Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy Summer Days

Yesterday was a great day. I spent the morning volunteering at an Organic Medicinal Herb Garden that is run through my university and harvested some herbs for making tinctures. Then I came home and harvested some garden vegetables and herbs and spent the rest of the day experimenting in the kitchen. Those are my favorite kind of days :).  

This is somewhat of a tangent but something I have been thinking about lately. I have realized that I struggle with living in the present because all I can think about is the future. I think about what I want to accomplish and learn and can easily get overwhelmed by all the things I wish I was/could be doing RIGHT NOW. Since there is never going to be an infinite amount of time or an infinite amount of energy I realize I must work more at being present. 

Something that I know helps to ground me is by working out in the garden. It has a way of bringing the here and now into focus. I can only think about what can be harvested and used right now instead of next week or a month from now. For that I am thankful that I have so many opportunities to work in the garden at my university as well as my garden here at the house. I am curious, what do you guys do to remind you to be present instead of thinking about the past or the future? 

With that, I will show you what I did yesterday with all my harvested veggies and herbs!

I was out of town last week so we had a couple of GIANT zucchinis that I have been using to make zucchini cakes. 

First I shredded the zucchini in the food processor, salted it and let it sit for 45 minutes. The salt drew water from the zucchini and then I put it in a flower sack towel and squeezed out all the juice. 

Then I took the squeezed zucchini and added 3 eggs, 1/4 cup sourdough starter, salt, pepper and lots of fresh herbs like parsley, basil,  and oregano. 

Then I fried them up in a skillet and served it for lunch with tomatillo salsa. 

At the medicinal herb garden I harvested feverfew (back), echinacea (middle, left) and lavender (middle, right) and yarrow (front). 

I used these fresh herbs to make tinctures. Tinctures are shelf-stable medicinal extracts. You take the herb and figure out what the medicinal properties are and then pick a solvent that will best extract those properties. I used sugarcane alcohol for these tinctures, but other solvents include glycerin, apple cider vinegar and other types of alcohol. 

To make my tinctures, I filled out my medicine making worksheets and created labels for each jar, I weighed out the herb, calculated the required amount of liquid, chopped my herb and put it into the jars with the alcohol solution. I will need to shake the jars a couple of times a day for the next two weeks and then I will strain out the herb and I will have my finished tincture ready to be used. 

Or course I made a big mess. But it was a lot of fun!

Tinctures! I can't wait to experiment with them when they are ready. Yarrow is styptic and astringent, which means it stops the flow of bleeding and binds tissues together. I plan to use my yarrow tincture for cuts and scrapes. My lavender tincture I plan to dilute and put in a spray bottle and use it as a linen spray, or add it to vinegar for household cleaning projects. The feverfew is reportedly good for migraines so I am going to try it out the next time I get a headache. The echinacea is good to stimulate the immune system during an attack so I definitely plan on using my echinacea tincture next time I feel like I am about to get sick. 

The wild bergamot (bee balm) is finally blooming so I harvested two blooms along with some dill for the table.

I love how using herbs and having them in our houses and diets can bring beauty and grace into our lives. 

I also harvested some lemon balm, basil, mint and anise hyssop from the garden to make an infused fresh herbal tea. 

Finally I harvested dill and cucumbers and grape leaves (from a friend's garden) and made pickles!! They are fermenting right now and they should be ready in two weeks. I have already written a post about how I made my airlocks for my fermenting jars so I will post it tomorrow.

Here is the final lineup of all the things I made yesterday. 4 tinctures, 4 lacto-ferments: 1/2 gallon of beet kvass, 1/2 gallon of red cabbage sauerkraut, 2 quarts of pickles, and 1 quart of fresh herbal tea. It was a really good day.  Now I smile every time I walk past my jars, and I am thankful for the beautiful colors, textures and flavors of God's creation!


  1. Noelle, I love all of this and your hippie tinctures! I had never even heard of tinctures before, and I like to think I'm pretty up-to-date on my hippie-ness! I'm going to have to look into this. :)

    1. Thanks Holly! I definitely encourage you to look into making tinctures! I have really loved learning about herbal medicine and I love that anyone can do it :). It is called the people's medicine for a reason. I am pretty new at it myself but if you have any questions let me know!


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