Using Preserved Herbs Tips

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How do I make herb syrup?

Herb Syrup

Herb syrups are useful when treating children, as their pleasant taste ensures that the remedy is taken without fuss. To make an herb syrup, mix equal quantities of an herbal infusion or decoction with sugar or honey. As in making jams or preserves, place on a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then raise the heat a little and boil until the mix has a syrupy consistency. Leave to cool, then pour into a sterilized jar or bottle and cover. Store in a cool, dark place and use as needed.

Herb syrup will store for about six months. Watch out for signs of fermentation (bubbles in the syrup, a hissing sound when uncorking /opening the lid) and discard if noted. Take one to two teaspoons of herb syrup three times a day or as advised.

What is tonic wine?

Tonic Wine

Tonic wine was very popular during the Victorian era, where numerous recipes were in circulation and many families had their ‘secret' recipes and methods. To make tonic wine, herbs are steeped in wine or port. The traditional method is to fill a bottle or jar with herbs and top with wine until the herbs are completely submerged. This mixture is left to mature for a month or longer before being strained and bottled.

What is a herbal tincture and how do I prepare it?

Herbal Tinctures

For an herbal tincture, soak 200g dried or 400g fresh herbs in one liter of alcohol (Vodka or Rum). Ensure that the herbs are completely submerged. Please the jar or bottle in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shaking it every day. After the soaking period is over, strain the liquid into a clean bottle and label carefully. Note the alcohol base used, the herb and the date the tincture was prepared. Stored in a cool, dark place, it should last at least 12 months.

Take one teaspoon of tincture in a glass of water, once or twice a day or as advised.

What is a poultice and how do I make it?

Herbal Poultices

Poultices were very popular in the Middle Ages for anything from toothache to skin rashes. A poultice is a paste of chopped or mashed herbs, applied directly to the skin or wrapped into muslin and used as a compress. Poultices can be hot or cold, depending on the intended use.

A poultice to relieve a wasp sting would be cold, while a poultice prepared to comfort muscle ache, such as a mustard plaster, would be applied hot.

How do I make a herbal compress?

Herbal Compresses

If you have ever strained an ankle or been stung by a bee, you will know what a compress looks like. It's a cloth soaked in water, vinegar or herbal infusion. Held against the injury, it will reduce swelling or bruising.

A cold cloth across the forehead to relieve a headache is also a compress. It's even more efficient if you add two-three drops of lavender essential oil to the water.

What is a herbal decoction and how do I make it?

Herbal Decoctions

A decoction is usually made from roots, bark, seed and dried berries rather than fresh or dried leaves. It's still similar to making tea, only this time you add your herb to cold water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for a while.

Herb teas or herbal infusions are commonly used immediately. Decoctions can be kept in the fridge for a few days and used when needed.

To make a decoction, add one tablespoon of dried herb or two tablespoons of fresh herbs to 750 ml cold water. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain into a clean container and cool. Use as needed.

What is a herbal infusion and how do I make it?

Herbal Infusions

If you know how to make tea, you can make an herbal infusion. All you need to do is to pour boiling water over your chosen fresh or dried herbs and leave to steep.

For herbal tea, i.e. a standard infusion, you use one teaspoon of dried herbs or two teaspoons of fresh herbs for every cup of boiling water. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes before straining. Drink or use as it is, or add lemon or honey to taste.

For a strong infusion, such as you want to use in your bath, to add to household cleaner or as a hair rinse, add two teaspoons of dried herb or four teaspoons of fresh herb to every cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for a minimum of 10 minutes or until the infusion is cool enough to use.

Can I make herb juice?

Herbal Juice

Juice bars are the new health spas. They supply wonderful concoctions of fresh fruit and vegetables that most of use would not have thought of trying even a few years ago. Yet, they still stop short at offering herb juices.

Dandelion, nettle, fennel, lemon balm, parsley and mint can all be blended to create interesting herbal juices. They are often too strongly flavored or too astringent to be drunk by themselves, but they are a very tasty and healthy addition to fruit and herb juices.

Basil and tomato have a well-known affinity, so basil is the obvious herb to mix with tomato juice, but it also goes well with all vegetable juices that have tomato juice as a component. Thyme juice can be added to all fruit and vegetable juices that have a citrus component. Coriander juice can be added to carrot and orange juice.

Blend your chosen herb(s) with a little cold water until you've got a thick green sludge. Add one to two tablespoons of herb juice to one cup of fruit and vegetable juice and blend well.

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Lynne Christen
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