What are the major differences between lemon balm vs mint? These two scented herbs are used worldwide in many preparations, regardless of whether they are sweet or savory.
Although it is more exotic, lemon balm, when compared to mint, isn’t very popular. Mint is more common, and it is easier to find. Lemon balm also has a mild lemony flavor, while the flavor of mint is simply minty.
Nonetheless, neither of them is really that difficult to find, and if worse comes to worst, you can grow them yourself.
For the fact that both tend to show up in the same dishes, you may start wondering which of them is best to use.
Lemon Balm Vs Mint: Differences
Even though they both come from the same family, it is essential to note that they come from different branches of that family.
There is only one lemon balm, which is called the Melissa Officinalis, but there are over 40 other varieties of mint. Lemon balm and the mint varieties differ in both appearance and flavor.
The flavor of lemon balm is mildly lemony with a very slight note of mint, while the flavor of the mint is simply minty with no taste of lemon.
Lemon balm is most likely the least versatile between the two as its applications in the western world are concerned. It is not as familiar as the mint and doesn’t play a prominent role in popular dishes as the mint does.
Different in varieties
As we have mentioned earlier, there are up to 40 different varieties of mint, and there is only one Melissa Officinalis, which is the Lemon Balm.
This points out that the mint has more to offer in terms of flavor, but people still tend to look towards the more popular spearmint.
There is so much variation within the mint, spanning from the spearmint to the stronger peppermint or light and gentle apple-mint to a heavily cocoa-based after eight mint variety.
The type of plants
The lemon balm is a perennial plant, its leaves are oval, and it has a strong central spine with veins coming outwards. Mint, on the other hand, is similar in appearance, and it is a perennial as well.
Lemon balm can grow to as much as 24 inches in height; some other varieties of mint can grow up to 8 feet in height.
Both mint and lemon balm are intrusive in nature and grow by runners. This makes keeping these herbs still difficult.
Pots or containers can be an excellent solution option, but their runners can still be found trying to escape the bottoms of those plant pots!
You can go right ahead to harvest the mint and lemon balm leaves once you notice the plants have become established.
During winter, the plant organs are likely to die off unless you have very mild weather. In this situation, you can dry them, and it would do very well with retaining their flavor.
If you rub the leaves of the lemon balm, you are greeted with a scent that has a citrus, zesty warmth to your mint aroma.
The spearmint leaves give just a lovely fresh mint scent.
The varieties of mint give a differing aroma, which ranges from chocolate scent to pineapple, but it is always with an underlying aroma that is menthol in nature.
Similarities Between Lemon Balm and Mint
Both plants of lemon balm and mint enjoy being planted in a sunny area in a spot that is partially shaded; they also like plenty of rainwater because this would have their roots in well-drained soil.
You will also get to find out that bees and pollinators alike love them, that is, if you allow the plants to mature and flower and then produce spikes of a color ranging from white to pale pink and purple clusters of tiny blossoms.
Mint is more common in the UK and the European mainlands because of the number of varieties it has. Lemon balm has only one, even though it is one that you can find in diversified forms as well.
Can You Substitute Lemon Balm For Mint And Vice Versa?
The established differences between the flavors of lemon balm and mint are too crucial that one cannot be used in place of the other.
Using them as direct substitutes for one another will drastically alter the flavor of the dish you’re making.
Then again, they would work in many of the same applications.
For example, a cocktail made with lemon balm will not really be ruined if you use mint in its stead. Also, a meat-flavored dish will usually work out fine if you switch to lemon balm.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you use lemon balm, and when should you use mint?
You can use lemon balm in preparing dishes that can benefit from a mild citrus note. This would include fish and poultry preparations. You can also use a touch of lemon as well as a subtle mint flavor to improve salad dressings.
You can also use the mint in dishes where you’d want the mint’s strong herbal character and the cooling effect.
It will work well as a contrast for the strong flavors of meats from lamb or mutton; its menthol notes also help to brighten the flavors of salads and some beverages.
What are the health benefits of lemon balm and mint?
Lemon balm helps in reducing stress and anxiety, helps to boost cognitive function, helps tackle insomnia, and can be used as a treatment for cold sores, to relieve indigestion, treat nausea, and combat menstrual cramps.
On the other hand, mint aids digestion, helps with symptoms of IBS, aids brain function, and studies show that it may even reduce the pain associated with breastfeeding.
What does lemon balm taste like?
Lemon balm has a bright, citrusy taste.
Is lemon balm as aggressive as mint?
Although lemon balm shares the mint’s tendency to grow and spread quickly, lemon balm is less aggressive.
What does lemon balm repel?
Lemon balm repels mosquitoes and gnats.
If you have been thinking about which one to choose between lemon balm and mint, we hope we have been able to provide answers to your questions. Lemon balm vs mint is all dependent on preference.
Note that mint can be a better substitute for the lemon balm if you add the lemon zest. In the same vein, you can make the lemon balm mintier by adding a little amount of mint extract.
When it comes to making tea, though, lemon balm and mint are popular herbs, but they have distinct features.
While they share similar medicinal and digestive benefits, it is essential to note that the lemon balm works as a sleep aid and ataractic.
Mint, on the other hand, doesn’t help with sleep or anxiety in any way.