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Showing posts with label herbal tea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label herbal tea. Show all posts

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Drying Your Herbs

A simple process which takes us back in time is the technique our mothers and grandmothers used. They would use attic rafters or a back room on the north side of the house to dry their herbs. Their home was their work place and every possible space was used. All that was needed was an area with low light and an opened window for ventilation. Air conditioning, if available, was a bonus because it sped up the drying process by removing humidity.

Leaves should be dried while on the stems. Bundle your material and wrap a string around the bottom of the stems and then hang them upside down for drying. The bundles should be small for faster drying time and can be hung from rafters or on the wall using push pins. Large bundles take longer to dry and can collect a lot of dust or can become moldy.

Another method is to place the plant material loosely in a paper sack into which a good number of holes have been punched in the sides for ventilation. Tie the top with a string and hang to dry. This serves to keep the dust from the plant material and allows for something suitable for labeling.

Attach an identification tag on your materials that are drying so that you can identify them later. Some herbs can look the same once they have been dried.

Another great idea for drying small amounts of material is to place it into a wicker style basket that has been lined with paper towels. The basket can be placed on a table out of direct sunlight. The material should be fluffed every now and then to prevent settling.

Once dried, leaves are easily removed by stripping them from the stems. Sometimes you may have to grind the stems along with the leaves, such as the case with thyme. It can be tedious to strip its tiny leaves, so the dried stems and leaves are both ground for use. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

To harvest seeds, such as dill, place a paper bag over the seed head, then snip from the plant. You should attempt to get the seeds just before they have turned completely dark, and they are still attached to the plant. Once they begin falling, they go rather quickly. If a few seeds fall from the head when it is gently tapped, then it is time to harvest.

Another method of drying a lot of material at one time is to do it in an electric oven. If your oven can maintain a temperature between 80-90 deg. F, then you can dry your herbs on a cookie sheet. I do not prefer this method because of the cost involved of running an electric oven. But, if you need to dry a lot of material quickly, then this method may be for you. The herb is dry and ready for storage when the leaves crackle between your fingers.

Ideally, you should invest in a dehydrator if you plan to store a great many herbs. This is almost essential for roots. Cut the roots into small pieces, or sliced thin. It also makes the whole harvest ready for storage in a very short time. Try to get one that will operate without heat or has a thermostat.

After approximately one year, dried herbs begin to lose their potency and flavor, so they should be replaced by a fresh harvest every year. Some herbs can last longer than one year. Most herbs can be placed in plastic bags and fresh frozen. Basil will develop a dark color, but the taste will be unaffected.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Herbal Tea- Grow Your Own

When it comes to good herbal tea, the fresher the better. Herbal teas are better tasting and more potent when they are at their peak of freshness. Growing your own herbal tea ensures not only that you have the freshest tea available, but you control the growing, the fertilizing and making sure it is organic, meaning you are not using poisonous pesticides in your growing process.

Herbal teas are used in many ways from soothing sore throats to easing digestion, and not to forget relaxation. Herbal teas can be planted in a garden in your yard, in flower pots in the house, on window sills, on the porch. Just about any place you can put a planting pot, you can grow herbal tea.

Herbal tea can be grown from seed or you can purchase them as starter plants, which is a little more expensive, but makes growing faster. I would rather grow them from seed so that I have control on what is used in the process.

You need approximately 4-5 of each herbal tea plant in order to grow enough herbal tea to keep you in a good supply of tea. Growing is easy, just read and follow the instructions on the seed package. Herbal tea seeds can be purchased from several online stores. Just use you favorite web search engine and you can find several sources to purchase from.

When ever you fell the need for a cup of herbal tea, you can take it fresh from the plant as it is growing. When harvesting your tea, try to use it with two days for the best results for potency. If you have an over abundance of herbal tea at the end of the growing cycle or season, you can always harvest the tea and dry it for later use.

To dry the herbal tea, tie a small bundle of stalks or stems together and then hang them upside down in an area away from moisture. When the material is dry and has a crispy texture, you can then store the herbal tea in an air tight container.

Some herbal tea plants bloom every season after they have been planted (perennial). For these plants do not cut the stalks too low or they may not bloom or grow next season. Once the tea is dried and properly stored, it should last for about two years.

Good Herbal Teas To Grow:

Lavender- helps you relax, boosts immunity and is anti-bacterial
Chamomile- helps you relax, aids digestion, and is anti-inflammatory (German species)
Calendula- helps the lymph system and is anti-inflammatory
Hops- helps you relax and aids in digestion
Mint- helps with headaches, digestion and sinusitis
Passionflower- helps you relax and calms the nerves
Lemon Verbena- helps with sleep, concentration and digestion
Rosemary- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Marjoram- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Basil- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Thyme- helps upper respiratory problems and sore throats; antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Herbal teas can be mixed together to produce exotic flavors and healthful uses. For example, you can combine chamomile, passionflower and lavender for a calming nightime blend.

Sip your way to good health!