“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I Peter 4:10
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I Peter 4:10
Fall is a great time to harvest herbs for a variety of uses and also a great time for sharing “The Uses of Herbs” with local groups, first at Deltona Regional Library on August 18th and then at BELONG, a Christian Women’s Community Outreach Group, on September 8th.
First we talked about the definition of an herb - any plant valued for not only its medicinal value as was true in the past, but also currently for culinary, tea, aroma as well as economic and industrial uses such as dyes, pesticides and cloth. In addition technically the term “herb” refers to the leaves fresh or dried (peppermint) and the term “spice” refers to the other plant parts such as seeds (cardamom), roots (ginger), fruit (rosehips), flower (chamomile) or bark (cinnamon)! Some have distinct names for the parts of the plant such as dill weed (leaves) and dill seed (seeds), but some even have different names for the same plant parts such as cilantro (leaves) and coriander (seeds).
Next, we took a look at the herbal harvest. The most important tip about harvesting herbs is to harvest before 11:00 am when all the nutrients and flavorful oils have moved to the top leaves. After harvesting, herbs can be preserved in a variety of ways depending on how you plan to use them. They can be dried by hanging in bunches, spreading on screens, in an oven with only the light on or in a dehydrator if you are fortunate enough to have one and then stored as whole as possible, away from sunlight. They also can be frozen whole in baggies or chopped in water or oil in an old-fashioned ice cube trays to use in sauces, soups and stews! Finally, they can be made into herbal products for a variety of uses for culinary, tea, aroma and health to bless yourself and others.
Finally we took a closer look at a baker’s dozen of my favorites that have been chosen by the International Herb Society as “Herb of the Year” including this year’s choice of Savory. The IHA is a professional trade association providing educational, service and development opportunities for those involved in herbal endeavors. The Herb of the Year is chosen based on being outstanding in at least two of the three major categories: medicinal, culinary, or decorative.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – 2000
CULINARY - used sparingly with greens, meat, marinades & potatoes plus combines well with orange & cranberry
TEA - piney, pungent yet comforting
AROMA - moth repellant & fireplace incense
MOTH AWAY BAG: Simply combine equal amounts of patchouli, mugwort, cedar chips, lavender, chamomile and rosemary and then place in muslin bags or fabric sachets for drawers and closets
HEALTH - refresh & stimulates in bath, strengthens memory & increases circulation
BASIL (Ocimum basilicum) – 2003
CULINARY - pesto, tomato dishes plus flavored basils for cookies/jellies
TEA - spicy clove-like scent for a soothing after dinner tea
AROMA – symbolizes best wishes in language of herbs
HEALTH - aids digestion, expels gas and fresh leaves reduce itching and inflammation of insect bites
OREGANO/MARJORAM (Origanum spp) – 2005
CULINARY - Oregano - Pizza herb, tomato sauces, strong cheeses
Marjoram – Sweet with peaches & savory dishes with beans and corn
TEA - Marjoram was a favorite tea in England before Eastern teas imported
AROMA – Oregano for dried flower arrangements & moth repellant
Marjoram symbolizes joy/happiness in the language of herbs
HEALTH – Oregano has highest antioxidant activity of all herbs
Marjoram - high in vitamin K for bones
GARLIC HERB SALT
1 bulb garlic
1Tbs black peppercorns or 1tsp turmeric
24oz sea salt
Wash & dry herbs. Let rest. Peel and chop garlic fine then put into a food processor. Add the herbs and the peppercorns/turmeric a little at a time until they are chopped fine. Slowly add the salt. The salt will begin to dry out the herb paste. When it is mostly dry and a suitable size, spread onto waxed paper and let dry overnight. Place back in food processor after dry to create a finer salt and store in airtight container. Rub on meat or poultry before grilling.
FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare) – 1995
CULINARY - Edible from top to bottom – leaves (fish), seeds & pollen (sausage), stalks or bulbs (a vegetable)
2c white wine vinegar
1/2c fennel leaves
1Tbs fennel seeds
Heat vinegar, but DO NOT BOIL. Place in sterile glass bottle with herbs, add lid and store in dark location for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily. Strain vinegar in cheesecloth and/or coffee filter. Put fresh herb/spice into sterilized bottle if desired, add vinegar and seal.
TEA - fennel seed tea has a anise/licorice flavor and is warming & refreshing
AROMA - essential oil is used to create perfume, repel fleas and as a skin cleanser
HEALTH -seeds chewed to sweeten breath, as an appetite suppressant & digestive aid
THYME (Thymus spp) – 1997
CULINARY - good substitute for salt, a basis for bouquet garni, and used to flavor butter for vegetables as well as cookies
1 stick butter
1tsp fresh lemon juice
1Tbs fresh lemon thyme
Chop herbs and combine with butter & lemon juice – refrigerate. May be wrapped and frozen
TEA – add honey and lemon to thyme tea which is a favorite of the fairies
AROMA - insect repellant used to scent and preserve linens
HEALTH - contains thymol for healing, antiseptic, and eliminates infection so great for soaks for athlete’s foot and sore muscles
CULINARY – spearmint for jellies (orange), sauces (lamb), vegetables (minted peas)
ORANGE MINT HONEY
2-4 sprigs of fresh orange mint
Place herbs and honey in a saucepan and heat (do not boil) for 2 minutes then steep for 1 mins. Strain to remove herbs, then place in a sterilized jar.
TEA – peppermint for a refreshing after dinner or ice tea
AROMA - invigorating long fragrance in potpourri, sachets, bath blends plus repels mice
HEALTH - stomach soother/digestive aid and soothes tired feet/ reduces swelling
LAVENDER (Lavendula spp) - 1999
CULINARY - edible flower used sparingly in cookies, lemonade & blends
1tsp edible lavender buds
1 cup white granulated sugar
Combine sugar with lavender for at least 24hrs, then use in recipe with buds, grind in food processor for sprinkling on cookies or strain for use in tea.
LAVENDER-LEMON BUTTER COOKIES: Cream 1c butter and 1c lavender sugar, and then add 1 egg plus 1tsp lemon zest and mix well. Add 2½c flour and 1tsp baking soda, then 1tsp lemon juice. Roll into two logs, wrap & refrigerate overnight. Slice, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 10 mins.
TEA –delicate, pale-green tea with a slightly sweet, mild floral taste that is great as an accent in tea blends
AROMA - flowers and leaves used in potpourri, sachets and wreaths plus the fragrance lowers stress, blood pressure & headaches
HEALTH - antiseptic, stimulating & cleansing in soaps plus oil stops itching of insect bites
CULINARY – pungent lemony flavor for stuffing, sausage, meats, cheeses and cranberries
8Tbs dry mustard
3Tbs brown sugar or honey
3Tbs rubbed fresh sage or 3tsp dried
1Tbs fresh marjoram or 1tsp dried
Mix first four ingredients together and add enough vinegar to make a smooth paste. Add herbs. Store in sterilized covered jars, refrigerate and let set at least 1 week before use. Use within 3 months. Great with sausages and on turkey sandwiches!
TEA - full bodied, highly aromatic tea
AROMA – highly aromatic for herb wreaths with silvery leaves plus in potpourri and dried pineapple sage flowers have no fragrance but retain their red color for years
HEALTH - antiseptic for sore throat, astringent/deep cleansing/facial steam plus whitens teeth and colors grey hair!
SCENTED GERANIUM (Pelargonium spp) - 2006
CULINARY - edible flowers and leaves used as flavoring agent especially in cakes and jellies
ROSE GERANIUM JELLY
2c apple juice
Fresh rose geranium leaves
1/4c cider vinegar
3oz liquid pectin
Bring juice to a boil, pour over herbs and steep 30 mins. Strain and return to pan, add sugar and vinegar. Boil until sugar dissolves, stir in pectin and boil 1 minute. Cool slightly, skim off foam, and pour into jars and water-process for 10 mins.
TEA - rose geranium leaves have an interesting, light flavor plus may be added to tea, for example a ginger scented leaf for a little spicy zing!
AROMA - leaves added to potpourri & sachets and used in making perfume plus as a mosquito repellant
HEALTH - astringent for facials or baths
LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis) - 2007
CULINARY - substitute for lemon zest and as an addition to lemon juice in any recipe
TEA - light lemony-mint flavor used alone or blended with other herbals
AROMA - long-lasting citrusy fragrance to potpourriHEALTH - slightly sedative used to treat anxiety, nervous headaches and insomnia
CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis) - 2008
CULINARY - edible petals used as saffron substitute for adding more color than flavor to savory and sweet recipes
TEA - mild citrus flavor added to lemony blends for color
AROMA - showy blooms for potpourri
HEALTH – called organic iodine invaluable in first-aid/skin lotions/ointments for inflammation, soothe burns and heal minor cuts/abrasions plus one of the richest sources of carotenoids
HONEY & LEMON TEA
3Tbs honeybush tea
1Ths lemon myrtle
1Tbs lemon balm
1Tbs lemon verbena
2tsp calendula petals
Combine all ingredients and place in a sealed container. To use: add boiling water to 1tsp for a cup or 1 heaping tablespoon for a pot, brew 5-10 minutes, strain and enjoy. May be served hot or iced.
BAY (Laurus nobilis) - 2009
CULINARY - brings together other flavors, giving them depth and richness plus added to pasta water with salt to break down starch
BOUQUET GARNI: a bundle of aromatic herbs tied with string and contained 2 or 3 sprigs of parsley, one sprig of thyme and a bay leaf
TEA - soothing blend of balsam and honey with hints of spice, citrus, mint which is soothing to the stomach
AROMA - deter roaches around drains, in storage container to repel weevils
HEALTH - relieves aches/pains in hot bath or refreshes as a facial steam
SAVORY (Satureja spp) - 2015
CULINARY - peppery flavor for salt-restricted diets
VEGGIES & MORE BLEND
1Tbs minced onion
1Tbs garlic granules
1 1/2tsp dill
1 1/2tsp chervil
Combine the dried herbs and place in a sealed jar out of sunlight.
TEA - Summer savory leaves are best for tea
AROMA - tossed on fire or use for smudging to create an aromatic disinfectant
FIRESTARTER: Simply wrap an empty toilet paper roll with newspaper and stuff with herbs!
HEALTH – crushed sprig relieves bee stings and is a powerful antiseptic in ointments for minor rash and skin irritations
Links have been provided for more information on the individual herbs, an earlier presentation plus to the available herbal product instructions not provided.