July 22, 2011
I have just learned the easiest way to freeze blueberries. In the past I washed the berries, drained them, laid them out on cookie sheets in the freezer to freeze individually, then put the frozen berries into freezer bags. LONG PROCESS.
Recently, T and I picked berries at Evergreen Berry Farm in Watertown, CT. We picked on the bushes that were NOT sprayed- as there are areas of the field that never seem to need protection from insects and some that do. Interesting permaculture conundrum there….
As we were leaving T noticed a sign with freezing instructions as follows (so easy):
Put your fresh-picked berries into freezer bags and put in freezer. When you want to use the berries remove from freezer and rinse.
July 9, 2011
This year the chamomile just volunteered and the plants are putting out so many flowers I can’t keep up with the harvest. I really need a harvest rake from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, I have always harvested by hand. I dry the flowers on screens and then store in a tight-lidded jar out of the sun. It is wonderful to drink chamomile tea any time of year, with local honey. It is a relaxing bedtime tea, can help with baby’s colic, and other digestive issues, is used as a hair rinse to lighten blond hair, is known for its anti-bacterial properties and considered a universal remedy by the Egyptians. There is great chamomile trivia at teabenefits.com including the fact that chamomile has high amounts of quercetin which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-histimine properties.
The time to pick the flowers for drying for tea is when the petals go behind the yellow center- see above.
In this next photo you can see the different positions of the petals. The flower in the foreground, to the right is ready to be picked.
July 2, 2011
It is time to harvest and tincture one of my herbal allies, motherwort, Leonurus Cardiaca, also called Lionheart. This herb grows where she wants in my garden and I never know from year to year where she’ll show up – here is motherwort with the day lilies.
Years ago this tincture was recommended to me by Susun Weed to help me with sleep issues. Over the years I have used it to calm menstrual cramps, calm anxiousness. It can be dried and used as a smudge along with sage and mugwort. It makes a bitter tea- so sweeten with honey and use it for a stress-diffuser. Livestrong.com has a good article listing other uses for motherwort. Also, more good information at Herbalist.com where it mentions that motherwort is well-known and used in Europe:
The sedative (nervine) action of the herb, claimed by the herb’s historical use was demonstrated scientifically well enough for the Commission E, the official German herbal pharmacopaea, to recommend it to the public………Older scientific data on the herb’s neurological and cardiac properties are based on studies by Chinese researchers of an extract called leonurin from Leonurus sibiricus, an herb very closely related to Leonurus cardiaca.
To tincture: you will need a jar with tight-fitting lid, scissors and vodka. Cut the top 8-10 inches of the flowering tops. Then cut the plant material directly into your jar. The flowers are prickly, be cautious. Put enough flowers and leaves to tightly fill jar, pour in vodka to very top. Put on lid, shake, turn over a few times to make sure most of the air bubbles are dislodged, maybe you’ll need to add some more vodka. Then label, leave in dark place for 6 weeks. Strain, put in smaller dropper jars. Voila.