Surprise! No, it's not wintertime again. It's Spring and it's time to gather all the goodness that is popping up at the Farmer's Markets and in our own backyards. It's time to try something new and fresh for a change. Like I always say fresh is best and organic is better.
Right now, is the best time to gather medicinal herbs from our lawns and gardens. You can make delightful vinegars from these fresh plants. This is a great DIY project (and if you have small children ask them to help you pick them). Caution: Please do not pick in an area that's been sprayed with pesticides. This is one project where you can avoid buying those specialty vinegars you see in the store.
All of these herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals and are known as "spring tonics." Here is a list of some that may be readily available in your yard:
dandelion - leaf and flower
plantain - leaf
violet - leaf and flower
red clover - flower
mint - leaf
garlic mustard - leaf
cleavers - leaf and stem
chickweed - herb
Gather a handful of each of the above or only a few or just one kind. Your choice. Wash them thoroughly and pat dry. Chop coarsely. In the meantime, prepare your mason jar.
Dandelions in Jar Dandelions and leaves Dandelions/leaves in vinegar
Directions for Dandelion Vinegar (sour)
Sterilize a mason jar or canning jar by boiling it for about 10 minutes.
Fill the jar with herb(s) of your choice. The more herbs the stronger the taste. (Try filling the jar about 1/4 full the first time and see how you like it.)
Cover the herbs with raw apple cider vinegar until the jar is full, i.e., you might want to experiment with balsamic, rice wine, red or white vinegars.
Screw on a tight plastic lid (or cover the jar with a natural wax paper and screw the lid on tight),
Shake until well mixed.
Label jar with names of herbs, date, and type of vinegar used. I like to use removable labels for this purpose. Then you can just transfer the label to the final container. Easy right?
Store the jar in a dark, cool place for 4 - 6 weeks.
Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or muslin. Get all the goodness out of the herbs by ringing the cloth.
Pour the vinegar into a sterilized glass bottle with a non-corrosive top.
As always, remember to label the jar with the name of the product, ingredients used, and expiration date.
Vinegar will keep for about 6 months to 1 year in the refrigerator.
Dosage: 1 Tablespoon, 1-3 times a day -- or pour it over salad greens or cooked vegetables.
Note: If dried herbs are used the vinegar can last up to 5 years and there is no need to refrigerate it.
Now that you've experimented with something slightly sour, let's turn our attention to a sweet, refreshing drink made of mint (also an herb taken from our list above).
Directions Mint and Lime Drink (sweet)
Place a handful of mint into a glass or jar.
Add some lime zest to the glass or jar (you could use any citrus fruit zest).
Add raw sugar and slightly crush these three (3) ingredients together with a spoon or pestle. You are only bruising the mint to release its volatile oils; this is called muddling.
Juice the lime and add to the glass or jar and stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved.
Cover and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Stir it again, strain it and place in a bottle. It will keep for about 1 month.
When you're ready to drink it, pour some into a glass (with ice if you like), and add sparkling water.
Give sprig of mint a twist to release the oils and add to the glass for drama and flavor.
Please share your comments and stories about these recipes and let me know if you'd like to see more. Hope you'll join me again. Just click on my name above to follow me.
Peace and Herbal Blessings,
The statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The information provided by this website, or this company is for informational purposes only, it is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or other medical professionals, and is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a health care provider, and should not be construed as individual medical advice. Always consult your physician or health care provider before using any herbal products.