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[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 111 – Making Herbal Infusions with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Last week I talked about making and blending herbal teas with kids.

This week I’d like to teach you about another water infusion with herbs known simply as herbal infusions.

While teas involve a few teaspoons to tablespoons of herbs steeped in water for under 30 minutes, an infusion uses a larger amount of herbs and a much longer steep time to produce a more medicinal beverage.

Why herbal infusions?

Like herbal teas, herbal infusions help to bring out the water soluble constituents of herbs, including vitamins and minerals, making a strong beverage that can be helpful for relieving chronic conditions.

For instance, Stinging Nettles is an herb that is well known for his use for seasonal allergies.

When drank consistently over a course of several months, or longer, Stinging Nettles has been known to reduce and even eliminate the body’s histamine reaction to allergens, making hay fever misery a thing of the past.

Herbal infusions are supportive of our body systems, strengthening and toning them over time.

Many herbs can be used for herbal infusions, depending on the need. Linden, Hawthorne, Plantain, Milky Oats, Stinging Nettles, Red Clover, Chickweed, Cleavers, Holy Basil, Chamomile, and mints are just a few of the more commonly used herbs.

Typically, one herb is steeped at a time but sometimes they are mixed together for an infusion.

How are infusions made?

Unlike a tea that requires a small amount of herb, infusions require larger amounts of herb to be an effective remedy.

A general rule of thumb is 1 cup of herb for every quart of water.

Some herbalists choose to do 1 ounce of herb per quart and I encourage you to experiment and compare to see what works best for you.

I generally made a half gallon at a time.

I place 2 cups of dried herb into a half gallon jar and then add a large metal serving spoon to the jar to help dissipate the heat when the boiling water is poured in.

This is not required but it does help to pull some of the heat away from the glass jar to prevent it from cracking.

I’ve had a few jars crack over the years, even with a metal spoon in them and I suspect the jars were old and the glass had gotten brittle or weakened over time as I am pretty rough on them (I also used them to store goat milk in the freezer so they were going between extreme temperatures constantly).

The crack was nothing spectacular, no shattering, just a pop and then a line shooting up the side of the jar and I knew I needed to grab a pot to quickly pick it up and put it in before it fell apart and boiling water ran everywhere.

But I digress!

Pour boiling water into the jar to the top, stirring the herbs to saturate them with the water as you fill.

The stirring can be a great activity for the kids to do while you pour the boiling water, just remind them the water is hot, and so is the jar, and to use caution so they don’t get burnt.

Once the jar is filled with the water, I let the jar sit for the next 4-10 hours, depending on the herb.

Most herbs I leave in for 8 hours but some herbs, such as Chamomile, do not need to steep as long.

After the steep time, strain off the herbs and compost them.

Cap your jar and store it in the refrigerator.

Infusions will last in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, sometimes longer.

I often make several different infusions at the beginning of the week then use them up over the course of the week without any problems.

Observe the flavor, color and smell when you place it in the fridge, and each day after and you’ll know when it goes off.

For instance, after infusing Stinging Nettles, the infusion generally turns a deep, almost thick, greenish brown color.

It will stay that way until it goes off, and then it turns a translucent light brown color.

The flavor drastically changes as well.

You’ll want to drink 1-2 cups (8-16 ounces) of your infusion daily.

Depending on their age and weight, kids can drink 1/4-1 cup daily.

The great thing about infusions is they are very safe and okay for larger amounts to be consumed.

So don’t fret if your child finds they love the flavor of an infusion and want to drink several cups in a day.

How to use infusions

So now that you’ve made a few infusions, now what?

Infusions are very versatile as a beverage and remedy.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to make several infusions to have on hand for the week.

Typically I will infuse individual half gallons of Stinging Nettles, Milky Oats, and a rotation of a third infusion such as Linden, Hawthorne, Plantain, or Red Clover.

Then, throughout the week, I’ll drink what my body craves.

Sometimes I’ll drink more than one in a day. For instance, since Stinging Nettles is mildly energizing, I might have a 16 ounce glass of that in the morning as a booster for my day.

Then, when the afternoon or evening rolls around, I might pour myself 16 ounces of Milky Oats or Linden, both of which are calming.

The temperature of infusions can be altered to suit your needs as well. Experiment with drinking your infusions cold, warm, and at room temperature as temperature variation can alter the flavor a bit but doesn’t change the medicinal aspects.

Ten Herbs that make great infusions and their benefits

I mentioned a variety of herbs that are great for herbal infusions.

I also mentioned that some herbs infuse quicker than others.

Another consideration is flavor.

Some herbs such as Linden and Milky Oats are naturally mild and sweet, while others such as Plantain, and Stinging Nettles can take some getting used to.

You might find some herbs taste better if you add a pinch of a more flavorful herb such as Spearmint to them, over even sea salt, or a dollop of honey.

The following list is a run down of ten herbs that make great infusions, why they are often used, their typical steep time, and some flavor enhancement suggestions.

Chamomile

Steep time:  2-4 hours

Flavor enhancement: This brew becomes very bitter, which is part of the medicine, but a small spoonful of honey may help it to go down

Use: A strong infusion of Chamomile is bitter! This herbal infusion is great for digestive issues and helping to dissolve and move stones.

Chickweed

Steep time: 4-6 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some people find a teaspoon of Peppermint or Spearmint added during the steep enhances the flavor

Energetic level: Energizing

Use: This is a great pick-me-up for that afternoon slump time. Drink 8-16 ounces after lunchtime to aid in digestion and to keep your mind alert for the afternoon. Chickweed can also assist with weight loss, when combined with proper diet and exercise.

Hawthorne

Steep time: 6-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some prefer to add a spoonful of honey to sweeten

Use: Hawthorne is a great cardiac support herb. Adding herbal infusions of Hawthorne to your weekly routine can help to strengthen and tone the heart.

Holy Basil

Steep time: 4-8 hours

Flavor enhancement: Fairly pleasant and none needed

Energetic level: Relaxing to nervous system, can be stimulating to the brain

Use: Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is supportive to the nervous system. Use this infusion when you need to relax and focus on a task.

Linden

Steep time: 6-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Fairly pleasant and none needed

Energetic level: Relaxing

Use: Linden is another great cardiac and nervous system supportive herb. The flavor is mild and many children find it enjoyable to drink, making it a great infusion to give to children who tend to be wound up and need calming support.

Milky Oats

Steep time: 6-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Fairly pleasant and none needed

Energetic level: Relaxing

Use: Milky Oats contains lots of great minerals like calcium, which are supportive to a strong skeletal system. This herb is also beneficial to the nervous system, helping to sooth and calm frazzled nerves.

Peppermint and Spearmint

Steep time: 2-6 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some prefer to add a spoonful of honey to sweeten

Energetic level: Strongly energizing

Use: Peppermint is a swift kick to the brain and is very energizing. Those coming off their morning cup of joe may find replacing it with a cup of infused peppermint to be the perfect replacement. Kids will most likely prefer Spearmint as it is milder and sweeter, the perfect balance for them. Peppermint and Spearmint both are great for the digestive system.

Plantain – Plantago lanceolata

Plantain

Steep time: 4-6 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some people find a teaspoon of Peppermint or Spearmint added during the steep enhances the flavor

Energetic level: Mildy energizing

Use: Plantain is great for so many things! This herb is very soothing and healing to the digestive system

Red Clover

Steep time: 6-8 hours

Flavor enhancement: I find the flavor to be great as is, but some prefer to add a spoonful of honey to sweeten

Energetic level: Mildy energizing

Use: Red Clover is very supportive of the female reproductive system and can help to nourish and tonify it. Red Clover is also considered to be useful for preventing and fighting cancer.

Stinging Nettles

Steep time: 8-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some people find a pinch of sea salt added at the end enhances the flavor

Energetic level: Energizing

Use: Stinging Nettles is energizing, helping to support the adrenals and lessen fatigue. This herb contains many vitamins and minerals which are extracted in infusions. Stinging Nettles also helps to calm the histamine response, lessening the body’s reaction to allergens and is supportive to a strong skeletal system.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the herbs that can be infused! Play around with herbs that you like, starting with a 2 hour infusion and working up to an 8 hour infusion to find that herbal infusion sweet spot.

Do you use herbal infusions? What are your favorite herbs to infuse?

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 110 – Making Herbal Teas with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

One of the cornerstones of herbal medicine is herbal tea. It’s probably something that is familiar to you, perhaps you’ve had a cup of chamomile tea to soothe a stomach ache, or a cup of peppermint tea for nausea, or even a warming, spicy cup of ginger tea for fighting off a cold.

Today I’m going to talk tea with you.

Why Tea?

Teas work well with children for a variety of reasons: they are often pleasant tasting, making them easy to consume; they provide a gentle dose of herbal medicine; and they are a great way to introduce herbs to adults and children alike who may not be familiar with using herbs as medicine.

Teas are easy to make and can be easily adapted depending your needs from it. Not just for drinking, teas can be used externally as herbal washes for cleansing wounds or soaked into a cloth to apply to sprains and strains as a compress. They can even be frozen to use as a skin soother or made into popsicles for cooling your children off from the hot, summer sun or a hot, wintery fever.

There are a variety of ways to make teas and I will go over some of those today. Next week I’ll talk about herbal infusions, which are another great way of utilizing herbs.

What is a tea?

Technically, a tea is made with a green or black tea but has become a common name used for all sorts of drinks using plants, just as “kleenex” has become a common name for tissue. Herbal teas are also known as tisanes or diffusions. Like a green or black tea, herbs are added to hot water using a tea bag, tea ball, or muslin bag and steeped for 15-30 minutes. Generally 1-2 teaspoons of dried or 3-4 teaspoons of fresh herb are used though sometimes larger amounts are called on. We make a tisane when using stems, leaves, and/or flowers.

If you want to make a tea out of harder materials such as barks, seeds, or roots, a decoction is made. 1-4 tablespoons of dried herb are simmered for 20-45 minutes to help extract the medicinal constituents from the harder plant materials.

Blending herbs together for tea

Making your own teas is a lot of fun! Kids love this process and it’s a great way for them to explore and learn about the uses of herbs.

Create a tea blending session by pouring some herbs into individual bowls. Think about the blend you are trying to create. For instance, if you want to make a nice digestive blend, set out bowls of chamomile, lavender, peppermint or spearmint, dried ginger, sage, rosemary, thyme, plantain, calendula, and fennel.

For the most part, you will want to keep your teas sorted by tisane (leaves, flowers, stems) blends or decoction (roots, seeds, barks) blends but adding a bit of decoction herbs to a tea blend is fine, just know that they may not be as strong, depending on the herb. Both ginger and fennel are pretty flavorful and will still come through in a tisane.

Get a larger bowl to use as your mixing bowl and let your kids dive in. Encourage them to smell each herb, and even taste a piece of it. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make a small batch of tea for each individual herb to sample.

Match flavors that are similar but don’t be afraid to combine new flavors together. Add some of the more pleasant tasting herbs such as mint or chamomile in with less flavorful herbs such as the calendula and plantain.

Be sure to write down the amounts of each that you mix together. Try combining 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of each herb you’re adding. Again, you might want to make a sample brew before mixing together larger quantities. This will allow you to tweak the recipe without having to commit to a large amount of blend.

Once you’ve hit a blend you like, store it in a labeled jar. You should list all the herbs in the tea, what the tea is for, and how to make the tea.

Keeping a tea journal

Keep a tea journal that lists all your experiments, adjustments, final recipe and any taste notes, especially if you have picky children! If one likes the tea but another doesn’t, make a note of that and try to find out which herb they are not liking so you can adjust the flavor accordingly. Lastly, be sure to write down any observable results. This can be as simple as “it helped our tummy ache go away quickly” or “it took two cups of tea to help me feel better”.

You can use a journal for this, or print off our free 2 page printable for each tea recipe and add them to a three ring binder. You can slide the two together in a clear plastic sleeve for quick future reference that will stay dry while being used – just pull it out of the binder while you are referring to it, then tuck it back in when you are finished!

Variations

Once you have a tea blend you like, the sky’s the limit! You can make your blend and serve it hot or cold, pour it into popsicle molds to use on hot, summer days or when your child is running a fever, or sweeten it to make into a syrup for soothing sore throats.

You can make ice cubes out of blends made for skin ailments such as sunburns, insect stings, or sprains and strains.

I hope this gives you inspiration to create tea blends with your kids! they are fun and easy to make and kids love them.

Do you use herbal teas? Do you blend your own? Tell me in comments what your favorite herbal blend is!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 109 – Candied Mint Leaves

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Got mint?! Besides harvesting and drying them for tea, chopping and adding them to salads, and freezing them in ice cubes, candied mint leaves are a great way to use them up! This is a delightful treat to make with your abundance of mint leaves! You can use any kind of mint – Peppermint, Spearmint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, and Bee Balm leaves are just a few that taste great candied.

These can help to soothe upset stomaches, freshen breath, or use to decorate cupcakes.

To make the candied leaves, you will need:

Fresh mint leaves, clean and dry
1 egg white
Granulated sugar

Fresh peppermint leaves, an egg, white sugar, and a fork on a wooden cutting board

2 bowls
1 spoon
1 fork
1 whisk or fork
Waxed or parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Tin or glass jar to store them in

Start by whisking the egg white until it is bubbly.

Dip the leaves one by one in the egg white then in the sugar. Using a spoon to help coat the herbs makes it easier to cover them well.

Peppermint leaves covered with egg white and sugar, ready for the oven

Place the herbs on the wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Place in a warm oven (around 225 degrees) and dry gently for about 20-60 minutes or until completely dry (this can take a lot longer when it’s more humid).

Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once they are dry and brittle, store them in between layers of waxed/parchment paper in a tin or glass jar.

Candied Peppermint leaves in a wooden bowl

 

Peppermint leaves covered with egg white and sugar, ready for the oven

Candied Mint Leaves

Use up some of your mint leaves to create a delicious candied treat that can soothe upset stomachs, freshen the breath, and decorate cupcakes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr

Ingredients
  

  • Mint leaves
  • 1 Egg white
  • Granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Whisk the egg white until it is bubbly.
  • Dip the leaves one by one in the egg white then in the sugar. Using a spoon to help coat the herbs makes it easier to cover them well.
  • Place the herbs on the wax paper covered cookie sheet.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven and dry gently for about 30-60 minutes or until completely dry
  • Remove from the oven and cool
  • Once they have cooled and are dry and brittle, store them in between layers of waxed/parchment paper in a tin or glass jar.

 

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 108 – Continuing Herbal Studies with Kids through the Summer

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21st, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Parents are sighing a collective sigh of relief as school concludes for the year.

No more sticking to a schedule, dealing with online meetings and Google classroom.

No more worrying about getting your kids to finish their assignments and trying to figure out if all the assignments were accounted for.

At the same time, you may be asking yourself – now what?!

Yes, the school year is complete but now summer is here. And with summer generally comes summertime activities such as sports, swim lessons, play dates, and more.

Unfortunately, many of us are still being restricted to stay at home so summer camps, group outings, and summertime curriculums are all gone for the moment.

What can we do to entertain our kids now? Or at the least, to guide them into a pattern of curiosity and learning when they can’t join in a group activity that helps to foster that.

I’m going to give you some ideas on how to get your kids outdoors and into nature for this summer! And at the end of this article, I have a free gift coming up for the month of June that you’re going to love.

School’s out, now what?

With the weather warming up and many states going into different phases, outdoor time is becoming more available. Whether you can head out to a park or just explore your back yard, here are some fun things that can be done to learn about the plants that grow around you.

I’m going to add lots of links here to free articles and printables that I’ve created in the past that can help you out.

1. If your child loves flowers, they might enjoy keeping a record of when each herb blooms. They could do this in their own journal or you can print off my Herbal Bloom Chart for them to fill out.

2. Go outside and see what plants you can find! You can start off with my free Spring Scavenger Hunt printable or if your child is into making lists, try Building Your Backyard Herb List

3. If your child likes to study one thing at a time, consider picking a herbal mascot – one plant to study for a week, month, season, or year. You can read more about how to Choose Your Own Herbal Mascot and print off my free Herbal Mascot printable. Use the Herbal Profile Template printable to write down more in depth information about your herbal mascot.

4. Does your child enjoy reading? I’ve listed some fun herbal story books that can help to pique their interest in herbs. Read all about Summertime Reading and Herbaling and how to use these books to learn more about the herbs they talk about.

5. Simply take your child outside to play! Natural Outdoor Play is a Gateway to Herbal Learning and being outside will encourage their natural curiosity to learn about what they discover when they are outdoors.

6. If your state allows for small gatherings, consider Throwing Your Own Herbal Party to get your friends involved in herbs. When it’s a shared activity, kids often get even more excited to learn.

7. Here are 35 Activities for a Screen Free Week which can be incorporated into your daily routine anytime you need to distract your kids from the computer.

As you can see, the ideas for encouraging your child to learn about herbs are limitless! Sometimes the hardest part is just getting them outdoors – once that happens, nature takes over and does the rest!

June 30 Day Challenge

Are you like me and need a bit of extra encouragement or motivation to engage your kids?

I feel ya!

It’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone!

That’s why in June, I am offering a free 30 day challenge to give inspiration daily on learning about herbs together with your child.

Every day in June, I’ll send out a quick little email giving you a tip/challenge to incorporate some herbal learning into your day – activities that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour – that will help to encourage you and your child to explore herbalism at your own pace.

For extra motivation, I’m even going to be offering a free gift to the person who participates the most in the challenge!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 107 – The Uses of Yarrow

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Do you have Yarrow growing in your garden and you’re curious about its medicinal properties? Read on to learn all about this lovely perennial herb.

The Basics of Yarrow

Yarrow’s botanical name is Achillea millefolium. She is a member of the Asteraceae family, the Aster subfamily, and the Chamomile, or Anthemideae tribe. Yarrow is found in Europe and Asia. Sources vary on whether Yarrow is native or naturalized in America. According to one source, there are 10 varieties of A. millefolium that are native to the United States. In all, there are about 500 varieties of Yarrow worldwide.

Yarrow is a spreading, clumping perennial that grows from rhizome root that is covered in fibrous roots. Growth starts out as a basal rosette, with leaves spiraling around.

Feathery leaves grow 2-8 inches (5-20 cm) in length, can be bipinnate or tripinnate, a deep green, often with pale petioles that can be red tinged near the base. Leaves are pubescent, another word for hairy.

In mid to late spring, alternate leafed stalks grow from the base with inflorescences at the end, growing to a height of 6-36 inches (0.2-1 m). Each inflorescence has 4-9 translucent bracts with clusters of 15-40 disk flowers and 3-8 ray flowers. Ray flowers vary from white to pale pink, with cultivars ranging in “hot” colors of red, pink, orange, and yellow.

Fruits are achene-like cypselae, are dry, one-seeded and surrounded by a calyx sheath.

The Native Americans rated Yarrow as one of their most important herbs and with good reason,  Yarrow has many uses, which we’ll talk about in a little bit.

Energetics, Nutrition, and Constituents (oh My!)

Let’s start off with an experiment. Do you have Yarrow growing in your garden? If so, break off a piece of the leaf and flower and chew them one at a time. What tastes come to mind when you chew them? Bitter? Pungent? A hint of sweetness? How does your mouth feel? Does it cool down? Dry up? Yarrow is generally described as bitter, pungent (or acrid), sometimes sweet, cooling and drying. The aerial parts of Yarrow are used for medicine, including the flowers, stems, and leaves.

Nutritionally, it might surprise to learn that Yarrow has quite a bit to offer. She contains average amounts of dietary fiber, carbohydrates and protein, and low amounts of fat. She also contains vitamins A, C, E, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), inositol (B8), calcium, choline. chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, tin, and zinc.

Yarrow contains many constituents including amino acids: asparagen; coumarins, essential oils: proazulene, azulene, borneol, camphor, cineole, eugenol, linalool, pinene, sabinene, and thujone; flavonoids: achillein, apigenin, luteolin, quercitin; acids: formic acid, isovalerianic acid, salicylic acid; polyacteylenes, sterols, and tannins.

The Medicinal Actions of Yarrow

Medicinally, Yarrow is analgesic, anodyne, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hemostatic, hepatic, hypotensive, nerve relaxant, odontalgic, parturient, stimulant, stomachic, styptic, sudorific, tonic, urinary antiseptic, urinary decongestant, uterine stimulant, vasodilator and vulnerary. Is there anything Yarrow can’t do?!

Let’s take a look at what all this means…

Diaphoretic means she helps the body to sweat, which is helpful when trying to break a fever. Yarrow is great for helping to reduce fevers through sweating. Yarrow is also considered to be a febrifuge, another word for fever lowering. A tea of Yarrow flowers and leaves is usually taken to reduce fevers. See the recipe section for a herbal blend that is great for fevers.

Hypotensive refers to lowering the blood pressure indicating she is good for helping people who have high blood pressure. Yarrow is also considered a vasodilator, helping to open blood vessels which can also help to lower blood pressure and increase circulation.Yarrow is best combined with some other herbs such as hawthorn and linden flowers.

Previously, we learned that an astringent herb is drying in nature and generally contains tannins, causing a local contraction of the skin, blood vessels and other tissues, thereby stopping the discharge of blood, mucus, etc. This makes Yarrow useful in toning blood vessels. Yarrow makes an effective skin cleanser and toner because of the astringency. Yarrow tea made with flowering stems is said to be beneficial to oily skin.

Because Yarrow is a styptic and vulnerary, she is useful for stopping bleeding, just like other herbs such as Plantain and Shepherd’s Purse! During the United States’ Civil War, Yarrow was used to treat wounds and was referred to as Soldier’s Woundwort. Hemostatic is another word used to describe Yarrow’s wound staunching abilities.

An antimicrobial is a fancy word meaning Yarrow kills germs! This makes it perfect for cleansing wounds. Making a tea and washing a wound using Yarrow will help to wash out all the germs and keep the wound from getting infected. This was undoubtably important during the Civil War when Yarrow was used to stop bleeding and cleanse wounds.

Also, we know that an anti-inflammatory reduces heat, redness and swelling associated with inflammation. The next time a cat scratches you, try making a poultice and applying it to the wound. The Yarrow poultice will help the scratch to not swell and become painful.

Diuretics help the body to rid itself of excess fluids by increasing the rate of urine production by the kidneys are diuretics. Yarrow is great to take for cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and other bladder ailments. She helps to flush everything out of the bladder. As a urinary antiseptic and urinary decongestant, Yarrow helps to reduce bladder infections and clear out stagnant urine.

You probably have an idea what bitter means: something that doesn’t taste all that good. In the herb world, a bitter refers to an herb that gets the digestive juices flowing. The tannins that are drying make you think ‘yuck!’ when you drink it and cause your mouth to water. This stimulates the stomach to start digesting.

And finally, the word hepatic. Hepa– refers to the liver. Therefore, Yarrow is good for liver support! Yarrow is great at cleansing and toning the liver!

Yarrow is stimulating to the uterus and should be avoided by pregnant women. Some people do find that Yarrow can cause photosensitivity, dermatitis, headaches, and dizziness. If you are using Yarrow and experience any of these effects, discontinue use.

When choosing Yarrow at a plant nursery, skip the hot pinks, yellows, and other brightly colored flowers as the white flowered plants contain more medicinal value.

Want more ways to incorporate Yarrow into your child’s learning? Check out The Next Step, my year long course that teaches kids how to use herbs medicinally in a fun and engaging way.

Does Yarrow grow in your garden? What is your favorite use for this wonderful plant?

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 6

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’ve been hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening and this is our last week!

I’ve had such a blast that I hope to host some more in the future. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

If you’d like to join us, sign up for my newsletter (the link is on the left and you get a free issue on Cacao for signing up) and I’ll be notifying everyone when the schedule has been set up.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 5

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 106 – Making A Hydrosol With Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Hydrosols are a fun activity that you can make with kids. It’s easy and creates a versatile product that can be used in a variety of ways while capturing the essence of the plant.

What are Hydrosols?

Hydrosols are a product of steaming plant material with water and collecting the resulting scented water that contains the plant’s essential oils.

One example of a hydrosol is Rose water. Rose water was originally made from the damask roses. It has been used for centuries to add flavor to foods and beverages in China, India and the Middle East. It has also been used since ancient times in cosmetics.

Today I’m offering up this simple tutorial so you and your kids can have fun making your own hydrosols at home. Please be careful when making as you have to work with steam. This recipe is for making a Rose hydrosol but you can use this for any aromatic plant including Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender, Elderflower, and Calendula. If you do not have fresh available, you can use dried materials but remember you’ll need quite a bit of dried material to make it.

You will need:

Fresh Rose petals, the more fragrant the better

Clean brick

Enamel Canner with lid

Glass measuring cup

Ice

Ladle

Water (rainwater is best!)

Place the canner on the stove. Add the brick to the middle of the canner and set the glass measuring cup on top of it.

Sprinkle rose petals all around the brick, filling the bottom of the canner to the top of the brick with petals.

Pour enough water to cover the petals and place the lid on upside down so that it curves into the canner instead of right side up.

Turn on heat and bring to a simmer. Add a handful of ice to the lid of the canner and wait about 1 minute.

Carefully remove the lid, setting aside (do not spill the ice water into the canner) and ladle the water inside the glass measuring cup out and pour it into a bottle.

Replace the lid and keep repeating this process for the next 10-20 minutes until the liquid no longer is fragrant.

Bottle your water and label.

Hydrosols should be used fairly quickly. Try to use within 6 months and for longest stability, store in the refrigerator.

Some Uses for Your Hydrosol

Use as a toner on your face after washing

Gargle  as mouthwash

Dabbed on wrists and temples to cool and refreshen

Add 1 Tbsp. to bath water with 1/4 c. powdered milk

Substitute for vanilla in recipes

Mix with glycerin to treat diaper rash

Add to scones and cake recipes for subtle flavor enhancement

Spray into the air for an air freshener

Spray on your pulse points as a natural perfume

Add to lotion or cream recipes in place of water for a subtle scent

Use as a linen spray to freshen your linens

Use as a cleaner

Apply to help clean a wound

Apply to burns

As you can see, hydrosols are very versatile and easy to make! This is a great activity to do with your children while you are learning about herbs.

Do you use hydrosols? Have you ever made any yourself? Share your experiences in the comments!

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 4

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1st, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 105 – Determining Shelf Life

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I get a lot of questions asking about the shelf life of dried herbs and herbal preparations so I thought I’d take time to answer these questions in this week’s newsletter.

If you’ve studied herbs for any length of time, you’ve probably be given numbers for determining the usefulness of herbs. However, it’s important to take into account where you’ve acquired your herbs and preparations before staying with the general ‘rules’ of shelf life.

Leaves, barks, berries, flowers, and seeds

Let’s start with dried herbs. The general rule of thumb is that more delicate plant materials such as leaves and flowers are generally good for 1-2 years. Harder parts such as seeds, barks, and roots last for 3-4 years. This will depend greatly on how they were stored. Keeping them in a cool, dry, dark location will greatly increase their shelf life. Also, where you got your herbs from will make a difference as well. Commercial sources are often already 6 months old by the time you purchase them, if not older. Purchasing from a local grower or growing and drying them yourself will help to extend the shelf life.

To determine if they are still viable or not, use your senses. When you first are packing your herb, take a moment to assess it. What is the color of it? What does it smell like? Taste like? Look like? How does it taste in a tea (if used as such)? Write this information down in a notebook along with when/where you purchased/harvested it and how much you purchased. Then when you are doing inventory, compare notes. Does your dried Calendula still host bright orange and yellow petals or have they faded to a tan? Is the Lemon Balm still lemony when you crush it and smell it? and taste it? Does the tea still taste the same or is it blah? And most importantly, when you make use of it, is it still effective? All of these observations will help you to determine if the plant is ready to be composted or ready to be used.

Tinctures, glycerites, syrups, and vinegars

Tinctures are a bit different in nature. Since the herb is preserved in alcohol, most stay potent indefinitely when stored in a cool, dark location. A few, such as Shepherd’s Purse defy that rule and generally lose their potency after 1 year. Again, try the tincture and see if you get the same results as you did when it was freshly made. If yes, it’s still good, if no, time to compost it.

Herbal vinegars and honeys are similar to tinctures. They generally last indefinitely when stored properly. Keep them in a cool, dark location in your pantry, there is no need to refrigerate them.

Glycerites tend to not hold their value indefinitely. Typically they last for a few years at the most, with many herbalists finding after a year the potency drops significantly. Considering they are less potent to begin with, this can be the difference between an effective herbal remedy and a dud.

Syrups also typically only last for only up to a year, and often only about 6 months. Again, note the taste and smell when you first make it and then once a month, pull your syrups out of the refrigerator and check them. If they smell or taste off, it’s time to compost them.

Oils and salves

Herbal oils and salves generally last 6-12 months, again dependent on how they are stored. I prefer to keep my oils in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. A quick sniff test will let you know if your oil has gone rancid. Again, smell your product and note its scent before storing then smell it each time before using it. When it smells off, it’s time to discard it.

Other factors

Other factors to consider in the storage of your herbs is your location and storage space. For instance, my home is not air conditioned and living in the midwest, we get hot, humid summers. We also do not have central heat, using a wood stove to heat during the damp, cold winters. I store my dried herbs in a cabinet in my office, which can get pretty hot during the summertime and pretty cold in the winter. Because of this, I know my herbs may not last as long as someone who has the humidity and temperatures controlled in their home. Because of this, I make sure to grow and harvest the herbs I need every year or I’ll need to purchase them.

If your only storage location is in your kitchen next to the stove, that will influence the life of your herbs as well.

Annual herbal check-ups

You should try to go through your dried herbs and preparations at least once a year. Personally, I like to do this in the late winter, early spring so that I know what I’ll need to harvest and grow in the upcoming year.

This is a great activity to do with your kids, as it will teach them how to determine if the herbs they are using are still good or not. It also can teach about the cycle of life, and composting your spent herbs is a great way to help close the circle and return the plants to the earth they grew from.

Hopefully this helps you feel more comfortable in the storage and use of your herbs.

Do you have any tips or stories about your herbal pantry? Please share them with us in the comments below!

Want to learn more about how to store your herbs? See my previous article on my tips here.

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 3

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 104 – Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23rd, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Delicious Dandelion Drop Biscuits from Herbal Roots zine

This is a happy little accident that I created when making Dandelion Fritters – I had too much flour to liquid ratio (because I am bad at following recipes) and ended up with a firmer than usual batter.

It’s very versatile and you can add Nettles, Violet flowers and leaves, and/or Chickweed to the batter, depending on what you have available.

I love adding springtime greens to our meals because they are highly nourishing, full of many vitamins and minerals.

Kids will love making these and can often be tasked with picking the flowers and leaves for you.

Dandelion flowers and leaves, and Chickweed in a basket

You can substitute out any of the flours or milk for the flour and milk of your choice.

1/2 cup Coconut flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped dandelion leaves (and/or Nettles, Chickweed, and Violets)

1/2 cup dandelion flower petals (about 20 flowerheads)

1/2 red onion, minced

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup canned whole coconut milk

Chopped up dandelion leaves and flowers, chickweed, and red onion

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the flours together along with the salt and pepper.

Red onion, Dandelion and Chickweed, and flour in a bowl

Add in the garlic, onion, and dandelions. Stir to combine.

Mixture stirred together with egg

Add eggs and mix together well until mixed and crumbly.

A thicker batter that looks like drop biscuits

Stir in milk, once combined they will be thick just like homemade drop biscuits.

Roll into 9 balls of equal size and place on a cookie sheet.

Golden brown Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits feel firm to touch.

Flaky Dandelion Drop Biscuits

These biscuits are flaky and delicious – the red onion gives them a hint of sweetness.

Flaky Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Dandelion Drop Biscuits

KristineBrown
Give your ordinary drop biscuits a delicious twist by adding nutritious wild edibles such as Dandelion, Violet, Chickweed, and Nettles to your biscuits!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped dandelion leaves (and/or Nettles, Chickweed, and Violets)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dandelion flowers (about 20 flowerheads)
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I use canned whole coconut milk)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Combine the flours together along with the salt and pepper.
  • Add in the garlic, onion, and dandelions. Stir to combine.
  • Add eggs and mix together well until mixed and crumbly. 
  • Stir in milk, once combined they will be thick just like homemade drop biscuits.
  • Roll into 9 balls of equal size and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits feel firm to touch.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 103 – Violet Science Activity for Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Science with Violets

Did you know that Violets can be used to create a litmus test? This is a great activity to do with kids to get a mini-science activity into your day.

Are you starting a garden this year? If so, you can expand this activity to use the Violet infusions to test the acidity/alkalinity of your soil.

Fresh Violet flowers
Boiling water
Lemon juice

Baking soda

Soil you want to test

Violet Litmus Test

Fill 1 large jar with Violet blossoms. Cover with boiling water and let sit overnight. Strain off the Violets.

In 2 half pint size jars or smaller, fill halfway with Violet water.

In 1 jar, add lemon juice until water turns purple/red. This is your acid indicator.

In the second jar, add baking soda until it turns green/yellow. This is your base indicator.

Use the rest of the violet water to add your test soil (or any other items you choose to test) by pouring it into as many other jars as you need to complete the tests.

To test your soil, pour a few additional jars of Violet water and add a tablespoon of soil to each. You may wish to test various areas of your yard or even compare it to compost and/or potting soil.

Stir the soil into each jar, rinsing your spoon between jars. Let everything settle then compare the soil jars to the indicator jars.