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!



19 responses to this post.

  1. […] also steep herbs in honey for flavor or medicinal purposes. Lavender honey is great in iced tea. Lemon balm honey is a great bedtime treat, and as a bonus it will help you […]


  2. Posted by caryn awalt on July 31, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    have 2 large lemon balm plants (one on each side of a rose bush) and now I know how to harvest and make an oil infusion. thank you so much caryn awalt madill ok


  3. Posted by Bonnie on August 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Do you leave the oil sitting in sunlight for the first week


    • Posted by knittingprose on August 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      No, I guess I could’ve said that more clearly. It sits on the counter just out of direct sunlight. It’s doesn’t need to be in the dark, but you don’t want it in the direct path of a sunbeam either. Keep it like this for the full time it infuses in the jar. Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you find lots of helpful things here.


  4. Posted by ellie S on August 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    i see where you said it doesnt need to be in the dark but can it be kept in the basement while its infusing. ( i just have more room down there)
    also i read your blog on drying the lemon balm so im curious do i dry it first and them make the honey and oil or can i just do the 24 hour drying then make the oil and honey. finally, my last question when adding the lemon balm to honey or oil are you to use just the leaves or the whole stalk as well? thanks!


    • Posted by knittingprose on August 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Hi Ellie, thanks for visiting the Homestead Project. =) As long as it’s not dank down there, it’s probably okay. I wouldn’t put it down there if it’s very damp or moist. You want dry conditions that won’t encourage mold.
      You can make honey and oil with fresh herb. I would let it dry a little while like you said after washing it off. You could even just lay it out in the sun for a little bit. If it’s very warm out, the sun will dry it off good in no time. You can use the leaves and stalk in an infusion but I would only use the leaves in the honey.

      Hope this helps!


  5. […] also steep herbs in honey for flavor or medicinal purposes. Lavender honey is great in iced tea. Lemon balm honey is a great bedtime treat, and as a bonus it will help you […]


  6. Posted by Lora on June 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Do you have to use olive oil or can you use other kinds of oil.


    • Posted by knittingprose on June 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      The reason we use olive oil for this is because it will not go rancid as quickly as most other oils. When choosing an oil, you will want to take note of its spoilage times and also to how much heat it can take if you decide to use heat in you recipes or just to infuse the herbs in the oil.


  7. Hi, I have tried to let the lemon balm wilt for a night to make honey but they have turned partly black. I think they are bruised and/or the drying room wasn’t warm enough? It has been 36 hours. Are they still good to use? Thank you so much.


    • Posted by knittingprose on July 19, 2014 at 12:06 am

      I do not think I would use it if it turned black. Is it crunchy or chewy? You want crunchy. Chewy indicates it still holds water.


  8. Chewy, so when I dried them or wilt them they should only turn darker green and not be black at all? Even a little bit? Thank you.


    • Posted by knittingprose on July 28, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      They can darken from bruising or from using a heating source that is too hot. If you air dry them, you need to make sure your room is very dry and warm is good. The idea is to get the moisture out of the plant as quickly as possible without cooking the plant material. If they sit very long, they will wilt and decay. You don’t want decay. You want dry before decay. Make sense?


      • I think I did it wrong as well I cut and air dried them outside as it was very hot and they are darker in color like brown and black. Well maybe just darker brown. Lol. I thought maybe the sun dried them too quickly after I rinsed them off? Grrr.

  9. Posted by patricia on August 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Can you dry the leaves in the attic, hanging in bunches from a hanger?


    • Posted by knittingprose on August 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      As long as it doesn’t tend to be moist or moldy there. Some are fairly dry which would make it an ideal place. But if you get much mildew or moisture in the attic then stay away from it.
      But if it’s dry, and I’m sure it’s probably warm, it would be a great place!


  10. Posted by lisa braithwaite on July 6, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    hi do you no the best way to use it as a mood lifter,the tea doesnt work for me


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