.sqs-featured-posts-gallery {display: none ! important;}

Food

How to Make an Herbal Shrub with Roses

Our Roses are happily blooming away in the garden and I've been enjoying being able to use them in all kinds of kitchen and apothecary recipes, including herbal shrubs. A shrub is an herb-infused preparation that is usually made with vinegar, honey and fruit. My husband really inspired me to like shrubs when he fell in love with them before they were even really a popular thing. Since then, I’ve been experimenting with different combinations and this one has become a star in our kitchen. It’s the sort of recipe that you re-make when you’re running low on the last batch because it’s just that good. It’s rich in yummy vitamin C too, so it’s pretty much a win-win!

how-to-make-a-rose-and-cherry-herbal-shrub-by-aromaculture.png

Ingredients:

  • organic Rose petals
  • organic Rose hips
  • organic cherries
  • raw, organic apple cider vinegar
  • raw honey
by erin stewart-1003.jpg

To make your shrub, fill your jar 1/4 of the way with dried Rosehips, then add cherries until the jar is about 2/3 full. Top off with fresh Rose petals (organically grown; not from a florist). Pour apple cider vinegar over the plant material, secure the jar’s lid, and refrigerate the mixture for a week or two (or four, depending on how strong you like your shrubs). Strain out the herbs and stir in honey until it’s sweet enough for your liking.

An extra tip: Honey infused with Ginger and Cinnamon powders
makes a lovely addition to this recipe!

Shrubs can be added to lemonades, teas, sparkling waters, juices and other beverages and they can also be used in homemade vinaigrette recipes. Have you ever made one? Let me know how it went in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin

Tell me your favorite herbal shrub recipe in the comments section below.

HOW TO MAKE AN HERBAL SHRUB WITH ROSES AND CHERRIES.jpg

MORE BLOG POSTS

How to Make (& Use) Lilac Flower Honey

My father-in-law absolutely loves Lilacs. I think it's safe to say they're his favorite flower. I love them too, and now that I live in an area where there are many, many varieties of them in cultivation, I'm really enjoying getting to work with them. There's nothing quite like their lovely fragrance! One of our Lilac plants decided to flower for us this year, which was an unexpected blessing because I was thinking that it probably wouldn't produce flowers for several more years! I've been painting and pressing its blooms and enjoying them in sweet recipes like this one. I hope you enjoy it!

how-to-make-lilac-flower-honey.png

Harvest a couple of clusters of Lilac flowers from the plant on a dry, sunny morning and bring them into the kitchen. I like to gently tap them on a tea towel to dislodge the critters that like to take up residence deep inside the flowers, then soak them in a bowl of clean water for just a minute to rinse them out. Lay the flower clusters out on a clean cloth to dry. You can gently towel-dry them if you don't want to wait for them to air dry.

photo by Erin Stewart wm-98.jpg

Once they're free of water droplets and residual moisture, place the flowers into your infusing jar and pour raw honey over them until they're completely covered. They'll all float up to the top of the honey and stick together in a little colony there, so feel free to add more Lilac flowers after you've seen how much room is left in your jar.

Leave the honey to infuse for a couple of days, then strain out the Lilac flowers and store. You can also add another fresh batch of flowers to the honey at this point and repeat the process if you want your honey to be doubly as strong.

photo by Erin Stewart -22.jpg

This infused honey can be drizzled on toast or pastries, used in herbal shrubs or sodas, or added to popsicles or sorbets. I hope you give it a try if you have Lilacs blooming in your area! =) Make sure you harvest from clean, unsprayed, unpolluted areas and always ask permission from the owner first if the plants are on private property.

Are the lilacs blooming where you are? Do you have a favorite variety?

Much love,
Erin

how to make lilac flower infused honey aromaculture.jpg

MORE BLOG POSTS

The Complete Seed Starting Guide for Herbs & Edibles

When we begin to approach our last frost date, I start to get all kinds of excited because it means that, soon, I'll be able to start harvesting things from my garden again. Spring is beautiful here. The crocuses and daffodils and hyacinths have flowered and now the tulips and pansies are filling the neighborhood landscapes with color. Flowering trees are filled with blooms and fresh new leaves. Hardy plants are happily growing in the garden and the perennials have started to wake up. Everything starts to look like it’s hopeful again, ready to see the sun, prepared to send its energy back out into the world. Seed trays have been sown and are incubating in our mini greenhouses. This was my first full winter in an area where things look drastically different in the wintertime, and, while I enjoyed spending a restful season inside, away from the chilly temperatures, I also really anticipated the days I could start getting plants in the ground again. Since many of you are now entering prime seed-starting season, I thought I'd put together a comprehensive mini guide to starting seeds for you.

complete-seed-starting-guide-for-herbs-and-edibles-aromaculture.png

Starting Seeds 101

The first thing you need to figure out when you sit down to dream about your garden for the year is what you want to grow in the space you have available. Which veggies would you love to pick fresh right from your garden? Which herbs would you like to have on hand for your kitchen? Are there any medicinal herbs you’d like to grow this year? Once you know what you want to grow, you can determine which varieties will do best in your growing zone, purchase seeds, and schedule out your optimal planting dates. These are things I like to do during the months of December and January, when things are a bit quieter in the garden, but you still have time if you haven't had a chance to do your planning yet.

I like to map out my growing space and decide how much of each plant I'm going to grow and where I'm going to plant it. Having a master plan helps me to plan crop rotations, to not to over-fill my beds and to use my space efficiently. Knowing what I'm going to plant ahead of time allows me to create my planting schedule for the year so I don't fall behind on seed sowing, plant feeding, succession sowing, etc..

Starting Seeds Indoors vs. Outdoors

If you live in an area with a shorter growing season, you can get a head start with your seeds by starting them indoors 4-8 weeks (sometimes up to 12 weeks, depending on the plant) earlier than you would be able to get them going outside. Things like tomatoes and peppers and warm weather loving herbs like Basil can all be started indoors and then planted out after your area has finished its frosty season. If you're starting seeds in the house or garage, make sure you have a good daylight balanced bulb or a bright spot near a big window to give seedlings the light they need to get going. Plenty of light will keep them from getting leggy.

If you’re blessed with a warm growing zone and a long growing season, you can still start seeds indoors and then successively sow more seeds outdoors a month or two later to take advantage of that long season, or you can start your seeds directly outdoors once the nighttime and soil temperatures have warmed up a bit.

When we lived in southern California, I started all my seeds outdoors, but because we live much farther north now, I like to start most of them indoors or in our mini greenhouses to extend my growing season.

Seed Starting Containers

I used to use 72-cell propagating trays to start my seeds. They were super convenient and efficient. I could easily label each row of seeds and each tray was automatically watered through the flat tray that would sit beneath it. Since we started to transition away from plastic, though, I’ve come to love handmade wooden seed starting boxes even more. They’re tall enough to give my plants enough room to develop a really healthy root system right from the start and the plants seem to like them a lot better.

I also use biodegradable seed starting pots on occasion. They're usually made from coco coir or peat and are especially useful for plants that don’t like to be transplanted (think Borage, squashes, etc.) because they can be planted directly into the ground after gently removing the bottom of the pot without disturbing the roots of the plant.

Special SEED Treatments

Stratification

Some seeds need to experience a cold season before they can properly germinate. If you live in an area where you already have a cold season, you can probably plant most of these seeds out in late fall, directly in the garden. But if you’re wanting to plant in spring, you can simulate the cold season by placing the seeds in a labeled container in the fridge with some barely moist soil or sand and allow them to chill there for a month (or two, or three, depending on what the plant needs) before planting the seeds outside in early spring.

Scarification

Some seeds have a super protective seed coat that keeps the seed from germinating for a while. If you want those seeds to germinate quickly and more consistently, you can nick that seed coat with a piece of sandpaper or the edge of a blade to help the seed wake up. This can be difficult with seeds that are very small and hard to keep a grip on, but if you are patient and stick with it, scarification will improve your germination rate. Certain seeds can/should be scarified with freshly boiled water, but most will need to be treated with a blade or sandpaper.

Soaking

Many seeds need to be soaked in water overnight (sometimes even longer) to help them germinate. Sweet peas come to mind. During our rainy seasons, I’ll sow them just before I know we’re going to get a few days of good rain and let the showers give them all the moisture they need. I've had success with this method, but if you’re expecting lots of sunny weather or if you're planting large amounts and you're dependent on your crop, it’s best to give them a soak indoors before you want to plant them. Fill a ramekin or a small dish with lukewarm water, drop the seeds in before you eat dinner, and, in most cases, they’ll be ready to plant out by the time you’re ready to head out to the garden the next morning.

Choosing the Best Spot in the Garden

Take heed to what kind of environment your plants like best. Do they prefer full sun? Part shade? Rich soil? Well-draining soil? Wet feet? Choosing the best place you can for the plant will give you the best results when it comes time to harvest. Knowing what conditions each plant prefers will also help you plan out your companion plants and permaculture-style garden layers as well.

Some plants that love full sun:

Tomatoes, peppers, dahlias, poppies, cosmos, Basil, Parsley, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Lavender…

Some plants that can also thrive in part shade:

Peppermints, Turmeric, Ginger, Chives, Cilantro, Oregano, Skullcap, Calendula…

Some plants that can grow in the shade:

Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Chives, Thyme, Peppermint, Bleeding Hearts…

Many resilient plants can grow in either full sun or part shade. Try experimenting with a plant in each area to see which one does better, then you can plant more in the better-performing spot the next year.

What are you hoping to add to your garden this year?

Much love,
Erin

COMPLETE SEED STARTING GUIDE FOR HERBS AND EDIBLES AROMACULTURE.jpg

MORE BLOG POSTS

7 Things to Make with Violet Flowers

When I first joined Instagram (after much coercing on the part of friends and family who knew I would love all the pretty photos despite my aversion to social media), all the herbalists were posting about their Violet flower harvests and sharing their pretty recipes with the world. I was living in a 3rd story studio apartment in the middle of a concrete jungle at the time and had wanted to work with Violets but had never seen Violets growing in my area. My little balcony garden was full, so I couldn’t grow them then, but I knew that at some point, I was going to plant those sweet little blooms. They were the first plant I started looking for when we moved to the PNW last year. We hadn’t even pulled into our new hometown or seen our new home yet when I started telling Jon we needed to go scout out a few Violet patches in the wooded areas around us. Since then, it seems that I scatter Violet seed throughout my garden beds at least twice a year. I think it’s safe to say that I want Violets everywhere. If you like them too, here are a few ideas for ways to use them.

7-things-to-make-with-violets-aromaculture.png

1 - Make a Violet flower shrub.

I shared the recipe for this shrub on the blog a couple weeks ago. We like to use shrubs in homemade salad dressings, but you can also add them to orange juice or grape juice, Ginger ale, popsicle recipes, etc. They’re super yummy!

violets by erin stewart of aromaculture.com wm-47.jpg

2 - Violet flower syrup

Syrups are so simple to make and this version, made with sweet Violet flowers, looks so lovely that it would make a beautiful gift too! You can use it to dress baked goods, drizzle a bit on toast, or add it to drinks.

Bonus: It looks so pretty while the violet flowers are infusing! See the photo below.

violets by erin stewart of aromaculture.com wm-63.jpg

3 - Violet infused sugar

Infuse sugar with Violet flowers to add a touch of lovely flavor and color. The sugar can then be used to dress sweet recipes or in sugar scrub recipes that could use a dash of color. The sugar also holds the aroma of the Violets, so if its one of your favorites (it's one of mine!), you'll love the way the sugar smells!

violets by erin stewart of aromaculture.com wm-59.jpg

4 - Breast serum

Both Violet flowers and leaves can be infused into carrier oils to make a useful breast massage serum that helps support breast and lymphatic health. It’s a great daily-use product for women!

5 -  Add them to food

They’re gorgeous in salads, on top of shortbread cookies, as edible decoration on fancy desserts…and they taste great!

6 - Make candied Violets

Candying the flowers preserves them so they can be stored for a couple of months and used as pretty garnishes for your favorite dishes (if they last long enough!).

7 - Press them

Press a few Violets and Violet leaves. They can be used to decorate stationery, baked goods or keepsake boxes or added to your herbarium.

What are you making with Violets this year?

Much love,
Erin

7 THINGS TO MAKE WITH VIOLETS AROMACULTURE.jpg

MORE BLOG POSTS

Violet Flower Herbal Shrub Recipe

When Violets (Viola odorata and Viola spp.) begin popping their sweet little heads up above their green covers in late winter to early spring, we know warmer days are well on their way. Violets are one of the first plants I start working with in spring because they are one of the first to wake up and send their colorful light out into the world. After a gray and dreary winter, those pretty purple shades are welcome, both calming and energizing as my focus starts to shift back toward the tending of the garden.

One of my favorite things to do with the first batch of Violets is to infuse the flowers in vinegar, then use the vinegar to make a shrub. Around here, we like to use vinegar shrubs in homemade salad dressings, Ginger ale recipes and all kinds of popsicles when the days start to warm up. This shrub recipe is like a sweet tonic for the winter-chilled soul. I love it.

violet-shrub-aromaculture.png

To make your own, you will need:

  • fresh Violet flowers
  • organic blueberries
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey

Gather your Violet flowers (leave some for the critters) and place them in a mason jar along with your blueberries. Pour your raw apple cider vinegar over the berries and flowers until they are covered and then some. Stick the jar in the fridge and allow the flowers and berries to macerate in the vinegar for 1-2 weeks (up to 4 weeks if you want a stronger flavor). Then strain them out of the vinegar and stir in some raw honey, to taste. Some people like to add equal parts honey to vinegar, while others prefer to leave their shrubs less sweet. Taste as you add until it seems just right to you.

violets by erin stewart of aromaculture.com wm-50.jpg

You can also use Viola tricolor (Heartsease) for this recipe if you don’t have Sweet Violets near you. Both are easy to grow, so I’d recommend sowing a few packets of seed throughout your garden (or your lawn!) if you can.

Are the Violets blooming where you are? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin

HOW TO MAKE VIOLET FLOWER HERBAL SHRUB BY AROMACULTURE.jpg

MORE BLOG POSTS

Herbal Heart Tonic Shrub Recipe

My husband has always been an apple cider vinegar fan. He was drinking vinegar as a sort of tonic long before drinkable vinegars became popular (it eventually became an “in thing” for awhile when we were living in southern California and, since then, it's seemed to become a lot more common) and long before I ever did. Once I started to really love Fire Cider, though, I began to come around. We now enjoy herbal shrub recipes, which are made of vinegar, honey, fruit and herbs. They’re  pretty versatile, lend themselves to experimentation, and make a great base for salad dressings! Shrubs can also be added to marinades, sorbets, popsicles, and homemade sodas. This particular recipe is for an herbal heart tonic shrub and it uses lots of yummy, heart-supportive herbs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Hawthorn berries
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • ¼ cup of Rose petals
  • ¼ cup of Hibiscus flowers
  • a tablespoon or so of Cardamom pods
  • 1 quart of raw apple cider vinegar
  • Raw honey, to taste

Click here to read more about Hawthorn and how it supports the heart.

Instructions:

Add your Hawthorn berries, Rose petals, Cardamom pods and Hibiscus flowers to a quart sized jar, then fill the rest of the jar with frozen strawberries (or fresh, if you have them available; we're in the middle of winter here, so frozen it is) and pour raw, organic apple cider vinegar over everything until it's all completely covered. I usually just fill the jar to the brim. Cap the jar, give it a good shake, then stick it in the fridge to infuse. I usually let mine go for at least a week or two, but you can infuse it for up to 4 weeks if you’d like your finished recipe to be stronger. My last batch infused for about 4-5 weeks and it turned out super yummy.

Once your recipe has reached the strength of flavor that you want, strain out all of the herbs and fruit and stir honey into your recipe. Some people like to use equal parts honey and vinegar while others like to cut back a little bit on the honey. Add it to taste to achieve the level of sweetness you prefer.

Subscribe to our Youtube channel

How to Use It

You can take herbal shrubs the same way you would Fire Cider – a small amount on its own, daily or as needed, or you can mix a small amount of the shrub into sparkling water, ginger ale, fruit juice, or your favorite beverage of choice. They make great salad dressings, too, so feel free to experiment by tossing a bit of shrub with some olive oil and drizzling it over your vibrant bed of greens.

HERBS AND ESSENTIAL OILS I ALWAYS KEEP ON HAND.jpg

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you decide to make it. I’d love to hear how you like it.

Much love,
Erin


MORE BLOG POSTS

Turmeric's Therapeutic Effects

Turmeric (Curcuma longa, C. domestica) is an herb with a reputation. Even people who don’t use herbs for anything beyond flavoring their favorite dishes often know that Turmeric can be used to help reduce chronic inflammation, relieve pain, and help to improve overall health and well-being. I have one friend who is very involved with western medicine and loves to use Turmeric for her gut health, and another who uses it alongside her normal medications to help reduce the severity of painful symptoms related to her chronic medical condition. Turmeric is a user-friendly food herb that people easily recognize. It’s also immensely valuable in the apothecary.

tumeric-aromaculture.png

Turmeric is an invigorating, warming herb that contains a wide variety of constituents, including the well-known curcumin, yields an essential oil that contains turmerone and zingiberene, among other constituents, and also contains sugars, protein, bitters, resins, and even vitamins A, B, C, E and K, flavonoids, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. The rhizome is the part of the plant that is most often used in cooking and in the apothecary. I grew Turmeric in my garden this year and it grew happily alongside my Ginger plants throughout our warmer months.

Therapeutic Properties

Turmeric boasts a wide variety of therapeutic effects, including the following: analgesic, antibacterial, anticarcinogenic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, blood moving, carminative, cholagogue, emmenagogue, hemostatic, hepatoprotective and vulnerary. As you can see, it’s quite a versatile herb.

For the Digestive System

Turmeric’s doctrine of signatures accurately points to its value as a liver supportive and liver protective herb. One veterinarian who uses Turmeric in his practice says that Turmeric stimulates the flow of bile and can increase its output by as much as 100% whilst also increasing its solubility.(1) Turmeric is commonly indicated for a wide variety of liver ailments as well as gastrointestinal issues and a plethora of other digestive complaints. It supports the digestive process, helps us to better absorb and use the nutrients in our food and helps improve gut flora. Its carminative effect is valuable for alleviating gas and associated  discomfort as well.

For the Respiratory System

While many may not think of Turmeric as the first herb to turn to when dealing with a respiratory issue, it is an excellent immune supportive, antiviral(2,3) herb to use when facing a cough or cold and flu symptoms. It is one of the ingredients in the famous Fire Cider remedy. Golden Milk, which features Turmeric as its main herbal ingredient is another traditional remedy that is often taken when the first sign of symptoms appears. Taking Turmeric in a formula that also includes black or white pepper is thought to increase its overall effectiveness.

Turmeric's Other Talents

Turmeric is also used to support the health of cardiovascular system, reduce anxiety levels
(especially in people who tend toward a cold constitution), support healthy menstruation, and is used in a variety of skin care applications. Its antifungal properties are employed in formulas meant to address skin issues such as athlete’s foot, eczema, psoriasis and ringworm and its anti-inflammatory properties are sometimes considered when formulating daily-use skin care products. Topical use blends that are used to help aid recovery after injury or trauma also make use of Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Blends that are formulated for topical use on wounds, insect bites and stings and scrapes and bruises often include Turmeric as an ingredient.

Rosemary Gladstar says that Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effect is accomplished by sensitizing the body’s cortisol receptor sites and speaks of studies that have revealed Turmeric as being stronger acting than hydrocortisone without its harmful side effects.(6)

Its cardiovascular effects include improved circulation and cholesterol levels, anticoagulant properties and protection against heart disease.

Turmeric's Test Results

One trial showed that Turmeric improves the memory of people who had early signs of prediabetes and Alzheimer’s.(5)

Multiple studies have found that Turmeric (and curcumin) has an anti-cancer effect, inducing apoptosis in cancer cells and helping to protect the body’s healthy cells. Pancreatic cancer,(7) head and neck cancers,(8) ovarian cancer,(9) breast cancer,(10,11,12,13,14,15) colon cancer,(16,17) prostate cancer,(18,19) skin cancer(20) and esophageal cancer(21) have all been examined in these studies.

One study found that the anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric compare with the anti-inflammatory effects of hydrocortisone acetate and phenylbutazone (an NSAID drug used in the treatment of animals).(4)

Turmeric’s herbal extract was found to be as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee arthritis.(23)

When combined with white pepper, Turmeric was found to be able to decrease inflammation.(24)

The essential oil shows promise as a mosquito repellent, especially in combination with a few other essential oils.(25)

Curcuma oil protected mice with hepatic injury from inflammatory and oxidative stress and inhibited hepatoma cell growth in vivo and in vitro.(26) Turmeric’s extract inhibits gastric acid secretion by blocking H(2) histamine receptors.(2)7 It also inhibits entry of all hepatitis C virus genotypes from entering liver cells.(28)
Turmeric’s antiviral effects have been demonstrated in studies involving Zika(29) and other viruses, HIV,(30) and the Herpes simplex virus,(31) among others.

Turmeric also shows promise for use in a number of eye conditions.(32)

Applications and Uses

I love incorporating Turmeric into my skin care routine. I use the hydrosol as a facial toner and I often include the powdered herb in an exfoliating face powder recipe with powdered Rose petals. I also like to combine it with a bit of honey, Turmeric hydrosol, and clay to make a face mask that can be painted onto the skin and left for a few minutes (don’t let it dry out) before rinsing off.

Turmeric is famously used as an herbal dye that produces a vibrant yellow color. It’s no secret that Turmeric likes to stain everything it touches! Because it is so effective at sharing its color with everything around it, it’s often employed as a substitute for saffron in dishes where that brilliant color is desired. It makes fried rice and stir fry dishes beautifully colorful and can make for a fun addition to bread making.

When used for its flavor, Turmeric is perhaps the most noticeable ingredient in curry spice blends. Curried peas and curried roasted cauliflower are favorites in our home. I also love to include a bit of it when making fermented veggies!

Turmeric can be brewed alone as a tea, but is more effective when a bit of black or white pepper is added to the brew. It’s especially tasty when prepared as Golden Milk with a few more pungent, warming spices and bit of honey. I also like to include it in smoothies or use the fresh juice combined with the juice of carrots and lemon in the mornings.

The leaves of the Turmeric plant are used to wrap and steam-cook fish. The rhizome is beautiful in soups and is one of the ingredients in Fire Cider, a traditional herbal remedy. The powdered herb can be used to season grilled meats and add color to a variety of dishes, including potato salad (yum!).

Turmeric is most effective when used steadily over time, so try incorporating it into a variety of dishes to discover how you like it best.

Turmeric for Dogs

Turmeric is also a useful herb to use when caring for animals, especially dogs. It can be sprinkled into their food to assist with / help prevent liver, digestive and cardiovascular ailments. It can also be used topically (infused into a carrier oil or Aloe or used as a hydrosol) for wounds, eczema, and other skin-related issues.

One of my pup’s favorite treats is a scrambled egg cooked with a pinch of Turmeric powder sprinkled into it. I’ll sometimes add Turmeric to her food when I’m cooking up the rice that I include in some of her meals. It turns the rice a brilliant yellow color and adds a bit of flavor as well.

Growing Turmeric

Growing Turmeric in the garden is so easy and so enjoyable. The plants are happy growing next to my Ginger and Plantain and I can’t believe how vibrant Turmeric is when I use it just after digging it up. There’s something special about using an herb therapeutically when it was a living plant just a few moments ago.

Growing: Turmeric can be grown outdoors in partial shade or partial sun during the warmer months and potted up and brought indoors to go dormant for the cooler months (if your growing zone is below 7 or 8; otherwise it can overwinter outdoors in areas where you ground doesn’t freeze). It prefers a moist soil and a humid environment, but I’ve heard reports that it will even grow in dry soil. To plant it, lay the rhizome flat on top of the soil and top-sprinkle with a bit more soil (bits of the rhizome should still be visible). Don’t bury it completely or it could rot. The plant is very easy to grow; I highly recommend planting some in your own garden, greenhouse or sunroom.

Harvesting: Turmeric can be harvested in the fall with other fall-harvested roots, after the leaves have started to lose their color and lushness. The rhizomes can be stored in the fridge for a few months and enjoyed while fresh, but for longer storage, you’ll want to dry them.

Safety Considerations

Turmeric has the potential to exacerbate signs of excess heat in the body, so if you already tend toward a hot constitution, you’ll want to avoid overusing it. Therapeutic doses should generally be avoided when pregnant or while taking blood thinning medications, but use as a food herb in reasonable amounts is generally regarded as safe.

Essential Oil and Hydrosol

Turmeric essential oil is rich in turmerone and zingiberene, among other constituents. Its therapeutic properties include: analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, cholagogue, digestive, restorative, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. It is commonly used to support healthy digestion, relieve muscular cramps, spasms and aches and pains, and to soothe skin ailments with symptoms of excess heat. It is contraindicated for small children and women who are pregnant and may irritate sensitive skin, so use it at a proper dilution and after testing it on a small area before widespread application.

The hydrosol is used topically for skin ailments and in digestive support preparations and is sometimes used internally (in cooking or otherwise) to help support healthy digestion.

Turmeric by aromaculture.jpg

How about you? Have you made friends with Turmeric yet? What stands out to you about it?

Much love,
Erin

References

  1. Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Dog Care by Randy Kidd, D.V.M., Ph.D
  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354216307483
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25600522
  4. http://www.mccormickscienceinstitute.com/public/msi/assets/Aggarwal_book.pdf
  5. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/23/4/581.pdf
  6. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25071333
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22583425
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25429431
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24864107
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22772921
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140290
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23448448
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25031701
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24365254
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25238234
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24550143
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25594891
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23875250
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22080352
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22253518
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26396311
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24672232
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24260564
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25817806
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24270742
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16327153
  28. gut.bmj.com/content/63/7/1137.long
  29. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354216307483
  30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2608099/pdf/jnma00383-0007.pdf
  31. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042682207007982
  32. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0033-1351074

 


MORE BLOG POSTS

How to Make Pungent Digestive Bites with Spicy Herbs

I first learned about making herbal “balls” (I usually call them bites) from Rosemary Gladstar several years ago. Since then, I’ve taken to whipping up a batch of them regularly because I just love snacking on them and I enjoy knowing that I’m not just eating a cookie or something (not that I don’t enjoy a cookie now and then) – instead, I’m eating a nutrient-dense little bite packed with herbs. This particular recipe is one of my favorites for after dinner bites. It’s full of pungent carminative herbs that taste delicious and help support the digestive process.

HERBAL-DIGESTIVE-BITES.png

Ingredients:

  • 1 part organic sunflower seed butter, unsalted and unsweetened
  • 1 part organic raw honey
  • 1 part organic oats
  • ½ part organic chocolate chips (optional)
  • ½ part organic unsweetened toasted coconut flakes
  • ½ part organic Ginger powder
  • ¼ part organic Cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of sea salt

Start by combining equal parts of the nut butter, honey and oats and stir them together well until thoroughly combined. Add in your herb powders and stir, then mix in the chocolate chips  (optional) and coconut flakes. Form the bites into small balls and store them in a bowl in the freezer.

HOW TO MAKE HERBAL DIGESTIVE BITES.jpg

What do you like to add to your herb bites?

Much love,
Erin


MORE BLOG POSTS

How to Prepare Horseradish

I first met Horseradish in junior high school. One of the classes I was taking put together a traditional Jewish Seder feast as one of our assignments and we were each assigned to bring one of the elements of the feast to the class so we could all learn more about what happens during a Seder. I’m not Jewish, so the whole experience was new to me then and I found it all quite fascinating. One of the dishes that is still most memorable to me from that day was the prepared Horseradish. I now use Horseradish in a variety of herbal recipes, including a traditional Fire Cider, but sometimes I like to prepare it on its own so I can use it in other dishes.

HOW-TO-PREPARE-HORSERADISH.png

Tip: Horseradish is rich in volatile oils that aren’t altogether pleasant (they’ll burn your nose if you accidentally stand over the Horseradish and inhale it after grating it), so it’s a good idea to prepare Horseradish with a window open. The longer you wait to add the vinegar to the recipe after grating the Horseradish, the stronger and sharper its taste (and aroma) will be.

To prepare Horseradish, peel one fresh root and grate or chop it into more manageable pieces. You can then use a food processor or blender (or a mortar and pestle) to puree the Horseradish.

Add 3 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to each cup of Horseradish, along with about half a teaspoon of sea salt. Continue to puree until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Store the finished Horseradish recipe in an airtight container in the fridge where it should keep for at least one month. I like to add it to smashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, but you could also use it in sour cream as a flavorful dip for fresh veggies.

The Cherokee peoples have traditionally used Horseradish as an antirheumatic and diuretic, as a remedy for colds and to improve digestion. It is used in many herbal traditions as a catalyst herb, much the way Cayenne would be used, and is stimulating and energy-moving. When you first taste it, you might think it is a bit strong and possibly even off-putting, but you’ll probably find that it grows on you pretty quickly. I know it has for me!

HOW TO PREPARE HORSERADISH.jpg

How do you like to enjoy Horseradish?

Much love,
Erin

 


MORE BLOG POSTS

Two Ways to Prepare Ginger + a Closer Look At the Herb

Note: Portions of this article have been excerpted from an article originally published in November's issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

If you give my husband a jar of candied Ginger, it'll be gone within a couple of days. A 4-pack of his favorite Ginger soda? Three days later all evidence of its existence will have vanished. A jar of Ginger spread in the pantry? He'll pop that thing open and add Ginger to all of the meals for the next week and there will be no remaining trace of it by the next shopping trip. He really loves Ginger. It might be his favorite thing ever. I like to say he has a supercharged cold constitution because he has such an affinity for the hotter herbs. He can brew his Ginger tea twice as strong as I could ever tolerate mine and he’s been known to eat Cayenne peppers fresh off the plant, whole. So, as you can imagine, he was pretty excited when I planted up a bed of Ginger in our garden this year.

how-to-candy-and-pickle-ginger-aromaculture.com.png

Ginger is a warming herb that stimulates circulation, helps to relieve nausea, and gets stagnant energy flowing again. It contains over 450 different constituents, yields a vibrant essential oil, and is one of the most versatile pungent herbs in the apothecary. I'm going to share two different ways you can preserve it here today: candied Ginger and pickled Ginger, and then I'm going to share some other ways you can use it and a few of Ginger's noteworthy test results.

HOW TO MAKE CANDIED GINGER

ginger recipes aromaculture.com-4.jpg

Slice your peeled Ginger rhizome thinly (about 1/8") and as evenly as you can. A mandoline can be set at the proper measurement and used to keep all of your slices the same thickness, but a kitchen knife will do if you don't have a mandoline. Place the Ginger in a saucepan and cover it with water so that the water sits at least an inch or two above the top of the Ginger slices. Place the saucepan over low heat, covered, and simmer for at least 30 to 45 minutes, or until the Ginger has become tender. Strain the Ginger, reserving the liquid decoction. Weigh the Ginger, then place it back into your saucepan with an equal amount of organic sugar by weight, and add about half of the Ginger decoction back to the pan (save the rest). Place it over low heat and stir until the Ginger basically looks like a big sticky mess in the middle of the saucepan. At that point, strain the Ginger again (reserve the liquid) and spread it out on a cooling rack or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Separate each slice and toss it in sugar, then leave it to dry overnight before storing. The first batch of reserved liquid can be weighed and added to a saucepan with an equal amount of sugar to create Ginger syrup, which can be added to lemonades and sodas (or even drizzled over pancakes) and the second batch of reserved liquid is already a Ginger syrup and can be used the same way.

HOW TO MAKE PICKLED GINGER

ginger recipes aromaculture.com-1.jpg

Slice your  peeled Ginger rhizome as thinly as possible, then sprinkle sea salt over it and leave it to set in a bowl while you prepare your pickling liquid. Combine equal parts pure water and vinegar (either rice vinegar, which is traditionally used, or raw apple cider vinegar) and a tablespoon each of organic sugar and sea salt for each cup of water you've used. Bring the liquids to a boil and dissolve the sugar and salt in the mixture. Transfer the Ginger to a heat-safe jar, then pour the freshly boiled vinegar mixture over it into the jar until the Ginger is completely covered. Let it cool, then store it in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 days before eating (it's safe to eat before then, but the flavor won't be fully developed yet). Consume within a month or two and keep refrigerated.

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GINGER

  • Growing Ginger is pretty easy and the plants are vibrant and tenacious. They're always buzzing with beneficial insects and can live outdoors year round in growing zone 10, but in all other growing zones, it can be grown in a large pot and brought indoors during the cooler months. I planted mine in a raised bed this year, left it outside during our hot seasons and potted it up and brought it indoors for the winter.
     
  • Ginger can be used in cooking to add a layer of depth to the flavor of your dishes. I like to use a bit of the fresh rhizome when I cook, removing it from the dish just before serving, because it adds a hint of warmth and spice that leaves people saying, "This is so good! What did you put in here?" It adds some zest and energy to the dish without making everything taste recognizably like Ginger.
     
  • Perhaps most well-known for its ability to help soothe an upset tummy, Ginger stimulates the digestive system (and related organs), helps us to better digest proteins, and can be used to relieve nausea, indigestion, motion sickness, morning sickness, and a wide variety of other digestive complaints. One study found that it significantly reduced the severity of chemotherapy-related nausea symptoms for patients who were undergoing treatment.
     
  • As a stimulating expectorant herb, Ginger is often included in formulas that are useful when dealing with a cold or flu, sinus issues, lung complaints, and sore throats. It also boosts the immune system, which is especially helpful when dealing with symptoms of imbalance or illness. Ginger is often included as a catalyst in cold and flu remedies such as Fire Cider and Elderberry Syrup and I personally enjoy using it in facial steams when I’m feeling a bit stuffy or as if I might be coming down with something.
candied and pickled ginger recipes by aromaculture.jpg

GINGER'S TEST RESULTS
(references are linked)

One study of Ginger extract, combined with the extract of Garlic, found that they had an antibacterial effect that shows potential for use against multi-drug resistant pathogens, while another found that Ginger extract was notably antibacterial against two different strains of Streptococcus bacteria.

Ginger capsules were used in a study involving 120 college students who had primary dysmenorrhea and the results indicated that the use of Ginger significantly reduced the severity and duration of painful symptoms.

Widely studied for its possible use in the treatment or prevention of diabetes mellitus and related symptoms, one study found that Ginger could protect against the degeneration of renal cells and reduce the severity of damage caused by certain medications, while another study found that it decreased inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Yet another found that Ginger significantly reduced structural abnormalities in the hearts of diabetic rats. Diabetes patients using Ginger have experienced a significant reduction in blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL and VLDL cholesterol, while also finding that Ginger helps to protect the liver and kidneys, as well as from other diabetes-related complications.

Additionally, Ginger helps people to feel fuller faster, demonstrates antimicrobial and antifungal effects, effectively decreased sperm DNA fragmentation in infertile men, and, in one study, was found to have a potential anti-addictive effect against the chronic use of morphine. It’s also thought to help improve mental function in middle-aged women.

Ginger is consistently tested for anti-carcinogenic effects and has been studied for possible use to prevent / treat such cancers as colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer.

Practical Applications and Favorite Uses

Ginger can be taken as a tea when dealing with menstrual cramps that feel better when you apply a heating pad to your abdomen. Many people like to add Chamomile to the tea to make it even more effective. A warm compress dipped in Ginger tea or a poultice can also be applied to lower abdomen for the same purpose. To make Ginger tea, pour freshly boiled water over a piece of Ginger about the size of the tip of your thumb (you can also mince or slice the piece or use a bit of dried Ginger powder or a prepared tea bag), cover the mug, and let it steep for about 10 minutes.

Ginger can be infused into a carrier oil that can be used as a base for warming massage oils (think muscle aches and pains), salves and creams (warming, circulatory applications for cold hands or feet), or even scalp massage oils.

I love to add Ginger to hand and foot baths (or even full body baths), especially during the cooler months, to encourage healthy circulation, warm me up, and provide a little immune system boost.

A variety of smoothie chains offer juiced Ginger (you can make it at home too), which can be taken plain or used in Ginger lemonades and  sodas.

Candied Ginger can be stored in an airtight jar and kept in the pantry or your purse. If you deal with carsickness or food-related nausea, it’s a handy remedy to keep on hand. When you make candied Ginger, you also end up with Ginger syrup, which can be added to lemonades, sodas, apple cider and other drinks, or drizzled on pancakes, cornbread or muffins.

Include a bit of Ginger in herbal formulas as a catalyst that helps to boost the effectiveness of the other herbs in the formula. It’s wonderful for encouraging a quick-acting herbal synergy.

Ginger for Dogs

Sprinkle a tiny bit of powdered Ginger in with your dog’s dinner to help encourage healthy digestion. It also works especially well for dogs that are experiencing pain or symptoms of cold in their limbs. I like to use Ginger in my homemade dog food for our German Shepherd – adding it when I’m cooking up proteins, or even adding a piece to the water when I’m making the rice for her food is an easy way to incorporate Ginger into her meals (remove the chunk of Ginger before serving).

Ginger-infused carrier oil can make a great base for topical salves and creams that are massaged into the skin when dealing with symptoms of pain that are relieved by heat.

Note: If you have a dog that already leans toward a hotter constitution, Ginger may not be the best choice for your pup.

NOTES ABOUT SAFETY

Ginger is generally considered a very safe herb, but some herbalists recommend using it only in small doses when pregnant and others recommend avoiding it when experiencing symptoms of heat in the body or when using blood thinning medications.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like Ginger? Let me know in the comments section below.

Much love,
Erin


MORE BLOG POSTS