Herbal Infused Vinegars

Another great article from Mountain Rose Herbs on how to make herb infused vinegar. I didn’t realize it but according to their article here, using vinegar instead of alcohol does also work for creating tinctures for health benefits!

See article below, from Mountain Rose Herbs…

How To:

Herbal Vinegar Extract Method

Step 1

Chop or grind your dried herb to a coarse powder. You can also find many powdered herbs available on our website. Fill 1/5 of your sterilized jar with the herb. Pour organic apple cider vinegar over the herb until the jar is filled to the top. Cover tightly and allow to extract for 14 days in a cool, dark place. Be sure to shake the jar daily.

Step 2

After 2 weeks, strain the herb through cheesecloth. Set the strained liquid in a capped jar on a shelf and allow the sediment to settle overnight. Decant the clear liquid layer into another sterilized jar using a strainer. Cap tightly, label, and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place.

Step 3

If you are infusing the vinegar with roots or barks, there is one more step you might want to take. Once the mixture has extracted for 2 weeks and the herbs have been strained out, heat the infusion just short of boiling and filter through cloth while hot. The heat will help congeal albumin in the solution that can then be removed when straining. Excess albumin can encourage your extract to spoil quickly.

To Use:

As a general guide, take 1 tbsp of the vinegar extract up to 5 times a day when needed, unless you are working with potent low/drop dosage herbs. Due to the acid content in vinegar, be sure to avoid direct contact with your teeth. You may want to mix each dose of vinegar with water or tea to dilute the acidity.

For more information about making herbal vinegar extracts at home, check out Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech and The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green.

 

Making Herbal Infused Oils

Mountain Rose Herbs has a good post about how to make your own herbal infused oils. I’m harvesting the abundance of mint, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano that we have growing here and am figuring out the best ways to preserve them right now… going to try making some infused vinegars and oils to be later used for cleaning, cooking or on our bodies as ointments. I am also referencing this great book called Alchemy of Herbs which has been very helpful for looking up all the herbs I have growing and how to use them. It’s exciting!!! (the photo above also includes a bowl of beans and lettuce from our garden today… those items are photo bombing and will be eaten later today…)

An easy way to make herb infused oils that I’m going to try. From their website post here.

Folk Method for Solar-Infused Oils

Use the sun to naturally infuse oil with the goodness of herbs!

Directions:

  1. We always recommend using dried herbs. If you desire fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12 hours to remove the moisture (too much water will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortar and pestle before adding to the jar.
  2. Place herbs in a clean, dry quart jar.
  3. Fill remaining space in jar with oil of choice, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1 inch. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more oil on top to ensure the herbs are well covered.
  4. Stir well and cap jar tightly.
  5. Place jar in a sunny, warm windowsill and shake once or more per day. You can also cover the jar with a brown paper bag if you prefer that to direct sunlight.
  6. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. Make sure and squeeze out every precious drop of oil!
  7. Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should keep for at least a year. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong shelf life.

Time to think about planting for fall and winter…?

I just got an email from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, talking about planting soon for fall and winter harvests… I have never actually thought about this before, but always admired friends who had hoop houses and green houses and were able to pull carrots out of the ground in January… it seems Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds might have some suggestions I could actually consider here in their blog and on their website… Might be fun to start thinking about how to extend the growing season on our property!

I am not affiliated with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds; I simply love their seeds and gorgeous catalogs and like to share…!

Spinach-web-

photos and content credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/Rareseeds.com

Guest Post: Spring Gardening Ideas for Kids

Today’s guest post is from Craig of Everything Backyard, a DIY gardening and backyard project website, geared toward those who love spending time in the outdoors and backyard, including kids. Today we are sharing his article on how to get your kiddos interested in gardening, and the ways you can teach necessary everyday skills to your children through the process of planning, planting and growing a garden. There are ideas here for everyone! We hope you enjoy the article, and when you’re done reading here, hop on over to Everything Backyard for more great tips to jumpstart your spring gardening and outdoor plans! Thanks Craig!

Spring Gardening Projects for Your Kids

Winter is finally over, but your kids definitely still have cabin fever. You want to get them started on projects that will interest and even fascinate them. Gardening is a pastime that you enjoy, and you were thinking that your children might find the same interest and passion in it as you do. Gardening projects that they might enjoy working on could include the following:

2D274905752976-indoor-herb-gardenIndoor Herb Garden
One of the simplest gardens for youngsters to begin their gardening hobby with is an herb garden. It doesn’t take much space, and it teaches a child the basics of planting edible foods. There are many kits available to get your child started on this project, but it is just as easy to gather your own supplies.

Find a sunny spot where these plants would grow well. An ideal place is a kitchen window sill where the herbs would be easily accessible. Take your child to a gardening center or home improvement store and help him choose the best seeds. Include basic herbs such as parsley, basil, oregano, and mint. Also purchase potting soil, small pots, and simple gardening hand tools.

Teach your child to read the directions on the plant packet and plant his seeds accordingly. As they begin to grow, show him how to water and fertilize them. When the plants are fully mature, instruct him as to the many uses of each plant. Muddle a mint leaf in a glass and add iced tea and ice. Make a chicken dish with either the basil or oregano. Show him how much prettier a plated meal is with the addition of a sprig of parsley. Be careful though; his interest may turn from gardening to culinary arts!

Raised Bed Garden
Even if you have very little space in your yard, you could purchase or assemble a raised bed garden. Select woods that are not chemically treated and help your youngster hammer together four boards in a small square. It could be four feet square or a five-by-three structure – whatever fits the space you have. Add compost and soil.

1_different-raised-garden-beds

Demonstrate how to section off the small space for each plant you have chosen. Stick with simple varieties such as tomatoes, onions, green beans, peas, and different types of lettuce. Radishes are an excellent choice also, as they mature very quickly. Some, such as the tomatoes plants, can be started a few weeks earlier and then transplanted. Help your child water and fertilize the different vegetable plants as they grow. When they are ready, use some of these to make a special salad for the family. Your youngster will be so proud of his efforts and his contribution to the family meal.

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If your child loves color, flowers may be what draws him to the hobby of gardening. Assist him in clearing out the flower beds in front of your home and then take him to a nearby gardening center to choose the type of flowers he would like to plant. These flowers could be either seeds or young plants.

You could take this opportunity to explain the difference between annuals and perennials. Draw out a plan for both the color and sizes of the flowers; read the seed packets or transplant descriptions to determine how tall each will grow. Help your child visualize how the taller ones in the back will look with shorter flower plants in the front. Take the supplies home and plant or transplant the seeds or plants into the ground.

Introduce your child to the concept of fertilizer, why it is important and how it helps plants grow healthier and stronger. Discuss how often the young flowers will need to be watered. As the flowers grow, talk about how long it will be before buds appear on the plants. when the foliage does begin to flower, celebrate by cutting a few select blooms and place them in a vase in your home for all to enjoy.

Container Gardenth
If yard space if very limited or even nonexistent if you reside in an apartment or townhome, consider starting a container garden with your child. It is very inexpensive to do; all you need is a few large containers or buckets with plant dishes underneath, drainage materials, potting soil, fertilizer, and seed or transplants. You can have your child plant either vegetables or flowers. To keep it even simpler, even citrus and avocado trees can be planted indoors.

Place drainage materials such as rocks or even old Legos at the bottom of each container. Plant seeds or transplants. Place the pots with the drainage dishes on a small balcony or sunny part of the home. Advise your child as to how to water and fertilize as needed.

As you can see, your children will love getting involved in one of these projects. They will learn how things grow and how to be responsible in caring for plants that need water and attention. They will learn how to make a yard look attractive and well-maintained and the basics of cooking with herbs and vegetables. These are all skills that will assist them for the rest of their lives.

– Craig Scott, Everything Backyard

 

Lemon Balm Tea

At our old house we had lemon balm growing. I loved the smell of it when we accidentally mowed over some of it, but I never really took advantage of using it the way I could have! After moving to our new homestead, I realized that I had missed out on all the good properties of lemon balm, and found some plants on sale last year at a garden sale. They came back up very nicely this year in my herb garden off the side of our deck, and now after reading this lovely post from The Simple Times, I look forward to utilizing this fragrant and useful herb!

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photo credit ~ the simple times