Archive for the ‘Herbal Info’ Category

Free Herbal Webinar!

Posted by Erin|28 October 2014

Free Winter Wellness Webinar

 

Oooh, check this out! Our friends over at Learning Herbs are hosting a free webinar tomorrow night all about herbs for winter wellness. What a gift! You can sign up for free by clicking here!

 

New Video: Elderberries with Rosemary Gladstar

Posted by Erin|27 October 2014

VIDEO: Rosemary Gladstar's Garden Wisdoms - Elderberry Medicine

 

We had so much fun wandering through the garden with Rosemary Gladstar last summer!

A highlight of our day was when Rosemary spotted this towering elder swaying in the breeze. She shared lots of stories and passed down traditional knowledge about this important plant, as well as her favorite recipes using elderberries. (You can find organic elderberries in our shop by clicking here.) We hope you enjoy the video!

 

Looking for more elderberry recipes?

Berry Rooty Syrup

Fermented Elderberry Soda

Elderberry Oxymel

Even more elderberry recipes!

 

Rosemary Gladstar's Garden Wisdoms - Elderberry Medicine

 

33 Herbal Smoothie Boosts!

Posted by Alieta|14 October 2014

33 Herbal Boosts for your Super Smoothie

 

Here’s a question we’ve heard a lot from our Facebook and blog friends:

“What’s the deal with powdered herbs and how can I use them differently from cut and sifted herbs?”

There are a number of different ways you can use powders, but one really awesome thing about powdered herbs is that you can easily add a bit of herbal magic to your smoothies!

The herbs listed below are often called superherbs, superfruits, or super foods - although, we think all plants are pretty super! However you choose to define them, be sure to do your own research to see how they will best fit into your daily health regime.  It’s always a good idea, and fun, to diversify.  So, with that said, I’m excited to offer my master list to help you herb up your smoothie!

 

Here’s the master list of herbal boosts for your super smoothie!

33 Herbal Boosts for your Super Smoothie!

 

Acai Powder – Acai berry is relatively new to the US and has quickly become a popular fruit used in smoothies, sorbets, capsules, and juices. The dark purple Acai berry is a source of antioxidants and anthocyanins, and contains protein, fiber, vitamin E and iron. It is naturally low in sugar and the flavor is a mellow mixture of red wine and chocolate. This amazing fruit powder is certified organic and quickly freeze dried after harvest. 
 
Amla Powder – This is a dried and pulverized berry of a sacred tree in India known for being a source of vitamin C and having a sour, bitter, and astringent taste. The dehydrated Amla pieces will easily re-hydrate in water, creating a fibrous texture similar to dehydrated apples with a much tarter taste. You could also use the whole dried berries to make a juice as a base for your smoothies. This berry is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine practices and is considered a cooling pitta herb.

Barberries (juice base) – These dried, red Berberis berries are often used in Persian and Afghan cooking, or made into jam or pickles. Barberries are known for their citric acid content, vitamin content, and contain the active compound berberine. Super tasty berry power!

Bee Pollen – Bee pollen has a long and storied past throughout human history. Hippocrates and Pythagoras both prescribed bee pollen for its healing properties. Native Americans wore pouches containing pollen around their necks on long journeys to eat so they could sustain a high level of energy. Bee pollen has a complex flavor that’s sweet, spicy, and floral with hints of honey. 

Beet Root Powder – Beets have been used in folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments since the time of the Romans and was popularized by the French for its culinary value. The natural sugar content makes this powder a great sweetener! It also offers fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc, beta-carotene, calcium, and B vitamins. 

Bilberries – A close relative of the blueberry, cranberry, and huckleberry, bilberries have a wonderful blue/purple color from natural anthocyanosides, which has earned them a rich medicinal history. Bilberries have a flavor very similar to blueberries and offer antioxidant bioflavonoids. 

Cacao Powder – Who doesn’t love the mood boosting properties of chocolate? The Mayan, Olmec, and Aztec civilizations used the entire cacao fruit medicinally. Cacao contains caffeine, flavonoids, phenylethylalamine, anandamide, magnesium, sulfur, oleic acid, theobromine, and tryptophan. Cacao beans and nibs are a source of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and potassium, and are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.

Camu Camu Powder This nutrient dense fruit from the Amazon rainforest is attracting the attention of many for its Vitamin C content. Camu camu has a highly acidic flavor that can be easily sweetened to taste. Use in your smoothie as a source of magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C, beta carotene, iron, and amino acids.
 
Carob Powder - Made popular as a caffiene-free substitute for chocolate, carob powder was once deemed essential to the opera for saving the voices of performance-weary sopranos. This pea family pod has been used as a food source for over 5,000 years, offering dense nutritional value and a naturally sweet and slightly bitter flavor.  
 
Cayenne Powder - The Capsicum family includes bell peppers, red peppers, and paprika, but the most famous medicinal members of the family are cayenne and chilies. Careful to use the slightest amount, unless you handle heat well! The capsaicin in these peppers has been used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic properties. Try freezing our Lemon Tea in an ice cube tray and then blending them up with apple slices, fresh greens, fresh ginger, and a 1/8 tsp of Cayenne Powder.

Chaga Powder – Chaga is a parasitic carpophores mushroom that looks like the charred remains of burned wood on the side of a birch tree (sometimes growing on Elm and Alder, but Birch is its favorite). Chaga is commonly made into a tea, taken by tincture, or put into capsules for its antioxidant content. Why not give your smoothie some mushroom power?

Chia SeedsChia seeds rule! They are great for making homemade puddings, gel juice, or easy jam recipes. They also rule in smoothies. Chia was a staple for Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures. “Chia” is the Mayan word for “strength” and Chia seeds used to be referred to as “Warrior Running Food” because they are so energizing.

Chlorella PowderSome scientists believe these single celled algae may be among the Earth’s oldest living organisms. Natural health enthusiasts know chlorella well as an excellent source of nutrients. Its bright green color would make it a perfect pair for leafy greens like kale or dandelion. You can also use it instead of fresh greens in your winter smoothie recipes!

Cordyceps Powder Cordyceps is an adaptogen and has been used to create stimulating tonics and maintain a healthy functioning immune system in times of stress. Contains Adenine, adenosine, uracil, uridine, guanidine, guanosine, hypoxanthine, inosine, thymine, thymidine, and deoxyuridine.

Cranberry PowderA diuretic and wonderfully flavorful herb, its fruity tartness and beautiful color is perfect for your berry filled smoothies.  Conventional cranberry juice from the store often has lots of added sugar that can actually negate the benefits of this powerful fruit!

Damiana Leaf PowderHistorically used as an aphrodisiac, this is one of the best herbal mood boosters out there. Light floral taste with a spicy finish and lovely green color, damiana leaf powder would go great in a smoothie to help you deal with those day-to-day ups and downs we all experience.

Elderberry PowderElder flowers and berries have a long history in traditional European medicine. Elderberries are traditionally made into a syrup for ingestion during the fall and winter months. The berries have a gorgeous dark purple red color and a sweet and rich flavor. You can make a syrup with the berries to add to your smoothie or boil the powder in some water and add to your liquid base. 

33 Herbal Smoothie Boosts!

Flaxmeal Flax seed is an important and very popular ingredient found in the world of herbal health foods as a source of omega fatty acids and fiber. Add some to your smoothies or use the meal in bread and muffin recipes!

Garcinia Fruit – This dark red fruit can be rehydrated and blended up with your smoothie base. It is said to make recipes more filling and satisfying, which can be helpful to extend your morning shake! It has a distinct sour fruit flavor.

Guarana Seed PowderGuarana is thought to be the highest source of caffeine available in nature, containing 2.5 times the amount of caffeine as coffee. A lovely addition to your morning smoothie!

Hawthorn Berry PowderThe fruit of this rose family tree has been used traditionally to support a healthy functioning cardiovascular system. It offers antioxidant flavonoids!

Hemp SeedWith a lightly nutty flavor and healthy fats, hemp seeds make a great addition to any smoothie! Hemp seed contains all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids that our bodies need, which makes it a perfect protein supplement. No other single source provides such a complete protein in a form that is so easily digested and absorbed by the body

Hibiscus Flower Powder A beautiful flower with a tart taste due to its content of 15 to 30% plant acids, including citric, malic, and tartaric acids in a lovely wine-red color. Hibiscus is used as one of the main ingredients in many tea blends for its color and level of antioxidants.

Kava Root PowderA beloved herb and a trusted ally during times of trial. Kava tea made from powdered kava root is warming and soothing to the nerves, body, and soul. Pacific Islanders have for centuries used Kava to calm nerves and help with relaxation.

Lycii BerriesA great way to sweeten your smoothies is to soak a handful of these dehydrated berries in water or milk overnight. In the morning, toss the combination into your blender with fruit or veggies! Lycii berry, otherwise known to Chinese herbalists as Goji or Chinese Wolfberry is bright red and almost chewy with a taste very similar to raisins. It has been used as a general nutrient tonic (Yin tonic) for many years and Chinese medicine refers to it as a “cooling tonic”.

Maca Root PowderMaca is traditionally prepared as a food, particularly in South America where it grows. The root is a highly nutritious staple food, boasting carbohydrates, protein, and a variety of essential minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, sterols, and essential fatty acids. Because of it’s mineral content Maca has been used to rejuvenate tired systems.

Maqui Berry PowderThese berries taste tart like huckleberries and contain powerful antioxidant properties. It is documented that Macqui berries have been used by the Mapuche natives of Chile and Argentina for centuries. Maqui berries are relatively new to the American herbal market, and are primarily being sold as one of the latest “superfoods” with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other beneficial attributes. 

Milk Thistle Seed Powder – Three of the active compounds within milk thistle seed are collectively identified as silymarin. This constituent is credited for much of milk thistle’s medicinal value, particularly associated with supporting healthy liver function.

Rosehips  The fruit of the rose is one of the most concentrated sources of Vitamin C. Rosehips have a tart flavor and are widely used in jams, jellies, and teas.

Spirulina Powder  The concentration of amino acids has made spirulina a popular nutritional supplement for those who are unable to obtain sufficient calories and protein through diet alone, particularly athletes who burn calories at a high rate. A slightly sweet earthy taste, this powder is great taken in capsule form or as an addition to your daily smoothie.

Wheat Grass Powder – Wheat grass sprouts contain a high level of organic phosphates and a potent cocktail of antioxidants. If you are unable to grow your own, a powder is an easy addition to your super smoothies!

Yacon Root PowderThis root is commonly made into a sweet syrup or extract. In powder form, yacon root makes an excellent addition to your blended beverage. It is thought to be one of the “lost crops” of the Incas, who were known to cultivate it and who considered it an important food crop. The fresh root is small and similar in appearance to a potato, and is said to taste similar to a cross between celery and Granny Smith apples.

33 Herbal Boosts for Your Super Smoothie!

How to Make Glycerine Extracts

Posted by Alieta|06 October 2014

How to Make Glycerine Extracts

 

Have you been searching for an alternative to alcohol-based tinctures? Looking for a way to extract the benefits of herbs and preserve them? Maybe you like your medicine a little on the sweet side?

Vegetable glycerine, the sweet principle of oils, was discovered in 1789 and came into use by medicine makers around 1846. This liquid is obtained by the hydrolysis of vegetable fats or fixed oils. The food grade vegetable glycerine offered by Mountain Rose Herbs is certified organic and kosher, making it a great option.

Sometimes referred to as glycerol, glycerine is a clear, colorless, and odorless liquid with an incredibly sweet taste having the consistency of thick syrup. Glycerine has been used as an ingredient in toothpaste, shampoos, soaps, herbal remedies, and other household items.

Glycerine is also a great solvent for extracting constituents from plants without the use of alcohol. These extracts are known as “glycerites” and are an excellent choice for administering herbal support to pets, children, or people who are sensitive to alcohol for any reason. Glycerine is slightly antiseptic and has anti-fermentative properties that are efficient for preservation. A glycerite has a shelf life of 14-24 months, versus an alcohol extract with a shelf life of 4-6 years.

When making a glycerite with dried herbs, it is common to use water to rehydrate the herbs and loosen up the botanical matter. Generally a mixture with 60% or more glycerin to 40% or less water is a safe ratio. To err on the side of safety, I go with a 75% glycerine to 25% water ratio. If you are working with fresh moist herb, you can go with 100% glycerine for your extract – just be sure to muddle well.

 

How to Make Glycerine Extracts

 

Directions for making your own alcohol-free herbal glycerites:
  1. Fill a mason jar ½ way with dried herb (2/3 way full with fresh herb). Chop dried herb well before mixing with menstruum.
  2. In a separate jar, mix 3 parts organic Vegetable Glycerine and 1 part distilled water. Shake to combine.
  3. Pour liquid mixture over the herb and completely cover to fill the jar.
  4. Label container with date, ratio of glycerine to water, and herbs used.
  5. Agitate daily for 4-6 weeks.
  6. Strain with cheesecloth, bottle, label!
  • Note: If you used a fine powder you may need to double filter, and even filter through a coffee filter to ensure that no botanical material remains in your glycerite.

 

Wondering which herbs to try first? Here’s a list of herbs recommended for glycerite preparation from herbalist James Green’s Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook

 

Burdock

Chamomile

Cleavers

Dandelion

Echinacea

Elder flowers

Fennel

Ginger

Goldenseal

Hawthorn

Mugwort

Mullein

Nettle

Oat Tops

Peppermint

Skullcap

Ginseng Root Powder

Uva Ursi

Vitex

Valerian

 

Enjoy your alcohol-free extract!

 

How to Make Herbal Glycerites

 

The Sunday Steep!

Posted by Kori|05 October 2014

How to make Rooty Decoction Teas

 

Preparing a simple decoction is one of my favorite ways to consume roots. While leaves and flowers lend themselves well to a quickly-brewed tea, the roots can take a little more planning. A decoction is a method of simmering roots, barks, berrries, etc. to extract their properties. It takes a little more effort, but it is well worth it – especially when you can enjoy a lovely combination like the following…

 

roasted-dandelion-root1

 

Digestion Root Tea

2 Tablespoons organic Burdock Root

2 Tablespoons organic Dandelion Root

2 Tablespoons organic Astragalus Root

1 Tablespoon organic Ginger Root

Combine all the herbs in a saucepan with 3-4 cups cold or tepid water. Bring to a boil for a few minutes before turning the heat down to low and letting the herbs simmer and steep in the hot water for another 5-10 minutes. At this point, you can either strain the herbs and drink the tea or you can let the herbs rest in the water for a longer time (even pouring into a jar, covering and letting sit overnight) for an even stronger decoction. Strain before drinking.

If you’d like to add some other herbs to this, I like nutritive herbs like Nettle, Oatstraw or Dandelion Leaf!

The Sunday Steep - Weekly Tea Recipes

 

 

Summer’s Bounty on the Farm

Posted by On the Farm|01 October 2014

 

“It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.”

- BC Forbes

 

Mountain Rose Herbs - Farm Stories

 

The seasons have once again turned and here we stand in “summer’s green” as Shakespeare so eloquently described the bounty of crops. Our Northwest farms are spending long and hot days harvesting, drying, and milling the herbs that will eventually become our delicious organic teas and herbal medicines.

I absolutely love visiting farms this time of year. The crops have reached the stage of harvest and stand full of life, beauty, and color in the fields. It is mesmerizing to look down the field rows neatly lined and extending to the horizon.

 

Mountain Rose Herbs - Farm Stories

 

The success and bounty of these crops lie in the hands of the farmers who tend them – care that begins even before the seed is planted. Growing medicinal plants is an entirely different game than vegetable growing and can take years of learning to get it just right.

 

Mountain Rose Herbs - Farm Stories

 

Herbs have very specific harvest times and can have multiple harvests throughout the year. For instance, many types of mints can be harvested up to three different times in one season. Roots on the other hand can only be harvested once and it generally happens closer to the fall.

Once the plant is harvested, it is a race against time to get them into drying facilities before degradation and fermentation sets in. I was recently told that Red Clover Blossoms, if left in a pile after harvesting, can start smoldering within minutes due to the weight of the material and fast fermentation. Not to mention the same blossoms can be one of the trickiest herbs to dry in order to keep the lovely purple color intact.

Below is a picture of our drying Angelica seed heads getting ready to be planted for next year’s harvest.

 

Mountain Rose Herbs - Farm Stories

 

Summer is nature’s time for action and plant people like us can’t help but be pulled into the energy of the season. Now that it’s fall, I have to remind myself to relax, make a glass of organic mint tea, sit in my autumn garden, and feel grateful for the summer’s bounty.

 

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Anna Bradley is our Domestic Farms Representative and is a member of our Green Team!  In her spare time she is an herbalist, a teacher of nature connection and primitive skills to children and adults, and a singer/songwriter.  Anna is a student of Columbine’s School of Botanical Studies and co-founder of Whole Earth Nature School.

 

Our New Catalog is Here!

Posted by Erin|24 September 2014

Free Catalog from Mountain Rose Herbs!

 

Our new catalog for Autumn 2014/Winter 2015 has arrived!

As cool weather draws us near the hearth, we’re crafting gifts for the holidays, baking treats, and making medicine from this year’s bounty. We’ve filled these pages with new recipes like vegan gluten-free White Chocolate Coconut Bark, Rosemary Mint Elixir, and Herb Roasted Chickpeas, as well as unique homemade gift ideas, herbal profiles, and new products.

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. You can also view the catalog online by clicking here!

Want a FREE copy all for yourself?

Request a new catalog here!

 

New Palo Santo Essential Oil!

Posted by Christine|19 September 2014

palo_santo_eoPalo Santo Essential Oil
Bursera graveolens

This almost colorless essential oil is steam distilled from the wood of the sacred Palo Santo tree. It has a tenacious, sweetly woody, citrus aroma with a sharp resinous back note that is both complex and uplifting.

Palo Santo is used in South America in much the same way as White Ceremonial Sage is used in North America – to combat negative energy and to cleanse the space. This uniquely aromatic oil is quickly gaining popularity in the aromatherapy and perfumery worlds. This grounding oil is prized for its spiritual applications, and adds a lovely rounding note to essential oil blends.

The Palo Santo essential oil offered by Mountain Rose Herbs is distilled from sustainably cultivated wood that comes from a 50 acre farm in Ecuador with both naturally occurring and replanted Palo Santo. They have replanted over 5000 Palo Santo trees on the land so far to ensure adequate supply for the future.

Learn more about the amazing oil HERE!

Herbal Foot Care: The Perfectly Natural Pedicure

Posted by Kori|15 September 2014

 

Herbal Foot Care

 

We have a tendency to take our feet for granted—and yet, our feet get us everywhere we need to go each day! If you’ve spent a summer running barefoot or wrestle with dry, cracked feet, a regime of herbal self-care may be just what’s needed.

For those of us who wear work boots, or spend all day standing, our feet may get especially sore or develop a bit of an odor. Fortunately, a little extra tending can help combat both of those challenges! These recipes are suitable for everyday use, or as a special occasional pampering. Feel free to experiment and use the herbs, essential oils, and carrier oils you like best!

 

The perfect pampering pedicure:

Step 1: Get started by using a pumice stone to remove dry, loose skin.

Step 2: Next, it’s time for a foot soak! Adapt your soak to suit your needs.

 

Essential Oils for Foot Care

 

Rejuvenating Foot Soak

¼ cup organic Vegetable Glycerin
¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Epsom Salts
10 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
10 drops organic Tea Tree essential oil

Fill tub or basin with warm water and add above ingredients. Mix well and soak feet for 15-20 minutes.

 

Deodorizing Foot Soak

½ cup Baking Soda
¼ cup Coarse or Dead Sea Salt
10 drops organic Grapefruit essential oil
10 drops organic Tea Tree essential oil
10 drops organic Lavender essential oil

Fill tub or basin with warm water and add above ingredients. Mix well and soak feet for 15-20 minutes.

 

Herb Blend for Happy Feet

Add equal parts of the following herbs to a bowl and combine well. (I used 2 Tablespoons of each) Scoop mixture into cotton muslin bags and use as an addition to the foot soaks above, or on their own as an herbal foot soak in warm water.

Organic Comfrey Leaf
Organic Yarrow Leaf & Flower
Organic Chamomile Flowers
Organic Witch Hazel Leaf
Organic Marshmallow Root
Organic Sage Leaf
Organic Lavender Flowers

 

 

Herb Blend for Happy Feet

 

Step 3: Apply the following foot scrub to feet, rubbing well, and then rinse off in the soaking water:

Cleansing Foot Scrub

¼ cup Ground Apricot Kernel Meal
3 Tablespoons Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel
6-10 drops organic Rosemary essential oil
6-10 drops organic Lavender essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a ceramic or glass bowl, using a wooden spoon to combine. Add enough water to make a paste. Rub well all over feet. Rinse.

 

Step 4: Dry feet well, making sure to get between toes. Spritz feet with organic Lavender, Rose, Chamomile, Calendula, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, or Peppermint Hydrosol.

Step 5: This is the time to trim toenails or tend to extra cleaning in and around toes and toenails. Trim toenails to fit the shape of the toe and file for extra smoothness.

Step 6: Rub Healing Foot Salve into feet or lotion of choice. You can even finish with a simple moisturizing application of organic Olive Oil or Sweet Almond Oil.

 

Moisturizing Foot Salve

½ cup organic Sweet Almond Oil
½ cup organic Jojoba Oil
1 ounce Beeswax
20 drops organic Lemongrass essential oil
10 drops organic Tea Tree essential oil
10 drops Bergamot Mint essential oil
Optional: organic Roman Chamomile essential oil, organic Lemon Balm essential oil

In a Pyrex bowl or 4-cup measuring cup, add oils and beeswax. Heat over boiling water until melted and combined. Remove from heat and stir in essential oils. Pour into tins or jars. This recipe makes 10 ounces of salve, enough to fill two 4-ounce tins and one 2-ounce tin. Let cool until solid (this will only take an hour or so.)

I like to put on cotton socks after slathering my feet with this salve and it doesn’t have to be used only after a foot soak. Rubbing it on your feet in the morning after a shower or prior to going to bed are both great ways to add moisture to overworked feet on a daily basis. Feel free to try different oil combinations or essential oils to suit your personal likes and needs.

 

Soothing Foot Powder

¼ cup French Green or White Cosmetic Clay
¼ cup Baking Soda
¼ cup Arrowroot Powder or cornstarch
¼ cup Marshmallow Root Powder
10 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
10 drops organic Eucalyptus essential oil

Combine all ingredients well and put into a powder container (or keep in a box or tin and use a brush or powder puff.) Sprinkle on feet or in shoes to absorb moisture and soothe hard-working feet.

Herbal Foot Care: The Perfectly Natural Pedicure

You might also find these helpful:

Video: How to Make an Herbal Salve

Rosemary + Sage Boot Fresheners

Vanilla Mint Honey Scrub

Books on Natural Body Care

 

The Sunday Steep!

Posted by Kori|14 September 2014

orange spice

Organic Orange Spice Tea

The seasons are changing! While the daytime temperatures here in Oregon are still toasty warm, the evenings are getting cooler and the leaves are just starting to come fluttering down here and there. As much as I hate to see summer go, I admit my thoughts are turning to the tastes and adventures of the coming Autumn. Since I consider these few weeks in September to be a bit of a transition, I think our organic Orange Spice Tea blend is an ideal “bridge” into the cooler months.

I’m not quite ready to give up the cool citrus flavors of summer, but a the cinnamon and cloves in this delicious black tea blend are warm harbingers of the coming Fall. This Ceylon Tea is best served hot and adding a little bit of raw honey, stirred in after steeping, makes it just the right amount of sweet!

Add 2 – 3 teaspoons of Orange Spice Tea to a strainer, infuser or tea bag and pour 1 – 2 cups of boiling water over. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. The longer black tea steeps, the more bitter it can become so, depending on how strong you like your tea, steep accordingly! Add honey to taste (and milk, if you’d like.) Sit back, sip, and enjoy the first fluttering leaves of fall!

The Sunday Steep - Weekly Tea Recipes

 

Guide to Saving Herb Seeds!

Posted by Kori|02 September 2014

Saving Seeds

 

While I have been a gardener for nearly thirty years, only recently have I begun saving seeds from my garden with any seriousness. It always seemed a bit daunting and mysterious, and for many years I didn’t think much about where the seeds came from. I simply bought seeds. Period.

Then, I started getting seeds from other gardeners and began to learn more about harvesting, storing, and sharing seeds. There are some great reasons to save seeds from your garden plants! Not only can it save money, but the seeds harvested from your strongest plants are already acclimated to your soil, climate, and growing conditions. The plants become conditioned and the “offspring” have a leg up (so to speak).

I still consider myself somewhat of a beginner, but as each year passes, my confidence grows and I learn more about the best time to collect seeds, as well as new ways to dry and store them. Here’s a little guide to get you started collecting seeds from your garden too…

How to collect and save those precious seeds…

1. Collect seeds from the healthiest, strongest plants. There is something to be said for genetics when it comes to propagating plants. Whether you are dividing or saving seed, go to the best-looking, happiest plants as parents.

2. Allow the seeds to develop on the plant as long as possible. This means a willingness to invite a little untidy chaos into your garden. Many of us have been trained to cut off flower heads as soon as they start to wilt and become unsightly. In order to collect viable seeds, the plants have to be allowed to “go to seed” and put energy into developing healthy seeds, pods, or, in the case of sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) and other Asteraceae family plants—what most folks think of as the “flower” is actually a bunch of flowers packed into a head that produce a huge round of seeds.

3. Be prepared to battle the critters! It can be a bit of a dance to let the seeds develop on the plants and get to them before the squirrels, birds, and other seed-eaters do. In the case of those sunflowers, I harvest the biggest head from the best plants and I allow it to get heavy and droopy with seeds (you can harvest and dry the petals to use too), but I do cut it off and bring it in to the garage to finish aging before the squirrels can get to it. I then let the critters have some of the smaller heads, and feed some of them to our chickens! Some gardeners will tie a plastic or paper bag over a flower or group of flowers they intend to harvest. This allows the seeds to continue ripening on the plant and protects them from the critters.

4. Some plants will drop their seeds before they are ripe and dry. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp) are one of those plants and soon after the flowers wilt, the plant will drop plump green seeds onto the ground. I often let some of these just fall where they will and they dry, age, and, if we’re lucky, eventually sink down into dirt and grow new plants. I love finding surprise “nasties” tucked into cracks and along the edges of the garden. You can collect them from the ground, however, while they are still green and allow to dry. They can then be stored and planted “on purpose” in other areas of the garden.
red clover seed

 

5. Collecting seeds from pods can be a little tricky. Normally the pods will start out small, green, and tightly closed. Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) has little heart-shaped pods. As the pods age, they generally get browner and dryer. You’ll want to harvest the seeds from these pods once they are mature and dry, but not allow the pods to go so long they naturally split and drop the seeds. Plants of the Brassicaceae family (this includes plants like Mustard) will form tight pods called silicles or siliques. This is another instance where putting a bag over the pods can be helpful. I will also harvest the pods when they are a little under-ripe and allow them to dry on a paper towel or cotton napkin until they are dry, brittle, and ready to pop open to release their seeds.

6. Scattering seeds—there are some plants that I encourage to self-seed throughout my garden: Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Columbine (Aquilegia), and Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), just to name a few. For these plants, I allow the seeds to ripen on the stem and then I help them to scatter by removing the seeds and broadcasting them throughout the areas of the garden where I’d like them to grow. For Columbine seeds, I actually have to clip the flower head off and turn it upside down, shaking out the tiny round seeds. As long as it doesn’t get too cold (I have a zone 8 garden), they will settle in and grow where they land. If you live in an area where the winters are cold and the plants are unprotected, it is best to gather the seed and store inside until spring.

7. If you do need to dry the seeds, you will want a warm, dry place to do this! If it is late summer and the days are warm and dry, hanging or laying them out of doors may work just fine (as long as you can protect them from the critters and the wind.) A garage, shed, or even the dining room table can work just fine too. Lay them out on a paper towel, cotton cloth, or torn open brown paper sacks and allow to dry thoroughly. For stalks of seeds, like Fennel, you may want to hang upside down as you would for herb drying, making sure to have a clean cloth or bag to catch the seeds that drop. I like to use a paper bag or sack, shaking and tapping the stalks against the inside sides of the bag to release all the seeds. There are some plants, like Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), where the flower/seed heads are rather dense. I cut these after the outside petals fall and bring the whole head in to dry. Once, it is dry and brittle, I use my thumbs to loosen the seeds and release, spreading them out on the paper to dry for another day or so.

8. Branch out and try saving vegetable and other plant seeds! Squash (winter and summer) is one of the easiest to try. Choose one of the best specimens from an heirloom (or, at least, non-hybrid) variety and scoop out the seeds. Rinse and spread out to dry on paper towels or brown paper until thoroughly dry.

9. Store the saved seeds in an airtight container (sealing plastic bags work fine, but I like glass jars with lids for extra protection from moisture and temperature changes. Our clear glass salve and/or pantry jars are perfect, but you can also use recycled canning, baby food, or other jars. Be sure to label with the plant, the Latin name if you keep track of such things, and the year. Seeds do lose their viability over time and, while you may think you’ll remember what’s what, labeling is imperative!

10. Keep in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight until ready to plant.

mustard-seed-yellow

Need some seeds to get started?

We offer a wonderful selection of organic herb seeds from Horizon Herbs!

 

Looking for more resources?

How To Dry Homegrown Herbs

Be sure to check out these wonderful books too:

The Medicinal Herb Grower

Homegrown Herbs

Growing and Using Herbs Successfully

Storing Seeds

A Peek Inside Mountain Rose: The Regulatory Department

Posted by Kori|27 August 2014

Regulatory

 

When you ask our Regulatory Compliance Manager, Dana, what her favorite part of her job is, you might be surprised to find that it really has very little to do with creating spreadsheets, managing data, or meeting with regulatory representatives. Dana loves helping customers! The customers that she often works with are the small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups who purchase our organic and Fair Trade ingredients to use in their culinary and body care products. These small companies are striving to become certified Organic, Kosher, Fair Trade, and more—using Mountain Rose Herbs as a model for building an ethical and mission-driven company providing high-quality products. Dana really likes helping them along. She says, “That’s where our company started and I really love supporting those entrepreneurial spirits!”

Because we have made it a company priority to provide the highest quality herbs, spices, and teas grown by strict organic and Fair Trade standards, Dana has a very big job. Arranging for on-site audits and inspections, keeping all of the certifications and requirements compliant, and researching new ways for us to do business in increasingly sustainable ways are all tasks that fall on her desk.

 

Regulatory at MRH

 

In order to maintain our strict standards, Dana gets involved before an herb ever comes through the door. We don’t even get a sample for quality control testing until she’s seen the paperwork on the farm’s organic compliance. “When we decide to carry a new product or work with a new supplier,” she shares, “we want to make sure we’re on the same page right from the beginning!”

As you may imagine, there can be some challenges in staying ahead of the trends and regulatory institutions and Dana couldn’t do it alone. It takes a great deal of collaboration and teamwork with other departments here at Mountain Rose Herbs—from the Quality Control Lab, to our Sustainability efforts, to the Procurement and Purchasing, and things are always changing! Dana operates under the mantra that “it’s better to cross all our t’s from the onset!”

For a company like Mountain Rose, with so many agricultural and botanical products, we strive to constantly update our packaging, labels, and the process by which we care for our herbs. Dana helps to lead us along this journey!

Epicurean Organics Grilling GroupRead more about our Regulatory efforts:

Celebrating Fair Trade Month!

Meet the Green Team!

Why Go Organic?

 

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Meet Us

  • ErinErin (362)
    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
    ChristineChristine (137)
    Christine is our Product Manager here at Mountain Rose Herbs and our Certified Aromatherapist on staff. She's a longtime Mountain Roser with nearly a decade under her belt and assists with selecting new and exciting herbal and herb-related products. She also makes sure our current products are the best they can be!
    KoriKori (69)
    Kori is our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.
    IreneIrene (53)
    Irene Wolansky is the Customer Experience Director at Mountain Rose Herbs. Born and raised on the Oregon coast, her interests include crafting body care products and herbal medicine, harvesting mushrooms, gardening, brewing herbal mead, fermentation, and exploring wild areas.
    AlietaAlieta (42)
    Alieta is our Marketing Assistant! An Oregon native, she studied philosophy, Spanish and graphic design at Portland State University and has a natural affinity for the natural foods industry. She spends her time outside of work playing her 54 key Rhodes piano, hanging out with her cat Penelope, and cooking delicious gluten-free and dairy-free meals to share with friends.
    FriendsFriends (37)
    An array of voices from around Mountain Rose Herbs and beyond share their wisdoms, inspirations, and exciting stories from the herbal world.
    AlyssaAlyssa (27)
    Alyssa is the Director of Sustainability at Mountain Rose Herbs and an expert social butterfly. When not fluttering between community and non-profit events, she enjoys hiking, gardening, playing with her chickens, and organizing potlucks.
    On the FarmOn the Farm (17)
    Our team of farm representatives travel around the US and the world to visit our organic crops. They bring back stories and photos from their meetings with our farmers and important news about our herbal harvests.
    ShawnShawn (14)
    Shawn is the Vice President at Mountain Rose Herbs, which means he has his hands in just about everything here, but he is most passionate about advancing the company's ecological platforms for sustainable business practices. In his spare time, he can be found deep in Oregon’s designated wilderness areas or fly fishing (strictly catch and release) with his furry friends Abigail and Maggie.
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