Plant Family - Lamiaceae (Mint) Family
Although over 100 chemicals have been identified, the main components of the essential oil are citral (neral and geranial), citronellal, linalool, geraniol and β-caryophyllene-oxide.
Lemon balm’s lemony flavor and aroma are due largely to citral and citronellal, although other phytochemicals, including geraniol (which is rose-scented) and linalool (which is lavender-scented) also contribute to lemon balm’s scent.
Lemon balm is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect. Other phytochemicals in lemon balm which may provide antioxidant activity include phenolic acids, terpenes, rosmarinic acid and caffeic acids. Lemon balm also contains tannins, which are astringent and contribute to lemon balm’s antiviral effects.
Lemon Balm Liqueur
1 & 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄4 cup water
2 cups firmly packed cups leaves and tender stems of lemon balm
1 liter vodka or brandy
Combine sugar and water, bring to a boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pack leaves and tender stems in a large glass container. Cool syrup to lukewarm and pour over herbs; add vodka or brandy. Cap and store in a cool, dark place at least one month before using; shake occasionally. Strain before decanting into bottles.
Delicious for basting mild meats, poultry, seafood, or use in sauces. Very good with fruit and other desserts, or as a delicate aperitif before a meal.
Lemon Balm Tea
Bring water to a boil, add chopped lemon balm leaves and cover pan to capture volatile oils. Steep for a few minutes then pour over a teaspoon of honey for a soothing and healing tea.
Lemon Balm Oatmeal
Steep chopped leaves in hot water, covered for 10 minutes. Use lemon balm water to make oatmeal. Serve with berries or fruit compote.