Archive for February, 2012
Posted by|28 February 2012
The recipe for this blend is believed to have originated from thieves during the 15th century. According to popular theory, the concoction was created by a group of four thieves® and grave robbers to protect themselves from contracting the plague while robbing the bodies of the gravely ill and deceased. When apprehended, the thieves admitted to using the formula and disclosed the recipe in order to receive a less severe punishment for their crimes.
Whether or not this story is true, the essential oils in this blend are antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-infectious. They will stimulate the immune system, circulation and respiratory system, and help protect against the flu, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sore throats, cuts, and more. Modern testing has shown the effectiveness of this blend and studies have found it to have a high kill rate against airborne bacteria.
This is a classic recipe, but you can customize it by adjusting the quantities or adding other antibacterial essential oils such as Tea Tree, Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Ravensara, Lavender, Juniper Berry, Hyssop, Bay Laurel, or Scotch Pine.
- 40 drops organic Clove Bud essential oil
- 35 drops organic Lemon essential oil
- 20 drops organic Cinnamon Bark essential oil
- 15 drops organic Eucalyptus essential oil
- 10 drops organic Rosemary essential oil
Mix all essential oils together in a dark glass bottle.
This essential oil blend is very strong and must be diluted! The essential oil content should only account for 1 to 2% of the total formula. This means that up to 6-12 drops of essential oil can be added per 1 oz of carrier oil or other menstruum. For more information about diluting essential oils, please refer to our Dilutions & Conversions Guide
There are many ways that you can use the blend, here are some of the most common applications:
- To sanitize and purify the air in your home or workplace, place 2-3 drops of the essential oil blend in a diffuser, nebulizer, or in a pot of simmering water on the stove. Diffuse for approximately 20-30 minutes. This is especially beneficial if someone in your home or workplace is sick.
- Make an antibacterial all-purpose spray for cleaning and disinfecting your home or workplace. This is perfect for office spaces and shared areas! Fill a spray bottle with water and add the essential oil blend at a 1-2 % dilution rate. Spray on counter tops, desks, and on other surfaces. Make sure to shake before using as the oil and water will naturally separate.
- Use a 1-2% dilution rate of the essential oil blend in a base of water or alcohol, and spray onto insect bites, poison oak, and poison ivy rashes to help reduce inflammation, itching, and irritation.
- Mix the essential oil blend at a 1-2% dilution rate with organic Jojoba or Olive oil. Use as a massage oil for sore muscles, the lower back, neck, and feet. It can also be dabbed on skin throughout the day for general cold and flu prevention and immune support.
- When congested, mix a 1-2% dilution rate of the essential oil blend with organic Jojoba or Olive oil, and rub under the nose or on the chest. Or, place 1-2 drops in a bowl of hot, steaming water and inhale the vapors under a towel to relieve congestion.
* Essential oils are highly concentrated, strong, and powerful liquids that can be harmful if not used carefully and properly. This is an especially potent blend of essential oils which could cause irritation when applied to the skin, even in diluted amounts. We advocate caution when using them, and do not recommend using essential oils internally. Please keep essential oils out of reach of children. We do not advocate usage of this recipe on babies, toddlers, or children
Thieves® is a registered trademark of Young Living Essential Oils, LC. Mountain Rose Herbs is not affiliated with Young Living Essential Oils, LC in any way.
Posted by|27 February 2012
Mason is our new assistant in the Marketing department, but he’s been with Mountain Rose for well over a year. You might’ve spoken with him on the phone while he was in Customer Service! Eugene born and raised, Mason found an early interest in nutrition which eventually brought him to the world of herbalism. Last year, he became papa to a sweet baby daughter and now looks forward to sharing many plant adventures with her. One of those adventures was a trip to Richo Cech’s Horizon Herbs Farm! Here’s the story…
Last Sunday I traveled south on the ol’ I-5 to visit beautiful Williams, Oregon. I set out for Horizon Herbs, the grower of our medicinal herb seeds. Richo and Mayche Cech are the owners and operators of this wonderful company, and they gladly obliged when I invited myself to their farm. I originally met these two fantastic folks at the RootStalk Festival last summer, and have since wanted to check out their operation.
Horizon Herbs carries over 1,000 different medicinal herb seeds. That is approximately 1/30th of the known medicinal herbs! Quite an amazing feat if you ask me, and their catalog only continues to grow. They are able to grow such a diverse collection of plants thanks to the spectacular greenhouses and lighting systems for seed propagation, as well as cool and dry seed storage facilities. They’re currently in the process of building a new tropical greenhouse too.
Richo regularly travels around the globe, studying different eco-systems and growing conditions. He also collects new seeds to take back home to the farm. He recently visited Zanzibar, located in the Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Africa, and the seeds he collected there should grow quite nicely in their new, carefully designed home. In addition to a new greenhouse on the way, the Cechs just bought a new piece of land in Williams. Let’s see how close to 30,000 varieties of medicinal seeds they can grow with these new additions!
Richo says, “As this seed collection grows we feel a mounting responsibility to our seed-sowing friends. Cultivation of medicinal plants from seed is of absolute imperative importance if we are to turn the global tide of degradation of native medicinal plant resources. Earth-conscious gardeners everywhere are supplying whole medicines to people in need. May we all be healed by this work and by living in the presence of the plants themselves.” Horizon Herbs’ passion for plants is a true thing of wonder. Anyone who has sprouted their seeds into vibrant healing allies has surely experienced this firsthand.
Although it is winter, there was still plenty to see out at Horizon Herbs – from the greenhouses and plant start room, to the incredible panoramic views and their backyard stream. By the end of the day, I was dreaming of spring and left the seed farm with ripe visions of my future garden. Whether you are already an avid gardener or looking to plant your first medicinal herb, be sure to browse the amazing seed selection we offer from Horizon Herbs. All of these medicinal seeds are certified organically grown with the exception of a few species, which were wild-gathered by Richo himself with great respect for the natural environment. You might also want to check out Richo’s wonderfully informative guide The Medicinal Herb Grower.
Until next time…
Posted by|24 February 2012
Oh, spinach powder. How do we love thee? Let me count the ways…
As the famous cartoon sailor Popeye taught us in childhood, spinach is truly a nutrition-packed power green. Extremely rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants, spinach is a rich source of vitamins A, C, E, K, B2, and B6, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and the list goes on and on!
This dense combination of vitamins and minerals makes spinach a potent ally. Studies show that this popular green has anti-inflammatory, supports eye and gastrointestinal health, improves mental stamina and memory, boosts immunity, helps maintain healthy bones, and keeps the skin smooth and youthful. Plus, we know for a fact that spinach is delicious.
Spinach is thought to have crossed the ancient seas of Persia as traders brought spinach to India and China. This nourishing plant wasn’t enjoyed in England and France until the 14th century, where it was quickly prized as an early spring green. In fact, the queen of France fell so deeply in love with spinach that she demanded it be used in every dish, coining the term “Florentine” to honor her birth in Florence. Of course, these culinary traditions of Europe were introduced to the Americas and spinach has become one of the most widely consumed veggies today.
Dried spinach powder is an amazingly versatile ingredient that everyone should keep handy! It allows you to incorporate green goodness in an instant. Here are a few of our favorite spinach powder tips, tricks, and recipes!
~ Spinach powder can be used to replace some of the flour in breads and baked goods. Replace up to 1/4 cup of flour with dried spinach powder in your favorite recipe.
~ Spinach powder can be used as a natural food dye or to color handmade soap.
~ Spinach powder can be mixed with equal parts kelp powder to make a skin nourishing face mask. Some people swear by its wrinkle, puffiness, and redness reducing power.
~ Spinach powder can be encapsulated for convenient use.
~ Spinach powder is a good way to sneak some leafy greens into your picky eater’s diet.
Try using Spinach powder to make this deliciousness…
Homemade Spinach Pasta Noodles
Homemade Spinach Tortillas
Spinach Pizza Crust
Green Egg Scrambles
Green Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Spinach and Garlic Dip
White Bean Soup
And how about a Bloody Mary with a little spinach powder too? Mmmm!
There are just a few things to consider before tossing spinach into every meal. One is that many spinach crops are doused with pesticides and spinach is often listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” to avoid. That’s why it’s incredibly important to find a certified organic source. Our spinach powder here at Mountain Rose Herbs is certified organic, grown in the USA without chemical pesticides, and is tested in our Quality Control lab for E.coli and salmonella. Also, spinach is high in oxalic acid, so anyone with kidney stones should check with their doctor before digging in.
Spinach is a darling of the ages full of delicious possibility and health benefits, so sprinkle away and savor the power of green!
Posted by|23 February 2012
We’re getting ready for this year’s Natural Products Expo West in sunny Anaheim, California!
Here’s a stack of the ever-popular stickers we’ll be giving away along with delicious tea samples, organic tote bags, new catalogs, recycled pens, pencils, and other goodies! Be sure to visit our booth #2820 in the Organic Pavilion to grab some of these freebies.
Hope to see you there March 9-11, 2012!
Posted by|22 February 2012
This wonderful article comes to us from Kristine Brown of the Herbal Roots Zine. She has been teaching herbalism for nearly a decade and has studied plants for over 17 years. Kristine empowers her community by focusing on local plants that are easy to access and identify, gifting the knowledge and skill to harvest these plants for medicine. In 2009, she began writing and illustrating the Herbal Roots Zine, a monthly publication for children. She also offers a monthly herbal study group, presentations for adults, and summertime workshops for kids. Thanks for sharing this, Kristine!
Kids are the future, teach them well!
“We must take our children into the wild, introduce them to the plants, and teach them of their connection to the earth. In instilling in our children a respect for plant medicine, we not only care for their tender bodies but help pass along the seeds of a tradition that is as old as human life itself.” – Rosemary Gladstar
Children are one third of our population and all of our future. – Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981
Children are the best students when it comes to plants. They have no prejudice against any of them (except for what we teach them), no preconceived notions of how a plant should work or how its medicine should heal. Just as we can accept an orange has lots of vitamin C, a banana is high in potassium, and beans contain protein, they can accept that peppermint is soothing to the stomach and comfrey can heal wounds and scars. And why not? They are all plants after all. Certainly if garden ‘vegetables’ can be nutritious and keep us healthy, so can herbs, weeds, and other plants. As adults we tend to be narrow minded when it comes to our food sources, but if we allow ourselves to open up, we can realize that this wonderful world we live on has given us an abundance of nutrition and healing through the plants and didn’t just reserve it for a select few. All plants have importance and value. We herbalists, scientists, and the like have yet to discover them all.
Nurture this attribute in children and reserve your opinions. Encourage them to keep an open mind as they grow to all the possibilities plants offer us. Let them learn for themselves. Teach them to trust their instincts. This doesn’t mean to let them eat anything, especially when it comes to fungi, however, when teaching them the difference between poke and elderberry, or hemlock and Queen Anne’s Lace, teach them respect of the plant and reverence for the medicine each plant offers whether it is mild (chickweed, lemon balm, plantain) or overly strong (foxglove, hemlock, etc.). Time will teach the appropriate use and application of each variance.
Giving a good herbal foundation will stay with children for their lifetime. Knowledge is empowering. Even though the majority will not choose this calling as their lifework, they will have a solid foundation of herbal knowledge which they will one day be able to pass along to their friends, family, community, and children of their own. They will have the ability to take control of their own health and teach others to do the same. There is nothing more empowering than knowing you have the ability to take charge of your own healthcare.
Here are 10 ways to incorporate herbal learning into everyday activities:
1. Start a notebook of the plants in your yard. Head outside with a notebook and make a list of each plant you have, starting with the common name and adding the Latin name if you know it or later when you can look it up. Have your child(ren) look around and tell you what they see first. Don’t forget the trees! Even if you don’t think a plant has medicinal uses, write it down anyway. You’ll be surprised at the number of ‘just weeds’ that really are medicinal. Remember, all plants have value, some are just yet undiscovered.
2. Make some medicine. You might start with a few simple items such as making a salve to replace the Neosporin and perhaps a tincture of Meadowsweet or Willow Bark to replace the aspirin. As your child(ren)’s knowledge grows, they may wish to make a salve for general wounds, a salve for skin afflictions, a drawing salve, and a muscle salve. Likewise, they may add tinctures for various types of headaches: skullcap, wood betony, dandelion, feverfew, and so on. The key is to start simply and have them build on that knowledge.
3. Assemble a home herbal medicine kit. Begin by making a list of all the over the counter medications you currently use. Then study your list of plants growing in your back yard and cross reference…ask your child(ren): which medications can be substituted with herbs? As they learn about the herbs that are growing in your yard, they can begin making medicines to replace them with.
4. Start an herb garden in your back yard or in containers. Begin with a few simple herbs such as chamomile, mint, basil, rosemary, lemon balm. Let your child decide on 10 or so herbs that they would like to become familiar with. Have them help create the garden, pot the plants, weed the garden, and water regularly. Encourage them to work with the plants and observe them as they grow. Make sure they taste each plant regularly and record how the flavors change as the plant grows; Mint becomes extremely strong when it flowers, Dandelion leaves become bitter as they mature. Be sure to have them record all this information (see journaling below).
Giving your children a part of the garden to grow their own plants is very empowering and also teaches them responsibility. They will take pride in growing their own medicine and when it comes time to use it, they will be more receptive to using it since it’s something they themselves planted, grew, harvested, and created medicine from.
5. Explore the herbs. As you work with the herbs, talk with them about the Latin names and the family they come from. Discuss characteristics of each family and similarities between plants. Have your child(ren) sample the herbs and state how that taste makes them feel (puckered, dry mouth, thirsty, etc) and what they think the plant may be useful for. Have them write down these ideas and put their theory to work the next time they have need to. If they are having trouble getting started, try offering them mint and say something like, “This is good for upset stomachs. When you eat it, what else do you think it would be helpful for?” (freshen breath, pick me up, etc.).
Encourage them to discover medicinal uses through their own intuition. Never discourage them. If they say lemon balm would be good to stop bleeding on a cut, let them try the theory out the next time they get cut. If it doesn’t work out, offer some suggestions of plants that may be more suited (something more astringent such as yarrow or plantain) or ask what they think might be more suitable.
6. Keep a journal of experiences. Have your child(ren) regularly sketch drawings of the plants’ progression over the course of the growing season, keep notes on the changes such as when they bloom, when they go to seed, etc. They can write down harvest information and any remedies you and they make with the herbs.
7. Have an herbal ally. Once your kids get more familiar with herbs, encourage them to pick one herb to learn about for 3 – 6 months to a year depending on their age. Have them focus on one herb and use it as much as possible, making as many remedies as possible from it and really getting to know it. Encourage them to be immersed in the plant, writing songs, stories, and poems about their ally. They should also be making as many medicines as possible with their herbal ally: salves, tinctures, vinegars, elixirs, oils, poultices, compresses and so on. Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense doing this with a plant, have them try it anyway, even if it’s just a few ounces.
8. Use the herbs in every way possible. This seems like a given but a lot of people overlook this. Incorporate herbs with your everyday living. Experiment with dyeing clothing with plants. Use them in floral arrangements, crafts, nature tables, and other seasonal decorations. Eat them. Make them be an integral part of your life.
9. Play games. Wildcraft! from Learning Herbs is an excellent cooperative board game that will teach children about herbs. Other games such as Walk in the Woods can also be a good teaching tool. Look into getting knowledge cards from Pomegranate such as Herbs and Medicinal Plants, Darcy Williamson’s Medicinal Flower Cards or Linda Runyon’s Wild Cards. Also, although not herbal-based, it is a great tool for teaching plant families: Shanleya’s Quest book and card game.
10. Start a Medicinal Herbal Library. Offering a variety of books to children is a great way to let them explore herbs on their own. There are a few children’s books available and a wealth of adult herbals that are kid appropriate. For a complete list of books to stock your library with go to: http://www.herbalrootszine.com/herbal-learning-resources/ or visit Mountain Rose Herbs book section.
Above all, be open to experiences and allow your child(ren) to participate in all your herbal endeavors. Weave a tapestry of herbal love and knowledge into your child(ren)’s lives by letting them observe and help. Even the smallest child can add the oil to the double boiler to make an infused oil or help strip herbs from stems. And when they grow tired of the task, let them move on to another while you finish up what you are working on. In time, they will naturally start helping longer and eventually take over some of the tasks of medicine making in the home, creating their own recipes as their knowledge grows. Always gently nurture this and remind them to keep records of their experiences.
“Can we teach children to look at a flower and see all the things it represents: beauty, the health of an ecosystem, and the potential for healing?” - Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Remember, no matter what, they are always learning!
Posted by|20 February 2012
Well, pardon me! It’s that time of year again when noses are red and running, throats are scratchy, and ginger-onion-garlic soup is on the stove. Whether answering the phone at work, borrowing a pen at school, or grabbing a few groceries at the store, our immune systems are bombarded with these microscopic viruses each day.
Sickies around us can be contagious even before a fever hits and flu germs continue to spread for up to 7 days. Since these sneaky little organisms far outnumber us, it’s just a matter of time before the tell-tale symptoms appear. Herbal formulas make wonderful alternatives to over-the-counter cold and flu medications because herbs can help support your immune system before or during the sickness, rather than just masking the unpleasantness.
So, here are three of our favorites for your natural medicine cabinet:
The Flew Away Elixir from Terra Firma is a tasty mix of organic elder berries, echinacea root, and astragalus root in unfiltered honey and organic grain alcohol that helps strengthen the immune system at the first sign of a cold.
Another good one to have on hand is Gaia Herbs Throat Shield Spray which combines myrrh, sage, peppermint, and aloe to help ease inflamed linings of the throat and chest. Just say “ahhh” and spray for quick relief.
Next on the list is a convenient tin of Organic Throat Soothers from St. Claire’s. These lozenges blend soothing mucilaginous herbs like slippery elm with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herbs in sweet molasses for the ultimate sore throat helper.
There’s nothing more comforting than having these three formulas stocked and ready when the dreaded flu creeps up on us… eeek!
Posted by|16 February 2012
Posted by|15 February 2012
Each year, Mountain Rose Herbs sponsors and participates in amazing events all across the country! From herb festivals and organic farming conferences, to natural products tradeshows and wilderness conservation fundraisers, we love to be part of these communities.
Here’s where you’ll find us this year…
MOSES Organic Farming Conference
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Organic Growers School Conference
Asheville, North Carolina
Oregon Wild Wednesday
(Date To Be Announced, Quarterly)
Natural Products Expo West
Oregon Midwifery Council’s Spring Continuing Education Conference
Florida Herbal Conference
Ocala National Forest, Florida
Gaia Gathering for Women
Ben Lomond, California
Mount Pisgah Wildflower Festival
Mother Earth News Fair
Be sure to check out our workshops!
Oregon Wild Wednesday
(Date To Be Announced, Quarterly)
Oregon Country Fair
Planting the Future Conference
East Barre, Vermont
The New England Women’s Herbal Conference
Newfound Lake, New Hampshire
Breitenbush Herbal Conference
Asheville, North Carolina
Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference
Mount Pisgah Mushroom Festival
GreenLane Mixer at the UO
(Date To Be Announced)
Oregon Wild Wednesday
(Date to Be Announced, Quarterly)
Booth # 537 & 548
San Francisco, California
Cascadia Wildlands Wonderland Auction
(Date To Be Announced)
Look for updates and additional event announcements throughout the year on our Facebook page.
We hope to connect with you at one of these wonderful gatherings!
Posted by|14 February 2012
Wow! I hope you all had a chance to drool over the beautiful recipes shared in our Sweetheart Recipe Exchange. (If not, you can still find them in the comments section here.) Choosing just three winners just about broke our hearts, since we fell in love with each and every one of them.
However, petals have been plucked and decisions have been made!
These are the winning recipes of amazing prizes from our Valentines over at Poppy Swap …
Body Butter “Candy” Trio
This stunningly lovely and clever idea comes to us from the Woodwife’s Journal!
Coffee Bean Toning Butter/Lotion Bar
4 oz coffee infused oils (almond, argan, castor, and jojoba)
4 oz cocoa butter
4 oz beeswax
40 drops cellulite busting essential oils of your choice.
optional whole coffee beans for extra scrubbing power and interest.
(I added a little pumice to mine and my skin is like a baby’s bottom but I think it would work better in a body butter/lotion bar without beeswax because it was hard to wash off in the shower)
All three of these bars are designed to be used IN the shower/bath on clean skin. Each has mild to more serious exfoliating ingredients that smooth skin. All are luxuriously moisturizing leaving your skin silky smooth after rinsing off the solids.
Use caution on smooth floors and shower/bath surfaces as all contain butters and oils that may make smooth floors dangerous. I like to put an old towel in the bottom of the shower/tub when I’m using oils to provide a nonskid surface.
Herbal Almond Butter Fudge
The second winning recipe is soooo delicious and was shared by lalamurphy!
1 jar raw almond butter
1/2 cup + 2 TBSP Maple Syrup
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 TBSP vanilla bean powder
1 heaping TBSP virgin coconut oil
1/2 TBSP Reishi mushroom powder
1/2 TBSP Ashwaganda powder
1/2 TBSP Maca powder
Mix all ingredients together, form into balls or place in a silicone shaping tray, and freeze! Store in the freezer until serving. Take one out and pop it into your mouth!! the perfect dessert, although don’t expect them to stick around too long!
Sensual Sweetheart Love Elixir Float
Our final winning recipe is the perfect way to toast your Valentine, sent in by kateclearlight of Plant Folk Herbs Blog!
What a special holiday! A whole day devoted to feeling and spreading the love. Not just for couples~~ this is a blissful excuse to give yourself, your friends, family, and community some extra special loving vibes. We all deserve and NEED to receive some good loving as well.
I am sharing one of my favorite Love Day recipes… you will fall in love with yourself all over again just by working with these aphrodisiac ingredients!
In true plantfolk tradition, this is a “folk” recipe so follow your heart as to how much of everything to add. They are more or less in order of most to least.
Brandy or vodka (80 proof)
strawberries &/or raspberries
cacao nibs or powder
rose petals (dried or fresh if you are lucky enough to have a rose bush in your yard)
Combine all of the ingredients in a jar and cover with brandy. Shake every day then strain and add raw cane sugar, raw honey, or maple syrup until it tastes delicious and perfect. Store in a beautiful bottle.
I serve this drink as an absolutely divine Love Elixir Float:
In a wine or champagne glass, mix Love Elixir with sparkling water OR champagne and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, fresh sliced strawberries, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. You and your loved one(s) will be swooning instantly!
Congratulations to our recipe contest winners!
We will be in touch with you via email to get your Poppy Swap prizes in the mail, and tomorrow we will announce the winner of our Lover’s Essential Oil Sampler.
We hope this recipe exchange has inspired you to have a wonderful day filled with LOVE!
Posted by|10 February 2012
One of our favorite teas has found a new home!
Our certified organic Matcha Tea now comes packaged in a beautifully designed tin! Functional and reusable, these tins will keep your precious Matcha powder protected from light and incredibly fresh.
Matcha is a very special green tea with deep historical roots in Japanese tea ceremonies. To produce this delicacy, the sweet and tender young leaves of Camellia sinensis are ground to a fine powder. When you drink Matcha, you consume the entire green tea leaf, which is alive with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Whether whisked hot in the traditional preparation or combined with milk and honey poured over ice, Matcha offers a truly remarkable flavor experience.
I remember my first sip of Matcha. Its grassy sweetness and soft melon nose enchanted me. It was gently stimulating and gave a bright boost of mental clarity. With that first sip, I was in bliss. Since that day, I’ve experimented with the powder as an ingredient in baked goodies and other sweet treats. This amazing Matcha cookie recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen and includes a vanilla bean glaze! So good, you’ll crave the last crumb.
Matcha Shortbread Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze
Cookie Dough Ingredients
2 cups organic flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
3 tablespoons organic matcha powder
2 sticks (1 cup) organic unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Vanilla Bean Glaze Ingredients
4 ounces organic white chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons organic heavy cream
½ organic vanilla bean, split and scraped
Sift the dry cookie dough ingredients together in a small bowl. In another bowl, whip the softened butter by hand or with an electric mixer until just smooth. Add the almond extract to the butter and then combine with all of the dry ingredients. Divide the dough in half and shape into two discs. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill the discs for an hour or two in the refrigerator until completely firm.
Lightly flour your work surface, as well as the top of your dough, and roll out to about an 1/8”. Cut rolled dough with your favorite cookie cutters and place them on parchment paper lined baking sheets. They don’t expand much at all, so don’t worry about creating lots of space between the cookies. Bake them in a preheated oven at 325°F for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden at the edges.
To make the glaze, split half of a vanilla bean and scrape out the seed pulp. Reserve the pulp and toss the outer pod into your bottle of homemade vanilla extract. Slowly heat the chopped white chocolate in a double boiler and stir until melted. Make sure your white chocolate is good quality with just a few basic organic ingredients! Stir in the vanilla bean seed pulp. Slowly add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth. Cool glaze in the refrigerator, stirring every few minutes until firm enough to spread. Allow cookies to cool completely and then spread glaze on your cookies with a butter knife.
Once you’ve glazed all of your cookies, shock them in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up the glaze. Once set, they will be ready to serve at room temperature.
Grab, eat, and wait for the happy mmmms to sound!
Posted by|09 February 2012
Okay, who’s ready to geek out?
What’s better than a microbial incubator? How about a great big digital microbial incubator!
This week, we upgraded the incubator in our lab to accommodate larger herb samples for Salmonella testing. We are now able to test 2.5 times more material of each herb than required by industry standards!
When a new harvest arrives, the herbs are quarantined in our warehouse. Samples are prepared and taken to our state-of-the-art laboratory where our lab techs perform microbial, physical, and identity testing to ensure purity and quality. Testing for Salmonella is a multistep process that takes two days, several mediums, and specific incubation temperatures. Having this sweet new incubator will help us test more herb efficiently.
Let me tell ya, we are pretty excited! You might even be able to spot Steven, our QC Lab Manager, in his white coat as he peers into the warming incubator during the first test…
Posted by|06 February 2012
Jennifer Gerrity is the Operations Manager here at Mountain Rose Herbs. With a diverse background of interest and experience in the botanical world, she is the perfect person to oversee our staff and day-to-day production. Jennifer also travels the world, procuring herbs and connecting with organic farmers to ensure that quality and working conditions meet our strict standards. Last year, Jennifer traveled to India and returned with a real jewel of a photo. Her gorgeous shot of nutmeg was used in our latest ad highlighting our fair trade practices. Have you seen it? We’ve received an incredible response to the ad with people wondering where the photo was taken. Here’s the story behind her trip to India and the hands behind the photo…
Kibbachlu is a small tropical area in Karnataka, home to the farming projects that produce many of our beloved Indian spices. Composed of amazing agro-forest plots, this vast jungle farm grows betel nut, bird’s eye chili, bananas, black pepper, nutmeg, clove, cardamom, vanilla, and coffee. All of these cultivated crops are growing and thriving together in a dense organic forest. This is certified organic, hand cultivated land, but as we walk through the thick green, it feels wild.
The pillars of the farm are the betel nut trees. These tall palms cast shade on the understory and provide support for climbing vines. Mid-story trees include coffee and banana dotted all around the plots. The gorgeous understory is made up of clove, allspice, and nutmeg trees. A lower layer of shrubs and smaller plants like bird’s eye chili and cardamom require the cool shade. Climbing vines of black pepper and vanilla bean grow up the trunks of the betel nut trees. The pepper vines are so massive that they nearly reach the top of the canopy! The forest floor is littered with large palm leaves from the betel nut, and caretakers of the land purposely leave a thick layer of detritus for a rich natural hummus. Mosses, ferns, and tropical plants of all kinds thrive in this layer.
Hand dug trenches used for rainwater retention and irrigation can be found throughout the agro-forest. Many of the vine crops are propagated in small nurseries nearby and will have to be replaced each year after the monsoons roll through.
The betel nut harvest is underway. This crop is mostly sold on the local domestic market in India for a stimulating chew called paan. A large operation is set up where the husks of the nuts are hand shucked, then boiled to release the dark red pigment. This fluid is sold as dye for the textile industry. The nuts are then dried in the sun, often on rooftops or cement patios, roasted, then stored in bags until ready for sale. All around the forest, you can hear the sound of workers shimmying up the tall betel nut trees and dropping large inflorescences down to harvest the ripe nuts from the ground.
Nutmeg is also being harvested, although this crop is mostly handpicked from the ground level since the trees are much smaller than betel. The nutmeg is encased in a pithy outer fruit. When ripe, this fruit naturally splits and is hand shucked to reveal the shiny dark mahogany colored nutmeg inside. The nutmeg is covered with a bright red aril, also known as mace. When the nutmeg is dried the mace aril naturally lifts away and is hand plucked from the nutmeg seed. Nutmeg (Myristics fragrens) is the only tropical tree responsible for two spices, both of which have historically had a larger world demand than tropical production can supply.
Nutmeg is dioecious, so the fruits only appear on the female tree. The season is limited and the fruits are sparse, making this a highly coveted and prized combination of spices with a deep and culturally rich history. The trees take 7-9 years to mature and 20 years to reach full production. The harvest and separation process is labor intensive, as the crop is delicate and requires great care and knowledge.
Prakash is a friend and master organic farmer in the state of Karnataka. He has pioneered innovative intercropping methods which have become a living classroom for farmers from other states and regions. He is famous in this area for maximizing yield per hector of a variety of crops due to his knowledge of tropical spice and medicinal plant production, requirements, and care.
While walking through the forest, Prakash showed off this season’s bounty, displaying all parts of the nutmeg fruit. It was so striking that I had to stop and photograph the treasure in his hands. This photograph captured a moment of pride, wisdom, and success in the vulnerable field of spice production, as well as a deep and powerful connection between Mountain Rose Herbs and our farms. A moment in time captured the spirit of our symbiotic partnership, relishing the literal fruits of our joined knowledge and efforts.