The French and Latin names are from the Greek for "bee."
Its taste depends on the quality of the soil: the poorer the soil, the stronger the lemon balm's scent.
Its leaves, 3 to 7 cm long, are light green, oval, downy and have dentated sides and deep ribs.
Lemon balm has some selective loves. Rich in nectar, it attracts bees, and thus is classed among melliferous plants. It is even said that bee-keepers rub their hives with a handful of lemon balm to increase their swarms. On lovely summer evenings, many nobles would have lemon balm leaves burnt in earthenware pots so that mosquitoes would not interrupt their declarations of love in the open air. Keeping with this natural association, infuse light honey with a little lemon balm to enhance a vinaigrette, a sauce, or even a sorbet or dessert.
Nutritional values per 100 g
Rich in calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A and C.
Buying lemon balm
It is best to buy lemon balm fresh, since other means of conservation take away its essential flavor.
Choose leaves that show no signs of yellowing or wilting.
Fresh: in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, or with its stems in a glass of water.
Unlike with many fresh herbs, there is no doubt as to how it can be used. Its delicate, lemony flavour calls to mind immediately its culinary affinities: it is perfect for flavoring fish, salads, mayonnaise, eggs, white meats, poultry and cream sauces. It goes well with ginger, chives, parsley and citrus fruit.
Its delicacy makes it poorly suited for grilled red meats, game and basil: in short, anything having a pronounced taste, which may throw off the balance of flavors.
Basic recipe for sweet sauce, frozen dessert: Blend quickly in a blender or food processor ripe raspberries
1 handful of lemon balm leaves, dash Cassis. Add heavy cream and confectioner's sugar to taste
Use the zest of two lemons to replace 1 stem of lemon balm (though the flavor will be less subtle)
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