Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
Thanks in no small part to Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy, it has become impossible for us to stroll through a farmers market without thinking about which fruits and vegetables belong to which plant family. One look at lemon balm leaves—whether coarse and hairy in texture, arrowhead or heart-shaped, or scallop-edged—and you'd likely guess that the plant belongs to the same family as mint and shiso. And you'd be right. One more clever deduction, this time from its name, and you'll figure out that this herb is lemon-scented. Some compare its lemony flavor and aroma to that of furniture polish (and, in fact, the leaves can be used to polish wood), but you're probably better off putting lemon balm to use in other ways.