Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:32 pm
Lemon balm thrives in many a garden and enjoys many uses. Particularly well it can be stored, if they dry lemon balm. Here you can learn how to get especially much flavor.
- Essential for extra flavor is the preservation of essential oils during drying
- Reduce injury to the leaves to a minimum during harvesting
- Dry and warm the lemon balm for about 10 to 14 days
When does lemon balm lose its aroma?
The essential oils contained in the plant juice are decisive for the aroma of Melissa officinalis. If the leaves are boiled for tea, crushed and added to desserts or used in other ways, precisely these substances are released. The result is an intense fragrance and a pleasant, fresh taste. During drying, precisely these substances are often lost, so that the result has little to do with the taste and smell of the fresh leaves.
Harvest lemon balm correctly
To ensure that this is exactly what doesn’t happen, you should already take care when harvesting to create as few areas as possible where the oils can evaporate. In general, this means that you should act as carefully and gently as possible. There are several ways to do this:
- Cut off leaves with sharp scissors directly at the base of the style.
- Carefully pluck off individual leaves with your fingers
- Cut off individual shoots, complete with style and leaves at the base, and dry them as a whole.
Now the next step is to remove the moisture from the plant, which in the long run leads to the deterioration of the substance – dry the lemon balm. The problem with this is that, on the one hand, the water should leave the cells. On the other hand, the essential oils should not escape, but remain in the cells. But how do you go about this? A few basic rules will help you to achieve this goal safely and to preserve as much aroma as possible in the dry leaves:
- Choose a warm and dry storage place (around 20 degrees Celsius).
- Ensure adequate ventilation to remove escaping moisture
- Store loose leaves in sieve or mesh bag
- Textile storage ideally hung up for optimal aeration
- Hang whole shoots upside down on shelves, hooks, etc.
After about 10 days to two weeks, the moisture contained will have escaped and you can finally store the leaves in a tight container.
Frequently asked questions
Can I also use an automatic dehydrator?
In principle, a dehydrator also works. However, the temperature here is usually very high, so that as a result the cells often burst and in addition to the water also the essential oils escape along with the contained aroma.
Why do I have to be so careful when harvesting?
Every bend or cut and every bruise of the plant damages cells from which the aroma-giving oils escape. The less these injuries are, the more flavor remains in the leaves.
Do I also need to store lemon balm in the dark?
Again and again you read about storing herbs warm, dry and dark. UV radiation does not destroy flavors. However, the color of the herbs suffers. Dark storage preserves a strong, appetizing shade of green.