Ward House

Tincture & Salves

Wednesday night, before heading out to class, the plan was to harvest yarrow for a salve.  Instead I harvested plantain from the yard.  When my girls inquired, they commented on how odd it was that I was picking ‘bananas’.  Next came the explanation of which kind of plantain was being harvested.

These were cleaned and allowed to dry while I was away.  Ronnie is so good natured.  He was coming home from work as I was headed to class; I asked him to ignore the bag and colander of ‘weeds’ that were on the counter. Sadly, he is not susceptible to the Jedi hand wave thingy and instead I got the ‘omg, what have you brought into the kitchen now’ look.  I could just squeeze his cheeks!  (Sorry honey.  Had to say it!)

My original Yarrow salve idea came from two tutorials found here.  Currently plantain is brewing, perhaps tonite, along with blackberry picking, I’ll get some yarrow started.

How To Make An Herbal Tincture

Harvest the herb in its proper season (refer to herb-specific material for that time). Tear or chop herb parts into about one inch pieces. Pack very tightly into a glass jar to the top. Fill jar to the top again with 80 proof or higher alcohol, brandy or vodka. Fill again in a couple days, to the top. Let steep for 6 weeks or more. Decant into another jar by pouring off and squeezing liquid out of herb material through cheesecloth. Thank the plant for its uses and compost it. Label and date your jar of tincture.

How To Make An Herbal Oil and Salve

Harvest the herb just as in tincture-making but dry it for a day or so out of sunlight. Tear or cut the herb into one inch pieces and pack tightly into a jar, to the top. Fill the jar to the top with oil (cold pressed, organic olive, coconut or other oil). In a couple days, fill again to the top if some oil has soaked in. Keep a lid on the jar and let it sit on a plate in the sun for six weeks, no more. Some oil will seep out. Check for mold and scrape off as needed. After six weeks, decant the oil into a jar and squeeze any oil out of the herb material through cheesecloth. Thank the plant and compost it.
To make a salve, take a bit of beeswax (1/2 to 1 t.) and melt it on the stove. Take it off the heat, stir in the herbal oil and pour immediately into your salve container. It will set. Adjust beeswax amount to desired consistency and re-do if needed.

When I arrived home, Ronnie commented on how much his thumb was hurting; a box cutter slice to the nail line of his thumb.  I immediately went out, grabbed some yarrow leaves and band-aid’d these to his cut.  Have I mentioned how thankful I am to have such a patient, kind man?  So here he sits at the kitchen table, with a bandaged thumb that has leaves sticking out of the top and bottom of the band-aid.  Wish I had taken a picture.  He even put a piece in his nose to see if it would actually cause a nose bleed.  No blood, no pain relief.  Hmmm.  My theory is that the leaf is better used to create a salve which will coat the wound.  *giggles*

Previously I wrote about using lard to make a salve.  A discussion from first aid class had me rethink this.  Using butter or lard on, say, a burn is not a good idea as it helps to trap the heat and make the injury worse.  That burning feeling you get after a burn means that tissue damage is still occurring.  Lots of cold water first and then aid cream and a sterile bandage.  So I have to ask those that are familiar with using lard in salves, what have you seen heard about using animal fat in a first aid treatment; does it go rancid easily?  Beeswax would be good; around here, lard is easier to find.

What do you suggest?

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July 22, 2010 Posted by | family, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cordials are brewing

Yesterday, Kathie inspired me with her cordial comments; so much so that before heading out to class I started two cordials, raspberry and one with lemon balm and lavender.  The lemon balm is only a half pint as the heat has caused the lavender blooms to turn brown (don’t think I’ve ever seen this happen before) and mint bugs have been munching on the lemon balm (planted next to).  No pix, sorry.  The recipes I am using can be found on the right side column under Must Remembers titled *Hic.

This morning, Ronnie harvested three cherry tomatoes from the garden – yippee!  This is a hybrid plant so there can be no seed saving – these little fruits are pretty.  And tasty.  Again, no pictures.  With classes consuming much of my time, garden time has been not as frequent as I would like.  The next semester, that begins the latter part of August, will have mostly at home studies thus allowing more time outside while the sun is shining and then study time inside when the sun sets.  Potatoes have not done much this year and we are not sure why – a load of manure, tilled under and allowed to sit over the winter, will correct many of our gardening challenges (or so I believe); dill is blooming, beans growing, grapes ripening, etc.

While on the cordial kick, JoyceAnn of Feather Spirits introduced this next website to me.  Her article about plantain reminded me that we have a slew of this herb growing in the yard and… I believe I can make some salve.  This recipe seems easy enough:

Healing salve: In large non-metallic pan place 1lb. of entire Plantain plant chopped, and 1 cup lard, cover, cook down on low heat till all is mushy and green. Strain while hot, cool and use for burns, insect bites, rashes, and all sores. Note: used as night cream for wrinkles.

Walmart carries lard; perhaps I can snag some this weekend.  Why not now, you ask?  Cause tomorrow we are headed out on the bike to ride; no particular destination, just ride and stop when we are ready.  Other bikes are joining us so it will not be quite as spontaneous as if Ronnie and I were going solo, still be a nice, cheap get-away.  We will return on Sunday, about the time when the girls are returning from spending a week with their dad.   I hope to have more soon, including my current knitting project.  Perhaps a delayed post for tomorrow or over the weekend.

July 15, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening, herbs, recipes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Pickled Burdock

Who doesn’t have this weed herb growing in the side or back yard?  Yes, some have maticulous gardens/yards – I am not one of those.  Growing weeds herbs outside is easy, it is when I bring them inside that the challenge begins.

Anyway, I was looking for ways to take advantage of this prolific herb and found this recipe for pickled burdock!  Pickling things is easy, assuming you can wait to open the jar.

Instructionsburdock_leaves_spring

Things You’ll Need:
  • 3 lbs. burdock root
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 7 1/2 cups water
  • Saucepan
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 slices of ginger
  • Canning jars
  1. Collect your fresh burdock root by foraging for it in the wild. The root can also be found in health food stores or Asian markets.
  2. Use a sharp knife to remove the rough skin from the burdock. Slice the root at an angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Set the root pieces aside.
  3. Mix the salt and water in your pan over low heat. Let the salt dissolve, and then pour it over the burdock until it is completely covered.
  4. Let the burdock sit in the salted water for 24 hours.
  5. Drain and rinse the burdock under cold water.
  6. Sterilize jars by filling them half full with water and microwaving them long enough for the water to boil for one minute.
  7. Fill your jars with the burdock root.
  8. In the pan, slowly bring the vinegar, garlic, and ginger to a boil over low heat.
  9. Fill the jars with the brine until the burdock root is completely covered.
  10. Cover and store your pickled burdock in a dark, cool place for a month before opening the jar. Your pickled burdock can be stored for up to a year.

There are many recipes online for cooking burdock root.  If I can dig some up, I’ll show you what it looks like.  Have you used burdock root before?

July 11, 2010 Posted by | Cooking, Gardening, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , | 4 Comments

Red Clover

July is almost half over and I feel as if life has picked up the pace and I am being swept away.  A big bottle of cheap vodka and grand plans for herb tinctures is still a plain bottle of vodka and, well, no tinctures.  *sighs*  I am trying to catch up on blog reading and found Joyce Ann’s post about  making red clover syrup.  I have read other bloggers ‘speak’ of the benefits of red clover and, since is it growing in the side yard, thought I’d try my hand at it.  Joyce Ann is having issues with Blogger so the link to her recipe can be found here.  There are several recipes available on the link page (red clover lemonade, red clover rice, etc); this is the one I want to try:

Red clover blossom syrup

This syrup can be a great Christmas present as it is canned so one can make lots of it. RedClover

Ingredients The main ingredient is 1 quart of red clover blossoms.

Other ingredients are:
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cups sugar
½ lemon or orange (organic if possible) chopped, peel and all
1 Tbsp beet juice or berry juice (Optional)
Remember: The citrus is optional. Using the citrus will give the syrup an orangey or lemony flavor. In case you want the pure red clover flavor instead, don’t use the citrus. Both ways still make for a fantastic treat.
Preparation
1.) The blossoms and water are put in a pot
2.) They are then simmered gently for 15- 20 minutes and the heat subsequently turned off. Then cover and let sit overnight.
3.) The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.
4.) Sugar and sliced citrus are then added and heat slowly, stirring now and again for several hours or until reduced to thick syrup that looks like honey.
5.) One can add 1 Tbsp of beet juice or berry juice to help color the syrup as its brownish like maple syrup. (Optional)
6.) Can in ½ pint or 1 pint Jars.
This recipe makes a little more than 1 pint. One can triple or quadruple this and make more than one batch when they are in season to have enough for the whole year.

I am so excited!!

July 10, 2010 Posted by | Canning, herbs, recipes, self sufficiency | , , , | 2 Comments

A love of Lavender

There is just something about that scent.  Scent is powerful and can trigger a forgotten memory faster than anything; I do not remember this scent from my past.  The sight and smell draw me. 

Our lavender plants are extremely happy and have produced more than I remember seeing in prlavenderevious years; scented sachets or eye masks are in my future and to do that those buds need to be harvested then dried.  What’s a girl to do?

From what I’ve read, cut just above the leaves just as the buds are opening; use a rubber band to hang dry in a warm dark place.  Hmmm.  Warm is about anywhere in the house.  Dark would be, well, probably the garden shed or garage.  7-10 days should do the trick. 

Once dried, to separate the buds from the stems, place the dried stems in newspaper and roll into a tube.  Gently roll on a hard surface as if you were rolling out dough.  This will separate the buds without damaging them and allow the stems to be used to scent the wood cook stove.  =)

The past two weeks have not allowed me to harvest as the buds were opening so my stems are a bit more ‘mature’; still fragrant.  And perfect. 

This same method can be used for other herbs – Chiots Run talks about oregano (which we have) and I’ll add to the list sage, mint, lemon balm and catnip.  Typing this got me to thinking that setting these to dry in the van while I am at work would not only have the van smelling good but also dry these herbs up fairly quickly (black van + 8 hours sun = one HOT oven. Might be too hot actually.  Has anyone else tried this – drying herbs in a vehicle?

 

UPDATE:  Yes, these can be dried in the car – Frugal Upstate details here. 

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Gardening, herbs | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I heart Rosemary

Rosemary is one of my favorite plants, though I have not been successful in wintering it over. This year it is growing in a different spot; someplace that will give it sun through the winter and a warm wall to reflect some heat. Cross your fingers.

I grow herbs that I love to smell and use in the kitchen. If they have a medicinal use, all the better. Rosemary is one of those herbs. Tansy’s post over at Not Dabbling prompted me to surf for a medicine chest use for this rosemary and before sharing what was found, allow me to enlighten you as to the most frequent booboo’s in our family; scratches and scraps with some occasional splinters sprinkled in for added fun. Rosemary’s antibiotic properties are perfect for making a wound wash: 1/2 cup rosemary needles steeped in 2C 90% proof vodka for 6-8 weeks, shake once a week then strain into a dark bottle. I plan to start the steeping tonite!

I’ve also read where the rosemary scent is good for helping memory recall. This is true if you smell the scent while, say, studying and then smell the scent while taking the test. Can you tell that I tried this? Cannot say if it really helped me or if I was just naturally brilliant on that test. LOL The power of scent is no secret.

Next – Calendula (which is currently in bloom).

September 1, 2009 Posted by | family, herbs | 5 Comments