Posts Tagged ‘lemon balm’

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

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

Harvesting and drying lemon balm…

lemon balm harvest Today I harvested some of the lemon balm growing in our garden.  We have two patches of lemon balm that started from a tiny, half-dead seedling I started last summer and nursed all through winter.  It was getting way too big for it’s tiny pot when I put it in the ground this spring.  Honestly, I thought it would just wither away and die.  But true to it’s mint heritage, you just can’t kill lemon balm. 

It’s a little late for harvesting and I should have done it before the plant began to flower, but here we are.  At least I found the time to take a cutting of it. 

How to harvest lemon balm:

Lemon balm is pretty easy to harvest.  Like I said, the best time to harvest is right before it flowers because this is when the plant has the highest oil content.  The oil is what gives you that delicious lemon scent and flavor.  Once you see signs of flowering, grab the scissors.  A good pair of strong kitchen scissors or some pruning shears will work well.  Lemon balm is in the mint family and you’ll notice it has a tough square-shaped stem.  The plant itself with be about 18” or so tall.  You can cut all the way down to the ground because it will grow back from the roots. 

overnightdry Once you have your harvested lemon balm inside, lay it out on a towel or sheet to dry overnight.  Now, if your intention is to use this for dinner, a quick rinse will be all the prep you need.  If you plan on using it as fresh for something like an oil, this is all the drying that will be necessary, but it IS necessary for preparing an oil.  Don’t skip the overnight drying when making an infused oil!  By drying out some of the water content, you are greatly lessening your chances of ending up with a rancid oil.  Lemon balm has a high moisture content so the less water, the better and the less time until dry, the better. 

How to dry lemon balm:

With a dehydrator

For long term storage, continue on with the drying process by one of three methods.  If you have a dehydrator, move your plant material to screens and place them in the dehydrator.  That initial overnight drying will give you a little more room on your screens. 

In the oven

You can also use your oven for drying your herbs.  Turn the oven on warm and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, spread the herbs out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  After the 20 minutes of warming, turn the oven off and place the cookie sheet in the oven.  Let them sit all day and night.  In the morning, if the herbs are not dry, turn the oven back on for the 20 minute warm-up and stick the herb back in the oven for the day.  After this, your herbs should be pretty dry. 

Air drying herbs

Gather the herb into small bunches evening up the stems.  Remove any leaves on the first couple inches of the stems to give you plenty of room for tying.  Tie the stems together using some twine or whatever you have handy.  Don’t knot the string because you’ll want  to tighten it later.  Rubber bands make excellent ties for drying herbs because they will automatically tighten as the plant material dries out and shrinks.  After you have your bundles all tied up and ready for hanging, choose an airy, dry spot that’s not in the sun.  If you’re hanging them on a covered porch or anywhere else outside, check the forecast for the next few days.  Make sure you’re in for warm, dry weather.  Moisture in the air will only prolong the drying and leave more time for mold to grow. 

You can pin the bunches to a line with clothes pins, tie the bundles to the string or use a paper clip to clip them onto the line.  If you use metal paper clips, keep the metal from touching the plant as much as possible.  If you’ve tied them like bows, you can hang them from the loops with the paper clips. 

*note on drying herbs – check your herbs for mold while they’re drying.  If you see any sing of mold throw the bunch out.  You do NOT want to use moldy herbs!

Once you have your herbs all dried, remove the plant material from the stems and store them in an airtight container.  This can be as simple as a paper bag, taped up very tightly to keep the critters out  or you can use glass jars or metal tins etc.  Just make sure it’s an airtight container and not in the direct sunlight.

Now that you’ve harvested your lemon balm, you can use it to make dinner, tea, popsicles, an infused oil, honey and many other things.  Your infused oil can then be used for things like lip balm or salve. 

I’ll be making an oil with this batch as well as some lemon balm honey which I’ll share in another post. 

Harvesting and drying lemon balm…

lemon balm harvest Today I harvested some of the lemon balm growing in our garden.  We have two patches of lemon balm that started from a tiny, half-dead seedling I started last summer and nursed all through winter.  It was getting way too big for it’s tiny pot when I put it in the ground this spring.  Honestly, I thought it would just wither away and die.  But true to it’s mint heritage, you just can’t kill lemon balm. 

It’s a little late for harvesting and I should have done it before the plant began to flower, but here we are.  At least I found the time to take a cutting of it. 

How to harvest lemon balm:

Lemon balm is pretty easy to harvest.  Like I said, the best time to harvest is right before it flowers because this is when the plant has the highest oil content.  The oil is what gives you that delicious lemon scent and flavor.  Once you see signs of flowering, grab the scissors.  A good pair of strong kitchen scissors or some pruning shears will work well.  Lemon balm is in the mint family and you’ll notice it has a tough square-shaped stem.  The plant itself with be about 18” or so tall.  You can cut all the way down to the ground because it will grow back from the roots. 

overnightdry Once you have your harvested lemon balm inside, lay it out on a towel or sheet to dry overnight.  Now, if your intention is to use this for dinner, a quick rinse will be all the prep you need.  If you plan on using it as fresh for something like an oil, this is all the drying that will be necessary, but it IS necessary for preparing an oil.  Don’t skip the overnight drying when making an infused oil!  By drying out some of the water content, you are greatly lessening your chances of ending up with a rancid oil.  Lemon balm has a high moisture content so the less water, the better and the less time until dry, the better. 

How to dry lemon balm:

With a dehydrator

For long term storage, continue on with the drying process by one of three methods.  If you have a dehydrator, move your plant material to screens and place them in the dehydrator.  That initial overnight drying will give you a little more room on your screens. 

In the oven

You can also use your oven for drying your herbs.  Turn the oven on warm and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, spread the herbs out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  After the 20 minutes of warming, turn the oven off and place the cookie sheet in the oven.  Let them sit all day and night.  In the morning, if the herbs are not dry, turn the oven back on for the 20 minute warm-up and stick the herb back in the oven for the day.  After this, your herbs should be pretty dry. 

Air drying herbs

Gather the herb into small bunches evening up the stems.  Remove any leaves on the first couple inches of the stems to give you plenty of room for tying.  Tie the stems together using some twine or whatever you have handy.  Don’t knot the string because you’ll want  to tighten it later.  Rubber bands make excellent ties for drying herbs because they will automatically tighten as the plant material dries out and shrinks.  After you have your bundles all tied up and ready for hanging, choose an airy, dry spot that’s not in the sun.  If you’re hanging them on a covered porch or anywhere else outside, check the forecast for the next few days.  Make sure you’re in for warm, dry weather.  Moisture in the air will only prolong the drying and leave more time for mold to grow. 

You can pin the bunches to a line with clothes pins, tie the bundles to the string or use a paper clip to clip them onto the line.  If you use metal paper clips, keep the metal from touching the plant as much as possible.  If you’ve tied them like bows, you can hang them from the loops with the paper clips. 

*note on drying herbs – check your herbs for mold while they’re drying.  If you see any sing of mold throw the bunch out.  You do NOT want to use moldy herbs!

Once you have your herbs all dried, remove the plant material from the stems and store them in an airtight container.  This can be as simple as a paper bag, taped up very tightly to keep the critters out  or you can use glass jars or metal tins etc.  Just make sure it’s an airtight container and not in the direct sunlight.

Now that you’ve harvested your lemon balm, you can use it to make dinner, tea, popsicles, an infused oil, honey and many other things.  Your infused oil can then be used for things like lip balm or salve. 

I’ll be making an oil with this batch as well as some lemon balm honey which I’ll share in another post.