Elderberry Sparkle: A Beginner’s Guide to Lacto-Fermented Herbal Brews

I do a lot of brewing here. This is in part to compensate for the lack of refrigeration at the center but also just because I love the process of fermentation. I make homemade wines and ales of all kinds, but want to start here with a basic primer for Lacto-Fermented Herbal Brews because they’re easy, quick and you and your children can drink them to your heart’s content. The herbal sparkles are fizzy and tongue-tingly, and depending on the culture you use, they can also have a bit of a sour bite to them. Very yummy, and a great alternative to most commercial beverages out there. Make a quart of herbal infusion. Yarrow, Elderberry or Chamomile are all good starting points. Let it infuse for several hours then strain. Add a couple tablespoons of sugar...

Essential Vitality: Working with Fresh Herbs

Essential Vitality: Working with Fresh Herbs

Last night I found myself wandering in the moonlight, perched barefoot on the edge of an ancient Mogollon indian pithouse where the most vibrant of the Wild Honeysuckle grow. I chose each bud, blossom and leaf carefully, grateful for the magic and medicine of these twining, woody creatures. When I brought my apron-full of flowers back to the cabin, I gently crushed them in my fingers before depositing them into a blue kettle of cool rainwater. On the old woodstove, I heated them slowly. The water came to a slow simmer before I removed the kettle from the heat and left it to steep while Loba and I planned the next day’s meals and prepared tea of Wild Mint and Roses. One of the great blessings of the growing season is the ability to use herbs fresh for...

The Simplest Salve Ever

The Simplest Salve Ever

I tend to cover every level of herbal therapeutics, nutrition and materia medica that I feel qualified to talk about. I know this can be overwhelming for beginners who may feel completely intimidated by the sheer volume of information and plants here (though I do tend to talk about the same plants over and over again). Do remember that you can use the categories (over on the left side there) or the archive index (up in the page bar) to narrow down the posts. You might want to start with the Terms of the Trade series I’ve started that explains terms and concepts of traditional western herbalism. There’s also the medicine making category that is primarily simple ways of herbal preparation. And if you’re interested in getting down to the heart of...

Pantry Medicine: A Simple Poultice for Swelling

Pantry Medicine: A Simple Poultice for Swelling

I really like to use simple, downhome remedies whenever possible, preferably made up of weeds and food. Here’s great poultice for swelling and inflammation can be rigged up with common items from your pantry and weeds from your yard. It can also be easily customized to individual needs. Ingredients¬† 1 Cabbage leaf 1 small Potato Cooling, anti-inflammatory weed (like Plantain, Mugwort, Sweet Clover, Chickweed, Alder leaves etc.) Appropriate tinctures (optional) So, first grate up the potato so that you have a nice 1/2-1 inch thick covering for the injured area. Then get the weed and chop or mash it up before blending it with the potato. By the way, if you don’t have a potato, you could always use grated cabbage instead. If you want the added horsepower...

Old Fashioned Medicine – Herbs and Hot Water

Old Fashioned Medicine – Herbs and Hot Water

Note: If you read this post, please be sure to read the followup post as well which give further important information on the treatment of cellulitis and other infections of the skin. I have recently attended to a great number of acute injuries to the hands and feet of various family, clients, students and assorted other people. Several of these issues required fairly prolonged treatment over period of days to weeks, with several applications/treatments a day. In quickie cases, I like to use tinctures or other ready made preparations I have on hand, but with something like this it’s much more useful to make water based herbal preparations as needed, and usually cheaper too. In every case I resorted to using a strong infusion as a soak for the affected body...

An Introduction to Tinctures

Note: I made a correction to my fresh plant tincture example in the last paragraph of the Standard method section, that should have been 10 ounces not 25. Thanks for spotting that, Susan!  To make a tincture, you need only a few ingredients: an herb, a menstruum and a container with airtight top. Optionally you might want a three beam scale and a glass measuring cup. Some herbalists like to have all kinds of fancy stuff, like beakers, industrial grinders and tiny funnels (very nice to have). I have a weird menagerie of tools that include a turkey baster, several different sized funnels and some chopsticks but I keep it pretty simple. Tincture presses can also be nice, but they are another subject for another post. Processing the Plant For fresh plants, just chop...