There are a lot of ways that you can use herbs to your benefit over the winter. As colder weather rolls in so do the colds and flu’s. There is some advantage to growing your own medicine that is absolutely priceless (quite literally).
When your using your own herbs that you have saved and clipped and dried yourself, you can also take and use them with the confidence of having “raised” them. What time, energy and love that you put into them through their growing seasons is given back to you as medicine through the winter months.
Clipping and Harvesting
When clipping your herbs you must have a gentle and humble approach. Every herb is harvested different but there really isn’t any wrong way to go about it. However, don’t clip down your plant to the very last stem unless you don’t want it coming back the next year. Never take more then you need. I always clip my herbs from the outside of the plant first and leave the larger stems in the middle as they have better chances of producing better seed. Lavender is clipped only far enough to where atleast two petals are left on each stem. Other then that, collecting and harvesting is simple and humbling.
Nature is so selfless when we balance giving and taking. All you really need to do is listen to nature, feed by your instincts and really tune in to what your plants need so they can offer you what you need to survive.
Drying your herbs
When your drying your herbs you almost ALWAYS want to air dry them. Place them into a cool area, hanging in a breezeway away from the sun. This allows the plants moisture to completely evaporate into the air without any heat destroying the nutrients.
It is important that we are patient with this process as it may take up to a week or even two to completely dry. Storing the herbs that have not completely dried into a glass jar could cause molding and wilting.
And we wouldn’t want to use them. Your herbs should crisp and not feel of any moisture when they are finished.
Once your herbs are finished drying you can pulse them in a blender or food processor just a couple of times and store them an air tight glass jar until your ready to use them.
Some examples of great herbs to dry and store would be parsley, lemon balm, and mint. Although there are plenty more, these are among my favorite to pulse and save. Whole herbs like lavender, thyme, rosemary, rose or calendula do not have to be pulsed and are best saved as the whole flower.
Freezing your Herbs
Some plants are better eaten and taken fresh when they are being used as medicine. So if your dedicated to trying to get the best results from your herbs you can always try to freeze them. Some people will steep their herbs into a very strong tea and place that tea into ice cube trays and proceed to freeze them. This way when you need a medicinal cup of tea you can break out the cube and place it into a cup of hot water. If you dislike this method you can always break up your leaves and place them into the ice cube trays with cold water (be sure to stuff your cube as much as you can without overflowing it) and freeze them the same way. This way if you want to use them for cooking (like nettle) all you have to do is take them out and place them in your stock pot.
Saving some for next Spring
While these methods are most common, there are plenty of other ways you can use your herbs for the winter. But if you want your herbs to come back every year, be sure to leave a stalk or a flower for nature so that she can take seed and replenish the next season.
If your interested in using your herbs productively and plan on using them in something other than just teas you can also try these methods of preservation and use as well.
Other ways of using herbs before winter:
- Pre-make any salves or lotions that you might need through winter (Calendula Salve for dry skin).
- Make hydrosols
- Oil infusions for skin
- Tinctures for medicine
- Herbal Syrups
Thank you for your time and take care of yourselves ❤