Feeling a tad stressed? Relax with a lemon balm aperitif.
As many of you know, I have been busy with a new startup company (Invibe Herbal) and so I have been woefully neglectful of you (sorry!!) and at times, a bit stressed out. So today in my kitchen, I made lemon balm brandy and lemon balm glycerin.
Of course I love fresh lemon balm tea, which I make all the time in the summer and drink chilled. However, I thought that come wintertime, when I had no fresh lemon balm on hand, that a drink made with lemon balm would be very relaxing. As you know, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) acts to help calm the central nervous system and on my next post, I will talk about all the benefits of lemon balm!
- A clean ball or mason jar (size depends on how much you want to make)
- Brandy, or vegetable glycerin if you want to make a non-alcoholic tincture
- Food processor or kitchen chopping knife and cutting board
- Salad spinner
- Waxed paper
- Label with date and ingredients
Depending on how you want to use your lemon balm tincture—as an aperitif or as a tincture, will determine how much lemon balm you put into your jar. The tighter it’s packed, the more tincture-like it will be.
Start with fresh lemon balm—it grows all over my yard (when I had the lawn mulched they wanted to pull weeds but I told them “don’t pull my lemon balm!”). Note: Because it will chop down to a fraction of its original size get more than you think you will need.
Tip: before I start, I like to put a book (or for me a lecture) on the speaker so I can listen and work as I go-I feel so much more productive, which takes some stress away right there!
I like to strip the leaves (and flowers) before rinsing—it’s just easier this way. To strip a plant, simply grab a stalk and start at the top and pull the leaves down—they come off easily this way. If this is unclear, just go onto youtube.com, as there is a video for everything!
Once the leaves have been stripped, put them in a salad spinner and rinse well and spin. You’ll have to spin several times to get the excess water out.
Now the leaves are ready to either be put in the food processor, or chopped up. I love taking out my knife and chopping food—I find it therapeutic. If you choose the latter, just keeping chopping the lemon balm finely, like you would parsley—until it’s really small.
I like to fill my ball jar tightly but not too tightly so my drink is part aperitif, part tincture. This is where you can choose the strength you desire. Once the jar is filled to your satisfaction with lemon balm, pour the brandy or glycerin over the lemon balm until the jar is full. I like to take a chop stick and stir it around to make sure all the plant is well covered.
Next, cut a small piece of wax appear and cover the top of the jar so the metal lid does not touch the tincture. Place a label on the jar :
Date: July 20, 2015
Ingredients: Lemon balm leaves (Melissa officinalis) and brandy
I like to shake my tinctures every day for a couple of weeks. With that said, I have tinctures still macerating from a year ago which are still perfectly good. Two weeks is enough, however.
I have a semi-professional press; however, you can just pour the tincture through a muslin bag into another ball jar. Just make sure you squeeze the liquid out well because brandy is not cheap! You can compost the lemon balm and the liquid is now ready to drink. Again, make sure you label it so you know when you’ve pressed it and what’s in it. Of course the same thing applies to the vegetable glycerin. This is great for kids when they are feeling a bit anxious. They can drink it straight or you can put a teaspoon in a cup of hot water and let them sip it. Glycerin is sweet, so no need to add honey. Your lemon brandy would goes nicely in a cup of hot tea, too.
So there you have—go harvest some lemon balm today so you’ll have a nice drink when you need it.
ps–If you haven’t come in for a tune up in a while, why not make an appointment-I’d love to see you!