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THE COTTAGE JUNE 2001 ISSUE

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Herb of the Month

LEMON BALM

LEMON BALM
Melissa officinalis

Other Names: Balm, Balm mint, Blue balm, Dropsy plant, Garden balm, Sweet balm, Lemon balm, Melissa


Gender - Feminine
Planet - Moon/Jupiter
Elements- Water/Fire
Parts Used: Leaf and Flower

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Description:

Lemon balm is an attractive herb with yellow or variegated leaves smelling strongly of lemons. It reaches a height of 3 feet with a spread of 2 feet. The oval, almost heart-shaped leaves have slightly serrated edges and a pronounced network of veins; they can be up to 2 inches across. The flowers, which bloom from mid- to late summer are yellow-white to rose colored or even bluish.Lemon Balm is a perennial that can reach up to 3 feet high. It needs full sun and rich soil with regular watering. .Blooming from about July to August. Gather the leaves flowers and stems as soon as the flowers begin to open.

Cultivation:

Seeds are slow to germinate and are so fine that they hardly need covering at all.
An alternative method of propagation is to take cuttings in late spring and root them in water. Plant in warm, moist soil in a sunny location. Good sun and moisture are necessary for the production of essential oil and good fragrance. Cut back to soil level in the fall to encourage strong growth. The plant will not tolerate high humidity. Lemon Balm performs well in containers.

MEDICINAL:

Lemon Balm is used to treat children with fever, flu, and colds. In adults, it treats colds, headaches, depression, menstrual cramps, insomnia, and nervous stomachs. It has also been used to treat hyperthyroidism (Grave's disease), herpes simplex, and indigestion. The crushed leaves are applied to wounds and insect bites to aid in healing. The essential oil, also known as Melissa, is used in aromatherapy to ease depression.
Lemon balm makes a wonderful extract as well, made with alcohol or glycerine. Typical strength is 1:2, which means one part fresh plant by weight to two parts alcohol or glycerine by volume. Macerate the fresh herb and liquid in a blender on high with the lid on. Pour the blended pulpy mass into a mason jar and seal it. Allow it to sit for at least two weeks, then strain, and bottle it. Average dose is 10-50 drops of extract.

Formula for ADHD: 70 ml Bacopa monneira; 50 ml Ginkgo biloba; 30 ml Valerian; 30 ml Panax ginseng; 30 ml Melissa officinalis. Dose is 5 ml t.i.d.

Heartburn Formula: 1 tsp each chamomile flowers, lemon balm leaves and licorice root
tsp slippery elm bark
tsp each fennel seeds and catnip leaves
1 cups very hot water
1 cups carrot or apple juice (optional)
Combine herbs and pour very hot water over them. Steep for at least 15 minutes, then strain out herbs and add juice. Drink 1 cup after each meal. Stored in the refrigerator, this formula will keep for a few days.

Stomachache Tea
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp each chamomile flowers and lemon balm leaves
tsp each catnip leaves and fennel or dill seeds
Pour boiling water over herbs and steep for 10 minutes. Strain out herbs and allow to cool

Cosmetic:

An infusion of leaves makes a refreshing skin toner and can be used in rinse water for clothes. A stronger infusion makes a good rinse for oily hair. Use as a facial steam for dry skin.

Minty Astringent
1 Tbsp fresh lemon balm (or peppermint or spearmint)
1 cup witch hazel
Combine the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Allow herb to steep for 1 week. Strain. Use 1 teaspoon per application. Refrigeration not required.

Lemon Balm Honey Bee Mouthwash
25 fresh lemon balm leaves
2 oz chartreuse liqueur
8 oz glass jar with screw-top
5 inch square cheese cloth
6 oz distilled water
1 tsp honey
8 oz amber glass bottle with screw top
Coarsely chop lemon balm. In the glass jar, combine the lemon balm and the liqueur. Set aside in a cool, dark place for two weeks to extract the healing essences from the lemon balm leaves. Shake the bottle once a day. Place the cheese cloth in a fine-gauge sieve and strain the tincture into a glass bowl. Discard the herb. Add the distilled water and honey. Whisk to dissolve the honey. Transfer to the amber bottle. Rinse or gargle twice a day with a half oz of the mouthwash. (The Healing Kitchen)

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Magickal:

Lemon Balm is used in spells to bring Animal healing, compassion, endings, fertility, happiness, healing, longevity, love, mental, prosperity, psychic, release, success,and youth.

Balm was planted by ones front door to drive away evil spirits. It was also used to draw bees to the hive. Lemon Balm was a very Works well in amulets for good luck, and metal clarity. Lemon balm burning in as an offering on you altar greatly enhances your state of meditation. Soak in wine for 3 hours, remove and serve wine to friends and loved ones. A sacred Herb to the temple of Diana, used medicinally by the Greeks 2,000 years ago. .

CULINARY:

Fresh leaves can be added to salad or used in egg dishes and can be used to make sauces for fish, poultry and pork. Dried or fresh the whole plant is used to make cool refreshing drinks or warm relaxing teas.

Breakfast tea:

2 tsp. chopped leaves added to 1 cup boiling water steep 5 to 10 min. strain add honey and, or lemon.

Cold highnooner:

2 tbsp. per cup of cold water, let stand for 6 to 8 hours. Strain, add ice peppermint sprig and sweeten to taste.

HONEY AND LEMON BALM TEA BISCUITS
Categories: Breads, Herbs
Yield: 1 servings

1 c Butter
1 c Honey
3 Eggs
3 c Flour
3 ts Baking powder
1 tb Milk
2 ts Lemon juice
-OR- lemon flavoring
4 Sprigs fresh lemon balm
-- chopped

Thoroughly cream the butter and honey. Add eggs and beat well. Add the
dry ingredients, then the milk, flavoring, and lemon balm. Drop by
spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes at 375 F.


Valentino
2 oz unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 generous Tbsp strawberry preserves or orange marmalade
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur or fresh orange juice
3 Tbsp chopped fresh lemon balm
Fresh strawberries for optional garnish
Fresh lemon balm sprigs for optional garnish
Blend the butter and cream cheese with a fork. Mix in the other ingredients. Best made a day in advance for flavors to mingle; chill overnight and serve at room temperature. Keeps for a week. Use as a dip or serve as a spread. (The Herb Garden Cookbook)

Crab Soup with Lemon Balm and Coconut Milk
1 large steamed crab, such as Dungeness or blue
inch piece ginger, peeled
12 large lemon balm sprigs
3 shallots, 2 chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 tsp dried shrimp paste or tsp anchovy paste
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 green Thai or serrano chili
1 red Thai or serrano chili
zest of lime
juice of 1 lime, or to taste.
Scrub the crab well, then crack the shells and remove the meat, keeping it in large pieces. Set the meat aside. Break the shells into small pieces with a mallet or the blunt side of a chefs knife. Place the broken shells in a food processor with 1 cup water and process for about 1 minute. Scrape the shells and liquid into a noncorrodible pan and add 4 cups water. If you are using pre-shelled crab meat, place 4 cups chicken stock in a noncorrodible pan. Slice the ginger about 1/8 inch thick and add to the shells and water or to the stock. Bruise six lemon balm sprigs and add them to the pan along with the chopped shallots and garlic. Simmer the broth for 15 minutes, skimming occasionally. Strain the broth into a clean noncorrodible pan. Stir the coconut milk very well and add half of it to the broth. Remove the leaves from the remaining lemon balm and shred them. Cut the remaining shallot in a fine dice. Stem the chilis and slice them in thin diagonal pieces. Remove the seeds if desired. Add the lemon balm, shallot, chilis, and lime zest to the broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the crab meat and lime juice and heat through. Serve hot. (Herbs in the Kitchen)

Lemon Balm Chicken
4 boned chicken breasts
2 Tbsp dry sherry
cup shredded cheese (Swiss or another white cheese)
cup light cream
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped lemon balm
Salt/pepper
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter and fry chicken 5-7 minutes. Place chicken in glass baking dish. Add sherry and lemon balm and cream into the pan of hot butter. Stir and simmer over low heat. Pour liquid over chicken. Top with cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes in 350o oven in covered dish. Serve with sauce over angel hair pasta. (The Herbal Connection CollectionVolume 1)

Lemon Balm-Spearmint Pesto
2 cups fresh lemon balm and spearmint leaves
cup olive oil
cup garlic cloves
Chop and blend all ingredients together. This blend can be stored frozen for 2-3 months in an airtight container. Ideal to use as a fresh summer sauce on fish. (Herb Mixtures & Spicy Blends)

Berry Balm Crunch
16 oz blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp finely chopped fresh lemon balm
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
5 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp cinnamon
sprigs of fresh lemon balm for garnish
Combine berries, lemon juice, and lemon balm. Spread in an 8-inch square baking pan. Mix sugar and next 4 ingredients. Sprinkle over berries. Bake at 375o for 30 minutes or until crisp and brown. Serve warm with ice cream and garnish. (Todays Herbal Kitchen)

Lemon Balm Cornucopia Cookies with Minted Berries and Lemon Balm Custard
3 cups strawberries cut into fourths
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier
1 Tbsp minced fresh mint
cup sugar
2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 Tbsp minced fresh lemon balm
1 large egg white, at room temperature
cup flour
6 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp whipping cream
4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 Tbsp whipping cream

1 Tbsp minced fresh lemon balm
Sprinkle strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar, Grand Marnier and mint in large bowl; stir gently. Chill for 2-4 hours. Process cup sugar, butter, lemon peel and 1 tablespoon lemon balm in food processor until fluffy. Add egg white. Process for 2-4 seconds. Pour mixture into bowl; stir in flour. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter onto buttered baking sheet. Spread into a 5-inch circle. Repeat, having 2 circles on baking sheet at a time. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes or until pale golden color. Loosen each cookie from baking sheet quickly; fold into cornucopia shape. Cool on wire rack. Repeat process until all batter is used. May prepare a day in advance and store in a single layer in an airtight container. Whisk egg yolks, 6 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons whipping cream and lemon juice in double boiler. Cook over simmering water for 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened and no longer separates, stirring constantly. Pour into bowl to cool; press waxed paper on top to prevent skin from forming on custard. Beat 6 tablespoons whipping cream in mixer bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in 1 tablespoon lemon balm. Fold mixture into cooled custard. Fill cornucopia cookies with custard, allowing some custard to spill out onto dessert plate. Drain strawberries; spoon over custard. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. (Along the Garden Path)

Lemon Balm Cheesecake
2 c flour
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 c butter or margarine
1 egg yolk
Combine in food processor and process about 1 minute, until well blended. Flatten on waxed paper and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese
c sugar
3 c lemon balm leaves, loosely packed, large stems removed
2-3 drops lemon extract (optional)
1 egg
1 tsp lemon rind
Cut cream cheese into chunks, put all ingredients into food processor. Pulse a few times, then process for about 2 minutes until smooth and well blended. Remove pastry from refrigerator and roll out on floured waxed paper until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut 4 circles with knife and lift each circle into a muffin tin. Press down lightly to make circle fit tin. Spoon in cheese filling about 2/3 of the way full. Makes about 15 small cheese cakes. Bake at 250 degrees, 20 minutes. Dont over bake. (The Culinary Gardener)

Tropical Smoothie with Mint and Lemon Balm
1 medium banana, peeled and slices
1 medium mango, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 medium papaya, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 cups skim milk
cup fresh mint leaves
cup fresh lemon balm leaves
2 Tbsp honey.
Combine all ingredients in a blender, puree, and serve immediately. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm, if desired.