Lemon balm oil and honey…

Recently I harvested a big bunch of lemon balm from the garden and shared how I dry herbs in a post here.  I thought I’d show you how to make a fresh herb infused oil and also how to make lemon balm honey. 

Lemon balm oil

When making an oil with fresh herb it’s important to remove as much of the water as you can.  Water in the oil will encourage mold and raise your chances of rancidity.  When you harvest your herb, let it sit out overnight spread out on a sheet.  This will help remove some of that excess water. 

You’ll need:
  • olive oil
  • lemon balm
  • a glass jar (canning jars are perfect for this)
  • a paper towel
  • a canning ring or rubber band to fit around your jar       in 6 weeks, you’ll also need:
  • a bowl big enough to hold your oil
  • a strainer
  • cheesecloth or clean t-shirt scrap to fit your strainer
  • a clean jar w/ lid for your finished oil

Take your lemon balm and chop it up in about 1” pieces and place them in your jar.  Fill up the jar with a loose pack of plant material to the ring, not stuffing it in tightly.  Once your jar is full of herbs, pour in the olive oil on top.  Olive oil is a great oil to use because it’s readily available and is not as prone to going rancid as quickly as some of the other vegetable oils.  Fill the jar with oil until all the herb is covered and you’re within a half inch or so of the top.  Once you’ve filled the jar, poke around in the oil to make sure all of the plant material is covered and to release any air bubbles.  Next, take your paper towel and place it over the top of the jar and screw on the canning ring.  If you don’t have a canning ring you can also hold it on with a rubber band.  Using a paper towel instead of an airtight lid will allow air and moisture to escape from the jar.

Check your oil everyday for a week, stirring and smelling it.  Keep the plant material covered by the oil.  Exposed herb will cause mold.  After about a week, just leave it sit on the counter out of the sunlight.  The herbs will start to settle under the oil and the oil itself with start to change color. 

Standard infusion time for oils is up to 6 weeks but at least go 3 weeks.  The longer you wait, the richer the oil.  Just don’t wait until it goes rancid! 

Straining your oil

After your herbs have had time to infuse, strain out your plant material using a bowl, some cheesecloth and a strainer.  Just dump your oil into the strainer that is lined with cheesecloth or a clean t-shirt scrap.  You want to use the cloth to get as many small particles out of the oil as possible.  It also allows you to hand squeeze the plant material so you can get every last drop of oil possible.  So, dump in the oil and scoop out any herb still in the jar.  Next, gather up all the cheesecloth around the herbs into a little bag and squeeze with all you’ve got.  Get as much of the oil out of the herbs as you can. 

Put a lid on your jar and LABEL the jar with the contents and the date.  Your oil should last roughly a year.  Don’t just throw away all those herbs left in the strainer, either.  Compost them in your garden compost pile or spread them around your plants.  That’s good stuff you got there. 

With your finished oil, you can make wonderful things like salves and lip balms. 

Lemon balm honey

Making herbal honey is about the easiest thing you can do.  You only need three items – an herb, a jar with a lid and honey! 

honey Take some of your fresh lemon balm leaves and stuff them into your jar about 2/3 full.  (If you’re using dried herbs, just go about 1/2 way.)  Pour on honey until your jar is full.  Be sure to mix it around well, making sure all the air bubbles are removed and all the plant matter is covered in the honey.  Cap your jar and let sit on the counter for 3 weeks… if you can wait that long.  During the first week be sure to stir your honey every day.  The easiest way to do this is to just flip the jar upside down when you walk past it.  Next time you walk by, flip it back the right way.  After the first week, it can just sit and brew without turning it.  Three weeks later – voila! Lemon balm honey!  You can strain the plant matter from the honey with a small strainer right into a fresh clean jar. 

Another great herb to try for herbal honey is lavender.  Mmmm, enjoy!

 

-knittingprose

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2 responses to this post.

  1. […] oils.  You can read about how to make your own herbal oils using fresh herbs and olive oil here.  This method requires weeks of infusing.  Another quicker way to make herbal oils is the […]

    Reply

  2. […] your crockpot is prone to boil then I recommend using the cold infusion method.  It will take longer for your herbs to fully infuse but that’s better than burning up your […]

    Reply

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