The following is an excerpt from my book, Grow Create Inspire
Growing medicinal herbs in your garden fosters a relationship of understanding plants and their constituents. Once this connection has been established, herbs serve a purpose in your home system.
Often, medicinal herbs have stacking functions- They provide food and habitat for wildlife, they are helping to aerate the soil with their roots.
They are beautiful and create a peaceful and welcoming oasis in the garden. They provide medicine for humans. There are a number of ways to utilize homegrown medicinal herbs from the garden.
Stocking the home apothecary is a rewarding process which is fun, affordable, and beneficial to our health. Herbs can be easily dried and placed into labeled jars. Tinctures, tea blends, oil infusions, and salves are great herbal remedies to have on hand.
Herbal elixirs and herbal infusions are one of my favorite ways to use herbs. They really embody the essence of an herb through flavor, aroma, energetics and the effect the herb has on the mind, body, and spirit. Historically, herbal elixirs were used medicinally, as a pleasant way to treat a variety of ailments. Essentially, herbal elixirs involve steeping medicinal herbs in honey or, maple syrup, sometimes combining them with brandy or other alcohol, or fermenting them, such as medicinal meads.
Store bought beverages contain a large number of sugars, added sweeteners, artificial flavors, and additives. It’s easy to replace unhealthy beverages with delicious herbal infusions and elixirs.
Basic Herbal Elixir
Simply combine equal parts of herbal honey and herbal tincture. Fill a pint jar with medicinal herbs of your choice. Pour 1/3 pint of honey over the herbs, covering them all the way. Pour brandy over herbs and honey to fill the jar. Place a plastic lid on the jar and shake well. Place on a small plate to prevent leakage. Store in a dark cupboard for about a month. Strain the herbs. Enjoy the elixir 2 ounces at a time. Keep refrigerated to preserve longevity.
Herbal-infused Waters and Cold Herbal Infusions
Basic herbal infusion
An herbal infusion is created by simply steeping fresh herbs in water. Cold water infusions can be made using cold water infusions in the summer. Fruit can be added to the infusion to boost flavor and add electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals.
Cucumber Mint Water
Being out in the sun for extended lengths leaves us dehydrated and thirsty. I try to keep the farm crew hydrated with refreshing infused herbal water creations such as cucumber mint, strawberry fennel dandelion, and lemon balm with citrus fruit. The one that cools us off the most is cucumber mint.
Cucumbers are loaded with B vitamins and electrolytes. Mint has a cooling effect on the body and is good for temperature regulation. Mint also has antiviral properties and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Mint has been used throughout history to treat such ailments as headaches, liver complaints, digestive problems and colds.
Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add one sliced cucumber and 3 sprigs of mint. Let the cucumber and mint infuse in the water for at least 30 minutes.
Raspberry, Raspberry Leaf and Red Clover
Red raspberry leaf and red clover both help to promote women’s health, to tone the uterus and to reduce menstrual cramps, symptoms of PMS and hot flashes during menopause.
Fill a 1 quart Mason jar with purified water. Add 4 tablespoons of fresh red raspberry leaves, 2 tablespoons of red clover and ½ cup of raspberries.
Watermelon + Mint
Watermelon and mint are a refreshing combination for a hot summer day. Mint has a cooling effect on the body and is good for temperature regulation. Mint also has antiviral properties and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Mint has been used throughout history to treat such ailments as headaches, liver complaints, digestive problems and colds.
Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and high in vitamin C and manganese. Fennel is nutrient-rich and aids in digestion and stomach upsets. Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add 3 chopped strawberries and 3 sprigs of fresh fennel. Infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and high in vitamin C and manganese. Dandelions are vitamin- and nutrient-rich, boosting immunity. Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add 3 chopped strawberries and 10 dandelions. Infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Blackberries are rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are an excellent source of vitamin C. Sage is vitamin- and nutrient-rich and is a good lung tonic.
Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add ½ cup of fresh blackberries and 1 sprig of fresh sage. Infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Lavender Mixed Berry
Soothing and refreshing, rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidant-rich. Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water, mixed berries and lavender. Infuse for at least 30 minutes.
Soothing and relaxing.
Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add 2 sprigs of lavender and 10 chamomile flowers. Let the herbs infuse for about an hour before enjoying.
St. John’s Wort
Uplifting and mood-enhancing.
Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add 1 ounce of fresh St. John’s wort, leaves and flowers. Infuse herbs for about an hour before enjoying.
Purple Basil, Apple Mint, Echinacea, Tulsi
Uplifting, immune building, cooling, soothing, refreshing, overall health and well-being tonic. Fill a 1-quart Mason jar with purified water. Add 1 sprig each of purple basil, apple mint and tulsi. Add one echinacea flower or 1 tbsp of echinacea root. Let the herbs infuse for about an hour before enjoying.
Lemon Balm Herbal Lemonade
Lemon balm produces a very delightful herbal lemonade. Makes 2.5 gallons
Infuse 1 bunch of mint and 1 small bunch of lemon balm in 1 gallon of purified water and let steep for 30 to 60 minutes.
Add ½ dropper-full of liquid stevia extract. Add 1 cup of organic lemon juice concentrate. Add 3 sliced organic lemons. Add ½ bag of ice. Garnish with fresh herbs (mint, lemon balm, rosemary) and edible flowers. Add echinacea and St. John’s wort.
Nutrient-rich lemonade is high in vitamins and minerals, helps to cool the body and boost immunity and is an uplifting tonic.
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