Posted by|07 July 2014
Brace yourselves for my true confession…I love fizzy, buzzy, sodas. There, I’ve said it and I’m not the least bit sorry! While I do avoid commercial sodas for obvious and well-documented reasons, I still get mad cravings for a good ginger ale or sparkly fruity punch. In addition to the refreshing nature of a tasty soda drink, there is something about it that makes me feel youthful, playful, and decadent. While there are more choices on the market now for sparkly fermented beverages made with healthier ingredients, like kombucha and fruit sodas made with real fruit and cane sugar, they can be a bit on the spendy side. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to make delicious fermented soda beverages in the home kitchen and I can use fruits from my own garden!
The first step in creating soda at home is to make a fermented culture known as a Ginger Bug. This takes a few days, but it isn’t the slightest bit hard! It could even be a fun learning project for a child. Here’s the basic recipe:
Equal parts fresh ginger, organic cane sugar, and filtered water
I used approximately 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 Tablespoons filtered water
Mix these ingredients in a jar. I just tossed them into the jar, put the lid on, and swirled it around to combine.
Each day for 5-7 days, add the same equal parts of these three ingredients to the mixture:
2 Tablespoons fresh, grated ginger
2 Tablespoons cane sugar
2 Tablespoons water
I make my version of Elderberry Syrup every fall and sometimes have a bit left over as spring turns into summer to use for a delicious soda. It’s quite easy to make at any time of the year though! Here’s my recipe and another recipe here.
1 cup dried, organic elderberries
4 cups water
1 teaspoon organic whole cloves
1/4 cup organic wild cherry bark
1 Tablespoon organic dried orange peel
Put all these ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Once the mixture boils, turn the heat down and let the mixture simmer for 30-40 minutes. Using a strainer, pour the mixture into a large glass or Pyrex bowl (compost the herbs and berries). I like to press down with a wooden spoon to make sure I get all the juice and flavor I can! Let the mixture cool a bit and add 2 cups raw, organic honey to the mixture while it is warm, but not hot. This helps the honey to incorporate into the juice without the need to heat.
This makes about 5 cups of a rather thick syrup (thick enough to use on pancakes or waffles).
For the Soda
In a half-gallon pitcher or jar, add 2 cups of Elderberry Syrup and fill almost to the top with cold, filtered water. To this, add 1/2 cup of the Ginger Bug. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band and allow to sit at room temperature for 3-5 days while it ferments. Depending on the weather, season, ambient temperature, and other variables, it may ferment quickly or take a little longer. Taste it after 2 days and see how it tastes to you and then decide if you’d like to let it go a little longer.
You can bottle your soda at this point, if you’d like. Use bottles with a screw top or bottle as you would homemade beer. I prefer to make small batches and drink it rather quickly as they do continue to ferment, even if stored in sealed bottles in the fridge.
Once you’ve made the Elderberry Syrup, you can use the same technique to make syrups from other fruits and herbs. A rose or lavender syrup or a fruit juice base would work nicely for a home-crafted soda. As you use some of the Ginger Bug, add equal parts fresh, grated ginger root, cane sugar, and water to replace. Like a sourdough starter, this culture can last for quite a while if tended properly and you can have the makings for delicious homemade sodas at your fingertips!
Posted by|06 July 2014
Honeybush & Honeyroo Tea
My love for the red teas has been growing lately. As the temperatures soar and I want to reach for something tasty, sweet, and refreshing, I find Honeybush and Rooibos to be a wonderful choice. Since they are also caffeine free, they make a lovely iced tea for sipping with supper on a hot summer evening- a little wedge of lemon and the fruity sweetness comes through!
Since I’ve confessed before how I like to take a delicious tea blend and add a few delicious extra herbs, I’ll let you in on a little secret…organic spearmint is a fabulous addition to both the Honeybush and the Honeyroo tea blends! I like to combine 1 part organic spearmint to 2 parts either Honeybush or Honeyroo, steep with either boiling water or room temperature water (for a yummy sun tea) and served up with a lemon wedge.
This tea is perfect along side a light summer meal or sipped on its own, and since it doesn’t have caffeine, it makes a lovely tea for children too!
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 July 2014
Jennifer Gerrity, our Executive Director of Operations, just returned from the Ginseng Summit hosted by the United Plant Savers. This summit was held at the gorgeous Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary, bringing growers, buyers, and researchers together to learn more about threats to wild ginseng populations while developing strategies for conserving this precious medicinal.
More about this exciting trip to come…
Posted by|02 July 2014
Our very own Shawn Donnille, Vice President and co-owner of Mountain Rose Herbs, was recently honored by one of our beloved non-profit partners for his leadership and service! Shawn, former President of Beyond Toxics’ Board of Directors, was completely surprised when they presented him with the Visionary Leadership award at the Bee-Fest Celebration!
In true form, Beyond Toxics threw a fabulous party filled with live music, sweet treats, face painting, and of course chilled Hibiscus High Tea. Eugene, Oregon is gaining recognition as the most bee-friendly city in the U.S. for our work protecting pollinators and specifically for passing a resolution to ban neonicotinoids pesticide application on city property. We are proud to live and work in a city leading the way to fight colony collapse and protect our food system.
Mountain Rose is a long-time supporter of Beyond Toxics. We support their mission through charitable giving, disseminating literature, in-kind donations, and employee volunteer projects. Annually, we remove invasive plants by hand to maintain a no-spray corridor along a scenic roadway in Oregon. Read about our Fall Weed Pull project last year: http://mountainroseblog.com/pullingfallweeds/
“Beyond Toxics represents the finest culmination of hard-working individuals that produce the results we can all live by. Our industry, livelihoods, and communities are dependent upon a healthy landscape, and our prospects would be very bleak indeed if we did not have the steadfast commitment of Beyond Toxics.” - Shawn Donnille
Get Involved with Beyond Toxics!
Learn about other Organizations We Support!
Posted by|30 June 2014
We’ve all witnessed the deodorant revolution happen over the past few years. From over-the-top chemical infused sticks to ruin-your-blouse white stuff, finding a healthy and practical alternative can be a challenge. I’ve tried them all and even gone without for many years. Most of the time I don’t need it, but occasionally I like to go on multiple day hiking trips or enjoy the local music scene in small, warm venues. So, I experimented with lots of other recipes to create a formula that works perfectly for my needs.
This isn’t the normal wipe it on deodorant! The ingredients in this recipe, such as the cocoa butter and shea butter, will melt easily with body temperature, while maintaining a solid form in the tin throughout the day. I push a little pea sized chunk off with my finger and rub it into my underarm just like I would body lotion. Once you see how easy it is to make, you might just go a little deodorant wild like me, mixing in your favorite essential oils for a personalized scent treat!
All-Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipe
Makes two 2oz tins
Organic Essential Oils
25-40 drops total
1. In a pyrex measuring glass, combine Cocoa Butter and Shea butter.
2. Using a double boiler, heat over low-medium until butters are melted.
3. Remove from heat and stir in Arrowroot Powder and Baking Soda.
4. Stir in Vitamin E Oil and your desired essential oil blend.
5. Carefully pour into 2 oz tins, filling to the top, but making sure not to spill over.
6. Place lids on containers without pressing down to lock. Just let them sort of sit on top to help prevent dust from settling in your deodorant while it sets.
7. Allow to completely cool and solidify, this can take 6+ hours. I usually let them sit overnight.
Enjoy! And remember, deodorant works best if applied before you are active!
Posted by|29 June 2014
Being in tune with the seasons can mean looking to our surroundings for inspiration when it comes to the food on our plates, the activities we do, and even the beverages we drink. As the fields get full and high with grasses, flowers, and nourishing medicinal plants, I feel an urge to create a tea of those fragrant, nutritional offerings.
This tea is packed with vitamins, beta-carotene, and antioxidants, not to mention the delicious flavors of an earthy summer day…
Field & Flower Tea
1 teaspoon organic Alfalfa Leaf
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon chips (Cassia or Sweet)
1 teaspoon organic Red Clover
1 teaspoon organic Heather flowers
1 teaspoon organic Marshmallow Root
This is best as a hot tea. Mix all the herbs in an infuser, strainer, tea nest, or filter and pour boiling water over. Let steep for 4-5 minutes. Add honey, milk and/or lemon if desired. Enjoy!
Posted by|27 June 2014
Dearest customers, friends, and herb folks,
We are over the moon excited to share our newly designed website with you! A long while in the making, it is truly a love letter from us to the organic botanical products we grow, craft, and offer to the community. Herbs help sustain wellbeing for so many and we are just elated to honor and celebrate their powerful presence in our lives with this lovely new site.
Happily introducing the new…
Beautiful photos, easier navigation, and new features make strolling through our herbal goodies a more efficient experience, and hopefully more inspiring too!
Pour a cup of tea and take a look around!
Posted by|26 June 2014
Last week, a team of four Mountain Rose employees put their hands to work removing invasive plants that were taking over the habitat behind our building as part of the Mountain Rose River Project. We cleared out Scotch Broom, Teasel, and Blackberries.
While cleaning up the area of invasive weeds, we discovered this humble little home nestled amongst some bushes. So sweet! We were careful not to disturb the birdies-to-be, and pesky weeds or not, if it’s home to Northern Mockingbirds, it stays for now!
Posted by|23 June 2014
Well, we’re hitting high garden season now! For those of us who grow our own herbs, that means finding a way to preserve at least some of that mid-summer herbal goodness for future use. I dry some of my own herbs to use in teas, infused oils, as culinary additions, and, in the case of some of our hops vines, for the sheer pleasure of decoration! In my garden, I grow comfrey, lemon balm, various oregano and thyme varieties, chamomile, fennel, calendula, sage, rosemary, lavender, hyssop, and all sorts of mints (just to name a few of my favorites), and all of these are quite easy to dry and preserve for recipes, soaps, infused oils, and even dried bouquets. Plus, you don’t need to have any fancy equipment for herb drying – it’s so simple!
Method: Air Drying
The general guideline is to harvest herbs just before the flowers open. I confess I don’t always follow that rule because one of the big reasons I grow many of these wonderful plants is for the bees and pollinators. I might pull a few leaves off a comfrey plant, or use fresh herbs in cooking, tea, and other beverages, but I also love to see the flowers bloom – and my honeybees do too. Additionally, there are some plants, like chamomile and calendula, where the flowers are the most desired part of the plant, where other herbs like fennel and dill, produce aromatic seeds you’ll want to save. For these, you’ll harvest the flower heads after the seeds form.
I like to choose strong stems with healthy, intact leaves for drying. In most cases, I don’t even need to wash the cuttings since I keep an organic garden and don’t have dogs roaming around where the edibles grow. You can definitely give the herbs a wash in cool water prior to drying, just be sure to gently shake off the excess moisture, and remove any wilted leaves, spots, insects, or other unsavory elements.
I find air drying to be the easiest method and this can be accomplished in a few different ways. For plants with tiny leaves like thyme and oregano, I like to lay the stems out on paper towels or a flattened piece of brown paper bag. Some folks like to put a clean tea or kitchen towel on a drying rack (like one used for cooling fresh-baked cookies) and lay the herbs out there. This is best done when the weather is warm and dry. Once the herbs are completely dry, strip the leaves from the stem by sliding your thumb and forefinger along the stem from top to bottom (working against the natural upwards bending of the leaves helps them come right off) and gather them together in a sealed container.
For plants with large or feathery leaves (like dill and fennel), air drying in bundles can work very well. I gather several stalks together and use a rubber band to hold them at the base. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight, like in a garage, shed, basement, etc. Wire, hemp twine, paper clips, and even clothes pins work great for hanging these bundles. You’ll just want to make sure that the air can circulate around them and they aren’t likely to get exposed to moisture or bugs. It is important to not make the bundles too big as this will make for longer, less efficient drying, and can lead to rot or mold issues.
Method: Drying with Heat
Other methods of drying herbs include using a heat source like an oven or an electric dehydrator. When using an oven, you’ll want to strip the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Turn the oven on to the very lowest setting and keep a close eye on the herbs while they are drying to make sure they don’t dry too quickly, become crisp, or stick to the pans. For an electric dehydrator, be sure to read the directions that come with your dehydrator for tips on drying times, how to place the leaves in the trays, and temperature suggestions.
For drying herbs with seed heads (like fennel or dill), I like to put a paper or plastic bag over the heads and tie this around the stalks so any seeds that fall will be caught in the bag. You can also dry your herbs outside if you live in a dry climate, but keep in mind that the direct sunlight can fade the colors and extreme warmth can damage some of the vibrancy. Either way, you’ll want to bring the herbs indoors when they are thoroughly dry.
How to Store Dried Herbs & Spices
After the herbs are thoroughly dried, it is important to store them properly to preserve taste and quality. I like to keep dried herbs in clean glass jars with lids or spice jars with corks or shaker tops. You could just as easily keep them in plastic jars or sealed plastic bags. For long-term preservation, the herbs can be frozen in this dried state too. You’ll want to make sure to avoid temperature fluctuations and exposure to light. I try to use up all of my home-dried herbs within a year. If I get my timing just right, I’m using the last of the dried herbs when the plants start growing again!
For more great information on growing and using fresh and dried herbs, check out the following:
Posted by|22 June 2014
Midsummer…longest day of the year…shortest night…however you think of this time of the season, the Summer Solstice is a delightful way to celebrate the fullness and abundance of the summer! When my kids were small and we lived in the Midwest, we’d celebrate the Solstice with an evening picnic and I’d let them stay up, chase fireflies, search for fairies, and experience a magical night. Since they grew up with a gardener for a mom, they thought nothing of pulling off leaves of lemon balm, mint, and rose petals to munch or to use in their own childish versions of “tea” made by muddling fresh herbs in a pot and covering them with water.
While my kids are all grown now, the Summer Solstice brings back a flood of magical memories and all of them seem to be centered around the delight of a garden at night. As you commemorate this annual passage of time, here’s a simple recipe for a tea that is delicious served hot or cold. It takes advantage of the garden’s offerings at this very time of year. Add a little sparkling wine or champagne and you’ve got a memorable grown-up beverage too!
Magical Summer Solstice Tea
1 Tablespoon organic Rose Petals, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Spearmint, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Lemongrass, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon organic Lemon Balm, fresh or dried
Combine all the herbs in a tea infuser or tea bag. Bring water to a boil and pour 2 cups over herbs and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain and serve. This makes enough for two cups of tea, but feel free to multiply for a larger pot or a pitcher of iced tea (for iced tea, brew and then let chill). Add a splash or two of blubbly, if desired and garnish with fresh herbs.
Posted by|20 June 2014
Feeling inspired by the herbal bounty of summer? We sure are!
We’ve been out in the green world formulating recipes while the sun shines, soaking up inspiration from the unfurling leaves, fragrant flowers, and spreading roots this season brings. So, we want to know…what are you making? Salves, lip balms, tinctures, teas? Let’s share our herbal wisdom!
Pop on over to Instagram and post photos of the herbal recipes you’ve been creating for a chance to win $100 gift certificate from Mountain Rose Herbs!
Be sure to use #herbalsummercontest to enter. A winner will be announced on July 6th!
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