How to Harvest Lemon Balm And Store It Right

When it comes to growing lemon balm, harvesting is an important step in the process. Knowing when and how to harvest your lemon balm can ensure that you get the most out of your plant.

Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is a perennial herb that is commonly used in teas, essential oils, and other natural remedies.

When Should I Harvest Lemon Balm?

Harvesting lemon balm at the right time is crucial to ensure that you get the best flavor and aroma from the leaves. The best time to harvest lemon balm is in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the sun is too hot. This is when the oils in the leaves are at their peak, giving you the most intense flavor and fragrance.

If you’re planning to use lemon balm for cooking or making tea, it’s best to harvest the leaves when the plant is in full bloom. This is usually in the middle of summer, around July or August. At this stage, the leaves will be the most potent and flavorful.

To harvest lemon balm, simply cut the stems about 2 inches above the ground using a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Be sure to leave some stems on the plant so that it can continue to grow and produce more leaves.

If you’re planning to dry the lemon balm for later use, harvest the leaves just before the plant starts to flower. This is when the leaves contain the highest concentration of oils, which will give you the most intense flavor and aroma when dried.

How to Harvest Lemon Balm?

When it comes to harvesting lemon balm, it’s important to do it at the right time and in the right way to ensure the best flavor and potency. Here are some steps to follow when harvesting lemon balm:

  1. Choose the right time: The best time to harvest lemon balm is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun gets too hot. This is when the oils in the leaves are at their strongest and most fragrant.
  2. Cut the stems: Use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to cut the stems of the lemon balm plant. Cut just above a set of leaves to encourage new growth.
  3. Leave some stems: When harvesting, be sure to leave at least a third of the plant intact. This will help the plant to continue growing and producing new leaves.
  4. Wash and dry: Wash the leaves thoroughly in cool water and pat them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Be sure to remove any damaged or discolored leaves.
  5. Store properly: Store the leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. You can also freeze the leaves for later use.

Storing Lemon Balm

After harvesting lemon balm, it is important to properly store it to retain its flavor and aroma. Here are three ways to store lemon balm:

Store Fresh Lemon Balm

If you plan to use lemon balm within a few days, store it in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator. Make sure to keep the leaves dry and remove any damaged or wilted ones before storing. Fresh lemon balm can last up to one week in the refrigerator.

Dry Lemon Balm

Drying lemon balm is a great way to preserve its flavor for long-term storage. To dry lemon balm, tie a bunch of stems together and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. Once the leaves are dry and crumbly, remove them from the stems and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Dried lemon balm can last up to one year.

Freeze Lemon Balm

Freezing lemon balm is another way to preserve its flavor and aroma. To freeze lemon balm, chop the leaves and place them in ice cube trays filled with water or olive oil. Once frozen, remove the cubes and store them in a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen lemon balm can last up to six months.

Tips for Maximizing Harvest

To get the most out of your lemon balm plant, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Harvest in the morning

The best time to harvest lemon balm is in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun is too high in the sky. This is when the plant’s essential oils are at their strongest, giving you the most flavor and aroma.

2. Cut back regularly

To encourage new growth and keep your lemon balm plant healthy, it’s important to cut it back regularly. This will also help prevent the plant from becoming too woody or leggy.

3. Use sharp, clean tools

Always use sharp, clean tools when harvesting lemon balm. Dull or dirty tools can damage the plant and introduce disease. Clean your tools with rubbing alcohol or a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water before and after use.

4. Dry or freeze excess harvest

If you find yourself with more lemon balm than you can use fresh, consider drying or freezing it for later use. To dry, hang the stems upside down in a cool, dry place until the leaves are crispy. To freeze, chop the leaves and freeze them in ice cube trays with a little water or oil.

Photo of author

Ana Harned

With over a decade of experience in gardening and horticulture, Ana Harned is a passionate botanist dedicated to promoting sustainable gardening practices. She holds a degree in botany and currently serves as the editor for Backyard Gardeners Network. Ana's love for gardening extends beyond her personal garden, as she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others about the joys and benefits of cultivating plants.

Leave a Comment