Tag Archives: Lemon Balm

Nijntje Jellies

Making jelly is a simple way to encourage little people to become interested in herbs and provide them with a different way to eat some useful ingredients.  The jelly eater that these were made for, selected the herbs herself from balcony pots.

You can use many combinations of fruit and juice, whatever you have fresh to hand really.  Apple juice is very useful to sweeten up a more sour juice and yoghurt adds more substance.  I like to add a dash of rosewater here and there but it is not essential.  Many herbs are unsuitable to children so be cautious, adding only a little of herbs you know are very safe for children.

Gelatin is an animal product.  Agar agar, dervied from seaweed, could be used in place of gelatin as a setting agent.

Nijntje Orange, Peach & Mint Jelly

5 leaves of gelatin
Juice of 2 large juicy oranges
Apple juice
1/2 fresh peach or nectarine (peeled and chopped)
A few clean, finely chopped leaves of fresh garden mint or lemon balm
Dash of rosewater
Bunny shaped food moulds (or food safe plastic cups)

1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes before draining and squeezing out the excess.
2. Pour the squeezed orange juice through a seive into a measuring jug and top up to 250ml using apple juice.
3. Pour the fruit juices and dash of rosewater into to a small saucepan.
4. Add the soaked gelatin and chopped herbs. Heat very gently, not allowing to boil, stirring constantly until all the gelatin dissolves.
5. Add the chopped fruit and stir well to combine.
6. Pour carefully into the jelly moulds and allow to set in a refrigerator for a few hours.
7. Serve from the moulds or remove firstly.

Nijntje Carrot & Yoghurt Jelly

10 leaves of gelatin
125ml carrot juice
125ml pear juice / apple juice
250ml yoghurt
2 whole canned pears chopped
A few clean leaves of lemon verbena or mint or lemon balm, finely chopped
Pinch of ground ginger
Bunny shaped jelly moulds

1. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes before draining and squeezing out the excess.
2. Pour the juices and yoghurt into a saucepan, whisk up a little to combine.
4. Add the soaked gelatin, chopped herbs and ginger. Heat very gently, not allowing to boil, stirring constantly until all the gelatin dissolves.
5. Add the chopped pear and stir well to combine.
6. Pour carefully into the jelly moulds and allow to set in a refrigerator for a few hours.
7. Serve from the moulds or remove firstly.

Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm, NL:Citroenmelisse)

I love the uplifting citrus scent of fresh Lemon Balm (Melissa). In the spring and summer it smells and tastes magical; I eat leaves straight from the plant whilst gardening on the roof, add them to salads and ice cubes and frequently drink it as a tea. Lemon balm tastes great alone or in combination with other herbs, particularly mints. In the autumn and winter I use it dried, it smells good but quite different and has several really useful applications. I made a lip balm containing Melissa this weekend, to help fight off cold sores. I find it works a treat and thought it was time to share a few of this herb’s properties and uses.

The Latin name Melissa means honeybee and this herb is very attractive to bees. It has been planted near beehives since the time of ancient Greece as it encourages bees to return home.  The herb is a member of the mint family and has long been associated with love, friendship, health, healing, success and good cheer. It was the main ingredient in Carmelite water and has a reputation for relieving symptoms of mild depression.

Lemon Balm grows very well in almost any soil, does well in pots and can be divided to make extra plants throughout spring, summer and early autumn.  It is a hardy herbaceous perennial, a pretty variagated variety is available and it makes a great urban herb.

Melissa can be used to:

  • Cool. It can induce a mild perspiration so is sometimes useful taken as a tea when feverish with colds or flu.  In hot weather its cooling properties are also welcomed.
  • Scent. The fresh lemon odour makes Melissa valuable dried in potpourri, as a breath freshener and when the leaves are bruised it can really lift spirits.
  • Flavour. The lemony fresh leaves can be chopped into salads, ice cubes, mayonnaise, white sauces, sauerkraut, custards, jellies, fruit drinks and wine cups.
    Lemon balm can also be used to create wonderfully aromatic vinegars, alone or in combination with herbs such as Tarragon.  They can be used in delicious salad dressings, marinades and sauces.
  • Relieve cold sores.  Some commercial cold sore preparations contain lemon balm but it is easy and cheap to make your own balm.  Recent scientific research has also found that preparations containing Melissa can reduce recurrence of cold sores and can shorten the duration of attacks.
  • Calm and soothe. Lemon balm may be helpful to those suffering from grief, mild depression, anxiety, tension and sleeplessness. It can help digestive problems caused by these issues and many find it works as a relaxing tonic.  Recent scientific research has also found it to be useful in managing agitation in Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Relieve headaches. A tasty remedy for simple tension headaches it to soak a handful of freshly picked leaves in a glass of wine for an hour, or drink a tea made from the dried leaves.
  • Relieve chronic bronchial catarrh. Lemon balm tea can help to ease symptoms.

How to make Cold Sore fighting lip balm

  • Follow my instructions about How To Make Salves, Ointments and Lip Balms using a 50:50 mix of Calendula and Melissa heat infused oils.
  • Warm very gently as you dissolve the grated beeswax, I stir with a clean finger to check that the temperature remains really low.
  • Ensure you test the consistency and adjust it accordingly, with more wax or more oil, before pouring into small pots.  Lip balm for cold sores shouldn’t be too firm as application may be painful.
  • When I use a pot of balm to treat a cold sore, I tend to throw away any remainder when the sore is healed. This reduces the risk of using contaminated balm once the skin is healed.