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Lemon balm thrives in many a garden and enjoys many uses. They can be stored particularly well if they dry lemon balm. Here you can find out how to get a particularly large amount of aroma.

In a nutshell

  • Preserving the essential oils during drying is essential for a particularly large amount of aroma
  • Minimize injury to leaves during harvest
  • 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 over desserts or used in any other way, exactly these substances are released. The result is an intense fragrance and a pleasant, fresh taste. These substances are often lost during drying, so that the result has little to do with the taste and smell of the fresh leaves.

Harvest lemon balm properly

To ensure that this does not happen, you should make sure during the harvest that there are as few areas as possible where the oils can evaporate. In general, this means that you should act as carefully and gently as possible. You have various options for doing this:

  • Cut off the leaves with sharp scissors right at the base of the stem
  • Gently pick off individual leaves with your fingers
  • Cut off individual shoots complete with stalk and leaves at the base and dry as a whole

The drying

The next step is to remove the moisture from the plant, which in the long run will lead to the substance going bad - drying the lemon balm. The problem with this is that on the one hand the water should escape from the cells. The essential oils, on the other hand, should not escape, but remain in the cells. But how do you go about it? A few basic rules will help you to reach your goal safely and to get as much aroma as possible in the dry leaves:

  • Choose a warm and dry storage location (around 20 degrees Celsius)
  • Ensure adequate ventilation to dissipate escaping moisture
  • Store loose leaves in colander or mesh bag
  • Ideally hang up textile storage for optimal ventilation
  • Hang whole shoots upside down on shelves, hooks, etc

After around 10 days to two weeks, the moisture contained has escaped and you can then store the leaves in a tight container.

frequently asked Questions

Can I also use a dehydrator?

In principle, a dehydrator also works. However, the temperature here is usually very high, so that the cells often burst as a result and the essential oils and the aroma escape along with the water.

Why do I have to be so careful when harvesting?

Every kink, cut, and bruise on the plant damages cells from which the flavoring oils escape. The smaller these injuries are, the more flavor remains in the leaves.

Do I also have to keep the lemon balm in the dark?

Again and again one reads about storing herbs in a warm, dry and dark place. UV radiation does not destroy flavors. However, the color of the herbs suffers. A dark storage gets a strong, appetizing shade of green.

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