Posted by|13 May 2013
This recipe is such a convenient preparation which either can be used alone or incorporated into cosmetic and medicinal recipes. And, it couldn’t be simpler to make!
Witch Hazel extract is produced from the leaves and bark of the North American shrub Witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana. It has astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anesthetic properties, making it an invaluable ingredient for many different medicinal and cosmetic preparations.
I especially love using herbal infused witch hazel as a facial toner, often incorporate it into facial wash recipes, and a small dab works great on blemishes. Beneficial for all skin types from oily to dry and mature skin, Witch Hazel is often used as an aftershave, to cleanse oils from the skin, remove make-up, decrease bags under eyes and skin puffiness, reduce pore size, and to minimize varicose veins. Medicinally, Witch Hazel extract is often applied as a compress or added to bath water to assist with minor injuries, skin irritations, insect bites, hemorrhoids, rashes from poison ivy or oak, localized inflammations, and other conditions. Athletes sometimes rub Witch Hazel extract onto their arms or legs prior to workouts to help prevent muscle strain, or after a workout to help relieve soreness.
What you’ll need:
• Witch Hazel extract
It’s best to use a high quality organic Witch Hazel extract. Commercial Witch Hazel extracts usually contain more alcohol than actual Witch Hazel, and have only been distilled once. However, true Witch Hazel extracts (like the one offered by Mountain Rose Herbs) has been double distilled, and contains 86% Witch Hazel extract and only 14% alcohol. This makes it more soothing than the versions found in stores, and it lacks the alcohol sting and scent.
• Herb(s) of choice
Here some favorites, but feel free to be creative! You can make infuse just one or can make a blend: Basil, Calendula, Chamomile, Elder flowers, Green Sencha Leaf tea, Lavender flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Nettle leaf, Orange Peel, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosemary, Sage, Red Clover flowers, Vanilla beans.
1. Place the dried herbs in a glass mason jar, and cover completely with the Witch Hazel extract. Make sure that the Witch Hazel extract covers the herbs by at least 1-2” to account for swelling once that the herbs become hydrated. If the herbs swell and rise above the Witch Hazel extract, simply add more Witch Hazel extract until they are fully submerged.
2. Cap tightly and place in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or closet.
3. Allow to infuse for at least 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily or as often as you remember. You will notice that the Witch Hazel will quickly take on the scent and color of the herbs.
4. Once finished, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth or a fine cloth. Pour into a clean bottle, label, and enjoy!
The FDA has approved Witch Hazel distillate as safe for external use in skin care products. Avoid using Witch Hazel extract close to the mucus membranes or in the eyes, as it contains a small amount of alcohol. It is best to use on this product on unbroken skin. External use of Witch Hazel extract could result in minor skin irritation for some people. Do not use on serious burns, cuts, or other wounds.
Posted by|29 April 2013
Dandelion Flower Fritters
Spring is such a magical time! Plants which lay dormant throughout the winter become alive again with fresh and vigorous energy, actively emerging up through the earth, pushing out fresh new shoots, proudly displaying vibrant tender tips, and bursting into colorful blossoms.
Dandelion flowers are one of my favorite springtime herbals. Not only are fritters a perfect way to use Dandelions before they burst into seed, but their mild and slightly bitter flavor is dangerously addictive!
- Dandelion flower tops (Taraxacum officinale)
- 1 organic and free-range egg
- 1 cup organic milk
- 1 cup organic flour (Brown Rice flour can be used for a gluten-free alternative)
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Gather Dandelion tops during the day, when the sunshine has opened up the bright and cheerful flowers.
- Rinse in cool water to remove any critters or debris, and allow to dry while preparing the batter.
- To make the batter, combine egg, milk, and flour in a bowl and mix until all lumps are gone. If you prefer sweeter fritters, add a little maple syrup, honey, Cinnamon, or a dash of Vanilla extract. To make more savory fritters, try adding Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Chives, Sage, Thyme, Tarragon, ground Peppercorns, salt, or even a little parmesan cheese.
- Prepare a skillet on the stove with olive oil over medium heat.
- Take one of the flowers, hold it by the greens at the base, dip into the batter, and twirl until the flower is covered in batter.
- Drop it into the skillet, flower side down. Continue dipping and dropping until the skillet is full. A second method is to remove the “petals” (each yellow petal of the dandelion is actually an individual flower with a single petal and reproductive parts), sprinkle them directly into the batter, then cook just like pancakes.
- When the fritters are lightly browned, flip them over, and brown on the other side. When finished, remove from the pan and plate.
- For a sweet treat, drizzle with maple syrup, honey, jam, plum sauce, or powdered sugar. For a savory snack, dip into aioli or a sauce made with tahini, mustard, curry, hot chili peppers, or anything else you wish!
Posted by|09 April 2013
Spring is the classic time for deep-cleaning your home, but it is also a perfect time to cleanse and nurture the body. These herbals gently cleanse, nourish, and are perfect for providing energy and warmth after the cold, winter months and before the busy summer months begin.
These nourishing herbs provide essential vitamins and minerals, are so nourishing, taste delicious, and give a nice caffeine-free energy boost. Perfect as an afternoon “pick-me-up” or when the body feels run down or in need of nourishment.
Use one of the above herbs, or a combination. Simply place a handful of dried herbs in a glass quart jar, pour boiling water over them, cap the jar, and then let the mixture sit overnight. In the morning, strain the mixture, and then drink throughout the day. Yum!
The bitter taste of these roots stimulates the flow of saliva and digestion. Bitters are beneficial for poor and sluggish digestion, gas, bloating, and constipation, they help our bodies process nutrients, stimulate the metabolism, and increase appetite. Simply take a few drops before a meal to get the digestive juices going.
- 1 part organic Burdock root
- 1 part organic Dandelion root
- ¼-1/2 part organic Ginger root (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 100 proof vodka or other alcohol of choice, or use a 50:50 mixture of Everclear to water
Place all herbs into a glass mason jar, cover with alcohol. Make sure that the herbs are covered by at least 1-2” of alcohol. Add more alcohol as needed if the herbs swell above the alcohol. Place the jar in a dark area, and shake at least once per day (or as often as you remember). After 4-8 weeks, strain through cheesecloth, reserving the liquid and composting the spent herbs. Pour the bitters formula into glass bottles, and store in a dark, cool area. Review our Guide to Making Tinctures for more instructions specific to using dried or fresh roots in this recipe.
A twist on the classic lemon juice and cayenne “master cleanse” drink, this beverage incorporates Ginger and Turmeric. This spicy and healthful beverage is especially beneficial first thing in the morning to help cleanse and flush the body.
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- pinch of organic Cayenne powder
- pinch of fresh or dried powdered Ginger root
- a pinch of dried powdered Turmeric root
- Honey, maple syrup, or molasses (optional) to taste
Mix all ingredients into a cup of hot water, and enjoy!
Posted by|05 November 2012
I was first introduced to the magical ways of mead when Tobias Schock, a good friend and artisan of fermented delights, invited me to a brewing lesson. He showed me how to combine plums he had picked that very morning with raw local honey and yeast for what would slowly develop into a delicious alcoholic beverage. I was enchanted! Within weeks, happily fermenting concoctions were bubbling away in my kitchen: Peach and Ginger Mead made with luscious peaches purchased from a small local farm and raw local wildflower honey, Cyser from freshly pressed apple cider and raw local Maple blossom honey. Over the winter when fresh fruit was unavailable locally, I experimented with dried Bilberries, Elder flowers, Meadowsweet, and Vanilla beans.
It has now been several years since my first experiments in mead making, and I’ve since fermented many more batches of alcoholic delights with a variety of fresh and dried herbs including Nettle, Hibiscus flowers, Mugwort, Lemon Verbena, Yarrow, Roses, Sweet Woodruff, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Spruce tips, Pineapple Sage, and I even made a mead infused with eleven different types of flowers. Mead does take patience; it often requires at least a full year to age properly and it only becomes better with time. However, this only makes sharing a bottle of perfectly aged homemade mead with friends even more extraordinary.
Affectionately called “Nectar of the Gods” or “Honey Wine”, brewing mead is not a new practice. There is archaeological evidence of mead being produced as early as 7000 BC and written records date from 1700 BC! Although it was called by different names, fermented honey beverages were enjoyed worldwide by native cultures throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, North, and the Americas.
Not only is mead delicious and simple to create, it is also fairly inexpensive. A 5 gallon batch will usually cost $40-60 utilizing raw honey and organic fruit all purchased through local farms and beekeepers. That’s around $2 or less per bottle! If you keep bees, then you can make a batch of mead for little more than the cost of the yeast.
Below is a recipe for mead made from apple cider and honey, it was based on Ken Shramm’s recipe for “Fall’s Bounty Cyser” which is available in his book, “The Compleat Meadmaker”. Before beginning, I recommend getting acquainted with your local homebrew store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve popped into our local shop, Falling Sky Fermentation Supply Shop, for reassurance or to ask questions when a fermentation doesn’t go quite as expected. I also suggest the book “The Compleat Meadmaker” by Ken Shramm, and of course, there is much information available online including some wonderfully helpful homebrewing forums.
Spiced Apple Cyser
Cyser is the name given to mead made from cider and honey. The addition of spices makes this the perfect warming and comforting beverage to sip during the autumn and winter months. If you create this mead now, it will be perfectly aged to enjoy during next year’s holiday season! It can even be gently warmed to temperatures below 170 degrees and served with a Cinnamon stick or a couple of Cloves or Cardamom pods.
- 8 lbs raw local honey (I used raw Maple flower honey from a local beekeeper)
- 4 gallons freshly pressed apple cider (best when pressed from a variety of apples)
- 1 package yeast (there are a variety of liquid and dry yeasts available, make sure to use one that can withstand the high alcohol content of mead)
- 1 lb organic brown sugar
- ½ lb organic dates, chopped
- 2 tsp yeast energizer
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- Water to 5 gallons (if needed)
- Organic spices (optional): 1 Cinnamon stick, 1 tsp whole Allspice, 1 tsp whole Cardamom pods, 3 whole Cloves, 5 whole Black Peppercorns, 1 whole Nutmeg. This will make a heavily spiced mead which will taste similar to mulled cider. You can change the blend or omit the spices altogether.
- Equipment: Thermometer, plastic food-grade bucket, 5 or 6 gallon glass carboy, fermentation lock and rubber stopper, siphon house and racking cane, and sanitizer.
1. First, sanitize everything that will come in contact with your mead. You can use Star San, One Step Cleanser, or another sanitizer available from a homebrew shop.
2. Mix the cider, honey, brown sugar, and dates in a food-grade bucket, making sure to blend them thoroughly. Add water if needed to reach a total volume of 5 gallons. Some recipes call for boiling the honey, but this causes the honey to lose its natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties as well as some of the delicious flavor and aromatics. I prefer to leave the honey raw, but if you are concerned about sanitation, then heat the cider and honey mixture to a temperature of 150 degrees and hold it there for 10 minutes.
3. Add yeast energizer, yeast nutrient, and yeast to the honey and cider blend according to the directions on the packages. Mix vigorously to add oxygen and aerate the must. Yeast needs plenty of oxygen in order to reproduce and create a healthy fermentation.
5. For the primary fermentation, you can use the food-grade plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid or a glass carboy. With either vessel, you will need to attach an airlock and rubber stopper. Check your yeast strain to see what temperatures are preferred, but most mead is best fermented in an area that is 60 to 75 degrees. Now the magic will begin! Within 24-48 hours you should see activity coming from your airlock.
6. The bubbles will be vigorous in the beginning, decreasing in activity over the next couple of weeks. Once they have subsided to one bubble every 60 seconds or longer and you notice that the yeast has settled into a layer at the bottom of the bucket, it is time to transfer your mead. It is useful to taste the beverage and take a hydrometer reading at this point to ensure that the fermentation is complete. The mead should no longer taste sweet and the final gravity should be between 0.990 – 1.015.
7. Gravity is needed for this next step, so place the fermenting bucket/carboy on a chair or stool and allow the yeast to settle to the bottom again (I usually let it sit overnight). Using a siphon and racking cane, rack the liquid off of the yeast into a glass carboy with an airlock and rubber stopper. Store the filled carboy in a cool area such as a basement, which is the ideal place if you have one.
8. You can add spices anytime during the fermentation process, but I like to wait until the mead has mellowed a bit so that I can taste the spices in the mead. First, place the spices in a muslin bag and boil in a little water to sanitize. Next, allow the spice filled bag and remaining liquid to cool completely. Add the spiced liquid and suspend the bag of herbs in the mead. Spices can easily overwhelm other flavors in the mead, so taste your mead frequently after adding them. You can also add oak chips during the fermentation to infuse notes of vanilla, oak, and to help soften the mead’s overall flavor. Treat oak chips first by boiling in water and then allow them to sit for a few hours before adding.
9. Once the signs of fermentation have subsided and the mead has cleared and is no longer cloudy, it is ready to bottle! You may have to transfer the mead a couple of times before this happens to eliminate sediment at the bottom. Use clean and sanitized wine or beer bottles and new corks or caps (bottles may be reused, but do not reuse closures). 5 gallons of mead will fill approximately twenty-five 750ml wine bottles or fifty-three 12oz beer bottles.
Don’t worry if your mead tastes hot and alcoholic, those harsh flavors will subside with aging. Most important, remember to always sanitize anything that ever comes in contact with your mead to preserve and enjoy this special beverage.
Posted by|09 October 2012
I recently made these no-bake cookies for a camping and canoeing trip, and have been hooked ever since! I really love how healthful, simple, and pure the ingredients are, and just how adaptable the recipe is. You can completely customize it and add whichever nut butter, dried fruit, or other ingredients you have on hand. These delicious nuggets are a perfect snack whether adventuring in the outdoors, gardening, bicycling around town, or working in the office. They’ll satisfy your sweet cravings and children love them too. I enjoy crumbling a few over organic yogurt with fresh fruit in the morning or atop sliced peaches with a light drizzle of organic maple syrup or herbal infused honey for dessert.
- 1 cup organic old-fashioned Oats
- 2/3 cup organic Coconut flakes – either raw or toasted*
- ½ cup organic Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Peanut Butter, Filbert Butter, or other nut butter of choice (preferably raw)
- ½ cup organic Flax Meal or whole Flax seeds**
- 1/3 cup organic raw local Honey (substitute Agave Nectar for a vegan option)
- 1-2 TBSP organic Barberries
- 1 TBSP organic Cacao Nibs
- 1-2 TBSP organic Hemp Seeds
- 1-2 tsp organic Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp organic Vanilla Extract (make your own! See recipe from this link)
- Dash of organic Cinnamon powder
- Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until completely mixed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for approximately 30 minutes. Once chilled, scoop the batter out and press into balls. The size is up to you, mine were approximately an inch in diameter which made 16 cookies. If the dough is too crumbly to stick together, simply add a little extra honey or nut butter. If desired, the balls may be rolled in Coconut flakes or Cacao powder to coat them. Keep your herbal cookie nuggets stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for approximately one week.
Other additions: organic Maca powder, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Vanilla Bean powder, Lycii/Goji berries, Carob powder, Cacao powder, Astragalus root powder, Spirulina powder, Chlorella powder, Bee pollen, Red Alaea Salt, powdered Ginger root, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, cashews, or anything else you wish to add.
*Toasting Coconut: Toasting coconut enhances the flavor, and I’ve also found that it makes these no-bake cookies less oily. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread Coconut flakes in a thin layer on a baking sheet, and toast for approximately 5-10 minutes. Watch closely and stir frequently so the Coconut flakes are toasted evenly and do not burn. Remove from the oven as soon as they are golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and then incorporate into the recipe.
**Prepare whole Flax seeds by grinding in a coffee grinder, Vita-mix blender, or other grinder until coarsely powdered.
Posted by|04 October 2012
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|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|14 August 2012
In the Pacific Northwest, we look forward to summer all year. The warm weather inspires camping trips in the wilderness, swimming in clear cool rivers, hikes to remote mountaintops with breathtaking views, outdoor barbecues with friends, dancing at outdoor music festivals, foraging excursions to pick juicy wild berries, and brings us bountiful harvests of nourishing tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies harvested fresh from our gardens.
When engaging in summertime activities, it’s important to remember to take care of our skin and provide it with the moisturizing and protection that it needs. I’ve handpicked this collection of some of my favorite summertime recipes from previous articles on our blog, plus added some new recipes. I think you’ll agree that these are the perfect complement to warm summer weather!
Sweet Summer Perfume
A relaxing and warming blend reminiscent of summer, with a lightly floral aroma complemented by hints of spice and cedar. Especially useful during times of stress, anxiety, irritability, or depression. A great lift-me-up!
- 10 drops organic Lavender essential oil
- 5 drops organic Roman Chamomile essential oil
- 4 drops organic Cardamom essential oil
- 1 drop organic Atlas Cedarwood essential oil
- 1 drop organic Geranium (Rose) essential oil
- 1 tsp organic Jojoba Oil
Drip all essential oils into a glass bottle, and roll between palms to evenly mix the oils. Add Jojoba oil and roll again. Add additional essential oils if you desire a stronger perfume.
Tangerine & Ylang Ylang Body Oil
Refreshingly light with a hint of citrus and sweetness. Pour a little directly into bathwater, massage into the skin after bathing, or apply whenever skin feels a little dry.
- 1/2 cup organic carrier oil of choice. My favorite choices are Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel, Sunflower, or Jojoba
- 60 drops Tangerine essential oil
- 10 drop organic Ylang Ylang essential oil
Pour all ingredients into a bottle and roll between palms to distribute the oils evenly.
DIY Natural Deodorant Sprays
The ingredients used to make these herbal deodorant sprays are both astringent and antimicrobial to help keep you feeling fresh all day. These aromatic blends find a nice balance of masculine and feminine that can be enjoyed by anyone. Feel free to experiment with your favorite essential oils to create a perfectly blended scent for you!
Sweet Orange & Vetiver
1.5 oz organic Witch Hazel extract
10 drops organic Sweet Orange essential oil
1 drop of organic Vetiver essential oil
Cedarwood & Juniper
1.5 oz organic Witch Hazel extract
10 drops organic Cedarwood essential oil
2 drops of organic Juniper Berry essential oil
Refreshing Flower Water & Aloe Spray
This blend is so useful! You’ll find that it has an infinite number of applications. Apply liberally to sunburns, bug bites, rashes, and other skin irritations. Aloe Vera offers immediate relief and shortens healing times, Lavender essential oil is known for its skin healing properties, and Peppermint is cooling and refreshing. Depending on which you choose, flower waters can help sooth, heal, reduce inflammation, and cool minor burns, rashes, and hot sores.
- 2 oz Aloe Vera Gel
- 2 oz organic Peppermint, Cucumber, Lavender, or Lemon Balm Hydrosol (or other hydrosol of choice)
- 2-5 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops organic Lavender essential oil
Mix all ingredients, pour into a 4 ounce bottle, and apply to the skin as often as desired. Store in the refrigerator – the coolness will provide additional relief to hot, sunburned, and irritated skin.
Brown Sugar & Vanilla Body Scrub
A sweet smelling body scrub which will leave your skin feeling silky smooth.
- 1 cup organic brown sugar
- 1/2 cup fine Sea Salt
- 1/2 cup + 3 TBSP organic Sunflower oil or other carrier oil of choice
- 1/4 tsp organic Vanilla flavoring extract (learn how to make your own!)
Blend sugars together in a bowl, add oil and vanilla extract, and mix well. Package in jars, and enjoy! Note: the oil in this recipe will make your tub slippery, so use with caution.
Grapefruit Coconut Cocoa Lip Balm
Crafted from a medley of Grapefruit, Coconut, and Cocoa, this lip balm smells divine and is nourishing for dry, parched lips. If you live in a hot climate, then increase the amount of beeswax so that the lip balm doesn’t melt as quickly. And, make sure to keep this out of hot cars or direct sunlight – the lip balm will melt quickly. If it does melt, place it in a fridge, freezer, or in an air conditioned area so that it will re-solidify.
- 1 Tablespoon organic unrefined Coconut Oil
- 1 Tablespoon organic Cocoa Butter or 4 organic Cocoa Butter Wafers
- 2 Tablespoons organic Sunflower or organic Macadamia Nut Oil
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Beeswax
- 20 drops organic Grapefruit Essential Oil (increase or decrease as desired)
- A few drops of Vitamin E Oil (optional, but recommended)
Coarsely chop the beeswax or use beeswax pastilles. Place beeswax and oils in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax has melted. Once melted, remove from the stove top and add essential oils and Vitamin E Oil. Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm containers. You can purchase lip balm tubes and jars, or you can reuse glass or plastic containers. Allow to cool completely before placing caps onto the lip balm containers. Your lip balm is finished! Makes approximately 1.5 oz of lip balm, enough to fill 10 lip balm tubes, 6 of our 1/4 oz plastic jars, or 3 1/2 oz tins or plastic jars.
Note: Like most citrus oils, grapefruit essential oil can cause sun sensitivity and photo-toxicity. This can make the skin more sensitive to UV light which may cause skin to burn or damage more easily. If concerned, feel free to omit the essential oil or substitute with other essential oil(s) of your choice and adjust the quantity accordingly.
Rejuvenating Facial Serum
Facial Oils nourish the skin at a deep cellular level. The recipe below is for a rich and healing facial oil ideal for mature, dry, or damaged skin. The ingredients have been shown to help prevent wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks. If you are in a pinch, then plain Rosehip Seed or Pomegranate Seed oil are superb when used by themselves. During the summer, I like to use this facial serum before going to bed, to help repair my skin and regenerate skin cells while I sleep.
- 1/2 oz organic Rosehip Seed oil
- 1/4 oz organic Jojoba oil
- 1/4 oz organic Pomegranate Seed oil
- 5-10 drops Vitamin E Oil
- 10 drops organic Lavender essential oil
- 3 drops organic Helichrysum essential oil
- 2 drops organic Carrot Seed essential oil
Drop essential oils, Vitamin E Oil, and Rosehip Seed oil into a 1 oz glass bottle and roll bottle between your palms to evenly mix the oils. Top with other oils and roll again. Use daily for best results.
Soothing Facial Toner
Toners help adjust pH levels, remove any residues left on the skin after cleansing, and moisturize. This recipe will create a calming, hydrating, and healing herbal facial toner. Perfect for skin that is parched from dry, hot weather or that needs some soothing and nourishment.
- 4 oz distilled or filtered water
- 1/8 cup organic steel-cut or rolled Oats
- 1 tsp dried organic Chamomile flowers
- 1 tsp dried organic Lemon Balm
- 2 dried organic Calendula flowers
Boil water, pour over oats and herbs, and steep until cool. Strain, and place in a 2 oz. bottle with fingertip mister. Store in a refrigerator for up to a week to ensure freshness. Shake before each use.
More Sun Inspired Recipes!
Want more sun inspired goodies? Here are some of our other favorite summertime body care recipes:
No time to make your own summer remedies? We’ve got you covered!
Enjoy the weather!
Posted by|10 July 2012
Did you know that you can harness the anti-oxidant, anti-aging, and rejuvenation benefits of Green Tea externally? Green Tea helps reduce skin inflammation and redness, protects and rejuvenates skin cells, and assists with the adverse effects of UV radiation exposure. Studies have shown that Green Tea reactivates dying skin cells that are at the end of their life cycle, and also note the potential benefits for various skin conditions including psoriasis, rosacea, wrinkles, wounds, and scars.*
Learn how to take advantage of the healing and medicinal properties of Green Tea with these skin care recipes:
Green Tea, Lemon Balm, & Mint Facial Steam
Facial steams moisturize, relax muscles, plump wrinkles, eliminate toxins, dislodge dirt from pores, and are good for circulation. This recipe is refreshing, rejuvenating, and soothing.
- 1/8 cup organic Green Sencha Leaf Tea
- 1/4 cup dried organic Lemon Balm, increase the amount if using fresh Lemon Balm
- 1-2 TBSP dried organic Peppermint, increase the amount if using fresh Peppermint
Place Green Sencha Tea, Lemon Balm, and Peppermint into a large ceramic or glass bowl. Boil water and pour over herbs and tea, immediately placing a towel or lid over the bowl so that the oils being released from the herbs do not escape. Steep for 5 minutes. Place the bowl on a table or other surface where you can comfortably sit and hold your face over the bowl covering your head and the bowl with a large towel to make sure that no steam can escape. Make sure to keep your eyes closed and breathe deeply to inhale the therapeutic properties of the herbs. Steam for 10 minutes.
Green Tea & Rose Facial Toner
Toners help adjust pH levels, remove any residues left on the skin after cleansing, tone and tighten pores, and moisturize. This toner is gentle, soothing, and beneficial for all skin types.
- 4 oz organic Witch Hazel Extract
- 2 oz organic Rose Hydrosol
- 1 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel
- 1 tsp organic Green Sencha Leaf Tea
- 1/2 tsp organic Vegetable Glycerine
- 2-5 drops Rose or organic Geranium (Rose) Essential Oil
First, make an herbal infused Witch Hazel Extract by placing the Green Sencha Tea leaves and Witch Hazel Extract in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake the jar daily and allow the mixture to infuse for 2 or more weeks. Once finished infusing, strain the Green Tea leaves out and reserve the remaining liquid. Mix the infused Witch Hazel Extract with all of the other ingredients, and pour into dark glass bottles.
Green Tea & Lavender Facial Cleansing Grains
Facial scrubs exfoliate the skin, scrubbing away dead skin cells and cleansing pores. Some facial scrubs can be rough on the skin, but this recipe contains oats, almonds, and other nourishing ingredients.
- 1 TBSP organic Oatmeal
- 1 TBSP organic Almonds
- 2 tsp dried organic Lavender flowers
- 1 tsp French Green Clay
- ¼ tsp organic Matcha Tea
- 2-5 drops organic Lavender Essential Oil
Grind oats, almonds, and Lavender flowers in a clean coffee grinder until finely powdered. Sift through a mesh screen to remove larger pieces; larger pieces may be too abrasive for the delicate facial skin. Add clay, Matcha, and Lavender essential oil. Mix thoroughly, and store in a glass jar. To use, mix a small amount with water, milk, cream, yogurt, flower water, or tea until a smooth paste forms. Apply to slightly damp skin and gently massage with fingertips, avoiding the sensitive areas around the eyes and lips. When finished, rinse off with cool water.
You can use this same blend for a facial mask! Simply apply a light layer on the face, making sure to avoid the delicate skin area around the eyes and mouth. Leave on for 10 minutes or until the mask feels taught and dry, then rinse off with cool water. For dry or sensitive skin types, leave on for 5 minutes or less.
Peppermint & Green Tea Cooling Mist
Use this mist on sunburns or whenever in need of a little cooling off. Peppermint is very refreshing and helps provide instant relief for irritated and hot skin. Incorporating Green Tea into the blend helps reduce inflammation, redness, and the adverse effects of UV radiation exposure.
- 6 oz distilled or purified water
- 2 TBSP dried organic Peppermint leaf
- 1 tsp organic Green Sencha Leaf Tea
- 1-2 drops organic Peppermint Essential Oil (optional)
Pour boiling water over the Peppermint and Green Sencha Tea leaves, and infuse until cool. Strain out the leaves and pour the remaining liquid into a 4oz spray bottle. Add the essential oil (if using) and shake to combine all ingredients. Mist directly on sunburn for relief. Use within 1-2 days or store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
Green Tea Compress
Green tea is a powerful anti-oxidant and naturally contains tannic acid, theobromine, and polyphenols – all of which ease and repair skin. Green Tea compresses are especially beneficial for sunburned skin and for treating various skin conditions.
To create a compress from Green Sencha Leaf Tea, make an infusion by pouring boiling water over organic loose-leaf tea and allow to cool completely. Once it has cooled, strain out the leaves and reserve the liquid. Soak a clean cloth in the infusion and then place saturated cloth on skin for 5-10 minutes at a time. This process may be repeated several times a day.
Find Green Sencha Leaf tea, Matcha tea, bulk herbs, essential oils, Aloe vera Gel, Rose Hydrosol, and other ingredients on our website: www.mountainroseherbs.com
* Green Tea Linked To Skin Cell Rejuvenation, Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030425071800.htm
Posted by|24 May 2012
The Wild Roses are blooming! With their intoxicating fragrance and enchanting beauty, we find them simply irresistible. Luckily for us, they grow along the neighboring West Eugene Wetlands where we are able to visit them and enjoy their alluring scent while on our afternoon walks.
Not only are they incredibly gorgeous and fragrant, but Wild Roses have medicinal uses too. The leaves are astringent and toning, they can be added to facial steams or infusions as a gentle astringent for normal, oily, or combination skin. The fresh leaves may also be applied as a poultice for bee stings and insect bites. The petals are delectable when infused in honey or candied, and the hips can be made into jellies, teas, and syrups that are rich in Vitamin C.
For more information about Wild Roses including harvesting and preparation tips, and recipes for Rose Petal Jelly, Crystallized Rose Petals, Rose Hip Jelly, and Candied Rose Hips, you can refer to this document by the UAF Cooperative Extension Service: http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/publications-db/catalog/hec/FNH-00114.pdf
“The Earth Laughs in Flowers.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Posted by|07 May 2012
Salves are such a simple, effective, and useful medicine! They can easily be slipped into a purse, pocket, or first aid kit. Although semi-solid at room temperature, salves soften once applied to the skin, making them less messy to apply than oils. They also make great gifts and are an easy and approachable way to introduce newbies to the medicinal properties of herbs. Plus, salves can be crafted for a wide variety of topical uses including: arthritis, bruises, cuts, rashes, inflammation, insect bites and stings, sores, sprains, strains, wounds, and other skin irritations and conditions. The addition of beeswax offers additional benefits including protective, soothing, emollient, nourishing, and healing properties.
Part 1: Make Herbal Infused Oil
To make salve, first craft your herbal infused oil(s). This will take several weeks, but once finished, the rest of the salve making process will only take minutes! You can also purchase pre-infused herbal oils if needed or if you wish to skip the process of infusing the oil.
Solar Method: When making herbal infused oils, we prefer the solar infused method. Place dried botanicals into a dry and sterilized glass jar. Some herbalists coarsely crush or grind herbs first, while others finely chop herbs and leave delicate flowers whole. Cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other carrier oil of choice with a stable shelf life) leaving at least 1-2” of oil above the herbs to allow the herbs to swell. Cap the jar tightly and place in a sunny, warm window. If desired, the jar can be covered with a bag or box so that the oil is not exposed to direct sunlight. Shake the jar once or twice per day, or as often as you remember. If the herbs absorb the oil, then add more oil so that they are always submerged. Allow to infuse for 2-6 weeks, or until the oil takes on the color and aroma of the herb. Once the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into dry and sterilized amber bottles for storage. Make sure to squeeze as much oil as possible from the herbs so that you do not waste any precious oil! Herbal oils will keep for approximately a year if stored properly in a dark and cool place. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong the shelf life.
Quick Method: Another way to infuse oils, which is sometimes necessary when herbal oils need to be created in a pinch, is the quick method which utilizes heat. Much care needs to be taken when creating herbal oils this way because you do not want to deep-fry your herbs! Place herbs in crock-pot, double boiler, or electric yogurt maker, and cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other carrier oil of choice) leaving at least an inch or two of oil above the herbs. Gently heat the herbs over very low heat (preferably between 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1-5 hours until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Some texts recommend heating the oil 48-72 hours at a controlled temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Once that the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into dry and sterilized amber bottles for storage. Store in a dark and cool place, Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong the shelf life.
Part 2: Turn that Oil into Salve!
• 8 oz herbal infused oil(s) of your choice. Choose one or a combination.
• 1 oz Beeswax (use Carnauba Wax for a vegan salve)
• Vitamin E Oil (optional)
• 10-20 drops essential oil of choice (optional). Some essential oils commonly used are Lavender and Tea Tree.
• Glass Jars or Tin Containers
Place Herbal Infused Oils and Beeswax over a double boiler, and gently warm over low heat until the Beeswax melts. Remove from heat and add the essential oil and Vitamin E Oil (if using). Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely. Salves should be stored in a cool location where they will remain semi-solid and will not continue to re-melt and re-solidify. If stored correctly, salves will last for 1- 3 years. Yields 8 oz.
Note: The consistency of salves can easily be adjusted depending on your preferences. Use less Beeswax for a softer salve and more Beeswax if you’d prefer a firmer salve. You can test the consistency by placing a few spoons in the freezer before making your salve. When the Beeswax melts, pour a little salve onto one of the cold spoons and place it back into the freezer for 1-2 minutes. Once cooled, you can make adjustments by adding more oil (for a softer salve) or more Beeswax (for a firmer salve).
Herbs for Salve
You can make salve with a single herb or multiple herbs, depending on your needs. It’s useful to make a variety of herbal infused oils so that you can easily craft salve whenever you need it!
Arnica flowers: Can help treat physical trauma, bruises, bunions, strains, sprains, some kinds of arthritis, and muscle pain. Use immediately after strenuous exertion or injury to prevent, relieve, and reduce swelling, bruises and pain.
Burdock root: For treating psoriasis, eczema, and skin infections.
Calendula flowers: Wonderfully healing with all-around healing properties useful for a wide variety of skin irritations and conditions including wounds, insect bites, rashes, scrapes, abrasions, cuts, inflammations, and much more. Suitable for sensitive skin and babies.
Cayenne Pepper: Warming, good for arthritis and sore muscles, alleviates pain and itching.
Chamomile flowers: Hemorrhoids, minor abrasions, cuts, scrapes, and wounds.
Chickweed: Soothing, helps with skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema, minor burns, rashes, and other skin irritations.
Comfrey leaf and/or root: Relieves pain, swelling, promotes the growth of muscle, cartilage, and bone. Assists with healing a wide variety of conditions including sprains, eczema, dermatitis, viral skin infections, broken bones, arthritis, wounds, and bruises.
Echinacea herb and/or root: Antibacterial, beneficial for sores, wounds, insect bites and stings.
Ginger root: Warming, use for arthritis and sore muscles.
Goldenseal leaf and/or root: Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, useful for treating wounds and skin conditions.
Lavender flowers: Soothing, calming, relieves hemorrhoids, pain, has healing properties beneficial for wounds and numerous skin conditions.
Myrrh Gum powder: Antiseptic properties, used for cuts, scrapes, scratches, and abrasions.
Nettle leaf: Anti-inflammatory, an effective treatment for many skin conditions.
Oregon Grape root: Skin disinfectant, antibacterial, anti-microbial, helps heal wounds.
Plantain leaf: Antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antitoxic properties. Helps speed the recovery process, prevents infection, relieves and soothes insect bites and stings, pain, poison ivy, itching, rashes, sores, bruises, blisters, and damaged skin.
St. John’s Wort: Craft the deep red-colored oil from fresh flowers. Anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Beneficial for wounds, cuts, bruises, swelling, varicose veins, insect bites and stings, nerve damage, scrapes, rashes, burns, and pain.
Thyme: A strong antiseptic used for cuts, scrapes, and sore muscles.
Yarrow Flowers: Apply to bruises, sprains, wounds, cuts, rashes, eczema, scrapes, and areas with swelling and bleeding.
Please note that this is only a partial list, many other healing herbs can also be incorporated into salves.
Happy salve making!
For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.