Saturday, October 09, 2010

Drying Plants For Future Use

Lemon Balm is one of the herbs I grow in this raised bed.

I grow a variety of herbs around my homestead. Plus I also have many, many wild medicinal plants growing in the forest and surrounding area. It is best when you use plants for medicinal purposes, to use the ones you can harvest yourself. It is not only for saving money, but this way you can use the freshest available, and you know for sure what you are getting. Plus, there are no chemicals on the plants. But the best reason of all, is that when you need more you can usually get it quickly. To go out to the forest or field near your own home is the best way to utilize plant medicine.

I usually pick the plants in the early afternoon after there is no sign of dew on them. Leave a stem so you can hang them easily. I have a clothesline upstairs in my house, that I use for hanging laundry, as well as hanging herbs. I hang the plants with clothespins and let them really dry out. You cannot hang them in a damp room such as a basement. My root cellar tends to be damp at various times. That would cause the plants to mold and you do not want that.

Lemon Balm drying on an inside clothesline.

The plants I hang are usually the lemon balm, mint, oregano, parsley,chives, sage, various berry leaves, etc. Roots such as dandelion or burdock, I dry in my oven. I put them in a foil pie plate, and let them sit in the gas range oven for a few days, until the pilot light from the oven has dried them out.

Dandelion Roots dried in my oven.

Dandelions are plentiful in my yard. I feed the leaves to my family in salads, and feed them to my horses daily. It is so good for you health wise that I cannot stress this enough to people. Eating dandelions on a regular basis is so good for your liver, and that is where you need to start to improve your health. Dandelion and burdock roots look about the same when they are dried, and they both are made into teas and infusions. They are used as blood purifiers and liver fortifiers. You can also eat the roots cooked and served as vegetables with your meals. Dandelion root is a well known coffee substitute. 

Red Clover grows abundantly in NY state!

Here is the link to a previous post I wrote about Red Clover, Harvesting Red Clover.  Red Clover, I dry in the oven also, but I dry only the flowers. I won't go into the many benefits of Red Clover here as I did that in the post I mentioned. I dried this in the same way as the roots, by putting it in a foil plate in the gas oven. I also dry celery purchased on sale from the store the same way. You can dry many vegetables and plants in that manner. Just make sure when you put them away they are definitely DRY and the container you put them in is DRY and has absolutely no wetness to it. 

Red Clover drying

Some people dry their plants and vegetables in a car sitting in the sun. That is a good way to do it too. But make sure you cover it with some kind of netting to protect them from flies, bugs and dust. You will be eating these foods. I add many of these dried plants to soups and stews. They add so much nutritional value to your foods and the taste is pretty good too. For instance, I pick all types of plants that grow all summer and add them to our salads. Dandelion is one that we use a lot this way. It is bitter tasting  but with salad dressing on it  the bitter taste isn't all that bad.

You can easily make an infusion which is stronger than a tea. I put an ounce or so of the dried plant in a quart canning jar, add boiling hot water and cap. In the morning you can add sweetening if you must and drink through out the day. I like to drink various ones a couple times a week. That way you are getting various nutrients and not too much of any particular one. I would be interested in any thoughts you have on this if you use medicinal plants as well. They are a way of life around here. Using willow bark for pain relief instead of allopathic medicine is what we have always done since we moved here. 

Today, go out in your yard and count how many wild plants you  have growing that could help you in case that was all you could afford or get. You'd be so surprised how much of a medicine chest is contained right around your home!

Clinical studies and double blind tests have not been done and are therefore not endorsed by the FDA. Information provided is for educational and experimental purposes only and my opinion only. If you have any questions, please consult your physician.

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
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