A part of the mint family, lemon balm is the more common of the lemon herbs. Long found in many kitchen gardens because it gives a calm and restful sleep, supports memory and cognitive function, and improves indigestion. It is also effective as an insect repellant, boosts your immune system, and is rich in antioxidants.
Also called lemon beebrush, lemon verbena is another herb commonly found in kitchen gardens. You can use it to used to add a lemon flavor to fish, poultry, marinades, salad dressings, and jams. Herbalists love it because it can help protect your muscles, reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, calm the stomach, reduce fevers, soothe nerves, and clear up congestion.
Lemongrass is common in Asian and Indian cuisines, and imparts a subtle lemon flavor to foods and teas. Healthwise, it helps with digestion, nervousness, high blood pressure, and soothes the throat. Like lemon balm, it is a natural insect repellant. And you can use cooled lemongrass tea as a facial wash to treat acne.
When cooking with dried lemongrass, you’ll want to soak it in hot water for 2 hours before using. Fresh lemongrass can be used like a bay leaf: toss it in while cooking and remove it before eating.
More Ways to use the Lemon Herbs
To make tea from the lemon herbs, use 2 – 4 tablespoons of the dried herb per cup of boiling water, and let steep for 5 – 7 minutes. Or, you can try our Lemon Sunrise tea, which combines all of them along with some dried lemon peel for an extra bright lemony cup.
You can make a lemon herb butter by combining 5 tablespoons of lemon balm or verbena with a stick of room temperature butter. Then melt it over vegetables or meats, or spread it on fresh bread.
You can also make Lemon herb-infused oil for brushing on grilled meats, fish, and vegetables, or to use in stir-fries, pasta, and rice dishes. To make, heat 1 cup of olive oil in a skillet until warm. Remove from heat and add a third of a cup, or slightly more, of fresh lemon herb leaves, or 2 tablespoons dried herb, and steep for one hour at room temperature. Strain the leaves from the oil and store in a capped glass jar with a nonmetal lid for up to two weeks.
Lemon Herbs in a Nutshell
Whether or not you grow your own lemon herbs in your kitchen garden, they are all great to use for adding lemon flavor to your foods. Plus, they each have their own health benefits. Have a cup of lemon balm tea before bed, add some lemongrass to your next stir-fry, and make some lemon verbena infused olive oil, and you’ll be all set.