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5 Ways To Preserve Your Herbs

5 Ways To Preserve Your Herbs

5 Ways To Preserve Your HerbsYou can store herbs in several ways: drying, freezing, tinctures or glycerites, oils and vinegars.

Your desired use will determine the way you preserve them:

  • Drying is perfect for teas.
  • Freezing offers fresh tastes even during the cold winter.
  • Tinctures or glycerites are great tonics if you want an immunity enhance.
  • Oils and vinegars are full of the minerals and vitamins from the herbs, not captured in the tinctures and may be used in your cooking.

Drying Herbs

Hang herbs upside down in a dry, dark, well-ventilated location. Attics are ideal for this. Put a paper bag around them to avoid dust.
Put them in a jar once they are dry. Use a glass container, not plastic and place away from direct sunlight or heat. Your basement or a closet is perfect.

Freezing Herbs

Freezing can be achieved in 2 ways:

  • Clean and dry the fresh herbs and put on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When they are frozen, place them in freezer bags. A few herbs may turn brown or dark after freezing, but the flavor remains preserved.
  • Another way is to mix the herbs in some water or oil and freeze in ice cube trays. Employ 2 cups washed leaves to 1 ½ cups water or 6 cups leaves to ½ cup oil. Freeze then place in freezer bags. Just add the cubes to your recipes.

Tinctures

You can make tinctures with alcohol or vegetable glycerin, which is technically a glycerite.

Alcohol should be 80-100 proof. Use fresh herbs if you can ,. The ratio is 1:2 for fresh, i.e. 50g of fresh herb per 100g of menstruum. The ratios for dried are 1:5, i.e. 50g of dried herb for 250g of menstruum.

Put the herbs in a jar, cover completely with the liquid and cap. Place in a cool, dark place – back to the basement, for 4-6 weeks shaking daily. Always label your tinctures with the date. When done, strain the herbs off with gauze and bottle the liquid.

Normally ½ to 1 teaspoon, 3 times a day is a good dosage. As with anything medicinal, if you see an allergic reaction like rash, trouble breathing etc., cease use immediately.

Oil Infusion

Herb infused oils are fantastic to employ in cooking, but also if you want to make a salve or ointment, you already have the base ready. They’re also perfect for massage or liniments.

Only use fresh virgin olive oil. Fill a jar ¾ full of fresh chopped herbs. Put oil to cover the herbs to ¼ inch below the jar top. Put a piece of gauze over the jar top and secure with the metal ring. This will let the moisture to escape and keep the oil from becoming rancid. Place in a warm, sunny location for a minimum of 14 days, stirring daily. After you have let the oil steep, strain off the herbs and cap. Store in a cool, dark location.

Vinegars

Tincturing draws out the therapeutic properties of herbs, but not the minerals and vitamins. The best choice is to use raw, organic apple cider vinegar. Always use fresh herbs. Lightly position the herbs in a jar, don’t jam. Cover with vinegar and top with a plastic lid. If you haven’t one, put some plastic wrap over the jar and screw down the lid. Label your jar with the date. Shake daily for 6 weeks. Strain and store. Use to marinate meats, fish, vegetables, or on your salads or take as a tonic, ¼ tsp at a time.

Urtica

Fascinating Facts about the Nettle

Urtica dioica, near Bruges, Belgium
Urtica dioica, near Bruges, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nettle plants (Urtica spp.) have been used for centuries due to their fantastic health benefits, and excellent healing powers, which people have utilized over the years. This fascinating plant is part of the Urticaceae family, which is made up of over 30 different species. Many of these plants and vines have incredible medicinal properties, which can help with a huge array of ailments.

There are specific male and female flowers on these plants, rather than a mix of both, and they are mostly herbaceous plants. Many of the different nettles, which you will find, have stinging hairs on the stem and leaves. These hairs will burn your skin when you touch the plant; however, they do not affect you when eaten.

The most common species of the nettle plant is the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), which is found in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe. This is also the oldest form of nettle, and the one that is used the most for medicine and healing properties. Many gardeners do not like to have this form of plant in their garden, however, if correctly handled, it can be a huge asset to grow.

The plant will lay dormant throughout the winter months, and return with a flourish in spring. You will find the nettles where there is an abundance of water, as they love moisture such as spring holes and lakes.

Healthy nettles can reach up to 2m in height, and will take over the area if allowed to grow freely. However, you need to be careful when gathering the plant, as they can irritate your skin. Wearing long trousers and sleeves are advised, alongside gloves to gather the plants before use. You will need to cut the nettles at the stem, and try to keep as much distance as possible.

 

homemade nettle soup
homemade nettle soup (Photo credit: H is for Home)

As food and drink, there are several different methods, which are effective, and can produce healthy alternatives to your daily diet. The flavor of the nettle is incredibly similar to spinach and cucumber; however, the leaves will need to be soaked before use. This will remove the chemicals, which cause the stinging effect.

During the peak season for nettles, the leaves contain over 25% of protein in their dry form, which is incredibly high for a green vegetable. Once the leaves have been soaked, you can handle them like any other herb, placing them in tea, soup or dressings. You will be surprised how many different recipes you can use the nettle leaves within, and how amazing they taste.

Nettles can be consumed in several different forms, including as soups, stews, or drunk as tea. The leaves of the plant are incredibly nutritious and contain high levels of potassium, iron, vitamin K, C and A. The vitamin K, which is found in the plant, will also help to stop wounds bleeding, and some people have used nettles as a laxative.

 

As more people than ever before are searching for alternative medicines, and natural remedies for everyday ailments, the popularity of the nettle has risen. Rising costs of drugs, and the uncertainty of what is included in them has sparked an interest in herbal medicine. People look at the ancient ways of healing, and utilizing what plants they have in the garden.

The humble leaf of the plant is astringent, galactagogue, diuretic, and hemostatic. This is an impressive list that many plants cannot offer, therefore, making the nettles an incredibly useful plant. Some people feel that the incredible tales that have been told are only folklore. However, as more people study nettles, there is now scientific research to back the tales.

Scientists have studied these amazing plants for centuries, to determine what they are useful for, and the best methods to use the plants. There have been studies carried out for hypertension, rheumatic diseases, diarrhea, kidney issues, constipation, cancer, skin disease and asthma. All of which benefit from the use of nettles either applied or consumed, therefore, this plant is considered to be incredibly useful.

The nettles have also been proven to help with dandruff and are often used in shampoos, it can make your hair glossy, and many farmers feed this plant to their cattle to produce an excellent coat.

 

infusion

Herbal Preparations: Infusion

Infusions are one of the prominent herbal preparations. The main difference between an infusion and a simple herbal tea is in time and quantity.

  • An ordinary herbal teas is made with 1-2 teaspoons of herbs per cup and brewed for a few minutes.
  • Infusions are made with 1-2 tablespoons of dried herbs per 1 liter of water and brewed for several hours or even overnight.

How To Prepare An Infusion

When making them, it is advisable to infuse each and every herb on its own instead of mixing the different herbs together.

I like to use a container that has a tight lid because it retains the essence. When compared to a teapot, a container that has a tight lid is much better because it retains the essence. Jars that come with a screw top are the best and especially if they are warmed first.

You should first of all place a cup of herbs into a 1 liter jar and seal tightly after filling to the top with water that is boiling. You should leave this to brew for around 4 hours for leaf infusions and 2 hours for flower infusions. Once you are done with brewing, make sure that you strain off the liquid well on a muslin cloth by pressing out the last drops and pouring them into a jar or bottle.

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Lavender-flower

The Healing Properties and Preparation of Lavender

Lavender  (Lavandula spp.) is a flowering plant genus found in the Mint family (Lamiaceae). There are 39 species of lavender. It is native to southern Europe, North Africa, and the south-western regions of the Asian continent.

The lavender plant is cultivated for a number of reasons. The plant is commonplace in gardens because of its durability and beautiful appearance. Moreover, lavender has a beautiful and distinct scent. Most importantly however, the plant is versatile and has a number of different uses, ranging from culinary to medicinal.

Appearance

When looking for lavender, there are a few characteristics which are easily identifiable. Firstly, lavender grows as a small shrub.

It has leaves which are a medium grey color and appear to be quite linear. They also appear to be covered with ‘puff’.

The easiest characteristic to identify in lavender is the violet and sometimes blue flowers associated with the plant. They are found growing compactly in spikes.

A lavender plant can be anywhere from 30cm to 70cm tall.

If you are interested in harvesting lavender, the best time to do this is in the morning because that is the period when the flowers have an abundance of active substances.

 

Benefits

Lavender has a number of benefits for the human body, both internal and external. Lavender flowers have antiseptic, calming, and cicatrizing properties. These characteristics emerge because of mineral substances, tannin, and essential oils. In terms of internal relief, lavender has been known to cure digestive problems, headaches, asthma, dizziness, and heart problems. Finally, it is used as a relief for depression.

For headaches or anxiety, lavender tea and infusions are the best method for relieving your ailment. For colds or fever, lavender vinegar is effective. If you are afflicted with acne or have weak, damaged hair, lavender oil is useful. In addition, the oil can be used to cure insomnia, clear nostrils, and disinfect wounds.

Preparation

Here are some preparation methods for various mixtures containing lavender:

  • Lavender vinegar: Can be used for colds or simply as an insecticide. To make lavender vinegar, combine lavender flowers with juniper petals, sage leaves, mint, rose, and savory in one liter of vinegar. Allow the mixture to macerate for seven days. After this, filter out the plants and top the remaining mixture off with some vinegar until it once again levels at one liter.
  • Lavender tincture: Can be used for throat afflictions or as a mouthwash. Combine 200g of lavender flowers with one liter of alcohol. Add 500ml of distilled water to the compound. Leave this mixture to soak for four days, occasionally stirring. Finally, filter out the lavender and use as necessary.
  • Lavender tea: Used for stress and headaches. Also has applications for light wounds and minor burns. Combine two teaspoons of lavender flowers with one cup of hot water. It must be drunk while it is hot. If you would like to sweeten your tea, honey is recommended. Additionally, if the tea is being used for cuts or burns, utilize five or six teaspoons of lavender flowers for a stronger mixture.
  • Lavender oil: Arguably the most useful of all lavender mixtures. Combine 20g of lavender flowers which have been dried with approximately 20ml of alcohol. Put this mixture in a medium sized jar and add 200ml of olive oil. Stir the ingredients well. Place the mixture in a steam bath and let it boil for two hours. Stir every fifteen minutes. Once you have completed the steam bath, cover the mixture for two days, after which you can filter it through gauze. Finally, the mixture must be left in a cool, dark place. If you are using lavender oil for skin afflictions, it is recommended that it is applied once a weak, preferably in the evening, to freshly cleaned skin. After being left on the skin for 20 minutes, it should be washed off with warm water.

These are just a few of the mixtures which can be made from the lavender plant.

Apart from the medicinal uses of lavender, the plant can also be used in cooking and baking, as well as in various cosmetic applications. However, if you keep in mind the few mixtures provided as well as the method in which you can identify the lavender plant, you will always be capable of utilizing the healing benefits of lavender to help you in your everyday life.

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