Condiments

How to Make Herbal Vinegars


You can infuse any plant matter into vinegar to create your own funky blends! Although the preferred vinegar to use is organic apple cider you can use white or red wine vinegar too. A tip for jars is to check out second hand shops; there are some really nice bottles to be had out there!

Place several plants of your choice into the bottle. Fresh (clean and free from moisture) plant matter is best to use. You can even make an onion and garlic vinegar! Seal the bottle or jar you are using.

  • Word of caution:

If you use a mason jar do not use the metal lid plate, use plastic because the acids can corrode the lid.

Let sit in a cool area (does not have to be dark) for 5 weeks; and after 2 weeks there will be flavor and you can test it. If you want it stronger let it sit longer. (I let my onion and garlic vinegar sit for 3 months before using it – wow!!)

Be sure to label your vinegar with what it is and the date you made it.

From: Edible Wild Food

How to Make Herbal Oils

Oils infused with herbs are a great way to utilize the healing properties of plants which contain volatile oils and fats.
Plants containing volatile oils are generally those commonly used in aromatherapy but they can be used as a salad oil too. Aromatic plants such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, peppermint, chamomile, rose, yarrow, juniper and pine all make great oils.

You can use a variety of different oils as the base for the infusion. Olive oil is classic for the leafy herbs, sunflower, sweet almond, jojoba, or apricot oil all make a great base for creams and salves.

How to Infuse

You can use dried or fresh plant material, although fresh is generally best (except calendula-dry). If using fresh herbs, pick them on a dry day after the sun has dried the morning dew.

Make sure you pick clean plant matter; this is particularly important as you are not going to wash the plants. It must be as dry as possible to prevent spoilage, if there is any dirt brush it off with a soft-bristle brush or simply shake.

If using leaves such as comfrey or plantain, it’s good to let them wilt overnight to reduce some of the water content but flowers are best used fresh.

Chop fresh leafy herbs finely and lightly fill a sterilized, dry jar with the material. It’s important to cut the herb first as it exposes more of the plant to the oil, making for a better infusion. Flowers can be put in whole and dried herbs will most likely come already cut.

Fill the jar almost to the brim with oil because an air gap will promote oxidation and spoilage. Stir the contents with a wooden chopstick until all air bubbles have dispersed then place lid on.

You can leave it to infuse on a sunny windowsill or in indirect light.

Stir every day for the first two weeks then leave to infuse for another two to four, that’s four to six weeks in total. Calendula and some other oils are nice to double infuse- leave for 3 weeks, strain, then fill the jar with fresh flowers and pour the partially infused oil back on top and repeat the process.

Don’t forget to label your jars so you remember when to strain them. Strain through a sieve covered in cheesecloth or a jelly bag. If you used fresh material it is wise to let it stand for a week and check if any water has settled in the bottom of the jar. If so pour off the oil and discard the water.

Bottle the infused oil and be sure to label it including the best before date of the oil from the original bottle.

From: Edible Wild Food

Evergreen Syrup

Spruce tip syrup used to be quite popular back in the day. It was used throughout Europe and by the pioneers in North America. Since Spruce tips grow in the spring, this syrup would have been a seasonal type of medicine. I generally make my evergreen syrup using needles and cones as these parts of the plant are most readily available, and have medicinal value as well.

Energetically, evergreens are super appropriate to use as medicine throughout the winter. Although most of the trees have lost their leaves by now, evergreens remain green, showing us that nature lives all year long. Evergreens are also helpful with the particular ailments that abound during the cold and dark season.

For the following recipe, I harvested from Norway spruce (Picea abies) and White pine (Pinus alba). Not the time of year for the tips so I used needles, twigs, cones. It turned out quite delightful with a predominantly sweet taste and evergreen-almost citrus undertones.

Evergreen Syrup Recipe:

  • White pine needles, some twig ~2 oz weight (other pine species can be used)
  • Spruce needles, 2 cones ~2 oz weight (other spruce species can be used)
  • Filtered water to cover
  • Honey- half of the amount of decoction that remains (a 1:2 ratio honey:decoction)
  • Water added to evergreens

The weights are listed because I had them handy, however there is no set amount – it all depends on how much syrup you want to make. Put the plant material in a pot and cover with water. Bring this to a boil and then lower to simmer until the liquid is halved. I used a spoon as a measuring stick. You can also have a measuring cup handy to pour the liquid back and forth until it measures half of water added.

Reducing the decoction to half of the original liquid took almost ten hours. The liquid is then strained out, put back in the pot without the needles, and then the honey is added. The amount of honey to add is equal to half the amount of concentrate, so 8 ounces of concentrate would require 4 ounces of honey, or a 2:1 ratio. Warm and stir the mixture, and the syrup is done!

Medicinal Uses for the Syrup

Tree medicine is very powerful when grounding is needed. It fosters opening up to old wisdom, and letting oneself be cared for by the Earth. The evergreen forest is quiet, and feels limitless and mysterious. Evergreen syrup is good medicine for reflecting, meditating, and otherwise conjuring up introspective energy.

Decomposition of evergreen needles lowers the surrounding soil pH to provide a particularly acidic environment, a fact that I find interesting and relevant to its use as an antiseptic.

In Europe, pine products have been used as medicine since the Middle Ages, and their medicinal properties are pretty uniform across the Pinus genus. It acts as a stimulating antiseptic for respiratory infections and stuck mucus, and is useful for bronchitis, and at onset of colds and flu to stop infection. Pine is also used for coughs and asthma.

Spruce is useful to cut phlegm in the throat and lungs, and for opening air passages. It is high in vitamin C content, and can also be helpful for bladder conditions and in cases of leucorrhea.

Overall, Spruce and Pine syrup is great medicine to have on hand during the winter and early spring season. It can be used for acute illness, and as a winter tonic to provide a bit of sunshine in the form of a local source of vitamin C.

Evergreen syrup is also really tasty, making it an easy medicine to work with as it can be added to hot water, porridge, pancakes, or taken straight.

From: Herb Geek

Making Coconut Milk

Here are tips for selecting, opening, and creating basic milk from the coconut. This coconut milk has numerous purposes and can be used in the recipe for Roasted Stuffed Papaya.

  • Selection

Choose a coconut with a chestnut-brown hull, that is smooth with no apparent holes or mold. Shake and listen for a water sound. If it still contains water, it will be moist and tasty.

  • Opening the Nut

Bore two holes in the eyes using an ice pick or sharp knife. The eyes are the dark brown spots at either end of the coconut. Pour the coconut water into a bowl. You can drink the coconut water, add it to your bath or beauty recipes, or save it for magickal or ritual uses. If you choose to save the coconut water, you will need to refrigerate or freeze it depending on how long you wish to keep it.

Now that the water has been drained from the coconut, hit the hull on a hard surface sharply a few times – it should crack open. You can also hit the nut with a mallet or hammer. This will be easier to do if the nut is wrapped with a dish towel to keep it stabilized.

Once cracked open, scoop out the flesh, which is called coconut meat. The coconut meat that comes out of the hard shell may have a thin brown skin that will need to be peeled off. This is most easily done with a potato peeler.

  • Making Coconut Milk

Heat 1 1/2 cups water in a kettle on medium high heat. While it’s heating up, grate the coconut flesh and put it in a sieve over a large bowl. Just before the water comes to a boil, slowly pour it over the grated coconut in the sieve. Press the coconut meat with the back of a wooden spoon until all the water has been pressed out.

Pour this liquid into a Pyrex measuring cup with a pouring spout. Now pour the collected coconut milk once again into the sieve full of coconut meat and press it once again with the back of the wooden spoon and into the bowl.

Repeat 3 to 4 times. This makes about 1 1/4 cups rich coconut milk.

  • Coconut Cream

To make coconut cream, bring `1 1/2 cups full-fat milk almost to a boil. Go through the steps above (making of coconut milk). Coconut cream is a bit denser, with a full-bodied, sweeter taste, just right for deserts and drinks.

  • Toasted Coconut

Remove coconut from the hull with a sharp knife. With a potato peeler, peel off any remaining dark skin. Shred the coconut. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a cast iron skillet. Add a pinch of sea salt if desired. Toss until medium brown.

Toasted coconut is a great low-carb snack. I like to toast almonds and sunflower seeds with it and use this as a snack food when watching movies. You can also use toasted coconut as a topping for fruit salads, yogurt, or cereal.

From: Four Seasons of Mojo

Lemon Balm Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbls. lightly flavored olive oil
  • 1 tsp. finely shredded fresh lemon balm leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/16 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbls. rice wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients just before using, for the freshest taste and brightest color. Use as a salad dressing with baby lettuces and touch of grated, aged Jack cheese, or toss with fresh steamed veggies (it’s delicious with asparagus!).

Found at: Bay Witch Musings

Pickled Nasturtium Seeds

Use green nasturtium seeds, and in picking retain a short length of stem on each. Lay the seeds in cold salted water for two days (two tablespoons salt to one quart water), then place them in cold water for another day. Drain well and place the seeds in a glass jar, cover with vinegar heated to the boiling point, and close the jar tightly. In a few days the seeds will be ready to use. They are an excellent substitute for capers.

From: Herbal Gardens

Nasturtium Lemon Butter

This lovely butter has a mild lemon/pepper flavor and a colorful appearance. It is wonderful on fish, chicken and vegetables. This is also great on those small party breads, pumpernickel especially.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (according to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped nasturtium blossoms

Mix all of the ingredients well until smooth and well blended. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Makes 3/4 cup flavored butter.

From: Herbal Gardens

Nasturtium Vinegar

Nasturtiums have a wonderful peppery flavor and add zest to any recipe.

  • 1 cup nasturtium leaves, flowers, and buds
  • 1 pint champagne or white wine vinegar

Place the ingredients in a clean clear glass jar or bottle. Tightly seal. Let sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Place a new nasturtium in the finished bottle for decoration, but you should make sure the vinegar always covers the flowers or they will mold. Makes 1 pint vinegar to use in salads, sauces and flavoring in other dishes.

From: Herbal Gardens

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