Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweet Melissa

We have lots of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) growing around one corner of our house and driveway. It was planted by a previous inhabitant. At first I was shy about using it and just let it grow and go to seed and spread around - it is pretty and smells nice. After educating myself the last couple of years about herbs and their uses, I'm not so shy now about actually using the plants I can find and identify!

Today, the kids helped me harvest the perfect leaves and make some herbal honey with the lemon balm from our yard. I had some local honey that had crystallized. After putting the jar in some warm water and breaking it up, I poured it all into a stainless steel pot and warmed it all up until it was smooth. I put several fresh lemon balm leaves into 4 sterile jelly jars. Once the honey was pretty warm, I poured it over the leaves and put on the lids/rings. I'm going to let it sit for at least a week before eating it. These would also make cute gifts. And herbal honey is easier to make than jam or jelly! Next time I want to try lavender. I've had lavender honey before and it is yummy.

I also chopped some of the lemon balm up finely and placed it in another jar. I covered the chopped leaves with apple cider vinegar to make a child-friendly tincture. This jar will sit in a sunny, warm window for about 4-6 weeks. Then, I'll strain out the herb and put the tincture into amber bottles. Dosage will be taken drops at a time for pain relief and stress relief. It is also good for winter illness, strengthening the immune system, and the digestive tract.

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