Archive for the ‘Natural Health’ Category

DIY: Thieves® Herbal Hand Soap

Posted by Alieta|15 April 2014

 DIY: Four Thieves® Liquid Hand Soap

 

I’ve been making a lot of liquid soap blends for around the house this week, much more than usual because we just moved!  With the move came an extra bathroom which meant, yep, I needed more soap. I love using Castille Soap in as many ways as possible, it lasts forever, and is an affordable natural product. I’ve used it on my hair as shampoo, as dish soap, and as a general house cleanser. I learned that diluting it is the best way to go and adding other ingredients like essential oils can create fun scents or extra anti-microbial action.

This week while I was playing with castille soap and my favorite blends from our Spring Aroma Sprays blog it dawned on me just how wonderful the Thieves® blend would be for a hand soap!  The lingering warm and spicy blend of cinnamon, cloves, and cleansing lemon and eucalyptus are sure to please guests and help keep my home healthy and happy.  This blend is full of powerful herbs that legend tells us held strong even against the plague!  That is exactly the sort of force I want in my hand soap — and dish soap too!  For this hand soap blend, I also added a tiny bit of vegetable glycerin, feel free to add more if you like your hand soap more moisturizing. I found just 1 Tablespoon in an 8oz container worked wonders!  My hands were smooth and soft and smelled amazing!

 

What you’ll need:

8oz container - or you can reuse an old container!

Soap/Lotion Pump

1oz container (travel size)

2 1/8 cups distilled water

5 Tbsp organic Liquid Castille Soap

2 Tbsp organic Vegetable Glycerine *optional

Pitcher for blending essential oils

 

Essential Oils

This essential oil recipe will bring you to a total of 120 drops, which is enough essential oil blend to make two 8oz bottles of herbal  hand soap, plus two travel size herbal hand soaps to store in your purse or in the glove box of your car.

40 drops organic Clove Essential Oil

35 drops organic Cinnamon Leaf or Bark Essential Oil*

20 drops organic Lemon, Orange, or Grapefruit Essential Oil

15 drops organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil

10 drops organic Rosemary Essential Oil

*If you have Cinnamon Bark at home, that will work fine for non-sensitive skin – however, Cinnamon bark is very strong and may cause irritation if using on the skin, so reduce the amount by half. I went with CInnamon Leaf for a more delicate hand soap.

In a medium pitcher or small bowl mix together distilled water, liquid castille soap, vegetable glycerin if you are using it, and your blend of essential oils.  Stir lightly, don’t agitate too much or you could be quickly consumed by bubbles! Using a funnel, fill your two 8oz bottles and lastly your two 1oz travel size bottles!

The castille soap will give you the suds necessary to really scrub off any dirt or grime you may get on your hands this spring season, and the wonderful blend of antiseptic essential oils will leave you feeling that much more refreshed and cleansed.

 

 * Essential oils are highly concentrated, strong, and powerful liquids that can be harmful if not used carefully and properly.  This is an especially potent blend of essential oils which could cause irritation when applied to the skin, even in diluted amounts. We advocate caution when using them, and do not recommend using essential oils internally.  Please keep essential oils out of reach of children. We do not advocate usage of this recipe on babies, toddlers, or children.

DIY: Four Thieves® Liquid Hand Soap

Thieves® is a registered trademark of Young Living Essential Oils, LC. Mountain Rose Herbs is not affiliated with Young Living Essential Oils, LC in any way.

 

The Sunday Steep!

Posted by Kori|13 April 2014

sundaysteep


Some Sundays are about resting up, recharging, and giving the immune system a chance to recover. When I’m feeling a little worn down and wanting to ward off any inkling of illness for the coming week, this tea gives me a medicinal vitamin boost, as well as the yummy herbal flavors I crave…

 

rosehips2

 

Perky Boost Tea

1 tsp. organic Echinacea angustifolia Root

1 tsp. organic Rose Buds

1 tsp. organic Rosehips

½ tsp. organic Wild Cherry Bark

½ tsp. organic Dried Lemon Peel

Scoop all ingredients into a tea infuser or tea bag. Pour boiling water over and let steep for 5-6 minutes.  This makes enough for one cup, but feel free to multiply for a full pot. Put your feet up and enjoy!

tea-set-blog

What do Herb Fairies Drink?

Posted by Erin|09 April 2014

Herb Fairies - Download Free Cookbook

 

Spring flowers are blooming and that means the Herb Fairies will be returning soon!

To celebrate their arrival, let’s make one of their favorite tea recipes…

Plantain Fairy Tea!

Plantain is thought to be the 2nd most common weed we find here in the US after dandelion, and thankfully it offers wonderful food and medicine. The leaves can be eaten in salads when young and tender – before they become tough and stringy with age. When used medicinally, the soaked seeds offer slimy demulcent action and the leaves are often used to make a “green bandage” or chew poultice for drawing out splinters and relieving bug bites. Dried leaves can also be infused to make a nice soothing and nutrient rich tea.

 

Herb Fairies - Download Free Cookbook

 

 

Want more recipes from the Herb Fairies?
Click here for a FREE download of their cookbook!

 

Herb Fairies - Download Free Cookbook

 

Recipe: Roasted Chicory Coffee

Posted by Kori|07 April 2014

Roasted chicory Coffee

 

It may have been made famous by New Orleans coffee shops and cafés, but roasted Chicory root beverages made from this blue-flowered perennial have been created for centuries. Recipes for hot Chicory coffee beverages were brought to the U.S. from Europe and Scandinavia in the 18th century. According to legend, however, it became a New Orleans staple during the American Civil War. Because of the inability to get their beloved coffee due to Union naval blockades, the citizens of Louisiana took to adding roasted Chicory to their coffee blends to make the mixtures stretch. The coffee-like flavor made it the perfect substitution.

Chicory (Cichorium intybu) is actually a relative of the dandelion and it is high in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and has the highest concentration of inulin of any other plant that contains inulin (not to be confused with insulin).  Despite its coffee-like depth and flavor, it does not contain the caffeine so prevalent in traditional coffee beans. Chicory lends itself well to experimentation and can be taken as a tea, mixed into a tonic, or you can try creating your favorite coffee drink with Roasted Chicory as the sole substitute.

 

chicory

 

The part of the Chicory plant used for roasting is the root.The plants grow wild throughout the U.S. and tend to be found in ditches, hillsides, and other similar spots. They do not grow well in mowed fields or high traffic areas (but they can be found in many abandoned urban areas.) The roots tend to grow deeply, so digging can be a bit of a chore, but completely doable! Once you’ve dug the roots, you will need to clean them well before chopping the roots into smaller pieces. They can then be roasted at the lowest oven setting for 8-10 hours—or until all the moisture has evaporated and the root pieces are dry and brittle. They can then be stored and ground up for use.

Of course, if searching, harvesting, cleaning, and roasting your own chicory root is not in your schedule, we’ve created the following recipes using our Certified Organic Roasted Chicory Root!

 

Roasted Chicory Coffee

 

Chicory Café au Lait

For each cup, add 1 teaspoon each ground Fair Trade coffee and Organic Roasted Chicory Root to coffee maker of choice and brew with water.

Meanwhile, heat milk of choice (almond*, coconut, soy, and rice milk are particularly tasty with this beverage) to just below scalding—little bubbles will start to form around the edge of the saucepan and the milk will be steaming, but do not allow to boil.

Add milk to coffee, stir, and enjoy! If it’s not creamy and rich enough for you, consider adding a Tablespoon or so of organic coconut oil, stirring to dissolve. Luscious!

 

IMG_0615

 

Coffee-Free Chicory Cacao Mocha

If you prefer to omit the coffee altogether, this is just the herbal beverage for you:

Heat 1 cup milk of choice (see above) until steaming and hot, but not boiling. Stir in 1 Tablespoon Organic Roasted Chicory Root powder and 1 Tablespoon Organic Roasted Cacao powder. If you want it a little sweet, add 1 teaspoon raw organic sugar or honey to taste. Stir to dissolve and incorporate. Pour into cup and serve.

 

*I like to make homemade almond milk: 1 cup almonds covered with water and soaked overnight, then drained. Toss plumped almonds in the blender with 3 1/2 to 4 cups water and blend well. Add 1/2 scraped seeds from an organic vanilla bean, a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg, and a dash or two of organic cinnamon. Blend a few seconds more and then strain well using a strainer and cheesecloth into a glass pitcher, jar, or bottle.

chicory-root-waveEnjoy!

 

Herbal Profile: Amazing Amla

Posted by Christine|04 April 2014

amla_fresh

Emblica officinalis

 

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.

Amla-Whole

Organic Amla – Whole

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.

 Amla-Dehydrated

Organic Amla – Dehydrated

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!

 

Kraut and Kimchi: Fermenting in the Herbal Kitchen

Posted by Kori|02 April 2014

kimchi-by-herbs-blog

 

Don’t let a big word like “fermentation” intimidate you…it is easier than you might think!

If you can chop and stir, you can create delicious, healthy and amazing fermented vegetables–right in your own kitchen! You do not need fancy crocks and equipment (although a good crock is a delight) and you can use all sorts of vegetables, spices, and salts - there is no one right recipe!

We love to use dill, cumin, coriander, fennel seed, celery seed, pickling spice, red chili flakes, peppercorns, cloves, juniper berries, fenugreek, bay leaves, garlic, onion, rosemary, and so much more!

Fermentation is technically the anaerobic conversion of sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol by yeast. You may have heard that fermented foods are good for you and it’s true; fermenting can make foods more nutritious and digestible, as well as add helpful bacteria and organisms to your digestive process. You may be surprised to learn how many foods we eat are actually fermented: pickles, of course, but also cheese, bread, tempeh, yogurt, cider, beer, wine, and more!

A few of us here at Mountain Rose thought it would be fun to share our favorite Sauerkraut and Kimchi recipes–it inspired a little experimentation and a lot of tasting. We’ve got a little bitter, a little sweet, a little salty and a whole lot of yum!

 

Mason’s Black Salt Sauerkraut

Ingredients

Red cabbage, organic (washed)

Black Lava Salt

Cheesecloth

Directions

Slice red cabbage into thin strips. As cabbage is added to a large ceramic crock, sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of Black Lava Salt. Scrunch the cabbage and salt together with clean hands. Pack another layer of red cabbage and then salt–continue layering and scrunching, until you’ve used up all the cabbage.  Pack cabbage down as tightly as possible until liquid or brine comes up over the top of the cabbage. You can taste the brine at this point to see if you’d like to add more salt. You may need to add water to the mix to get enough liquid to cover. Cover cabbage with cheesecloth and use something to weight the cheesecloth down over the cabbage and salt mixture. Loosely cover the jar with plastic wrap or a towel and put aside – away from direct light and heat. Check every couple days. You may want to replace the cheesecloth if it gets too damp. After a couple weeks, taste to see how things are going. Once it gets to the taste and texture you like, refrigerate and enjoy.

 

koris-kraut-blog

 

Kori’s Classic Kraut

Ingredients

Green cabbage, organic (washed)

Kiawe Smoked Sea Salt

Organic Caraway seeds

Directions

Slice green cabbage into thin slices. Using a ceramic crock or large bowl (ceramic, glass, or stainless steel), layer sliced cabbage about 1-2 inches thick. Pack down and sprinkle with a pinch of Kiawe Smoked Sea Salt and a pinch of organic Caraway seeds. Continue packing alternate layers of cabbage and seasonings until all of the cabbage is used. Use a plate pressed down over the mixture to press down tightly. Allow to sit, covered with a clean towel over night. Liquid should be extracted and rise up over the top of the cabbage when pressed down, but if it doesn’t, add a little more brine. Add 1/2 teaspoon Kiawe Smoked Sea Salt per 1 cup of water, stir and then pour over cabbage mixture. Once the brine is covering the cabbage, press the plate back down over the top and put a weight on it – a clean jar weighted with dried beans works well. Cover with the towel and set out of direct heat and light. Check every couple days. After a couple weeks, taste to see how things are going. In warm weather, fermentation will happen quicker, while it might take longer in colder months. When it gets to the taste and texture you like, feel free to eat! Refrigerate or you can preserve using a hot water bath method of canning.

 

digestive-kimchi-blog

 

Alieta’s Herbal Formula Fermentations 

A note from Alieta: I made these combinations specifically to create an ultra tummy tonic and super digestif! If you are prone to digestive tummy aches mid day, this might be a real treat for you!  Good for general tummy attention or to help soothe your transition during extreme diet changes.

Beet Kim-Tea

Ingredients

1 bunch organic (4) purple beets with greens

2 organic parsnips

Sea Salt

2 Tablespoons organic Dandelion Root

2 Tablespoons organic Milk Thistle Seed

¼ cup organic Chamomile Flowers

1 Tablespoon raw, organic honey

Directions

Cut the green tops from the beets and chop them up into manageable bite sizes.  Set aside in a bowl, making one layer of beet greens and then doing one layer of sprinkled salt, repeating until all the greens have been sprinkled with salt. Cover with water and soak overnight. Drain brine – reserving brine liquid for later. Chop up remaining veggies.

Mix together 1 cup of brine with 2 tablespoons of honey, add Dandelion Root, Milk Thistle Seed, and Chamomile Flowers.  Place 1/4 cup of your mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart container (or container of choice) and stuff with veggies– making alternating layers of veggies/herbal mixture. Once full, cover with the reserved brine.  You want to make sure your veggies are covered with brine at all times.  If your container is wide enough, use a plate to weigh the mixture down.  Cover everything with a clean cloth and set aside somewhere safe and out of direct sunlight. Do not twist a lid on your container at this point, the fermenting will cause it to bubble up and could possibly explode if you shut a lid tight on here during fermentation! Don’t be surprised if your container bubbles over a bit, if your veggies and brine are within an inch to the top of the container this will most likely happen!  You can place your container on a small plate to help keep from cleaning up a big mess every day. Leave for 7-14 days and taste. Add more salt to taste.

 

Bitter Herbal Kraut

Ingredients

Small head purple Cabbage

3-4  large organic carrots

2-3 organic rhutabaga

Sea Salt

2 Tablespoons  fresh minced garlic or 2 Tablespoons organic dried minced garlic

1 Tablespoon organic Gentian Root *

1 Tablespoon organic Turmeric Root Powder

1 Tablespoon raw, organic honey

*Go very lightly with the Gentian root or the whole batch will taste much too bitter, I would use no more than a tsp per quart. For this recipe I am using a half gallon (2 qt) ball jar.

Directions

Chop cabbage into manageable slices, make layers of cabbage/salt, completely cover with water and let sit overnight in a ceramic or stainless steel container.  Drain brine – reserving brine liquid for later use. Chop the rest of your vegetables into manageable pieces, the thinner the better — I prefer using a food processor with a grater. You will set the rest of your veggies aside for the morning preparation!

Mix together 1 cup of brine with 1 Tbsp. of honey, Turmeric, Gentian Root  (be careful of the amount!) and fresh or dried Garlic.  Pour a quarter cup of the mixture into the bottom of large glass jar, make layers of Cabbage, Carrots, and Rutabaga with the honey and brine mixture in between.  Once full, cover with remaining brine. Let sit on counter for at least 7 days, covered but not shut tight (the fermentation process could cause your jar to erupt!).  Since my container was too narrow to use a plate to weigh down my veggies, I filled a small plastic bag with additional brine and placed it on top inside of my jar.  Again, if your brine and veggies came within an inch of the top of your jar you will most likely have some bubbly fermentation seep out of your container — this is fine — you can leave your jar on a plate to help catch some of it if you would like.  Add more salt if necessary for taste.

 

Happy Fermenting!

 

saltbar

Pin Party Giveaway!

Posted by Kori|24 March 2014

 

My Herbal Spring Giveaway by Mountain Rose Herbs!

 

The sun is shining, the days are warming, and we’re ready to make a plan for a very herbal spring! We invite you to join us for a Pin Party over on our Mountain Rose Herbs Pinterest page and we can all pin and plan together for the season ahead.

Whether you are inspired to plant an herb garden, create some soothing body care recipes, craft your own herbal medicines, or bake the most delicious cookies ever, all you have to do is follow us on Pinterest, create your own Pinterest board titled #MyHerbalSpring (don’t forget the hashtag: “#” at the beginning), and then just start pinning! Be sure to include #MyHerbalSpring in the description of each pin and pin at least 10 different projects, recipes, or ideas.

We’ll be pinning too, so feel free to check out our Mountain Rose Herbs board for inspiration. On April 7th, we’ll choose three winners randomly and share awesome prizes including one of our Tea-To-Go Glass Infusers with Hibiscus High tea, an Herbal Facial Kit, and a $50 gift certificate! That gives us all plenty of time to enjoy the herbal pinning inspirations.

Let’s start pinning!

My Herbal Spring Giveaway by Mountain Rose Herbs!

Herbal Laundry Formulas: Part 2

Posted by Irene|19 March 2014

Find Part 1 here! 

 Herbal Laundry Formulas: Part 2

 

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:

Brighten whites by adding ¼ cup of Baking Soda or Borax to your washing machine during the wash cycle, or ½ cup of White Vinegar during the rinse cycle.

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.

 

Herbal Laundry Formulas: Part 2

 

New Video: Yarrow with Rosemary Gladstar

Posted by Erin|10 March 2014

Video: Rosemary Gladstar's Garden Wisdoms - Yarrow

 

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?

You can find organically grown dried Yarrow leaf and flower, tincture, seeds, and more on our website!

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!

 

Click here to watch the video!

 

Video: Rosemary Gladstar's Garden Wisdoms - Yarrow

 

How to Make Herbal Oxymels

Posted by Alieta|04 March 2014

Oxymel Recipes

 

Our post on Sipping Vinegars was so popular that we thought a detailed how-to on a traditional medicinal vinegar preparation would be helpful too…

Oxymels!

I had no idea what this word meant when I first heard it, but after a little bit of research, I realized this age old recipe is much more familiar than I thought.  Oxymel – from the Latin oxymeli meaning “acid and honey” has been made and used in many ways throughout the ages and it’s a recipe that can be adapted to suit your health and herbal needs.

Traditionally, an Oxymel recipe would be used to administer herbs that might not be so pleasant to take on their own.  Additionally, some of the more pleasant herbs can become even more delightful after a bath in honey and vinegar!  After you try your hand at making an Oxymel,  you might find that it will go nicely in some bubbly water on a warm day, on top of freshly-made pancakes, on  a bed of fresh greens from your garden, by itself, or with some warm water to help keep your spirits and throat happy during a heavy cough. You can change the combination of herbs to aid you in whichever way you like.

Who doesn’t love apple cider vinegar and honey? Apple cider vinegar and honey alone are a soothing treat to an exhausted throat, but throw in some of your favorite immune boosters and we have a medicinal friend: Oxymel! (Somewhere along the path of herbal history, Rosemary Gladstar whipped up a version using classic ingredients like ginger, garlic, cayenne, and horseradish and called it fire cider.)

I hope this guide helps you find a version that suits you!

 

What you will need:

Notes:

Raw apple cider vinegar is a great way to make an alcohol free extract.

Local Honey – I like wildflower honey. I can’t help but get excited about the thought of all of the hard working bees blending together the pollen of hundreds of flowers.  I appreciate the different taste nuances I get depending on valley and season.  If you want something more consistent and neutral, try a clover honey.

 

Oxymel Ingredients

 

Organic herb possibilities for a throat soothing immune boost:

(These are just a few examples of herbs, but the possibilities are endless!)

 

Directions:

There are a few ways you can prepare an Oxymel: I’ve outlined the two ways I’ve used and one additional option, which, I have not tried, but certainly will in the future.

Generally speaking, you want a ratio of 1:3 – 1:4 .   That is to say 1 part dried herb to 3 or 4 parts vinegar and honey. You can easily measure by filling a pint jar less than 1/4 of the way with herbs and then topping with equal parts honey and equal parts vinegar. I’ve noticed the older techniques prefer more honey, up to 5 parts honey to 1 parts vinegar, and the newer recipes call for more apple cider vinegar, as much as 3 parts vinegar to one part honey.  I prefer half and half.  You can find a ratio that suits you! For storage, I prefer a glass jar with a cork top, like the ones found here.

Method 1: Stir, Shake, and Sit

Good method for a variety of herbs!

Place desired herbs into pint jar (1/4 – 1/5 of the way full), cover with apple cider vinegar and honey.  You can stir before sealing the jar, or seal the jar and shake until well mixed. Now let your jar sit somewhere cool and dark and shake a couple of times a week. After two weeks, strain and pour into a glass jar for storage.

Method 2: Vinegar Reduction

Great for non-delicate herbs and hearty roots!

If you’re in a pinch and need an Oxymel  quickly, you can always experiment with a vinegar reduction.  I would not use this method for especially aromatic or floral herbs, as it may be too harsh of an extraction process with heat causing the aromatics to dissipate.  In my recipe, it worked well, bringing out the aroma of all herbs perfectly evenly! Apple cider vinegar steam can be very intense, so be careful not to put your face and eyes over the pot while it is simmering (it will not feel good if you do!)  You will want to use twice as much vinegar as you need in the end, since this is a reduction and you will loose half of it in the process to evaporation. Reduce for 30-40 minutes on low heat.  Once you are done, let cool and strain,  mix herbal decocted vinegar with equal parts honey until well mixed and store in an airtight bottle.

Method 3: Infusing Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar Seperately

Nice option for especially delicate herbs.

This is a very easy way to make an Oxymel if you already have infused honey and infused apple cider vinegar, or one or the other. If you have previously infused apple cider vinegar or honey you simply get to mix them together using a ratio that suits you and enjoy! If you regularly cook with herbal infused honeys and vinegars and have some of your favorites sitting around, this can be a great way to turn your culinary spice into a soothing treat!

 

See this post to learn about Herbal Infused Honey.

Click here to learn more about how to make Medicinal Vinegar Infusions.

Rosemary

 

 

Herbal Honey Spreads

Posted by Christine|28 February 2014

honey_speardsThese tasty Herbal Honey Spreads from our friends at Mockingbird Meadows are back in stock!

Honey spreads are great alcohol-free herbal preparations that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. These sweet and tasty spreads contain raw honey that’s infused with botanical goodness to create helpful formulas. Herbal honey spreads can be used to sweeten teas, blended with nut butter, smeared on toast, or enjoyed right off the spoon. Choose from four delicious 6 oz. spreads!

Allergency with raw Honey, organic Nettle, Pollen, Wild Yam, organic Eleuthero, and organic Orange peel.

Immuni-Bee with raw Honey, organic Elder berry, organic Astragalus, organic Echinacea, and organic Shiitake.

Inflamma-Bee with raw Honey, organic Meadowsweet, organic Cinnamon, organic Black Cohosh, organic Turmeric, organic Celery seed, and organic Anise.

Honey ZZZ with raw Honey, Hops, organic Skullcap, and organic Passionflower.

 

Farm Stories: Appalachian Tour

Posted by Brian|11 February 2014

Herbal Throat Tickle Soother Recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs

 

I was driving along the Nantahala in late fall. The fog was thick, muting the sunset mauve colors of Oaks and Maples as they shed their leaves to prepare for the cold months. When I’d stopped for a walk I could pick out the lingering Sassafras leaves, grey panicles of the Hydrangea, and mammoth Muscadine vines growing towards the canopy. I spotted the barren branches and glowing fruit of the wild Persimmons, one of my favorite wild fruits. After a few moments of rooting around under the tree I was back on the road with a few fistfuls of the most ripe fruit I could find.

I grew up in the southern Appalachian Mountains.  The mountains and valleys of our eastern deciduous forests are rich in some of our most valued botanicals. Plants like goldenseal, ginseng, black cohosh, and many others have played important ecological roles in our forests since ancient times. The long traditions of using these plants for good health continue to influence our modern approaches to herbalism and our relationship with these forests.

 

Herbal Throat Tickle Soother Recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs

 

I visited Appalachia to talk with our wild-harvesters and ask what we can do to help manage and plan for our woodland harvests.  With the growing interest of incorporating more of our woodland plants into our lives for health and food we need to continue to be engaged with where and how these plants are harvested and what we can do to ensure healthy future stands.

Non-timber forest products also provide growing business for rural economies. On a large organic forest farm we work with in Kentucky the signs of former industry are visible across the landscape. From the hills that had been clear cut and were growing back thick with Slippery Elm, to the rusted hulk of machinery used to make bricks from the clay that was quarried from the area, it is awesome to watch the family who’d lived on this land for generations move towards a more active stewardship of the property.

 

Herbal Throat Tickle Soother Recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs

 

Working with the land to learn how to manage our forests for an indefinite harvest of these plants, we can also ensure the people who do this work have good livelihoods. As more people return to the forest for healing, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that we’re taking care of the plants and the people that these forests support. Intentionally growing and managing stands of medicinal, edible, and beautiful plants in forests is what we’re working towards.

Wild Cherry and Slippery Elm are two trees that I have been using for a long time. Several years ago some friends and I were clearing trees from a driveway out on wooded land in central Alabama. We cut down some black cherry trees and I spent the next couple days with a draw knife peeling back the fragrant bark.  I gave most away and used enough for some tincture we’d all call “Throat Tickle” for it’s effectiveness in warming, soothing, autumn teas. I dried and cured the wood and used them to make walking sticks for me and my father and used the end cuts for a cutting board for my partner.

Wild Cherry pairs well with another tree that lives between the forest and the fields, Slippery Elm. For timber forest management Slippery Elm, or Red Elm, is usually considered an uneconomically important tree. It’s branching habit and quick growth doesn’t lend it to a lot of woodworking applications, but for many herbalists it’s an invaluable resource as one of our most excellent mucilaginous demulcents.

Slippery Elm is threatened by two diseases: Dutch Elm Disease and Elm Yellows Disease. These diseases are spreading through our Appalachian forests threatening our elm stands. For the cottage-scale herbalist harvesting the spongy cambium only from windfall branches after a storm or making friends with a local saw mill to gather the bark after a cut seems to be the most ethical option. Often many small saw mills will give you or sell you the wood inexpensively just to take it away because it is considered not worth the effort to handle. It makes okay fire wood as well. However, cutting small strips from a tree can open up a large wound that could be infected by disease, spreading these threats through our forests. These useful trees take a few decades to grow to a harvestable size, so helping the forest industry recognize our use and value of them is important.

 

Herbal Throat Tickle Soother Recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs

 

Mountain Rose is working with our forest farms to figure out the best strategies for continuing the harvest of these trees. These trees highlight some of the challenges of working with forest management of our older medicinal plants. For a general mucilaginous demulcent, many people have turned to marshmallow root. If you’d like to wild-harvest your slime-plants, here in the Pacific Northwest, I like to use our native weedy Malvaceae Sidalcea, often grown as a native ornamental, or the introduced Malva neglecta leaves. Some native or introduced Malvaceae can be found across the country.  Where I’m from in the Deep South, hibiscus and okra grow very well. I also love Sassafras leaves in the Lauraceae family as a good aromatic mucilage, traditionally used to thicken gumbo.

Stopping at different natural and historic places throughout the South reminded me of the culture I come from and the long traditions of plants and an engagement with nature that shaped those cultures. I feel honored to work with our forest-harvesters to connect people with the most ethical and honest botanicals we can.

 

Brian’s Dirty South Throat Tickle Soother

Ingredients:

1 quart of pleasantly warm to hot organic slippery elm or marshmallow root tea
Raw local honey to taste
fresh organic grated ginger, garlic, or another warming aromatic to taste
3-4 droppers of organic cherry bark tincture
2-3 droppers of organic sassafras root tincture or some fresh fall sassafras twigs in the tea, excellent warm lemony flavor (optional) or organic lemon juice to taste (optional)
2-3 dropper organic echinacea root, teaberry leaf, or birch bark tincture (optional)
Bourbon to taste (very optional)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and sip as needed!

 Herbal Throat Tickle Soother Recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs

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    Erin is the Marketing Manager 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.
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    Brian is our Domestic Farms Representative! He was born and raised in the Appalachian foothills of Alabama and has worked with plants for over a decade across the country. He studied advanced botany and herbalism at Columbines School of Botanical Studies. Brian loves working with our farmers and wildcrafters to provide the highest quality and most ethically gathered plants around.
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