As herbalists we are very familiar with using the medicinal properties of herbs and fats in the forms of infused oils and salves. Plants have many fat soluble properties such as certain vitamins, pigments, steroids, alkaloids, lipids, waxes, triterpenoids, chlorophyll, saponin, carotenoids, phytoestrogens, and volatile oils just to name a few. Plants in the mint family, like lemon balm, have high levels of essential oils that infuse well in oils like coconut, olive, and butter ( also its substitutes). They also impart lovely tastes and smells to the meals we consume. The fats we use for foods can be quite cheap, easy to come by, and contain beneficial phytonutrients. Food builds community and culture which is also a type of healing. Let us not forget and also consider all the creative ways that humans have ingested the medicinal properties found in the vast botanical world. Medicine can taste good and come in lots of beautiful forms that make it more interesting and palatable. Fresh feverfew leaves are a bit bitter on their own but when made into a butter support regular consumption and the treatment of migraines. Just about any culinary herb can be made into a tasty butter. I have made one using chive blossoms that is quite pretty. Adding in honey, a plant’s colorful flowers, or using a fancy mold can enhance flavor and impress all who come to share and eat.
Set out a stick or block of butter on the counter for 15 minutes. You don’t want it to be hard from the refrigerator or warm enough to cream for baked goods. Cut it coarsely into pieces and place into a food processor. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of fresh herbs. If making a butter that might be used on baked good you can add honey to taste. Turn on the food processor and whip the butter until it has a creamy consistency. Use a spatula to remove. You can put the finished product into a container. Better yet use a mold. The sky is the limit as to what can be used- Ice cube trays, silicone candy molds/baking cups, cookie cutters, wooden butter molds, or jello molds. My favorite ones to use are the really decorative ones commonly used to mold rice/sushi. Freeze the mold for 30 minutes before removing the butter from it. Then serve or refrigerate.
Herbed butters can be placed in the freezer for longer storage. The can be used on grains or roasted vegetables. Honey lemon balm butter is pretty decadent just smoothed on a simple piece of good homemade bread or a warm muffin.
Lemon balm is a perennial found in the Mint family. Its many tall, auxiliary, four sided stems have very small two lipped flowers at their tips. A favorite of bumblebees these can be white, lavender or pink. The leaves are brilliant green, heart shaped/oval with a point. These are oppositely arranged with slightly serrated margins. Most members of the Mint family possess highly aromatic essential oils which repel pests. Mellissa has a unique smell of artificial lemon. This herb can grow as high as two feet tall. Easy to grow- it prefers moist, rich, well drained soil in shade or partial sun. Lemon balm grows well in pots and in most climates but can self seed and become an invasive plant. Remove volunteers/babies as they appear to prevent this.
Melissa is versatile and has a long history of use. It is cooling, calming, and cleansing. Its antispasmodic action makes it useful for treating menstrual cramps, general pain, headaches and infant colic. As a digestive it reduces indigestion and gas. High levels of the volatile oil cintronellal are helpful for depression, insomnia, restlessness, nightmares, teething, and anxiety. Lemon balm is a favorite tea with children due to its mild taste. Powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties make it popular to treat childhood illnesses, the flu, colds, and viruses in the herpes family. As an antihistamine it is useful for allergies and eczema.
Lemon balm can be applied externally on sunburn, wounds, burns, insect bites, and boils.
Medicinal Parts:leave and immature tops. Due to loss of volatile oils it is better to use it fresh or frozen rather than dried.
Energetics:sour, cool, dry
Contraindications:Hypothyroidism. If you have a bee venom allergy do not use the essential oil in homemade bug repellant as bees love the smell.
Lemon balm appears in recipes to wrap fish. It can be a substitute for basil or parsley in pesto, salsa and tabouleh. Replace it for green in salad, soups, and sauces. Try it in a jelly, curd, or butter. Slip it into muffins and other baked goods.