By RightWingMom, our Skill of the Month editor
Whether culinary or medicinal, having the skill set to grow and properly store your own herbs could be well worth your time and effort. From a few pots growing on an apartment balcony to a designated section of the most serious gardeners’ tilled property, anyone can practice this skill.
Most of the herbs used to enhance the flavors of our favorite foods are the easiest to preserve. Start small by choosing a couple of herbs you already use, such as basil, oregano, cilantro, etc. These common herbs can be found as starter plants at your local garden center. You can also add to your skill set by growing them from seeds.
- Choose the best location for your herbs. Read the label or package for sunlight suggestions.
- Once the plants mature, harvest by cutting near the base. Leave enough of your plant so it will continue to grow.
- Rinse thoroughly!
- Cluster your herb into a bouquet. (Personally, I place a rubber band around the base then attach the bouquet, upside down, to my kitchen window curtain rod with a wooden clothes pin.) Keep in mind that your herb needs to dry in a low sunlight area with good ventilation.
- A food dehydrator can also be used for faster results. The Sun Oven package comes with dehydrating trays and doesn’t require any electricity.
- Once completely dry, simply store in a clean container away from sunlight. I find old pickle, jelly, spaghetti sauce, and Mason jars perfect storage containers. Your herbs can be gently hand crushed or placed in a coffee grinder to produce a powder. Most culinary herbs will keep their flavors for up to 1 year when stored in a cool, dark, and dry environment.
- If you’ll be drying herbs on a regular basis, be sure to use a rotation system for their use by using the herbs that have been on the shelf longest first.
Home Remedies / Medicinal
Many herbs can serve dual purposes. For example, mint can be culinary as well as medicinal. There are many herbs that can help maintain your health and treat minor ailments. One of my personal favorites is making my own Tummy Mint Tea. This has become a family favorite and is wonderful in settling an upset stomach.
Tummy Mint Tea
1 dried chamomile bloom
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. dried stevia
Simmer herbs in 8 – 10 oz. of water for 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
(Local honey can be substituted for stevia for added health benefits. Add after tea is brewed.)
Use caution and do your research before practicing medicinal or home remedy herbs. Many can be used for basic ailments like upset stomach, tension relief, immune boosting, and mucus control.
Processing medicinal herbs can also be more involved. From drying them and making simple teas to tinctures, salves, compresses, and essential oils…using herbs for health reasons becomes more complex. The processes are not difficult and the benefits can be significant!
Practice now so that if/when there is a societal collapse, you will be able to:
- Add amazing flavors to your stockpiled beans and rice.
- Treat your family’s basic medical needs.
A few sources for further research:
Home Remedies / Medicinal:
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