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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.

Cold Season

What NOT To Do During Cold And Flu Season

While this article is called what NOT to do, I will be offering a plethora of what TO DO.

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be sick every single season, when others cruise through? It’s not just because they are lucky, it’s because of the old survival rule ‘Be Prepared’

 

DON’Ts –

  1. Don’t “starve a fever and feed a cold” – don’t do either. Instead, drink a lot of water, preferably warm as it helps to soothe mucous membranes. Drink fresh juices – get yourself a juicer so you can do this at least once a day. Raw foods are proven immune strengtheners. Eat healthy – I know we all want to comfort eat but that is damaging and can in fact just start a downward spiral.
  2. Hot milk
    Hot milk (Photo credit: anasararojas)

    Don’t drink sugary or milky warm drinks – this increases acidity, which puts you in the sick room in the first place. It also increases mucous which you don’t want. Constant aggravation of your nervous system and digestive system will only aggravate your respiratory system. Instead, drink lots of warm water infused with beneficial herbs such as nasturtium thyme, sage, chamomile, mint and Himalayan salt. It replaces valuable electrolytes as well as soothing airways and flushing out toxins.

  3. Don’t sit indoors in warm rooms 24/7 – this actually allows the bugs to grow due to increased humidity. If you are suffering a fever, by all means rug up and warm your body but the fresh air outside is far more beneficial. As is the great big free Vitamin D machine – sunshine. Don’t cover up, don’t block out the sun’s rays. Considering we need a few hours a day to absorb sufficient D, many of us are lacking. And considering asthma is linked to a D deficiency, it explains why lots of kids and even adults suffer with asthma so frequently.
  4. Don’t just use mentholated rub on your chest or neck. Don’t laugh but the best place to use it is on the soles of your feet. I am not joking. If you cough, it will actually stop it faster than any cough medicine. For kids, rub it on before bed and cover feet with socks. It works. Of course, try and find a non-petroleum jelly based rub – there are many based on safer gels.
  5. Don’t share your germs! Don’t go to work, don’t send your kids to school or daycare, don’t cough in public and don’t cough into your hands. Each of these things will spread sickness faster than anything else. I personally get angry when I am forced to share the germs of others. I don’t share mine and I appreciate others offering the same respect.
  6. Don’t try and work it out of you. Think about the animals in the wild. When they are sick, they sleep and even hibernate. Sometimes they eat plants for instinctive healing, but most of all they sleep. We need to learn to do the same. If your body is telling you it is too tired or weak to work, listen. Go to bed, sleep it off. You’d do the same for a hangover or late night, and they are self inflicted. If your body speaks, just allow yourself to listen it. Rather than drag an illness out or make it worse (no, you can’t sweat it out by overburdening it) you may just find you cut the duration.
  7. Don’t just let your body suffer. That is one of the worst things you can do and I am amazed at the number of so-called experts who will advise you to do this very thing. The body cannot heal well while it is under duress. If a cut is inflamed and you irritate it, will it heal? The same can be said for any inflammatory illness. Soothe it with analgesia – that can range from willowbark and feverfew to a special paracetamol/codeine formulation.
  8. Don’t ignore it hoping it will go away. All you are doing is putting off the inevitable and inviting more chronic illness. I have lost count of the number of chronically unwell people who begin with “I thought it was just a cold and that it would go away.”

So what can you do?

Well, apart from what has been written above, there is a LOT you can do.

  1. A herbal ‘antibiotic’– of which there are many. Most will contain echinacea and garlic – funny enough, most doctors will say not to waste your time, yet studies have proven that in contagious disease, including drug-resistant strains, that herbal medicine is far more effective than any drug on the market. And with far less side effects. These herb-biotics can range from basic herbs to Chinese herbs (free of questionable and cruelly-derived animal ingredients) and can be in tablet or tonic forms. The taste does take some getting used to but in my house at least, the kids love the taste.

    An Ikea garlic press, with pressed garlic.
    pressed garlic (source: wikipedia)
  2. Steaming and nasal washing – using neti pots, steam machines, even a hot shower – these all serve to clean and soothe the mucous membranes and actually speed healing.
  3. Look at your lifestyle and diet. If you find yourself getting repeated coughs, colds and flus, it is no coincidence. Overhaul your diet – include raw and fresh food, lots of water and remove all the usual triggers of ill health – wheat, yeast, sugar, dairy and meat. See these foods as a rare treat. If you have detrimental habits/addictions you may have to ask yourself what is more important.
  4. Hot baths (hydrotherapy). You may not believe this but if you run a hot bath and add a tablespoon each of powdered ginger, Epsom Salts and Bicarb, you will draw and ‘break’ the virus. Try it – it works. The same therapy is safe for all ages.
  5. Orange, pear, appleIncrease antioxidant intake. Fresh, raw juices – cucumber, celery, carrot, apple, orange, berry, cabbage, kale, spinach. The benefits of these foods raw, are far too numerous to mention. Studies have shown that antioxidant intake is better than just about any other option – A, C, E, curcuminoids (turmeric etc), pine bark extract, olive leaf extract, etc – all not only fight the virus but knock off free radicals and soothe tissues.
  6. Foot soaks. Foot spas or even a bucket of hot water with Epsom Salts, Eucalyptus and other essential oils will draw out toxins and warm the body.
  7. Washing – both your body and surroundings. You need to wash away the toxins that build up at least once every two days (if you are very unwell). Your clothing and bedding will need regular cleaning and disinfecting with a healthy option such as eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil.
  8. Excrete – no joke. There are herbs that help with expectoration (coughing up of mucous), diaphoresis (sweating), urination (flushing through the kidneys) and bowel evacuation which needs to be kept frequent in order to prevent stagnant build up and weakened processes. See my other articles on such herbs – it’s worth it for everyone to either have a little herb garden or a store of them in the pantry.

 

Be pro-active this season. If you are already unwell, please take the steps necessary to get well. If you are not yet affected, please take the steps to build your immunity and make your environment one that discourages poor immunity. Don’t ignore it hoping it will go away. All you are doing is putting off the inevitable and inviting more chronic illness. I have lost count of the number of chronically unwell people who begin with “I thought it was just a cold and that it would go away.”

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.

See also

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