There are many ways to use herbs and they’re easy to grow even if you live in a small apartment because they’re small enough to pose as house plants. A bonus is that they’re fragrant, pretty, and easy to take care of. They’re great to use fresh to season food, but they’re medicinal too.
In a SHTF situation, having these ingredients will be good for bartering as well, because everyone will need them for medicinal purposes or just as a luxury.
How & Which Plants Our Ancestors Used For Medicine?
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Our ancestors used these plants well for medical purposes, and you need to know how to prepare them too. Some recipes will call for them to be used straight up or dried, but many call for teas, tinctures, poultices, infusions, decoctions, sprouting, or powders so you need to learn how to properly make those, too.
Read this great article about growing herbs indoors to see where to start from, then follow the steps below to see how to turn any of them them into natural remedies.
How To Dry Your Ingredients
First things first. In order to use your ingredients, you can dry them and there are a few different ways to do this. Drying is a great way to store them long-term, though most of them lose their efficacy and flavor slowly over time.
Simply harvest your ingredients and let them dry in a warm, dry spot out of the sun, or in the dehydrator or oven. Regardless of which method you choose, make sure that they’re in a single layer so that they dry evenly. If layered, they may mold before they dry, especially if you’re drying them naturally.
Wash them off to remove any dust or bugs. If you’re drying them naturally cover them with a paper towel to keep them clean while they’re drying. Let them dry completely until they crumble because moisture will cause them to mold. If you’re using the oven, do so at about 200 degrees or so.
You want them to dry but not burn, and you don’t want to cook them because you want to preserve the natural goodness in them, not bake them all out.
Once you’ve dried them, you need to store them in an air-tight container. If you won’t be using them within a few months, you can always vacuum seal them to extend storage time.
If you choose to dry the entire plant, you can dry it using the same methods as above or you can hang them upside down in a warm, dry spot out of the sun. You can also dry citrus rinds. They’re rich in vitamin C and add a nice flavor. Just grate the zest off and dry as stated above.
In addition to leaves, you can use the berries, roots, bark, seeds, stems and flowers of many plants too, using the same methods. It just depends on what the recipe, or your personal preference, calls for.
To take drying a step further, you may want to powder it. Simply grind the herb into a fine powder either by hand or using a coffee grinder.
How To Make Tea From Herbs
Why It Matters How You Prepare Your Tea?
Unless you’ve lived in a cave with no human interaction whatsoever, you’ve heard of tea. Teas, also called infusions, are made from the softer parts of plants such as leaves, flowers, or rinds. Sometimes seed and roots will be used in teas instead of decoctions because boiling will damage the essential oils in some plants. If you’re using seeds or roots, it’s best to crush them a bit in order to release the beneficial oils inside.
You can make tea from either fresh or dried ingredients and many of them are delicious as well as good for you. Teas are great for everything from personal pleasure to curing ailments and they’re quick and simple to make.
You can combine different ingredients for different flavor profiles or purposes, too. Play with them, and figure out which flavors you like best. If using them medicinally, do some research. I’ve written articles about that here and here.
You can put your ingredients in a tea ball or cheesecloth or you can place them directly in the water, then strain it. You can also drink them hot or cold. If the tea is medicinal and not particularly delicious, you can add a bit of honey or citrus rind as long as the recipe doesn’t specifically tell you not to.
A good rule of thumb is to use about 1 tsp. of powdered ingredients or 2 tsp. per cup of tea if you’re using dried. Double that if you’re using fresh ingredients. If you’re using them just for pleasure, you can adjust the amount to suit your taste. If you’re making a medicinal tea, you may use up to 1/2 cup of ingredients per cup, depending upon the recipe.
Start with boiling water, then put your ingredients in to steep, or put them in the cup and pour the hot water over them. Cover and let them steep for 10-20 minutes, then strain if necessary. Many medicinal tea or infusion recipes will call for longer steeping in order to infuse more of the plant benefits into the water. Enjoy!