Archive for the ‘Herbal Info’ Category
Posted by|18 April 2014
We’ve been receiving quite a few inquiries lately regarding our organic Ginger Root Essential Oil. Did you know that there are actually many different types of Ginger Essential Oil on the market? I would like to shed a little light about what we carry here at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Ginger root is a widely known and used warming spice. There are endless recipes out there that call for fresh or dried Ginger root, from juicing and sodas to medicinal tea blends, homemade fire ciders, chai, cookies, soups, and more. It’s a longtime favorite among herbalists and foodies alike. The essential oil can be made from either the fresh or dried root, each creating a unique aroma. Where the plant was grown also greatly affects the aroma of the oil. Some of the main producing countries include Sri Lanka, India, Nigeria, and Jamaica. You can also find a carbon dioxide extracted oil on the market, ginger absolutes, and oleoresins. Again, all creating unique aromas.
Here are the characteristics of our organic Ginger Essential Oil, steam distilled from the dried rhizome:
Aroma: Ginger has a warming pungent woody aroma that dries out to be light and spicy. I highly recommend testing ginger oil on a perfume testing strip or cotton ball. The aroma straight out of the bottle can be very overpowering, and you can miss all of the complex subtleties in the scent as the oil dries out.
Color: Translucent yellow
Viscosity: This oil feels thin and dry when rubbed between the fingers. It drops easily out of a reducer cap, but not too quickly. This oil may thicken over time as it is exposed to air during use.
Common Uses: Ginger has an affinity with the digestive system (we do not recommend ingesting essential oils). The essential oil is also stimulating, astringent, and antibacterial. In perfumery and aroma blends, ginger adds a grounding exotic spicy note.
Spicy Spring Aroma Spray
1 oz glass bottle with small mister top
1 oz organic Cucumber hydrosol or organic Witch Hazel extract
6 drops organic Grapefruit essential oil
4 drops organic Ginger Root essential oil
2 drops organic Lavender essential oil
Combine all ingredients. Shake before use and enjoy!
Posted by|11 April 2014
Henna is a natural plant-based coloring application for the hair that is made from the powdered leaves of the desert shrub Lawsonia inermis. Other botanicals such as Indigofera sp. and Cassia obovata are added to the Lawsonia to create different henna colors. We offer 6 beautiful henna shades created from these botanical combinations. Choose from: Black, Dark Brown, Medium Brown, Light Brown, Mahogany, and Red.
Our new 6oz size comes packaged in a reusable and recyclable tin. The 1lb bags of henna now come in a reclosable stand-up kraft bag that is compostable once the zipper is removed, and our 5lb bulk bag is still available. Each henna product that you purchase comes with our Guide to Proper Henna Use, complete with instructions and helpful tips.
Posted by|08 April 2014
We are getting ready for the best Free Herbalism Project event yet!
Spring has sprung here in beautiful Eugene and we can’t wait to celebrate Herb Day with an amazing lineup of free herbal classes, free tea, and blooming wildflowers galore.
You are invited to join us for a spring plant walk, a street herbalism workshop with Occupy Medical, and a hands-on lecture about aromatherapy and the many uses of essential oils with California author and herbalist Kathi Keville! This time around, the event will be a fundraiser for Occupy Medical and the American Herb Association! All profits raised during this event from the sale of t-shirts, essential oils, books, and other herbal merchandise will be donated to these two amazing organizations.
Pacific Northwest in Springtime
To begin the festivities, Howie Brounstein and Steven Yeager from the Columbines School of Botanical Studies will take us on a trip through the forest to meet our wild beauties of spring! From lilies and orchids, to violets and Oregon grape, come learn how to identify the gorgeous blooms around you, discover their names and uses, and gain a deeper understanding of their ecosystems. The number of participants for this walk will be limited, so please arrive early!
12:30pm to 1:30pm
Sue Sierralupe is the clinic manager and lead herbalist for Occupy Medical, a free integrated healthcare clinic in Eugene, Oregon where she treats community members and advocates for access to healthcare.
Sue will give a brief history of the Occupy movement, the clinic itself, and the evolution of the herbal medicine movement in America. Learn how to set up your own clinic and which herbs to start with for successful patient care.
2:30pm to 5:00pm
Aromatherapy ~ The Fragrant Art of Healing
Kathi Keville has been teaching and writing about herbal medicine, aromatherapy, herb gardening, and ethnobotany for over forty years. She is the co-author of Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and will be joining us to demystify the practice of using essential oils for health and healing. This will be a very special class for anyone interested in including these concentrated herbal oils in their medicine cabinet. Come experience a world of good scents with aromatherapist and herbalist Kathi Keville!
Aromatherapy ~ Natural Skin Care ~ Ritual ~ Perfume ~ Relaxation ~ Energizing
Essential Oils ~ Hydrosols ~ Aromatic Plants in the Garden
and much more…
What is Herb Day?
Herb Day is an international celebration of herbs and herbal products that is packed with events aimed at educating and sharing ideas about the many ways herbs bring joy and wellbeing into our daily lives. We celebrate herbs in food, beverages, medicine, beauty products, and crafts, along with the art of growing and gardening with herbs. Herb Day is a grassroots movement and its events belong to everyone who chooses to participate. Although May 4th will be the focal point of our celebration, we encourage you to commemorate Herb Day any time of year!
Posted by|04 April 2014
Amla, also know as amlaki or Indian gooseberry, is the fruit of a small to medium-sized deciduous tree native to India. The berries are greenish yellow and have a fibrous inner texture. Their peak harvesting season is in the autumn, which is when these little berries are collected by hand.
In Hinduism, the amla tree is considered sacred to the goddess Lakshmi. A much-beloved staple of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, amla is considered a cooling pitta herb. It is one of the three ingredients in Triphala powder. This Ayurvedic blend is made of Amlaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and Bibhitaki (Terminalia Belerica).
Mountain Rose Herbs offers two types of organic Amla. A traditionally processed whole Amla, and a dehydrated cut and sifted Amla. Both processes result in a sour, bitter, and astringent tasting dried fruit that is known for its ascorbic acid and Vitamin C content.
This whole organic Amla is traditionally dried in the sun – just like raisins. This process can take 10-15 days, and results in a dark brown almost black looking chunky fruit. Besides removing the seeds, the fruit does not go through any further processing. We also offer this same air-dried fruit in a powdered form, Organic Amla – Powder.
Our whole and powdered Amla can be made into capsules or used directly in smoothies, slurries, or other medicinal, culinary, or beverage preparations of your choice. This traditional air-dried material is also used to make natural dyes and inks. It has also been used to formulate hair care products such as shampoos and oils to nourish the hair and scalp.
Our dehydrated organic Amla also has the seeds removed from the fruit, but undergoes a much quicker drying process that only takes 1-2 days. This dehydration exposes the fruits to temperatures no higher than 104°F, which results in a color that is closer in appearance to the fresh fruit. This process also preserves some of the wonderful Vitamin C content that makes Amla so desirable. At 2000 mg per 100 grams, dehydrated Amla has 4 times the amount of Vitamin C than the traditional air-dried material. Thus, making it an ideal choice for your favorite medicinal, culinary, and beverage creations. The dehydrated pieces will easily re-hydrate in water, creating a fibrous texture similar to dehydrated apples with a much tarter taste. We don’t recommended using the dehydrated material for dyes and hair care products though. For that, stick with sun dried.
Visit our website here to learn more about this amazing fruit!
Posted by|25 March 2014
Spring is upon us and with it comes many adventures from cleaning out all the nooks and crannies of your home to long road trips exploring faraway trails. When I’m coming out of winter blues I need something to help reawaken my spirits, refresh my mind, and help me smell wonderful on the go! I sat down with our lovely aromatherapist Christine Guerts to put together some spring aroma blends for each moment of this blossoming season.
Each of these recipes produces just a small amount, a test batch let’s say. If you have been dabbling your toes in the aromatherapy world, this will be a fun opportunity to play around with making a small test batch and then multiplying it for a recipe of your choice. Below each of the recipes is a suggested use for the blend – by no means are those suggestions the limitations of this scent! Enjoy them however you’d like, use each recipe in a different way, or try all of the blends and pick your favorite to use in all of these recipes.
Recipe 1: Out to Play
A sweet and playful blend bound to excite the senses. Benzoin is a cost effective replacement for vanilla in recipes and excellent for gentle DIY skin care products. The fruity carrot seed and sweet orange combination make this an exciting and delightful blend, perfect for wearing on your body, especially during sunny adventures!
4 drops organic Benzoin essential oil
4 drops organic Sweet Orange essential oil
3 drops organic Carrot Seed essential oil
Suggested use: Great as a solid perfume or mixed with jojoba oil in a roll top bottle which can be found here. If you want to make a solid perfume, you can follow our balm base recipe here and simply replace the organic essential oil blend with the Out to Play recipe, multiplying the ingredient measurements above by 7. If blending for a roll top bottle, make sure your essential oil blend doesn’t constitute more than 1-2% of your total blend. This means in a 1 oz bottle you would want no more than 6-12 drops of essential oil. If you have questions or want to learn more about converting drops to ml to oz you can check out our handy conversion guide!
Recipe 2: Soft Clean Breeze
This is a soft smelling and cleansing combination of powerful citrus laced with the delicately spicy nutmeg, topped off with a touch of fresh fir needle.
5 drops organic Lavender essential oil
6 drops organic Grapefruit essential oil
4 drops organic Fir Needle essential oil
1 drop organic Nutmeg essential oil
Suggested use: This blend will work great as an air freshener. A perfect way to diffuse essential oils in your car is by using one of our Terra Cotta Pendant Diffusers. Simply place a couple drops of this blend onto a pendant and enjoy the luxurious car scents for weeks to come!
Recipe 3: Awakening
A wonderfully sharp and penetrating combination of petitgrain, uplifting rosemary, with balancing and energizing eucalyptus. Great for pulling your spirits right out of that winter muck.
3 drops organic Rosemary essential oil
2 drop organic Eucalyptus essential oil
Suggested use: Drip oils together in a glass spray bottle and mix by rolling the bottle between the palms of your hands. Pour 1 oz organic witch hazel extract to the top of the bottle and shake well. Spray in the air or on the body when in need of a smile.
Recipe 4: Spring Flowers
A royal blend of floral scents because nothing says “spring!” like blossoming flowers! If you are lucky enough to have both of these luxurious essential oils around your house, get ready for a treat. If you have one or the other or don’t want to overindulge on your essential oil collection, you can replace lavender for either of these floral oils to create an impressive scent, sure to please guests from far off lands.
4 drops organic Neroli essential oil
2 drops Jasmine Absolute esssential
Suggested use: In a diffuser of your choice, add 1-2 drops at a time of the blend and diffuse per the instructions. Enjoy!
Posted by|19 March 2014
Herbal Dryer Sachets
Conventional dryer sheets contain synthetic fragrances, chemicals, and known carcinogens and neurotoxins. These unnatural substances have been linked to disorders of the brain and nervous system, as well as headaches, nausea, dizziness, depression, loss of muscle coordination, fatigue, drowsiness, and even cancer of the pancreas. Plus, they’re unrecyclable and end up in landfills. Consider ditching the toxic dryer sheets and using homemade herbal dryer sachets instead!
Homemade herbal dryer sachets can be used in exactly the same manner as commercial varieties, but don’t contain the synthetic chemicals or artificial fragrances. Besides making your laundry smell wonderful, they are reusable, and completely natural. Best of all, this recipe is highly customizable, allowing you to add whatever herbs and essential oils you desire.
Begin by filling the muslin bags with the herbs of your choice. Lavender is a popular and well-loved classic which helps relax and calm. Peppermint and Rosemary are rejuvenating, and helpful for studying and other mental tasks. Dried Lemon, Lemongrass, and Orange peel all smell fresh, citrusy, and clean. Eucalyptus is beneficial for colds and sinus conditions. Other popular choices include soothing Chamomile flowers, floral Rose petals, romantic Geranium leaves, and woodsy Cedar tips. Be creative with your blends and use whichever herbs inspire you!
You may add a few drops of essential oils, but do so sparingly and cautiously as essential oils are flammable and potentially dangerous. Each dryer sachet can be used up to 10 times, or until it loses its scent. Before each use, remove the sachet from the dryer and squeeze it to help release its scent. Once the sachet no longer imparts fragrance, the spent herbs can be composted and the bag refilled with fresh herbs. Use homemade sachets in the same way you would use the commercial variety – simply toss it into the dryer with your clean clothes.
Natural Fabric Softener
Vinegar makes wool and cotton fabrics extra soft and fluffy, removes soap residue, and breaks up oils and grease. It also dissolves uric acid, making it perfect for babies’ diapers. Choose whichever essential oils you like best, based on their properties and aromas.
- 1 gallon vinegar
- 10-30 drops essential oil(s) of choice. Some favorites are: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Tea Tree, or Ylang Ylang.
Add essential oils to the gallon of vinegar. Shake well before using. For regular or small loads, add ½ cup during the rinse cycle, and for large loads add 1 cup.
Other natural and herbal laundry tips:
Make a natural stain remover using borax, white vinegar, water, a spray bottle, and a toothbrush. Place the borax in a container with a shaker top. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. To treat stains, shake the borax directly onto the stain, and then spray with the vinegar and water solution. Use the toothbrush to make a paste with the ingredients, and then scrub the stain. Allow to sit for 10-20 minutes, then wash as usual.
Remove any lingering soap residue from clothing or urine from baby diapers by adding 1 cup of white vinegar to your washing machine during the final rinse cycle.
Add essential oils to laundry detergent to naturally scent laundry and utilize their healing and therapeutic properties! Try Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Tea Tree, or Ylang Ylang.
Dryer balls can be used instead of dryer sheets to help fluff up laundry and separate clothes as they tumble dry. As an added bonus they may help to shorten drying times. Dryer balls are available in many retail and online stores, or make your own using felted wool.
Add a few drops of essential oil to a washcloth, and place in a dryer to naturally scent clothing. Make sure to only add a few drops and use caution as essential oils are flammable and adding them could potentially be dangerous.
The book The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier has a wonderful section full of natural laundry recipes and tips. She even includes specific instructions for cleaning troublesome stains such as lipstick, candle wax, mustard, ink, grass, tar, and wine.
Posted by|18 March 2014
We can’t wait for you to sit in the sunshine, sip a cup of tea, and enjoy our new Spring/Summer 2014 catalog! We’ve included 20 new herbal recipes, informative how-tos, farm stories, exciting new products, gorgeous color photos, and many more inspirations within these 72 beautiful pages.
As always, we print on post-consumer waste paper with eco-friendly inks so you can recycle the cover and compost the rest, although we hope you’ll keep it around for a bit or share it with a friend.
Want a FREE copy all for yourself?
Posted by|11 March 2014
When I was young, my mom always hung our laundry outside to dry. I adored the way that they smelled afterwards, infused by the enchanting aromas of lush green grass, fragrant flowers, tall evergreen trees, clean country air, and warm sunlight. I treasured drifting off to sleep amidst bed sheets permeated with these sweet scents and loved the way that the freshly laundered clothing smelled against my skin. One afternoon, my mom found me pinning all of my stuffed animals and dolls on the clothes wire and snapped this photograph. When she asked me what I was doing, I told her that I was hanging them up so that they would smell like the sunshine too.
Many commercial laundry products appear to be natural with names that include words like “mountain”, “fresh”, “spring, “air”, or “breeze”, but unlike pure sunshine, these scents are far from natural. In addition to synthetic fragrances, these products contain other nasty ingredients that are known toxins, carcinogens, and neurotoxins. Whiteners, cleaning agents, fragrances, and other common ingredients in laundry products have been linked to serious health conditions. They can damage the lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver, while also causing allergic reactions, irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, can trigger asthma attacks, worsen allergies, and affect clear thinking and concentration. When we wear clothes that have been washed and dried with these components, they are absorbed directly into our skin and bloodstream. In addition, many of these chemicals are not safe for our water supply and studies have proven that they are highly toxic to fish, thus endangering the environment as well as our own health.
Scary? Definitely. Fortunately, there are many wonderful alternatives available in natural food stores and co-ops. Just make sure to carefully read the ingredients to ensure that they really are natural and safe for you and your family. Better yet, you can make your own laundry products using these recipes!
Carol’s Herbal Laundry Liquid
Not only is Carol our Human Resources Director, she is also a highly talented crafter and gardener. Aside from making delightful handmade soaps and natural body care products, she also bakes delectable pies and treats and has an incredible garden. Carol has generously shared this wonderful recipe for natural liquid laundry detergent with us.
1 1/2 quarts of water
15-20 organic Soap Nuts
Essential oil of choice (optional). Some favorites are: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Tea Tree, or Ylang Ylang.
Directions: Pour hot water over the Soap Nuts and steep for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Cover the Soap Nuts and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain into a bowl and reserve the water. You’ll have a generous quart of liquid remaining. Once the solution has cooled, add essential oils (optional). Carol uses 4 Tablespoon Soap Nut liquid plus 2 tablespoons of Borax powder per load (with hard city water). This laundry potion works wonders, as even old towels and sweaty clothing, come out smelling line-dried.
Natural Laundry Presoak
Prewashing is helpful for heavily soiled clothing. This solution is gentle, utilizing natural elements to help lift dirt and stains. Essential oils can impart therapeutic properties, making your clothes refreshing, stimulating, relaxing, or calming. Plus, they lend their wonderful scents to the laundry, giving it a spicy, floral, woodsy, earthy, minty, or citrusy aroma.
1 cup vinegar
½ cup salt
Essential oil of choice (optional). Some favorites are: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Mandarin, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, Sweet Orange, Tangerine, Tea Tree, or Ylang Ylang.
Directions: Place clothes in washer and add warm water to cover them. Combine vinegar, salt, and essential oil (if using), and add the mixture to the washer. Allow clothes to soak for an hour or longer, then proceed with laundering.
Part 2 coming up next week!
Posted by|10 March 2014
Rosemary Gladstar, our dear “fairy godmother” of North Armerican herbalism, joined us in this beautiful garden to share plant wisdoms as part of the Free Herbalism Project. In this new video, Rosemary discusses the healing properties and uses for our ancient ally, Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Want to grow, make medicine with, or learn more about yarrow?
Want to support Rosemary’s work with the United Plant Savers? Become a member today and help them reach their goal during the March Membership Drive. You could win a basket full of herbal goodies while helping to protect our wild medicinal plants!
Posted by|26 February 2014
While we love working with our international farms, growing herb plants closer to home here in North America is also good for the quality of our herbs and spices. It is definitely good for North American farmers, benefits the environment (by using less fossil fuels to transport herbs), and creates and sustains jobs here at home.
In Europe, herbal plant horticulture has been a large and encouraged part of the agricultural traditions for millennia. European “Farm Bills,” agricultural colleges, and extension services support the production and management of European traditional herbal medicines. Historically, we do not have that same support in North America. Our agriculture has been geared towards increasing the size of farms and decreasing the variety of plants to encourage giant monocultures of staple grains and beans.
Even though there has been an increase in farmers who are interested in growing medicinal plants since the 1970s, there is still a need for small and medium sized farms to grow medicinal and aromatic plants. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we are proud to have encouraged and supported farmers across the country who grow organic herbs for decades and I think we have historical precedent here, too!
During a growth of interest in medicinal plants at the end of the 1800’s, the Eclectics herbal tradition was founded on helping farmers and extension services publish papers on cultivating North American roots and herbs. What we now know about cultivating echinacea, black cohosh, bloodroot, and ginseng started during that time period.
Today, even commonplace “weeds” such as dandelion, St. John’s wort, or sheep sorrel are in high demand and are a good example of the range of plants that could be grown in different types of farms across the nation. As a modern continuation of the North American herbal tradition, one of our responsibilities must be to provide herbalists and herb lovers with the best plants, all while we work with farmers and land managers to grow and harvest these healthy, high quality plants.
There are some unique challenges in growing medicinal plants: learning to dry and mill leaves, roots and berries takes experience and practice; transitioning to organic farming practices requires accountability and adherence to strict regulations; additionally, figuring out what’s best to grow on your land and in your climate takes a few years of trials. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we’re eager to help farmers who will work with us!
We’re excited more extension offices and other farmer resources are beginning to take an interest in herbs. We’re also looking forward to meeting and working with farmers and land managers in Appalachia at the Organic Growers Conference, Asheville March 8-9. On the Friday before the conference, I will be presenting with Jeanine Davis from the Mountain Crop Extension Service, Joe-Ann McCoy from the North Carolina Arboretum, Sarah Schober from the Bionetwork Natural Products Laboratory, and Jennifer Flynn from the Blue Ridge Naturally Branding Project.We will be chatting about these current herb farming realities and sharing how farmers can grow and sell organic herbs and plants to eager buyers.
I have high hopes for meeting and engaging with the Organic Farming community of the South. It’s a region with strong plant traditions and we’re glad to be a part of it.
Posted by|18 February 2014
When you think about how we create our skin creams, salves, and massage oils, you might be imagining a large factory kitchen with fancy machinery, but that’s not quite how things are done around here. We’ve kept our production kitchen small by choice so we can continue to make the much loved recipes created by Rosemary Gladstar and Julie Bailey years ago in exactly the same way—in small batches by hand, with care and patience.
Our production kitchen team is involved in every single step—from infusing oils to putting on the labels, and when a jar of cream leaves the kitchen, it is sent out to be carefully wrapped for one of our customer orders. You might be surprised to discover how closely our process resembles the way many home herbalists craft their own creations!
We start by infusing our organic carrier oils with our own high quality organic dried herbs. Using the sun infusion method, the jars are actually placed in a windowsill here at Mountain Rose Herbs where they are infused for 2 weeks before being strained. The herbs are then composted and the infused oils are hand-labeled and organized on a shelf to be used in our recipes. Did you know that the oil used in our Autumn Moon Massage Oil is still infused on the quarter moon and pressed (the herbs strained from the oil) on the 2nd full moon after the infusion? This commitment to our roots is important to us!
The busiest times of the year for crafting these creations are the winter holidays and around Valentine’s day, so the crew gears up to make sure we’ve got plenty of infused oils ready to meet the requests. However, we still don’t stockpile finished products, preferring to create them as the need arises.
This careful, intentional process lends itself well to our organic and sustainability standards. We use drip pans when pouring oils and cleaning containers so that we can recycle as much as possible—keeping the oils out of the sink and the water supply. These oil drippings are then donated to SeQuential for biofuel production!
While we must meet commercial manufacturing standards, our Quality Control Lab manager has created a special sanitizer so we don’t have to use toxic chemicals. Still, our Kitchen Manager, Toni, admits that doing dishes is the least favorite part of her job (sounds familiar!) while the fun of creating skin and body care products with the team is what has kept her coming happily to work at Mountain Rose Herbs since 2005.
When hand pouring salves, lotions and oils, we always create a sample that is sent to our Quality Control lab for each and every batch. This is just one of the ways we ensure quality and as much consistency as possible while working with the variables of organic ingredients grown in nature. Batches are not always exactly the same, despite the fact that we’ve made these recipes thousands of times—depending on the herbs, oils, butters, and essential oils, there may be slight variations that remind us all of nature’s dynamic beauty.
With patience and a steady hand, and guided by a passion for creating truly useful and beautiful body care products, our Kitchen Production team meets the high standards set by our mentors. As they explain, this is a process that can’t be rushed and each and every tin, jar, and bottle of botanical goodness is crafted with care and pride.
Posted by|17 February 2014
Known as drinking vinegars, sipping vinegars, or shrubs, these zippy herbal concoctions have become quite trendy in the world of hip cocktails, but they are also a classic way to create good home remedies and medicines. In fact, in North America during colonial times, sipping vinegars were commonly used as both medicines and a way to preserve fruits and herbs in a deliciously consumable infusion.
We know we can make simple teas from so many different fresh and dried herbs, and we have our tinctures for concentrations of herbal properties, but vinegar is often overlooked as a way to create tasty and useful preparations.
Holy Basil, or Tulsi has been used in various cultures for generations as a healing medicinal herb and is used significantly in Ayurvedic medicine. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen as it helps balance different processes in the body and is believed to give us strength when facing normal daily stress. It also lends itself well to sipping vinegars—particularly the Krishna and the Rama varieties—which are cultivated commonly throughout the gardens of India. With spicy leaves that are peppery, lemony, and with undertones of clove and licorice, these flavors are a good match for vinegars. Our organic Holy Basil varieties are particularly special, as they were grown for us both right here in the Pacific Northwest and on one of our beautiful organic farms in India. The quality of flavor and aroma is absolutely stellar!
The ritual of preparing a calming, healing beverage is as much a part of self-rejuvenation for me as the herbal properties themselves. Creating infused vinegars and crafting tonics allows me to be personally involved in caring for my mind, my body, and my loved ones.
A sipping vinegar or shrub is basically a combination of vinegar, sugar, and plant matter. You can use any vinegar you’d like: apple cider, champagne, red wine, etc. I prefer to use an organic apple cider for medicinal infusions, but I often use organic white vinegar for infusions used for culinary preparations (more “glamorous” fruity shrubs) or those I intend to give as gifts.
When it comes to the sugar, I like to use raw honey in medicinal vinegars, but this is where you can use what works best for you too. The infusion can then be taken as a tonic or can be mixed with sparkling water, juice, alcohol, or a mixture of all for a delicious beverage. You can adjust the sweetener to taste and you might be surprised how delightfully mellow a well-infused sipping vinegar can be…
Rama Damiana Calming Sipping Vinegar
Using a clean quart jar, put 1 cup each organic Holy Basil (Rama) and organic Damiana into the jar and cover with 3-4 cups apple cider vinegar, making sure to cover the herbs entirely. Cover with a plastic lid or wax paper or plastic wrap and let sit to infuse. For medicinal preparations, 6-8 weeks is the estimated length of infusion, although many folks will strain and use their vinegars after 1 week—especially those using the vinegars for cocktails. You may infuse these in a cool, dark place, or in the sunlight.
Using a strainer or several layers of cheesecloth, strain the vinegar and compost the herbs. Add 1 Tablespoons raw local honey per ½ cup of vinegar in a clean jar and shake to combine. This is best stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
For one beverage, add an optional ice cube or two to a glass. Add ¼ cup sipping vinegar and fill glass with sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer, bubbly, etc. (or you can just add water or your organic tea of choice.) If you’d like a little alcohol, make room for an ounce or so of your liquor or wine of choice.) You can also take this as a tonic by the tablespoon or shot glass.
Krishna Holy Basil Sipping Vinegar
(with optional Strawberries)
Basil and strawberries are an interesting and delicious combination and this blending makes for a wonderful beverage. Feel free to experiment with other fruits or go with just the Holy Basil.
Using a clean quart jar, put 1-2 cups organic Holy Basil (Krishna) into the jar and cover with 3-4 cups vinegar (your choice), making sure to cover the herbs entirely. Cover with a plastic lid or wax paper or wrap plastic wrap and let sit to infuse 1-6 weeks. You may infuse these in a cool, dark place, or in the sunlight if you’d like.
Using a strainer or several layers of cheesecloth, strain the vinegar and compost the herbs. While the vinegar is straining, mash ½ cup organic strawberries (if I don’t have fresh, I thaw strawberries that we’ve frozen from our garden and use those). Add 2-3 Tablespoons of raw local honey or organic cane sugar to the strawberries and smash up together. I like to let them sit for at least an hour, but usually several hours before mashing and combining with the strained vinegar. Combine the vinegar and sweetened strawberries in a clean jar and shake to fully incorporate (you can also blend in a blender or use an immersion blender for extra smoothness.) This is best stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
For one beverage, add an optional ice cube or two to a glass. Add ¼ cup sipping vinegar and fill glass with sparkling water, club soda, soda water, seltzer,bubbly, etc. (or you can just add water, juice or your organic tea of choice.) If you’d like a little alcohol, make room for an ounce or so of liquor or white or rose wine.) ¼ cup of this vinegar with sparkling wine or champagne is delicious too! You can also take this as a tonic by the tablespoon or shot glass.
So, next time you are craving an herbal infusion that is a little zippier than the customary cup of tea or looking for a creative and intentional way to experience the healing pleasures of herbs like Holy Basil, consider creating a delicious sipping vinegar!