Lemon Balm - How to Cook and Grow

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Not one of the major herbs but does deserve a bit more attention than it gets, a quick growing perennial which can reach a height of two to three feet and similarly across it is also known as balm or sweet balm. Native to the Mediterranean and Central Europe both the green and variegated varieties are now common in American and British gardens. Lemon balm is perhaps better known for its medicinal qualities than its culinary ones, throughout the ages it has been used to cure toothache, depression, flatulence, colic, tension and even baldness.


Lemon Balm
 

How to Grow

Lemon balm grows well in relatively poor soil with full sun or a light shade. It is usual to buy the plant but if growing from seed be patient, the seeds should be sewn in late winter/early spring in a greenhouse or heated propagator and will be slow to germinate. Donít bother covering the seeds with soil because they are tiny and will easily fall to the bottom of your seed tray.

How to Cook

Rarely used in the professional kitchen, lemon balm, especially the variegated variety makes a useful addition to any salad with its splash of colour and intense citrus taste and aroma. Used as a seasoning for poultry and egg dishes as well as a garnish for a summer cocktail it will also give a pleasing kick to strawberries or a wild tea infusion.

Content and picture © Miles Collins

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