A little quietness following the festivities......or busyness getting re settled to be truthful.
Tomorrow my apprenticeship continues after a month long break....we'll begin my talking about
Lemon Balm.......The Herb of the Year!
Lemonbalm (Melissa Officinalis) Funny but since returning from Greece my daughter Zoe spends her time playing her guitar singing Melissa Melissa (a greek song about bees) as well as the Koukouvaya (owl song). I wonder if she'll have my obsession with owl prints.
A hardy perennial lemon balm is in the mint family and is very aromatic! mmmm! Lemon balm has been added to wine, beer, and tea as a flavoring agent. Lemon Balm is a native to southern Europe and northern Africa and has been cultivated for over 2000 years.
Folklore: The use of lemon balm in traditional folk medicine may date back to the "balm" mentioned in the book of Genesis. It has a long history as a healing herb and was also part of a drink that ensured longevity. The branches were strewn on floors to freshen a room, as mentioned by Shakespeare in "The Merry Wives of Windsor". The Arabs introduced it as medicinal herb, a tea that was taken for anxiety and depression. Melissa tea is still known in France today as a remedy for fatigue and headaches. Melissa derives its name from the Greek for honeybee. The leaves were rubbed onto beehives to prevent swarming and to encourage the bees to return to the hives. The Greek physician Dioscorides wrote about it being used for scorpions stings and insect and dog bites.
It has been used to treat nervous disorders, rheumatism, and gastrointestinal troubles.Lemon balm has also been used to manage Graves' disease and to induce sedation. It is used as an Antiviral, Antibacterial, and Antifungal. Attributed Medicinal Properties Lemon balm tea was known to have powers of longevity. Today the tea is taken to treat colds and flu, lower blood pressure and for insomnia and indigestion. Balm is an excellent carminative herb that relieves spasms in the digestive tract, and is used in cases of flatulent dyspepsia. Because of its mild anti-depressive properties, it is primarily indicated where there is dyspepsia associated with anxiety or depression, as the gently sedative oils relieve tension & stress reactions, thus acting to lighten depression.
Primary chemical constituents of this herb include essential oil (citral, linalool, eugenol, citronellal, geraniol), tannins, bitter principle, resin, tannins, polyphenols, flavonoids, succinic acid, and rosmarinic acid. The volatile oils appear to act between the digestive tract and nervous system. It may be used effectively in conditions of migraine that are associated with tension, neuralgia, anxiety induced palpitations, and/or insomnia.
Lemon balm has a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system causing mild vasodilation of the peripheral vessels, thus lowering blood pressure. It can be used in feverish conditions such as influenza. Hot water extracts have anti-viral properties, possibly due in part to rosmarinic acid and other polyphenolics constituents.
This is a safe herb for children, and it tastes very good.
When children have a fever/the flu or a simple cold a cup of lemonbalm tea with a little honey is irrisistable!. If your child isn't fond of tea then add 3/4 cup of tea to 1/4 cup of freshly made apple or pear juice.
My favorite Lemon Balm treat is a lemon balm cordial. Right before it flowers in the summer collect the fresh leaves. Fill a jar, cover with a good quality brandy, add 1/4 cup raw honey and let it sit for about 3 months. Strain and sip or add a little to your black tea in the Winter. You can also add orange peel and candied or fresh ginger for a different flavor.
Some Culinary Delights......
Roasted Lemon Balm Chicken
Ingredients: Handful of fresh lemon balm leaves, stems removed 1/4 cup or so of fresh sage leaves 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened Salt and pepper, to taste 1 large roasting chicken 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°. Trim herb leaves from stems; wash and pat dry. Set sprigs aside. Chop two-thirds of the leaves, and combine with the butter, salt, and pepper. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Loosen the skin in several places and insert the herb butter underneath. Rub chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Insert the remaining herb sprigs into the cavity of the chicken. Place breast-side-down in a roasting pan. Bake 30 minutes, then turn chicken over. Bake about 20 minutes longer.
Lemon Balm Vinaigrette
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons light olive oil 1/8 teaspoon salt 6-8 leaves lemon balm Fresh black pepper to taste 2 tablespoons wine vinegar Stack the lemon balm leaves together and roll, then with a very sharp knife cut thin strips, and then chop finely. Combine with the other ingredients.
Beverages: These are great iced or hot
Lemon Herbal Tea
Ingredients: 1/4 cup dried lemon balm leaves 2 tablespoons dried lemon thyme leaves 1/4 cup dried lemon verbena leaves 2 tablespoons dried lemon grass leaves Mix all together and use a tsp. or so per cup of boiling water. If you are missing any of the lemon herbs, just use more of the ones you do have.
Lemon Balm Rose Tea
Ingredients: 1/2 cup dried red rose petals (make sure no sprays were used) 2 tablespoons dried lemon balm 1 tablespoon dried rosemaryMix well. Use 1 teaspoon for each cup and pour boiling water over the herbs, then strain after 5 minutes or so. Sweeten as desired.
And here is a new one I cannot wait to try next season......Cream of Leek Soup with Lemon Balm
I also plan to make a chest salve....Using the fresh sage oil that we made on September 13th
And we''ll also talk about creating a Winter Welness Kit. Here is mine.......
Elderberry Ginger Syrup
Cough Drop Lollypops
Bath Blend (Salt blend with Black Pepper, Orange and Rosemary Essential Oil)
Inner Resistance Tea (An immune stregthening tea with Oats, Dandelion, Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng, Chaga, Orange and Ginger)
And finally we'll take a Winter's Nature Walk.