by Monica Giacomin
Since the abundance of summer is upon us, why not take the opportunity to put a few herbs away for the rest of the year! If you can accurately identify the wildflowers and plants growing around you, it’s time to get out for a dose of Vitamin N (Nature!) as you fill your pantry with nourishing herbs that you can convert into delicious herbal beverages.
One of the easiest ways for me to get a daily dose of herbs is to add them to my water bottle. I boil a kettle of water when I’m cleaning up at the end of the day and pour them over dried herbs in a glass Mason jar to make an infusion. I let it sit on the counter overnight and fill my water bottle in the morning to sip throughout the day. It’s a simple practice that increases the nutrients and flavour of my water as I drink enough to stay hydrated. My favourite herbs include Stinging Nettle, Red Clover, Lemon Balm, Sage, Holy Basil, and Peppermint for their abundance of antioxidants and energizing effect! If you’d like to learn more about identifying these herbs, plus why and how to transform them into food and medicine, sign up for a course, or join me for a local Herb Walk. In the meantime, here are a few recipes for you to ENJOY!
Herbal Transformations for your Water Bottle Concoctions
Pick a full Mason jar of desired herb on a dry day. Cover with Apple Cider Vinegar to the very top of the jar. (Use a plastic lid since the acid in vinegar corrodes metal if it’s left beyond six months.) Tighten lid securely and label your jar. Place in a dark, cool place for six weeks. Strain, bottle and label your vinegar, or use it as is.
Pick a jar of desired herb on a dry day. Chop herbs and cover with your choice of local liquid honey to the top of the jar. Screw lid on securely and label your jar. Place in a dark, cool place for six weeks.
Pick a jar of desired herb on a dry day. Chop and cover with 100% pure vegetable glycerin to the top of the jar. Screw lid on securely and label your jar. Place in a dark, cool place for six weeks. Strain, bottle and label your glycerite.
Water Bottle Concoctions
- To make a herbal infusion, fill a third of your Mason jar with dried( as in dehydrated!) Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves, Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum ) and/or Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) blossoms. Pour boiling water over the dried herbs to the very top and cover tightly. Let infuse at least four hours (overnight is best!) and then cool your herbal infusion in the fridge. Strain the liquid into your water bottle and sip throughout the day for a nerve nourishing, anticancer, hormone balancing brew.
- To make an oxymel, combine a tablespoon of herbal vinegar made with fresh Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves, Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum ) Sage (Salvia officinalis), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) or Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.) and a tablespoon of herbal honey made with Rose petals (Rosa rugosa), Sage or Mint leaves (Mentha spicata, piperita) or Sage into two cups water. Shake and adjust to taste. I call this refreshing, mineral-rich beverage Herbal-Aid!
- To make a tea, pour 2 cups of boiling water over 1/4 cup of dried wild rose (Rosa rugosa) petals. Steep for fifteen minutes. Strain and fill your water bottle with this nerve strengthening, heart nourishing, hormone balancing taste of heaven that will awaken all of your senses!
- Cover dried Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) blossoms with boiling water, cover and steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and fill your water bottle with the filtered tea to relax your nervous system while promoting mental clarity and focus, especially at the end of a long day.
- To make a decoction, simmer a handful of dried Astragalus roots and dried Maitake mushrooms in a pot of water for 20-30 minutes. Strain and cool before filling your water bottle with this savoury immune boosting, adaptogenic tonic.
- Add a teaspoon or two of a sweet herbal glycerite to your water bottle and shake before sipping. Lemon Balm (Melissa off.), Sacred Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Rose (Rosa rugosa) and Rosemary are wonderfully uplifting and delectable!
- Boil a handful of dried hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) berries and rose hips (Rosa rugosa) with a few slices of ginger (Zingiber off.) for thirty minutes or until herbs are soft. Strain, cool and pour into your water bottle to support heart health… physically and emotionally.
- Pour a tablespoon or two of anti-viral Elder berry or Elder flower (Sambuca canadensis ) syrup in your water bottle to fend off colds and flu.