of tasty lemon balm recipes well ahead of time.
Lemon Balm Recipes for Frozen Treats
Since lemon balm is at it’s best during the heat of the summer, I can think of no more appropriate way to use it than in lemon balm ice cream or lemon balm sorbet. There are so many directions you could take a lemon balm ice cream, and many recipes combine the fresh herbs with summer fruits.
Here are a few Lemon Balm Ice Cream recipes to get you started:
- Lemon Balm Ice Cream with Egg Yolk Custard Base ~ Nutmegs, seven
- Lemon Balm Ice Cream (no eggs) ~ Autumn Makes and Does
- Lemon Balm and Crème Fraîche Ice Cream ~ The Bojon Gourmet
- Lemon Meringue Ice Cream with Lemon Balm ~ BBC Food
- Roasted Blueberry and Lemon Balm Ice Cream ~ Hungry Scribbler
- Buttermilk Lemon Balm Ice Cream ~ Out Of The Ordinary Food
- Creamy Lemon Balm Gelato ~ Honest Food
I even found a few dairy free, raw and vegan options:
- Vegan No-Churn Lemon Balm Ice Cream ~ One Green Planet
- Raw Vegan Lemon Balm & Berry Ice Cream ~ Raw Food Recipes
- Honey Sweetened Lemon Balm Granita ~ The Nourishing Gourmet
Given that it’s a busy time of year, it may actually be simpler to skip the ice cream maker all together and make a batch of simple herbal popsicles like these lavender lemon balm herbal popsicles. I have those same stainless steel popsicle molds and I love them. They work wonderfully, and there are no plastics in contact with your food.
If you want a herbal lemon balm sweet treat, but don’t want to keep it in the freezer, these herbal lollypops with elderberry and lemon balm are a lovely kid-friendly option.
Baked Goods Using Lemon Balm
For the most part, I’m not super keen on summer baking. That said, even in high summer we’ll often have cool nights here in Vermont with lows down to the 40’s (F) on occasion.
Those days, baking is definitely on the agenda and I’m going to pull out these scrumptious looking lemon balm baked treat recipes.
- Lemon Balm Cookies ~ Farm Flavor
- Lemon Balm Poppy Seed Cookies ~ Homespun Seasonal Living
- Lemon Balm Shortbread ~ PBS
- Lemon Balm Bundt Cake ~ Magnolia Days
- Lemon Balm Lavender Scones ~ The Herbal Academy
- Lemon Balm Drop Biscuits ~ Homespun Seasonal Living
Drinks and Cocktails Using Lemon Balm
A lemon balm based drink seems like a no brainer to me. The herb is incredibly refreshing on its own, and adding to a cold drink just feels like the right thing to do. There are a lot of lemon balm drink recipe variations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Simple Refreshing Lemon Balm Drink Recipes
If you’re going back out to work in the garden, it’s best to keep summer drinks cold, simple and non-alcoholic. All of these lemon balm drinks fit the bill…
- Honey & Lemon Balm Spritzer ~ She Wears Many Hats
- Lemon Balm Infused Lemonade ~ Simple Bites
- Lemon Balm Ice Tea ~ Learning and Yearning
- Lemon Balm Blueberry Smoothie ~ Healthy Slow Cooking
Probiotic, Cultured or Home Brewed Lemon Balm Drinks
I even found a scientific paper authored by a group of scientists that thought it was vitally important to learn if lemon balm kombucha is anti-microbial. Rather specific, no? The lemon balm itself is anti-microbial and it’s used in many different herbal remedies, but why they felt the need to test specifically kombucha is beyond me.
None the less, as it turns out that it is anti-microbial and it killed all manner of bacteria. Now you know…
- Blueberry Lemon Balm Kombucha ~ Kombucha Hunter
- Motherwort & Lemon Balm Mead (or ale) ~ Pixie’s Pocket
- Lemon Balm Wine ~ Jack Keller Winemaking
- Raspberry Lemon Balm Shrub ~ Homespun Seasonal Living
Alcoholic Lemon Balm Drink Recipes
There are plenty of cocktails that feature herbal notes, and lemon balm can easily be substituted into any of those recipes in place of mint, basil or rosemary to suit your tastes. Or, you can pick from this tasty list of lemon balm cocktails:
- The Beekeepers Balm Cocktail ~ The Kitchn
- Lemon Balm Martini ~ The Farmhouse Project
- Lemon Balm Honeysuckle ~ Bon Appetit
- Apricot Mojito with Lemon Balm ~ Food & Style
- Lemon Balm Julep ~ Galumbi Drinks & More
- Blackberry Jammin Gin Cocktail with Lemon Balm ~ Southern Fatty
Savory Lemon Balm Recipes
While lemon balm desserts and drinks get lots of attention in the summertime, I think savory lemon balm uses are really underutilized. I had a hard time finding more than just a few recipes to share with you, and I think this is where I’ll concentrate this summer.
There needs to be more savory inspiration because one can’t live on ice cream alone (though you can try…)
- Lemon Balm Pesto ~ Vintage Kitty
- Summer Lemon Balm Chicken ~ A Musing Foodie
- Lemon Balm Zucchini Soup ~ Jasmin Cook Book
Dried Lemon Balm Recipes
Beyond fresh in season uses for lemon balm, you always have the option to dry lemon balm for use in the winter time. Once temps aren’t so summery, lemon balm makes a tasty hot herbal tea. It’s commonly used in mixtures for cold and flu, as well as gentle relaxation blends.
- Relaxation Herbal Tea Mix with Lemon Balm ~ Healing Harvest Homestead
- Ginger, Lemon Balm Green Tea Blend ~ Homespun Seasonal Living
Other Lemon Balm Uses
While lemon balm is incredibly tasty, it also happens to be a potent medicinal. Lemon balm is a relaxing herb that calms the nervous system, and it’s commonly used in teas and tinctures for stress and relaxation. Beyond those subtle relaxing qualities, lemon balm is showing promise for the treatment of a number of serious conditions.
- Heart Health– Studies show that lemon balm can improve heart health, by protecting against injury (source) and treat heart arrhythmias (source).
- Diabetes – Lemon balm extracts are effective at reducing blood sugar (source) and they’re being investigated as a preventative agent to help forestall the disease in diabetes-prone individuals (source).
- Concentration & Insomnia – Lemon balm is known for it’s calming properties and it’s commonly used to treat insomnia, but studies show that it can also help improve concentration and decrease hyperactivity in school-aged children (source).
Lemon balm is also effective as an anti-microbial, and it’s effective against both bacteria and yeast strains (source). That makes it a common ingredient in cut and scrape balms, as well as cold sore salves since it’s particularly effective topically against oral herpes outbreaks.
Lemon balm is also a natural anti-inflammatory herb, and like other members of the mint family, it’s useful in treating digestive problems.
While lemon balm is lovely for humans, it’s hated by insects, especially mosquitos. For that reason, it’s added to herbal bug sprays and balms, and planted near porches to help repel biting insects.
Here are a few ways to incorporate lemon balm into your natural health and wellness regimen.
- Herbal No Bug Balm (With Lemon Balm) ~ Grow Forage Cook Ferment
- Lemon Balm Bug Spray ~ The Nerdy Farm Wife
- Lemon Balm Soap ~ The Nerdy Farm Wife
- Cold Sore Salve ~ Healing Harvest Homestead
- Ginger & Lemon Balm Syrup for Colds & Flu ~ The Nerdy Farm Wife
- Nerve Soothing Migraine Tincture ~ Healing Harvest Homestead
Feeling inspired? What other creative lemon balm uses do you have in mind? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know how you’re using your harvest.