Herbs are a prominent feature in the majority of our gardens. If you ever find yourself looking for new ideas of how to use up all of your herbs, here are our top 10 ways to make sure none of it goes to waste.
Pour hot water over your cleaned and washed herbs. Let it steep for several minutes and then drink. Many herbs have a variety of health and medicinal properties. Some of our favourites include mint, lemon balm, sage, and lemon verbena. Most people know this by its two other common names: herbal tea and herbal tisane. Try combining multiple herbs for your own unique herbal infusion. Add honey or other sweeteners as desired.
Similar to an infusion, a decoction also involves hot water and herbs, however a longer steeping and/or simmering time is added. This helps to extract all available energy from the herbs and is typically used for medicinal purposes. Many herbalists will recommend a decoction of various herbs depending on your individual concerns.
Mix, cook, boil, or simmer your herbs in a simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar). Simmer for a few minutes and then strain leaving only the clarified liquid. Mixologists often create their own syrups as part of a signature cocktail or beverage. We like to use our syrups in baking and drizzling over fresh fruit
Dry your herbs by hanging them in an airy room or in a dehydrator. Pulverize into a fine powder. This is traditionally done with a mortar and pestle and can also be used with a high speed blender. Instead of pulverizing, herbs can also be left whole and powdered just before use. Many of the herbs purchased from the grocery store are in powdered, crushed, or whole form.
A tincture uses a water and alcohol to extract the essential plant compounds such as the oils. Tinctures can be used topically or orally and are typically used for medical purposes. A common tincture to repel mosquitoes and black flies is using yarrow flowers
Pure essential oils or whole plant matter is added to alcohol and allowed to steep. This helps preserve the many healthy compounds in the plant as many as alcohol soluble and not water soluble. Herbal essences are commonly used in aromatherapy sessions or as a natural room odorizer.
Powdered or essential plant parts are added to an oily substance such as olive oil, petroleum jelly, or lard, and often mixed with beeswax. The ointment is then applied topically to the skin. Ointments can be used to treat cuts, burns, and insect stings.
A poultice uses fresh or dried herbs that are applied directly onto the skin. Moist heat is added typically with a warm towel or cloth to sooth the skin or mucles.
9. Preserve Them
Our favourite method of preserving herbs is to create Herb Salees, which is French for salted herbs. Our friends at Well Preserved have a great and easy description how to make it yourself. http://wellpreserved.ca/what-to-do-with-leftover-herbs-from-the-garden/
10. Eat them raw
If you have some extra mint or lemon balm in your garden, pick off a few leaves and eat them raw. You can also simply chew on them to release their flavour and naturally freshen your breath.
11. Bonus – make a Smudge Stick
This isn’t something we’ve tried directly, but our friends at You Grow Girl put together this guide on making your own smudge sticks. http://yougrowgirl.com/homegrown-smudge-sticks/