I can feel the chill in the air in the mornings – and I’m seeing colors changing on the trees – It’s Fall! I know that also means flu, colds, and various bugs flying around in the air as well. I’ve put together some recipes that can help you keep your Winter Wellness this season!
There are a great many herbal teas in grocery stores but remember, to get a therapeutic dose using tea bags, you will need to use at 3-4 per serving. For loose leaf teas, you will need 2 heaping tablespoons per serving. The recipes I’m including are geared for winter but sometimes can be used in spring or summer in iced form. The best place for quality herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs. I have used them for years and always loved them.
A word on Parts, keep your parts the same, for instance, 1 part equals 1 tablespoon or 1/4 cup. This way, your ratio will be correct for the recipes.
We’ll start with a good digestive tea – remember, good health starts in the gut! (From Healing Herbal Teas)
3 parts dandelion root
1 part fennel
1 part ginger
1 part peppermint
1 part spearmint
1/2 part chamomile – use in the evening to calm the nervous system
pinch of marshmallow root to soothe inflamed tissues in the throat, stomach, and intestines – especially useful for acid reflux.
Hot: Pour 1.5 cups of just-boiled water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep – covered – for 15 minutes.
Cold: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1-2w tablespoons of tea in a jar with a lid. Shake well to saturate all the dry ingredients, place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least two hours.
Kathy’s Vitamin C Tea:
I love this tea – my own creation! It’s wonderfully fruity and chock full of Vitamin C. Make a container full of the dried ingredients so that you can whip it together in an instant.
1 part rose hips
1 part Elderberry Flowers
1/2 part lemon peel
1/2 part orange peel
1 part hibiscus
1/2 part elderberries
Hot: Fill with 1.5 cups of just-boiled water and let steep – covered – for at least 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey. Enjoy several times per day.
Cold: Combine 2 cups of cold water into a jar with a lid and steep for at least 2 hours, then strain, sweeten if desired, and enjoy.
Dried Ginger Tea (Kathy’s Recipe)
Dried ginger is more warming than fresh ginger and ideal for helping you warm up after getting a chill, or sweating out a fever. But you can use whatever you have available.
About 2 teaspoons Dried, sifted, organic Ginger (sliced or diced)
10 ounces of water
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
dash of honey (optional)
A squirt of lemon juice (optional)
Hot: Place the ginger in a small saucepan with the water and simmer for at least seven minutes. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients if desired.
Herbal Inspired Hot Toddy (Kathy’s Recipe)
I love a hot toddy when I’m sick – and this one is a change from the traditional in using herbal ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cranberry or cherry juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice fresh ginger (or dried if fresh is not available)
2 teaspoons dried hibiscus
1/2-1 ounce whisky or brandy
slice of orange or lemon (optional)
Simmer water, juice, cinnamon, clove, hibiscus, ginger for about 10 minutes, then strain into a cup. Add honey to taste, whisky or brandy, and a slice of orange or lemon if desired. Drink while warm – preferably in bed because this toddy puts you right to sleep!
Relaxation (AKA Achy Body) Tea
NOTE: This tea is not for pregnant women – no exceptions! Also not for people with blood clotting disorders, or who are on Coumadin, or have kidney or liver disease. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure you can take this tea
1 teaspoon dried yarrow
1 teaspoon dried feverfew
2 teaspoons dried lavender
Steep with just boiled water for at least 10 minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey. Particularly good before bed.
Enjoy, and if you need any herbal advice going through winter – please let me know.
Recently I was able to visit a country store with an apothecary wall. Hundreds of antique bottles, boxes, and tins lined the shelves and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.
Being an herbalist, this image really spoke to me. These remedies are all from people who came before me and whose work – for good or ill – shaped how medicine is today. I see many ‘miracle drugs’ and must take essential oils, or vitamins for whatever ails a person. It is a reminder that the snake-oil sellers of yesteryear are still out there today.
Do your due diligence. Ask questions. If the seller isn’t responding to your queries, they are probably not the ones you should be buying from.
For me, certain foods will trigger my Meniere’s disease vertigo episodes, so I have to be very cautious. For instance, many CBD oils might be hemp oil, but the carrier oil they use might be walnut or almond which will make me crash into walls with vertigo. And that wonderful relaxation blend you got only to realize it had coconut milk in it AFTER it made you get dizzy. Or you find the perfect salve for sore muscles, only to find that one of the ingredients not listed is causing a rash. And so on… If you’re not sure it’s for you, question it before you buy it to avoid wasting money.
Enjoy the photo of remedies and tobacco (what a combination!), if you’re interested, it can be bought at my photo store, www.hilltop.photos.
I love harvesting and processing herbs for my remedies and the article below is full of useful tips and instructions to help you process your own herbs.
There is nothing more satisfying than growing, storing, and using your own medicinal herbs. Using the tools nature gives us to protect our health and loved ones’ feels right to me. So, I enjoy the time spent learning about herbs, gathering them, and preserving them for future use.
Gathering Herbs For Medicinal Use
Where and how you gather your herbs is extremely important. The first concern is that you are 100% certain of your plant identification before you harvest it. Using the wrong herb could be life-threatening, so make sure you know the herb well before using it.
Next, you must be careful of where you gather or grow your herbs. Your backyard herb garden is hopefully safe from all toxins, pesticides, and herbicides. But the same cannot be said when gathering in the wild. Choose natural sites, far away from traffic and dump sites. Car exhaust, herbicides sprayed to control weeds, and other pollutants can contaminate herbs grown along the roadside. Likewise, old industrial sites or dump sites are not suitable because of potential toxins.
Drying Your Medicinal Herbs
Once you’ve harvested your herbs from a clean site, you want to process them immediately to protect their potency until you are ready to use them. If you are not using your herbs fresh, drying them is an excellent option for preserving them. Drying or dehydrating can be done in several different ways.
Method 1: Use A Dehydrator
I prefer to use a dehydrator to dry my herbs. By using a dehydrator, I can control the drying process and optimize the drying time. A steady stream of warm, dry air quickly dries my herbs before they have a chance to degrade. Here is the process:
Preheat your dehydrator. Set the thermostat for a drying temperature of 95 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. I prefer to use the lowest temperature, but if it is a very humid day, the higher temperature may be needed.
- Clean your herbs and blot them dry with a towel to remove any surface moisture.
- Remove large leaves for drying separately. Small leaves can remain on the stem, if desired.
- Place the herbs on a dehydrator tray in a single layer and label the tray if you are doing more than one herb at a time.
- If you are drying roots, wash them and scrub off any dirt. Pat dry and cut into small, thin pieces.
- Dry the herbs for 2 to 8 hours or longer, until the leaves are crumbly, crisp, and completely dry. Larger leaves and stems usually take longer than fine small leaves, so check them periodically and remove them when dry. Allow the herbs to cool before storing.
Air Drying Medicinal Herbs
Air drying is another method of drying herbs that works well in dry climates. You need a warm, shady spot with good ventilation. You don’t want them in the sun because the intense heat and sun can quickly degrade the herbs.
1. Gather the herbs into small bundles and bind them at one end with a small rubber band. Hang them upside down in an out of the way spot, until they are completely dry.
Some people hang them in the kitchen window, but I recommend choosing a spot out of direct sunlight. Before I got my dehydrator, I would hang them on one end of my pot rack, but any warm, well-ventilated spot will work.
2. If the herbs contain seeds or tiny leaves that might release when dry; place the herb bundle in a small paper bag to catch the seeds or leaves.
3. Another possibility is to place them on an oven rack or elevated screen on a countertop. Make sure that air can flow freely under and around each sprig.
4. Air drying herbs takes longer, usually several days. Check them daily and turn them as needed to allow them to dry evenly. Make sure they are completely dry before storing.
Oven Drying And Microwave Drying
I don’t recommend oven drying or microwave drying because the herbs can easily get too hot and lose their medicinal qualities. Why go to all the work to gather, dry, and store herbs, if they are no longer potent enough to be of use? If you do choose to use an oven or microwave, use the lowest possible settings and take them out as quickly as possible.
Processing And Storing Your Dried Herbs
Once your herbs are dry, it is time to sort them and prepare them for long term storage. This process is called garbling. Follow these steps to get your dried herbs ready to store:
- Place your herbs into a plastic bag or glass jar for a day, before moving them to long term storage. If you see any condensation on the bag or jar, they need to dry longer.
- Separate the leaves, flowers, stems, and roots, discarding unwanted parts. Each plant part has different uses; do the research on your plant to know which parts are most valuable.
- As you sort, test the dryness by breaking into the larger pieces of stem and root to make sure they are completely dry. If they bend or seem pliable at all, put them back to dry longer.
- Store your dried herbs in airtight containers away from heat and light. I like to use mason jars with a tight-fitting lid and store them in a dark cabinet.
- For best long-term storage, I place an oxygen absorber into the jar and vacuum seal it, however the herbs will keep for a year or more without it. If you live in a very humid environment, you may want to add a silica gel pack to the jar.
- Check the jars occasionally to make sure they are dry and have no mold growth. If properly stored, there should be no color change or bad smells. Throw them out if you detect any changes in quality.
- Use your herbs within two years for best potency. I prefer to harvest my medicinal herbs every year to make sure I always have a potent batch available.