Preserving The Harvest

You won’t find me hanging over a hot water bath anymore! It’s not that I don’t like home canned foods or how lovely they look all in a row, but it’s labor intensive and I don’t necessarily believe anymore that it’s the best way to preserve food. Since this post isn’t about preserving vegetables, I’m going to forward you to my friend Amanda Rose’s blog just in case you’re looking for different ways to put up natures bounty this Autumn. Her mom, Jeanie Rose puts together great instructional videos and when she’s in the kitchen cooking, I can practically smell it on the East Coast!

So pop over to Rebuild From Depression AFTER you read my post.

You might remember and then again you might not….that Honey was very sick the end of March, beginning of April. That’s when the hoot about the “Swine Flu” or better known now as the H1N1 Flu was breaking in the news. We believe, although there’s no way to know other than our own experience, that Honey had the “Swine Flu”. He barely made it to the airport to pick me up from my visit to Germany to see Sweet Girl. Once we got home, I nursed a very, very sick man. In all our 28 years of marriage I’ve never seen my man that sick….ok, maybe once before when we were both laid up and running to the john with the flu that hit both ends….but that’s got to of been nearly 28 years ago! Boy time flies when you’re having fun….and as I like to say, even when you’re not!!!!

I easily digress……Honey has learned to trust me in our 28 years together…I sure hope so! He has learned to trust my oddities in treating illness. My shelves are filled with books on living naturally; whether it be childbirth, menopause, dentistry, veterinary care, herbalism, nutrition, mental health, gardeing…..you name it, it’s on my shelf. In fact, I just purchased another bookshelf to hold my small library. I love books….but there I go again.

We discovered in my nose diving into herbal books when Honey’s fever was raging toward 103, that Mullein is a wonderful herb for influenza. I was reading out loud as he was burning up and nearly passed out. When I hit the word influenza he burst out, get me some!

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful crop of volunteer Mullein. Not only has it been a mainstay in what used to be our field transformed into a pasture….it has been my constant companion in my vegetable garden this year. I can’t get rid of this friend, nor do I want to. It’s growing in the isles, in the beds and some is even growing in the herb garden! I wanted to give room to my strawberries so I pulled a bunch up last weekend when I was cleaning up the garden. I pulled quite a bit up and hung it to dry.

I also left several mature plants for fresh use. Honey has a Tyramine sensitivity so he can’t have anything dried….I know, it’s a real pain my rear end. No dried spices, no dried veggies for him…..but, I try my hardest to accommodate his food issues. If I don’t they knock him out with a migraine….and I hate for that to happen. As you can imagine, I’m quite use to running to the garden even in the winter to scrounge some fresh herbs to use in cooking.

I also managed to harvest some fresh Mullein flowers for infusing in EVOO.  This spring I had a horrid ear ache from sinus drainage. Of course I pulled out my trusty old herbal books. I keep a good variety of dried herbs in my medicine chest, but  you have to narrow your choice down to what you have on hand. Because, don’t we all know that illness or trauma of some kind always hits after 7PM and on the weekends especially with children!!!! Mullein flowers were suggested for ear ache in Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal and of course it’s in all my other books, but that’s the one I pulled off the shelf.  Which by the way is an excellent guide for beginners as well as a old stand by for the old sage.

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By the way it worked! I used a few drops of the oil in my aching ear and by morning the pain was completely gone. Since I was in a hurry to silence the pain this spring I did a quick infusion by simmering the oil and flowers over a very low flame for 20 min’s. Then I used the warm oil and allowed myself as much as I needed for the pain to subside. This wonderful little delicate flower has a place on my medicine shelf now.

After pulling up quite a few plants in the garden, I laid them out, sorted them and then brushed each dry leaf to get any dirt particles off. (And I just love my tables on the deck for drying plants and veggies, they allow the air to flow through.) The leaves of Mullein remind me of Lamb’s Ear; fuzzy and soft. However they do tend to give me a little rash, so I wash well after touching. I made small bundles and hung them in our dry, dark, cool basement. They resemble small bunches of tobacco leaves hanging to dry, just smaller.

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I guess you might be wonder if the Mullein helped Honey recover from the “Swine Flu”? He credits it for his quick healing. Within the half hour of drinking an infused tea….(I’ll get to that), he broke out in a sweat and his fever broke. It was at that point that he was on the mend….albeit, a slow mend that took the entire week of sleeping……now my man loves a good nap….but I’ve never seen a man sleep that much. I think he slept day and night for 3-4 days. His body was healing and it needed rest.

And since I am not a technical person by any stretch of the imagination…..here is a link on Mullein.

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As a student of The Herb Mentor for the past two years I’ve learned so much. It’s been an invaluable resource for me to access at will and to learn as much or as little as I wish. I haven’t been around as much this year as I was my first year. My life has been all about cows this year and learning all that I can in that realm. However, most of the same principles apply to my cows as they do to humans and I’m happily treating my bovine girls with herbal remedies.  Anyway, as I was saying….I just discovered that The Herb Mentor has some video’s on You Tube. Here is one of my teachers, John Gallagher (the owner & originator of The Herb Mentor) showing you how to make different teas…..I know, how hard can it be to make a cup of tea?

A cup of tea is not the same as an infusion or a decoction. When I made Honey his Mullein tea, I made an infusion because he needed more of the plants healing qualities. I poured boiling water over the chopped fresh leaves (about 2-3 Tbsp for 1 cup) and let it steep for 20 min’s. Trust me when I tell you the taste of chamomile tea is quite different from chamomile infusion. Teas are in my opinion more for enjoyment. Infusions and decoctions are medicine! And we all know that medicine is usually not very pleasant.

If you still have fresh herbs that need to be harvested now is the time. Wait until after the dew has evaporated and cut them. I use kitchen string to tie and then I untwist paper clips and hang them upside down on a mesh screen in our dark, cool, dry basement. I usually forget them, until I need them. Then I’ll store them in a paper bag whole until I need them.

And just in case you need more information on drying herbs (because I’m not very technical or detailed….KISS….Keep it simple…without the stupid!), here is a nice article by Mountain Rose Herbs that describes the process. If you sign up they will send you updated articles that might be of help to you. I always buy my herbs, spices and teas from MRH (at least the ones I don’t grow or those I use in bulk). I know I can trust them to be pure, fresh and delicious!

Happy Harvest Season!!!

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