Archive for September, 2012
Posted by|28 September 2012
Creating new essential oil blends and re-creating old favorites is an exciting and relaxing experience for me. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, although it sometimes can – either way, the rewards of creating your own scent combinations are endless and very satisfying!
What you need to get started:
Gloves: keep in mind that you are working with undiluted essential oils and you do not want to get any on your hands!
Droppers, pipettes, or reducer caps: most essential oils come equipped with a reducer cap, but if there isn’t one, keep some droppers or pipettes on hand.
Small glass storage or blending bottles: I find that 1/24, 1/8, or 1/4 oz bottles work well depending on the blend.
Perfume blotters or cotton balls: to smell and observe your creations transform as they evaporate.
Pen and paper: to write down the amounts of each oil used.
Towels: just in case!
and of course, your nose!
When creating blends, only work with a small amount of oil at a time. I’m talking mere drops of oil here. You don’t want to mix up 1 oz of a blend right away, not like the result, and end up wasting all of that precious oil.
I like to start off formulating with 10 drops. This amount is easy to work with as parts and converts nicely for figuring percents: 10 drops (or parts) equaling 100% of the blend, 5 drops (or parts) being 50% of the blend. This gives you a formula that can be used to recreate your blend in any size you need. Be sure to count accurately while blending and keep a written list of each oil and the amount you add! Believe me, you’ll want this information later.
For example, one of my all time favorite blends contains 4 drops/4 parts/ 40% organic Lavender essential oil, 4 drops/4 parts/ 40% organic Clary Sage essential oil, and 2 drops/2 parts/ 20% organic Neroli essential oil, making an easy blend totaling 10 drops or 10 parts or 100%.
Keep in mind the different notes of an aroma as you blend. You will want to include top note oils, middle note oils, and base note oils in your blend. You can learn more about that here: A Few Notes on Aroma. Your goal is to create a blend that you enjoy throughout all of the stages of evaporation. Once you have completed a blend, put some on a perfume blotter or cotton ball and inhale to see how the aromas evaporate. I like to do this initially and repeat the next day to see if I still enjoy the aroma or want to make any adjustments. Getting creative and tweaking recipes is the fun part of experimenting with scents!
So, now you are ready to play. Go grab some of your favorite essential oils and start blending!
Posted by|27 September 2012
Mary traveled north last week to visit one of our farms where fields of organic Skullcap, Red Clover, Valerian, and this gorgeous Nettle root await the harvest for next year. Check out the energetic vibrancy in this photo! These crops will surely provide much appreciated and very potent medicine for all of us.
We’ll have more delicious farm photos and stories from Mary’s trip coming soon…
Posted by|25 September 2012
Over the last few years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Tina Sams, the ever-so inspiring editor of The Essential Herbal bi-monthly magazine! Each beautiful issue motivates you to embark on your own wildcrafting journey, plant a flourishing garden, create an herbal formula, or even make your very own plant press. Since 2002, The Essential Herbal has provided a collection of stories, recipes, tips, lore, and project ideas for the adventurous cooks, foragers, crafters, and family herbalists among us. We get pretty giddy with excitement when a new issue arrives in the mail – such a treat! You can check out a free sample issue of the magazine by visiting www.essentialherbal.com.
So, fall is here yet again with the promise of glorious changing leaves and chilly breezes, but we know that running noses and scratchy throats are not far behind. Tina has kindly shared one of her favorite herbal cold-fighting recipes with us. This syrup blends strong aromatic, antibacterial, soothing, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory herbs to help with those nasty colds that like to settle in your respiratory system. Potent stuff!
Tina’s Deep Chest and Throat Syrup Recipe
4 “finger sized” pieces of Osha root
2 – 6″ Licorice root sticks
1/2 oz Elecampane root
1/2 oz Wild Cherry Bark
1 tbsp Horehound
3 or 4 sprigs of Thyme or 1 tsp dried
zest and juice from one organic lemon
3 or 4 inches of fresh organic Ginger root sliced, or 2 tsp of dried Ginger root
4 cups water
1 1/2 – 2 cup raw local honey
Combine all ingredients, except the honey, with the water and allow to soak at room temperature for several hours.
Next, gently simmer all ingredients – except the honey – together until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain and press as much liquid as possible from the herbs. Measure the decocted liquid and add an equal portion of honey while the liquid is still warm. Store in a sealed glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator and use as needed.
Essential Herbal Giveaway!
Ready to make your own cold season syrup?
Three lucky winners will be chosen to win the ingredients for Tina’s Deep Chest and Throat Syrup recipe and a subscription to The Essential Herbal! That’s six issues of this amazing magazine plus 4oz of these goodies: osha root, licorice root, thyme, wild cherry bark, elecampane root, ginger root, and horehound!
How to Enter:
There are several ways to enter the Essential Herbal Giveaway! You can submit up to five entries for a chance to win these prizes.
1. Leave a comment here telling us about your favorite cold-fighting herb!
2. Post a link to our Essential Herbal giveaway on your Facebook page and leave a comment here to let us know you’ve shared.
You have until Tuesday, October 2nd at 11:59pm PST to enter. We will pick three winners at random on Wednesday, October 3rd! Prizes can only be shipped within the United States.
. . . . . . .
Our winners have been randomly selected! Congratulations to the following readers:
Result: 401 ~ kristenterga
Result: 802 – Jessie K
Result: 26 ~ Finamoon
Thanks to everyone for participating and sharing your favorite cold herbs! Be well!
Posted by|22 September 2012
You may recognize these cute little 1/8oz Amber bottles from some of the smaller essential oil sizes that we offer, or our essential oil samplers. We are happy to announce that they are now available for purchase – get them empty as a single count, a case of 50, or a case of 100.
Also known as a fluid dram, these little bottles are perfect for storing small amounts of liquid or powdered materials. They are useful while formulating new products, and a collection of them filled with your favorite oils makes a great gift!
Visit our website here to see all of the glass bottles that we offer for your many packaging and storage needs. Have fun formulating!
Posted by|20 September 2012
Here’s our lucky winner at the Breitenbush Herbal Conference!
This happy lady won our raffle basket filled with organic teas, tinctures, mugs, strainers, and more herbal goodies during the late night talent show at Breitenbush this year. She and her friends look pretty excited as they dig into the prizes!
We’re posting more photos from this weekend of herbal education and adventure on Facebook. You can find the album here: Breitenbush 2012 Photos
Posted by|19 September 2012
Simple to make, herbal liniments are a great element for any home medicine cabinet! They offer instant relief for pain, inflamed muscles, bruises, and sprains.
Depending on which botanicals are included, liniments can be used to disinfect cuts and wounds, and may benefit a variety of conditions including sore and inflamed muscles, joints, circulation problems, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, strains, and bruises.
Liniments may also be formulated to warm or cool. Warming herbs like Black Pepper, Cayenne, or Ginger can be added to stimulate blood circulation and assist with arthritis, pain, stiffness, and conditions aggravated by exertion or cold weather. Cooling herbs like Peppermint or Menthol crystals are useful for swelling, inflammation, and areas that are hot due to sprains, bruises, and other injuries.
Basic Herbal Liniment
This recipe provides the basic guidelines for making herbal liniments and is completely customizable.
• Rubbing Alcohol or other menstruum of choice. *See note below.
• Fresh or dried herbs. Popular choices are: Arnica, Black Pepper, Calendula, Cayenne, Chamomile, Comfrey, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Goldenseal, Lavender, Myrrh, Oregano, Oregon Grape root, Peppermint, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, and Yarrow.
1. Place herbs in a clean glass jar. If using fresh herbs, chop them first. Cover thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or other menstruum of choice, and cap with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a warm area and shake daily or as often as possible.
2. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth. If desired, add Menthol crystals (they will dissolve in alcohol) and/or essential oil(s). Pour the liniment into dark glass bottles. Make sure to label the liniment for “External Use Only”.
3. When properly stored in a cool dark place, the liniment will keep almost indefinitely. To use: gently rub onto skin and allow to evaporate. Be careful not to rub too hard or vigorously as this can cause irritation.
*Note: Rubbing alcohol is typically used to make liniments because it extracts the therapeutic herbal constituents, rapidly penetrates and evaporates from the skin, and is an all-purpose antiseptic and disinfectant. You could also use Vodka, Witch Hazel Extract, or Vinegar as a solvent. Basically, you’ll need a menstruum to extract the properties of the herbs which will absorb quickly and deeply to penetrate skin. If alcohol alone is too harsh or drying on your skin, try mixing it with Witch Hazel Extract or Vinegar until you find a medium that works for you.
Available in Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide, this very old and strong recipe was first published by the famous herbalist Dr. Jethro Kloss in his classic book Back to Eden in 1939. Kloss’s liniment is useful for reducing inflammation of the muscles, cleansing wounds, and soothing insect bites. Instead of Goldenseal, you can also substitute Chaparral or Oregon Grape Root. According to Rosemary Gladstar, who has been using this recipe for over 30 years, this is one of the finest disinfectant remedies available. In her own words: “Quite truthfully, you shouldn’t be without it.”
• 1 ounce Echinacea powder
• 1 ounce Myrrh powder
• ¼ ounce Cayenne powder
• 1 pint Rubbing Alcohol
1. Place the powder in a jar and cover with rubbing alcohol (a food-grade alcohol can be used, but rubbing alcohol seems to work best), leaving a good 2-inch margin above the herbs. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place the mixture in a warm location and let it sit for 4 weeks.
2. Strain and rebottle. Label the bottle clearly for “External Use Only”.
3. To use, apply directly on wounds or moisten a cotton ball with liniment and swab the infected area. Repeat as often as needed until the infection goes away.
For more information, watch our video on making herbal liniments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDVzYK96l4Y
Step by step recipe and instructions for making Kloss’s Liniment from LearningHerbs.com: http://www.learningherbs.com/news_issue_13.html
Posted by|17 September 2012
Have you tried Grapeseed Oil?
A common ingredient in cosmetic and body care formulas for its moisturizing properties, this unique and dynamic oil is also quite delicious. Made by crushing whole raw grape seeds (a delightful by-product of the wine industry) this oil presents a bright and complex flavor that is slightly sweet with a hint of tart fruit and subtle floral notes. With a rich dark green color from the natural chlorophyll remaining in the oil, it’s a good source of vitamin E and low in saturated fat, making it a healthy choice for homemade dressings, savory marinades, and gourmet sauces – see recipe below! It also has a high smoking point of 421°F and can be used for deep fried indulgences, sautéing, and baking. Definitely one of our favorites for its versatility and overall tastiness.
Curry Garlic Aioli Recipe
We’re giving this Provençal tradition a spicy twist with aromatic curry powder and organic grapeseed oil. A wonderful party condiment, this aioli makes a savory dipping sauce or sandwich spread – and the golden color is stunning.
1/4 cup organic grapeseed oil
1/4 cup organic olive oil
1 large free-range organic egg yolk
1 organic garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp organic curry powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
fresh-squeezed lemon juice to taste
freshly ground organic black pepper to taste
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and salt together into a paste. Whisk the paste into the egg yolk in a bowl until well blended. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in about 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil at a time, until the mixture becomes thick. Still whisking constantly, add the olive oil to the mixture in a slow steady stream. Stir in the curry powder and season with lemon juice, pepper, and more salt to taste. Refrigerate in a lidded jar to store. Dip, spread, and enjoy!
Posted by|14 September 2012
This chocolate herbal elixir is rightfully named River’s Rhapsody Chocolate Elixir since it was created by and named after the founder of Terra Firma Botanicals, River Kennedy. You might remember our interview with River from last winter where she discussed her path to herbalism, medicine making, and announced the arrival of this tasty new elixir.
We love this rich harmonizing blend of organic dark chocolate, local honey, and pure botanicals designed to ease you through those stressful moments that we all have from time to time. Its honey sweet and cocoa deliciousness is sure to bring a smile to your face! Mmm mmm mmm!
Contains: water, orange infused Pacific Northwest honey, organic dark chocolate, organic Kava Kava root extract, organic Maqui berry extract, and 10% organic grain alcohol by volume.
Click here to see our complete line of Bitters, Elixirs, and Syrups!
Posted by|13 September 2012
Posted by|12 September 2012
Destructive land practices degrade our water quality and threaten its future each day. With an increasing global population and burgeoning climate change, scientists agree that dangers to our precious freshwater ecosystems are everywhere. Now is the time to sound the alarms and support organizations that work to protect our waterways.
Recently, we partnered with the Pacific Rivers Council, an incredible non-profit that is committed to protecting and restoring rivers, their watersheds, and the native species that greatly depend on them.
Every living creature depends on water. Streamed from flowing rivers, water brings life to our lands and provides the vital force our herbs need to grow. Without moving to sustainable practices and an emphasis on organic farming, there is little chance that future generations will have healthy rivers full of thriving fish populations and clean drinking water. Imagine the consequences.
To help get the word out, we decided to create an ad highlighting the tireless efforts made by the Pacific Rivers Council. Our talented Art Director, Tom, made these gorgeous fish sculptures by hand, using our certified organic herbs. Check out that detail! These sculptures perfectly illustrate the unbreakable connectedness between plants, animals, water, and all life on our planet.
To learn more about the Pacific Rivers Council and the important work they do, please visit: www.pacificrivers.org.
Posted by|10 September 2012
September is traditionally a harvest month, an ideal time to finish gathering goodies from your garden and transform them into provisions that will provide nourishment and enjoyment all winter long. Here are some simple herbal products that you can create and enjoy throughout the winter months. Make extra and you’ll have a head start on the holiday season, they make wonderful gifts!
Quick to make and so useful! The lingering herbal aromas that herbal sachets impart are perfect for tucking into dresser drawers, and clothes smell wonderful when tossed with sachets in the dryer.
Dried Herbs and/or Spices: I often use Lavender or Cedar Tips, but any fragrant dried herb or spice can be used. Try Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Lemon Verbena, Rose petals, Rosemary, Peppermint, Chamomile, Spearmint, or whichever herbal aromas inspire you!
Bags: I used cotton muslin bags from Mountain Rose Herbs, but you can also make your own bags with cotton or muslin fabric. Sometimes, I’ll stamp the sachets with images of birds or botanicals (especially if giving as gifts).
How to: Coarsely grind herbs and spices in a coffee grinder to release their scent. Whole or broken herbs and spices work well too, but will not be quite as fragrant as when they’re ground. Stamp the bags if desired, then stuff with herbs and spices. You may add a few drops of essential oil if you wish for a stronger aroma.
Fresh Bath Bouquets
One of the simplest, yet most delightful bath treatments! If you have a bounty of fresh flowers and herbs in your garden, save a few sprigs for this decadent and medicinal bathing experience.
Pick fresh herbal sprigs from the garden. Some favorites include Calendula, Chamomile, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint, Red Clover, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Thyme, and Oregano. Bundle the botanicals with twine, and hang under the faucet allowing water to run through the herbs. Once the tub is full, you can allow the herbs to float freely in the bathtub or simply enjoy their beauty as they hang from the faucet.
Utilize your favorite scents from the garden to make colognes that can be misted all around the home. A relaxing cologne could include Roses, Chamomile, and Lavender. Or, mix a rejuvenating blend from Rosemary, Peppermint, and Sage.
Herbs: Fresh or dried organic botanicals of choice
How to: Combine all ingredients in a glass mason jar and add vodka until the liquid rises above the herbs by at least 1”. Cap tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain the flowers and pour the resulting cologne into a glass bottle with a mister top. Note: the vodka will take on the color of the herbs, so be wary of darker colors that may stain light-colored linens or clothing.
Herbal syrups are luxurious atop pancakes, waffles, ice cream, cakes, fresh fruit, crepes, or when stirred into lemonade, iced tea, or cocktails. You can even mix them with soda water to create herbal sodas.
Herbs and Spices of choice, some options are: Basil, Lavender flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Orange peel, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosehips, and Spearmint.
How to: Bring two cups of water to a boil and then add two cups of organic sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve, then remove from the heat and add fresh or dried herbs. Cover the pot, and allow the herbs to steep until the mixture cools. You can remove the herbs sooner if the syrup reaches the flavor that you desire before it finishes cooling. Or, you can allow the mixture to sit overnight if you prefer a stronger syrup. Once you are satisfied with the flavor, strain out the herbs and pour the remaining liquid into pretty glass bottles. The syrup should last for at least 6 months if stored in a refrigerator.
Herbal Infused Vinegar
When vinegar is infused with herbs, it adds a special twist to salad dressings, marinades, dipping sauces, vinaigrettes, and any other recipe utilizing vinegar.
Vinegar: Distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, or rice vinegar. Use milder vinegars when infusing delicate herbs and stronger flavored vinegars for robust herbs.
Organic herbs, either fresh or dried. Some options are: Basil, Cayenne, Chamomile flowers, Chili Peppers, Chives, Coriander seeds, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Mustard seeds, Orange peel, Oregano, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosemary, Sage, Summer or Winter Savory, Tarragon, or Thyme.
How to: Start by sanitizing a glass bottle or jar (instructions are in the link below). Wash fresh herbs and pat dry (omit this step if using dried herbs). Place the herbs or spices into the sterilized glass container and fill with vinegar of your choice. 3 TBSP dried herbs/spices or 3-4 sprigs of fresh herbs per pint of vinegar is usually a good amount. However, this depends upon the strength of the herb, spice, and vinegar used, so experiment with more or less. Cover the container tightly with a non-corrodible, nonmetallic lid, and place in a dark, cool place to steep. Allow the vinegar to infuse for 2-4 weeks, or until the desired flavor has developed. Once finished, strain the herbs out, and pour the infused vinegar into sterilized bottles or jars. Fresh sprigs of herbs, dried herbs, whole chili peppers, peppercorns, and berries can be added before sealing to make the bottle more attractive and to further enhance the flavor. Label with the ingredients and date, and you’re finished! It’s best to keep vinegars stored in a cool, dark place and use within 4-6 months or keep the vinegar refrigerated to retain the flavors longer. If you notice mold, cloudiness, signs of fermentation, or anything else that looks unusual, discard immediately. For more information about making infused vinegar, this informational sheet from the Oregon State University Extension Service is wonderful: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/sites/default/files/images/flavored_vinegars.pdf
Herbal Infused Sugars and Salts
Herbal infused sugars and salts are a fun way to turn salt and sugar into something special! Use in the same manner as unseasoned sugar or salt, or use as a finishing touch to any dish.
Just imagine Lavender sugar sprinkled over Crème Brule, Lemon Verbena sugar sprinkled over shortbread cookies, or Chamomile sugar stirred into a mug of warm mint tea.
Herbal salts are a versatile ingredient delightful in soups, sauces, stews, and roasted vegetables or meats. Savory Rosemary salt may be sprinkled over homemade focaccia, Basil salt atop freshly sliced heirloom tomatoes, Sage infused salt on roasted root vegetables, or enjoy a margarita dressed up with a Chili Pepper salt rim. Yum!
Organic sugar or salt
Dried organic herbs of choice. Some options are: Basil, Cayenne, Chamomile flowers, Chili Peppers, Chives, Coriander seeds, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Mustard seeds, Orange peel, Oregano, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosemary, Sage, Summer or Winter Savory, Tarragon, or Thyme.
How to: Use 1 part herb or spice to 4 parts salt or sugar. Crush the herbs in a mortar and pestle, or whirl in a food processor or coffee grinder. Allow to infuse for 2-4 weeks, then remove the herbs and spices. The sugar or salt will be infused with the delectable flavor and aroma of the herb. Package in pretty, airtight glass bottles, jars, or tins.
More recipes and inspiration:
For information on drying herbs from your garden, see this article: The Low Tech Art of Drying Herbs
Posted by|07 September 2012
Decorated with this powerful Support Organic Agriculture design, our shirts are made from sustainably grown organic cotton which has been dyed with eco-friendly low-impact dyes. Choose from 3 sizes of a men’s traditional cut t-shirt, or 4 sizes of a women’s t-shirt cut to flatter.
We love this new black messenger bag made from organic cotton grown and produced in the United States! The 40” strap makes it easy to sling over your shoulder. Each bag measures 18″ wide x 12″ high and has a Velcro closure under the flap. Also available in organic black cotton is a classic tote bag measuring 18″ wide x 14.5″ high.
Ready to sip with purpose too?
Another new addition we’re excited about is this stainless steel 25oz travel canteen. The screw-top lid is equipped with a loop to easily attach a strap or carabiner. These unique black ceramic mugs have a decorative handle and flared rim. At 15 ounces, they are large enough to accommodate all of your favorite beverages. Plus, they are lead-free and proudly made here in the United States!