Archive for the ‘Herbal Info’ Category
Posted by|19 September 2014
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!
Posted by|15 September 2014
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.
Rejuvenating Foot Soak
Fill tub or basin with warm water and add above ingredients. Mix well and soak feet for 15-20 minutes.
Deodorizing Foot Soak
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.
Step 3: Apply the following foot scrub to feet, rubbing well, and then rinse off in the soaking water:
Cleansing Foot Scrub
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.
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Posted by|14 September 2014
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!
Posted by|02 September 2014
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.
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.
Need some seeds to get started?
We offer a wonderful selection of organic herb seeds from Horizon Herbs!
Looking for more resources?
Be sure to check out these wonderful books too:
Posted by|27 August 2014
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.
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!
Posted by|28 July 2014
White Sage has been used for centuries as incense and in smudge pots for ceremonial use. This flowering perennial is native to the Southwest United States. Its tall woody stems and tiny white flowers love dry, arid slopes with lots of sun, and flourish in the rocky heights of the southwestern canyons.
These smaller bundles are the perfect size for home use and smaller ceremonies. They are approximately 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick at the burning end. They are bundled with the stems together, providing a handle for easy use, and come in a 4 pack.
We’re so excited to offer these convenient bundles!
Posted by|18 July 2014
Our organic Cracked Black Pepper is a little larger in size than the organic Black Pepper Ground that we offer, and measures roughly to a 30-40 US mesh size. This makes it the perfect size for rubs and salad dressings.
Peppercorns are the fruit of Piper nigrum, an evergreen climbing vine. Black, white, and green peppercorns all come from the same plant, but they are harvested at different times and handled in different ways. To make black pepper, the clusters are plucked shortly before they ripen and are left in piles to ferment. After a few days, the berries are spread out on a mat and left to dry in the sun for two or three more days where they shrivel and blacken. This process takes quite a lot of care and precision to produce one of the world’s most treasured spices.
Visit our website to see our full line of whole and ground peppercorns!
Posted by|13 July 2014
I recently returned from vacation travels (which included several plane flights) to find I’d come down with a doozy of a bug, just in time for warm weather and opportunities for summer fun. Summer sicknesses are the worst! Between the snuffles and the lingering hack, I knew my body needed some rest, recovery, and tea. This recipe includes my favorite go-to herbs for nourishing a sickly me…
Summer Sniffles Tea
2 Tablespoons organic Slippery Elm Bark
1 Tablespoon organic dried Elderberries
1 Tablespoon organic Red Clover Blossoms
raw, organic honey
This recipe makes about 3-4 cups of tea or infusion. I like to make it in my Tea-to-Go glass tea infuser to take along with me, but you could also make it up in a Mason jar or other large mug. Put all the herbs in the container and cover with 3 cups or so of boiling water. You can also make this up and let it infuse overnight, if you’d like a stronger decoction. While battling my cold, I made a big half-gallon jar full and then “decanted” it as I needed it. Stir in the honey to taste.
Posted by|04 July 2014
Calling all lavender lovers!
You might have noticed some variations in our lavender products lately. There are many species of Lavandula out there, and for years we have sold both Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula x intermedia as Lavender Flowers. The differences between these two are very subtle. In general, they can be used interchangeably. However, some do prefer one over the other once you get into the fine complexities. We are excited to now offer you both of these beautiful flowers!
Lavandula angustifolia is the classic lavender that most people are familiar with. It can also be found on the market as Common Lavender, French Lavender (when it comes from France), True Lavender, or Lavender. You may also see it labeled as Lavandula officinalis. This little greyish purple flower is known for its sweet floral aroma and medicinal properties.
Lavandula x intermedia is quickly becoming a popular lavender species on the market. It can sometimes be found as Dutch Lavender, but is often sold as just Lavender. We are slowly seeing it labeled properly as Lavandin. These bluish purple flowers have a brighter color in comparison to the English Lavender. Lavandin has an equally characteristic sweet floral lavender aroma, with a slight camphor note.
Visit our website to see all of our wonderful Lavandula products!
Organic Lavandin (Lavender) Flower Powder (Lavandula x intermedia)
Organic Lavandin (Lavender) Hydrosol (Lavandula x intermedia)
Organic Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Organic Lavender, Spike Essential Oil (Lavandula latifolia)
Lavender 40-42 Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender Skin Cream
Posted by|03 June 2014
Let’s take a closer look at the Mint Family!
Lamiaceae – The Mint Family
Leaves: Square stems with opposite or whorled leaves
Flowers: Tubular flowers that are bilabiate (two-lipped)
Stamens: Generally, two or four uneven stamens
Food and Medicine
There are so many helpful plants in the mint family used for aromatherapy, medicine, and delicious culinary spices. When used medicinally, aromatic plants like peppermint are helpful for supporting the digestive system with carminitive action, while others like skullcap, lavender, and lemon balm offer calming effects through a variety of actions. Many of these herbs can be made into a tasty medicinal tea or tincture, and the especially aromatic ones can also be distilled to produce essential oil.
As for food, who can imagine a spice rack without rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme?
For more in the Basic Botany Series see:
Posted by|02 June 2014
The third Sunday in June is an opportunity to celebrate fathers, dads, grandfathers, and the influence of those strong, encouraging, male figures in our lives. While it may not seem like it to look through the card aisle at at any department store, our dads are as different, varied, and individual as flowers in a field! When you’ve exhausted the traditional tie and tool combo, maybe it’s time to ponder how to truly honor the unique spirit of the guiding men in your life. We’ve compiled a gift guide for all the fathers out there – nourishment for the soul, the heart, and the creative man that may be on your list…
Medicinals for Men
Whether you want to encourage and support an active lifestyle or an active mind, natural and organic botanicals can be a wonderful way to show you care. Herbal extracts are nice additions to Dad’s health care routine and the right tea or tonic is a tasty way to introduce adaptogens into the daily grind:
Spa Day for Dad
Who doesn’t need a little time out to relax, rejuvenate and tend to self care? We’ve long felt that the men in our lives deserve all the organic herbal goodness we have to offer. Perhaps a basket full of some of these goodies would make the perfect gift? And, if dad needs a little inspiration, we have this wonderful video featuring one of our favorite dads-on-staff, Mason, demonstrating our Herbal Facial Kit!
And, why not add a little aromatherapy to boost the spirit and calm the soul? Our Aroma Oils work so nicely as colognes or to transform an ordinary bath into a soothing treat. Favorite organic essential oils like Bergamot, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Fir Needle, Rosemary, Lavender, Lemongrass, and Vetiver work well in an electric diffuser to scent the air and change the mood in any room!
A New Take on Tools
Whether you want to honor the herbalist or the cook, gifting useful and beautiful kitchen tools is a great way to show your support (and you might even be one of the first to receive a delightful herbal concoction!)
For grinding spices, making rubs, or making powders and other herbal mixes, a well-made mortar & pestle is a must! We have them in both marble and porcelain, and in the classic size and style to suit any kitchen. Add a spice and/or nutmeg grater for grating those hard-to-crush seeds and pods (like cinnamon sticks and nutmeg) or for a quick mince of fresh garlic.
Our Mezzaluna choppers are such handy tools, Dad will wonder how he ever lived without it! Perfect for quickly chopping fresh or dried herbs and spices, and good for nuts, vegetables and more!
Funnels are one of the most useful kitchen tools around for straining, mixing, and draining. We find them especially good for straining tinctures, infused oils and infused vinegars. Since one size does not always suit every project, we think a nice collection of large and small makes the most sense!
A Cup of Tea and the Perfect Book
Settling down with a good book and a hot cup of delicious tea is a gift that can be experienced again and again. We also believe that our organic teas can be good for you as well as tasty to drink. Brewed from water heated in a lead-free cast iron pot, Dad can lose himself in an afternoon of herbal pleasures:
Dad’s bookshelf just wouldn’t be complete without some of these fine titles: Foraging & Feasting by Dina Falconi, Wild Roots by Douglas Elliott, and Medicinal Mushrooms by Christopher Hobbs. These are all great volumes for the man interested in learning more about the foods and medicinal plants available in the wild world around us. If dad is interested in learning more about herbs and herbalism, both The Male Herbal and The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook by James Green are great guides.
If you’re looking for more ideas for recipes to make, products to craft, or other herbal treats to give as Father’s Day gifts, we have another post of Herbal Gifts for Dad!
Happy Father’s Day!
Posted by|26 May 2014
Let’s take a closer look at the Lily Family!
Liliaceae – The Lily Family
Flowers: Flower parts (petals, sepals, stamens, carpels) in threes or multiples of three.
Perianth: The sepals may look like the petals. Also known as tepals.
Leaves: Alternate, whorled, or basal simple leaves generally with parallel veins.
Ovary: Generally a superior ovary that sits above the sepals and petals.
Food and Medicine
This family includes tulips, trilliums, camas, and many other fragrant and beautiful lilies adored as ornamentals and florist staples. Chives, garlic, asparagus, and onions are also sometimes/formerly classified in the Liliaceae family. Some wild lilies have edible fruits called capsules and/or edible bulbs – but proper identification is key!
While some native lilies growing in the forest have medicinal properties, I think it’s best to enjoy their loveliness through study, making field sketches, or through photography. Plus, there are great weedy herbs out there that offer similar medicine. Herbs like the trillium were once widely sold on the herb market, and because they are so alluring, populations became at risk of becoming endangered. This is one reason why we adopted Trillium through the United Plant Savers! These flowers not only add beauty to our wild places, they are also very important beings in our ecosystems.
For more in the Basic Botany Series see: