Archive for January, 2012

Sweetheart Recipe Exchange Contest!

Posted by Erin|31 January 2012

Our hearts are all aflutter after ogling the beautiful handmade creations over at Poppy Swap! As a big ol’ love letter to their awesomeness, we’ve decided to host a community recipe exchange and contest for Valentine’s Day!


Make our dreams of ambrosial bodycare potions, irresistibly spiced treats, and gorgeous plant inspired gifts come true!

Maybe you’re looking for something special for that very special someone? Perhaps you have an herbal project book bursting with lovely ideas?

Over the next two weeks, let’s meet here to share and explore! Tell us what recipe tugs at your heartstrings and on February 14th you might win a very sweet treat.

Three of the recipes we admire most will be chosen to win some decadent prizes from Poppy Swap!

 The Prizes!

Diviana Chocolate from Diviana Alchemy

This exquisite raw delight tastes like the most euphoric chocolate caramel sauce! Made with unfiltered honey, heirloom cacao, and a blend of herbs, you can enjoy this deliciousness by the spoonful, add to smoothies, or dessert recipes.


Rose and Jasmine Skin Care Package from Violet Herbs

Pamper your skin with this incredible collection of handmade flower-infused potions. Made with organic and local ingredients, the fragrant Rose & Calendula Toner, Milk & Honey Cleansing Grains, and luscious Rose Flower Cream will let your beauty shine bright!


Hawthorne Berry Wine from Wild Wines

A toast to love! Enjoy this handcrafted wine made in 2008 with beautiful, heart supportive Hawthorn berries. Smooth and well-balanced with hints of apple, the subtle flavors make this a favorite among herbal wine lovers. Only 30 cases produced! 0.3% Residual sugar, 12.5% Alcohol by volume.


Plus, one commenter will be chosen at random to win a very special gift from Mountain Rose Herbs!

Lover’s Essential Oil Sampler


The Recipe Exchange & Contest!

Share Your Recipe!
What romantic herbal goodies do you make for your sweetie? For a chance to win one of these amazing delicacies from Poppy Swap, post your favorite love inspired recipe in the comment section below.


Create a blog post featuring your favorite love inspired recipe. Then share the link along with the name and a tantalizing description of your recipe as a comment below.


Leave Us Some Love!
There are 5 ways to enter for a chance to win the very special gift from Mountain Rose Herbs:

1. Leave a comment here telling us which recipe submission you’d love to create for your honey!

2. Follow Poppy Swap on Facebook and leave a comment here to let us know that you are a fan!

3. Share the Sweetheart Recipe Exchange with your friends on Facebook and leave a comment here to let us know you’ve posted.

4. Tweet about the Sweetheart Recipe Exchange on Twitter using the tag #HerbalValentine and leave a comment here to let us know that you’ve tweeted. Be sure to follow MtnRoseHerbs and PoppySwap on Twitter!

5. Visit the Poppy Swap website and leave a comment here telling us what beautiful herbal jewels catch your eye.

You have until Monday, February 13th at 11:59pm PST to enter. We will pick 3 of our favorite recipes and one more winner at random on Tuesday, February 14th. We can only ship prizes to US addresses!

The sweetest ingredient is always love!

Feeling A Bit Bookish

Posted by Christine|27 January 2012

Shared knowledge is one of the most powerful gifts that you can give or receive. It is empowerment, illumination, and documentation that ensures the wisdom we have gleaned from our collective experiences will live on for the generations that come after us.

Thanks to the intellectual generosity of some noted herbalists, aromatherapists, holistic veterinarians and botanists, we now have access to thousands of years of accumulated herbal wisdom, experience, plant lore, and history in meticulously researched and skillfully written books.

One of my favorite books is Homegrown Herbs by Tammi Hartung. This is a wonderful large format guide to planting, growing, harvesting, and using more than a hundred popular herbs. It  provides in-depth instructions for all aspects of growing and using herbs including garden design, natural pest control, harvesting techniques, medicine making, and spicy recipes. With a forward by Rosemary Gladstar, this gorgeous full color book will be appreciated by gardeners and herbalists of all experience levels.

And that’s just one of the many books we carry! We truly have something for everyone, so be sure to explore our shelves for a good read.

Photo Thursday!

Posted by Erin|26 January 2012


Sneak peek!

We had an amazing little photo shoot this week for our upcoming Summer 2012 catalog. It was quite possibly the cutest photo shoot in the history of the planet! Meet herb-gardening baby, Yapsa Moon! Rebecca brought this sweet little guy in for us to photograph in anticipation of the new organic baby care products we’ll be debuting in the catalog. Exciting stuff!

Isn’t he super adorable?!


Guide to Making Tinctures

Posted by Erin|25 January 2012


Navigating the world of herbal medicine can inspire a hungry fascination. Finding wellness through herbs often leads to an experience that’s transformative and empowering. This experience can also bewilder our curious minds! We are lucky to have an incredible wealth of information about plant medicine at our fingertips today, but the beautiful complexity that comes with herbal healing makes learning the nuances a lifelong task.

A sip of herbal tea or a dropperful of tincture can easily unlock the door to herbalism. Most of us begin our studies making these simple and effective preparations. However, basic concepts sometimes become muddied when juggling Latin binomial nomenclature, formulation considerations, physiological effects, historical research, and other pursuits within the art. The most common mix-ups arise from misused terminology. One term that tends to be applied to a variety of preparations is tincture. What is a tincture and is there any difference between a tincture and an extract?

All tinctures are extracts, but not all extracts are tinctures!

Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that have alcohol as the solvent. If you are using water, vinegar, glycerin, or any menstruum (solvent) other than alcohol, your preparation is an extract – not a tincture. Although, there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes an acetum is defined as “a vinegar tincture” in the tomes.



The Folk Method

I learned to make tinctures deep in the coniferous woods along green river banks that glitter throughout the Oregon Cascades. Unless you have some sort of handy-dandy collapsible scale contraption that fits in your processing kit, using the folk method is the way to go when making medicine in the forest! Simple, practical, and efficient, this method allows you to estimate your herb measurements by eye. Here are a few important tincturing tips I learned during those years, while apprenticing with the Columbines School of Botanical Studies

Fresh Herb
• Finely chop or grind clean herb to release juice and expose surface area.
• Fill jar 2/3 to 3/4 with herb. ~ OR ~ Fill jar 1/4 to ½ with roots.
• Pour alcohol over the herbs. Cover completely!
• Jar should appear full of herb, but herb should move freely when shaken.

Dried Herb
• Use finely cut herbal material.
• Fill jar 1/2 to 3/4 with herb ~ OR ~ Fill jar 1/4 to 1/3 with roots.
• Pour alcohol over the herbs. Cover completely!
• Roots will expand by ½ their size when reconstituted!

Alcohol Percentages

40% – 50% (80-90 proof vodka)
• “Standard” percentage range for tinctures.
• Good for most dried herbs and fresh herbs that are not juicy.
• Good for extraction of water soluble properties.

67.5% - 70% (½ 80 proof vodka + ½ 190 proof grain alcohol)
• Extracts most volatile aromatic properties.
• Good for fresh high-moisture herbs like lemon balm, berries, and aromatic roots.
• The higher alcohol percentage will draw out more of the plant juices.

85% – 95% (190 proof grain alcohol)
• Good for gums and resins.
• Extracts aromatics and essential oils that are bound in the plant and do not dissipate easily.
• The alcohol strength can produce a tincture that is not quite pleasant to take.
• Often used for drop dosage medicines.
• Will totally dehydrate herbs.

Extraction Time and Bottling

Store jar in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. Shake several times a week and check your alcohol levels. If the alcohol has evaporated a bit and the herb is not totally submerged, be sure to top off the jar with more alcohol. Herbs exposed to air can introduce mold and bacteria into your tincture. Allow the mixture to extract for 6-8 weeks.

Now it’s time to squeeze. Drape a damp cheesecloth over a funnel. Pour contents of tincture into an amber glass bottle. Allow to drip, then squeeze and twist until you can twist no more! Optional: Blend herbs into a mush and strain remaining liquid.

The last step is perhaps the most important of all! Once you’ve strained and bottled your tincture, be sure to label each bottle with as much detail as possible. You will be so happy to have this information to play with next time you tincture the same herb. Don’t plan to lean on your sense of taste or smell alone – regardless of how well honed your organpleptic skills may be. Skipping this step will surely lead to a dusty collection of unused mystery extracts.




That’s it!

Keep in a cool, dark place and your extracts will last for many years. Making your own tinctures is simple and rewarding. The process allows you to form an intimate relationship with both the herbs you study and the medicines they offer.

If you are interested in learning more, here are a few great books to have in your herbal library:

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green

Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner ND

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech

~ Erin

Love Inspired Cacao Recipes

Posted by Irene|24 January 2012

Love Inspired Cacao Recipes

With Valentine’s Day a few weeks away, there’s still time to handcraft these decadent Cacao recipes!  Giving chocolate on Valentine’s Day is an old tradition, dating all the way back to the 1800’s.  Not only does it taste delicious, but numerous studies have suggested that the guilty pleasures of chocolate may not be quite so guilty after all. Cacao (Theobroma cacao), the raw material for chocolate, is high in flavonoids, antioxidants, and contains a host of vitamins and minerals.

From the 16th through the 20th centuries, medical texts reported no less than 100 medicinal uses for Cacao. Scientists are now rediscovering the benefits of this botanical. Cacao can positively lower cholesterol for those with high cholesterol, provides the same amount of antioxidant polyphenols as a glass of red wine, more antioxidants than most fruits, up to four times as many antioxidants as green tea, stimulates the production of natural antidepressants in the body (serotonin and endorphins), and contains phenylethylalamine and anandamide, two chemicals that elevate the mood, help increase focus, and give feelings of attraction, pleasure, and excitement.  Plus, Cacao is a delicious source of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E, and pantothenic acid.

Our adoration for Cacao has been traced all the way back to 1900 BCE when ancient cultures in Mesoamerica enjoyed bitter beverages made from Cacao.  The Olmecs, Mayan, and Aztecs believed that the beans had magical properties and reserved Cacao for sacred rituals and sacrifices to their gods.  Those chosen for sacrifice by the Aztecs were often given a gourd filled with Cacao to cheer them up before being sacrificed, and the Aztec ruler, Montezuma, would consume chocolate for its aphrodisiac properties before entering his harem.  Cacao beans were a form of currency in Aztec society, traded for food, livestock, supplies, and other goods.  Since it was so valuable, common people were unable to afford it for consumption.  After the conquest of these peoples, Cacao was brought to Spain.  The bitter beans were not enjoyed by the Spaniards until they realized that sugar and honey could be added to make a sweet beverage.  Cacao then quickly became a popular and fashionable drink throughout Europe.  In the 1800’s, a process was discovered for turning Cacao beans into solid chocolate confections.  Chocolate shops soon sprung up throughout Europe, one of which was owned by the Cadbury brothers in England.  In 1861, they created the first heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day, thus spurring the tradition still celebrated of giving heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Cacao & Vanilla Body Polish

This scrub smells scrumptious and exfoliates skin, making it soft and smooth. It will leave a faint aroma of chocolate and vanilla lingering on the skin.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Package in jars, and enjoy!

Creamy Cocoa & Ylang Ylang Massage Oil

Adding Cocoa Butter gives this massage oil a creamy consistency.  It is wonderful for massages, but can also be used as a general body lotion for moisturizing the skin.  This massage oil has the seductively sweet floral scent of Ylang Ylang flowers with undertones of Cocoa.

In a double boiler, gently warm the oils and Cocoa butter until the butter has melted.  Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes at room temperature.  Then, add the essential oil and mix together until thoroughly blended.  Pour into a bottle.  The mixture will continue to thicken, so allow up to 24 hours for it to reach its final texture.  Note: Use less Cocoa Butter if in colder climates, otherwise the massage oil will become almost solid.   If it is too firm, simply re-melt and add more carrier oil.  If you desire a firmer consistency, re-melt and add additional Cocoa Butter.

Sweet Orange & Cocoa Lip Balm

A wholesome and nourishing lip balm with the uplifting aromas of citrus and chocolate.  This recipe has an abundance of rich oils, perfect for protecting and conditioning lips during cold winter months.

Lip balm preparation: Coarsely chop the beeswax or use beeswax pastilles. Place beeswax, Cocoa butter, and oils in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax and butters have melted. Once melted, remove from the stovetop and add essential oil and Vitamin E Oil. Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm tubes or jars. Allow to cool completely before placing caps onto the lip balm containers.

Cacao Hot Chocolate

I recently discovered how simple it is to whip up a decadent cup of hot chocolate at home with just a few ingredients.  For Valentine’s Day, try enhancing this recipe with Vanilla, powdered Rose petals, or a tiny pinch of warming Cayenne pepper.

  • 1 TBSP organic Cacao powder
  • 2-3 tsp. sweetener of choice – organic honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or sugar.
  • 1 cup organic milk (or milk substitute)

Heat milk or milk substitute in a pan until hot. Be careful not to scorch!  Remove from burner, add Cacao and the sweetener of choice to taste, stirring until well dissolved.  Use a whisk if desired for a frothier consistency.  Pour into a mug and enjoy the pure chocolaty goodness, or add powdered herbs, spices, and flavorings.  The Cacao and additional herbs or spices may settle a little as the beverage cools, but you can simply stir with a spoon if necessary.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

~ irene

In need of more Valentine’s Day pampering?  Check out these other recipes and gift ideas from our blog:

Love Inspired Body Care Recipes:

Herbal Gifts to Love:

DIY Body Mist with Essential Oils

Posted by Erin|23 January 2012

Learning to create your own all natural body mist is amazingly simple! Commercial fragrances are laden with toxic synthetics that can irritate the skin and respiratory tract. They also tend to be really pricey at $50 to $100 for a 2oz bottle.

Making your own perfume using just a few drops of pure essential oils allows you to save money and customize scents for your friends, family, or for yourself – naturally! This is one of my absolute favorite combinations. When I wear it, people always ask for the name and get wide-eyed with excitement when I tell them how easy it is to make.

The warmth of sandalwood mixed with deep floral rose, fresh grapefruit, and a hint of Ylang Ylang sweetness creates a sophisticated and intoxicating scent that rivals any of those expensive perfumes – at a fraction of the cost. In fact, the ingredients used in this recipe total a whopping $3.99 for an entire 8oz bottle. Pretty amazing, right?!

Blossom Wood Mist

4oz water
2.5 oz Witch Hazel extract
3 drops Sandalwood essential oil
3 drops Grapefruit essential oil
3 drops Rose Absolute essential oil (or rose essential oil of your choice)
2 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil

Pour all ingredients into an 8oz glass bottle, cap with a mister top, and shake well before spritzing liberally on skin.

To learn more about making perfumes using essential oils, check out Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green. It is a wonderful resource!

New Capsule Packaging!

Posted by Christine|20 January 2012

Beginning today our 100 count non GMO Vegetarian empty capsules in sizes “0” and “00” will arrive packaged in a lovely Victorian inspired Pill Box. This retail friendly package is made of 100% post-consumer waste and printed with environmentally friendly soy ink.   This packaging is not only sturdy and reusable; it is also a charming and attractive way to store your cellulose capsules from Mountain Rose Herbs!

Photo Thursday!

Posted by Erin|19 January 2012

One year, 1 week, and 1 day ago, a mead was made! Irene (our homebrewing, bodycare creating, Marketing Director) created a special 11 flower mead for 1/11/11 using our herbs. She brought some in today for a little tasting. Quite a treat! It still needs a bit of aging, but even at this young stage the gorgeous crimson brew has a delicious floral bouquet and wonderful dry finish. Yum!

11 Flower Mead

Heather Flowers

Lavender Flowers

Elder Flowers

Hibiscus Flowers

Chamomile Flowers

Jasmine Flowers

Rose Buds

Meadowsweet Flowers

Red Poppy Flowers

Chrysanthemum Flowers

and a pinch of Blue Lotus.

All deliciously organic, of course!


Irene has promised to post an herbal mead-making blog later this year, so be sure to check back…

Fun With Fermentation!

Posted by Friends|17 January 2012

We spent this past Saturday brewing up and serving some delicious organic Oolong and Pu’erh tea at the Fun With Fermentation Festival!

When we had a chance to sneak away from the booth, we wandered the festival to taste some of the Willamette Valley’s best cheeses, wine, yogurt, kefir, beer, kombucha, kraut, mead, bread, vinegar, and many other fermented goodies. There were also some incredible workshops by community nutritionists and brewing experts about the health benefits of fermented foods and the many techniques used to produce them. They shared one very valuable message – it has become increasingly important to add fermented foods into our everyday modern diets! Fermented foods support our digestion and boost overall immunity. By eating live fermented foods, we can promote diversity among the helpful microbial communities living in our bodies.

But other than kombucha, what exactly does fermentation have to do with teas?

For teas that require oxidation, the leaves are placed in a climate-controlled room where they are exposed to air and progressively turn dark in color. In this process, chlorophyll is broken down by enzymes and tannins are then released or transformed. This process is referred to as “fermentation” in the tea industry, although no true fermentation happens since this oxidative process does not generate energy. (This step is not driven by microorganisms. In other steps of tea processing–aging for example–microorganisms might be used that actually do carry out fermentation.) The tea maker will choose when to stop the oxidation process, depending on the desired qualities of the final tea. For light oolong teas this may be anywhere from 5-40% oxidation, in darker oolong teas 60-70%, and in black teas 100% oxidation.

You can learn more about our Oolong and Pu-erh teas by visiting our website.

Hope to see you at next year’s Fun With Fermentation Festival!



Photo Thursday!

Posted by Erin|12 January 2012

This is the view from our window today of neighboring wetlands!

Geese have been filling the sky each afternoon with their loud honking chorus, while ducks paddle across the cold pond. There have even been sightings this week of a Great Egret. Surely makes our lunch breaks more exciting!

West Indies Tempeh Salad

Posted by Erin|11 January 2012

Have you tried our West Indies Rub?

Well, it’s incredibly delicious and surprisingly versatile! With notes of ginger, fenugreek, coriander, mustard seed, and garlic, this harmonious blend adds a punch of flavor and a nice amount of heat to your recipe. One of our favorite quick and easy meal ideas uses the rub to spice up your classic tempeh salad. New to tempeh? It’s a protein-packed cake made from whole soybeans that is cultured and fermented – making it easier to digest than tofu. The meaty texture makes it the perfect alternative to chicken or tuna.  Experiment and enjoy!

West Indies Tempeh Salad


• 12 ounces organic tempeh, cubed
• 1 stalk organic celery, chopped
• 1 organic carrot shredded
• ½  organic red bell pepper, chopped
• ½  organic yellow onion, chopped
• 2 cloves of organic garlic, minced
• 1/2 organic hemp seeds
• 1/3 cup organic mayonnaise or vegenaise
• 2 tablespoons Epicurean Organics Macadamia Nut Oil
• 2 teaspoons Epicurean Organics West Indies Rub
• 1 teaspoon organic lemon juice
• Epicurean Organics Himalayan Pink Salt, to taste
• Epicurean Organics Rainbow Peppercorns, freshly ground to taste
• 1/3 cup organic golden raisins



1. Steam the cubed tempeh and then brown it in a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon oil of your choice.

2. Remove from heat and allow the tempeh to cool while you prepare the vegetables.

3. Mix tempeh, celery, carrot, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and hemp seeds together in a bowl.

4. Stir the mayonnaise, Macadamia Nut Oil, lemon juice, and West Indies Rub into the tempeh and vegetable mixture.

5. Season with Himalayan Pink Salt and freshly ground Rainbow Peppercorns.

6. Fold in the golden raisins.

7. Serve on toasted sourdough bread with greens, seeded crackers, or enjoy as a side dish!

Green Spring Clean Winner!

Posted by Erin|10 January 2012

What an incredible giveaway this has been!

We LOVED reading all of your herbal resolutions for the new year. Many of your ideas have inspired us to try them out too, so thank you!  Now it’s time for the big announcement! Are you ready?

The winner is . . .

Congratulations to deannab! You are the winner of this amazing prize! We will be in touch with you soon with more details. Our biggest heartfelt thanks to you all for reading, writing, and sharing your excitement for cleaning naturally!

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Meet Us

  • ErinErin (360)
    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
    ChristineChristine (137)
    Christine is our Product Manager here at Mountain Rose Herbs and our Certified Aromatherapist on staff. She's a longtime Mountain Roser with nearly a decade under her belt and assists with selecting new and exciting herbal and herb-related products. She also makes sure our current products are the best they can be!
    KoriKori (68)
    Kori is our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.
    IreneIrene (53)
    Irene Wolansky is the Customer Experience Director at Mountain Rose Herbs. Born and raised on the Oregon coast, her interests include crafting body care products and herbal medicine, harvesting mushrooms, gardening, brewing herbal mead, fermentation, and exploring wild areas.
    AlietaAlieta (41)
    Alieta is our Marketing Assistant! An Oregon native, she studied philosophy, Spanish and graphic design at Portland State University and has a natural affinity for the natural foods industry. She spends her time outside of work playing her 54 key Rhodes piano, hanging out with her cat Penelope, and cooking delicious gluten-free and dairy-free meals to share with friends.
    FriendsFriends (37)
    An array of voices from around Mountain Rose Herbs and beyond share their wisdoms, inspirations, and exciting stories from the herbal world.
    AlyssaAlyssa (26)
    Alyssa is the Director of Sustainability at Mountain Rose Herbs and an expert social butterfly. When not fluttering between community and non-profit events, she enjoys hiking, gardening, playing with her chickens, and organizing potlucks.
    On the FarmOn the Farm (17)
    Our team of farm representatives travel around the US and the world to visit our organic crops. They bring back stories and photos from their meetings with our farmers and important news about our herbal harvests.
    ShawnShawn (14)
    Shawn is the Vice President at Mountain Rose Herbs, which means he has his hands in just about everything here, but he is most passionate about advancing the company's ecological platforms for sustainable business practices. In his spare time, he can be found deep in Oregon’s designated wilderness areas or fly fishing (strictly catch and release) with his furry friends Abigail and Maggie.
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