Tuesday, January 4, 2011

this is herbal infusion

                                 this is herbal infusion                        

When I first became interested in herbal medicine, I was attracted to the idea of herbal infusions but it all seemed so complicated. There were so very many different herbs in one formula, the herbs themselves almost aways needed to be mail-ordered, and they needed to be weighed, no less. On top of it all, they tasted bad. There seemed to be so many reasons to avoid that aspect of herbal medicine. But I luckily found and learned from teachers who simplified the process and here I am, an avid herbal-infusion-drinking woman. Every day, just about. Yup. For years and years now.

So I thought I'd explain infusion-making. What I make are simple tonic infusions, using a single dried tonic herb at a time, that are mild but very supportive taken over a period of time, inexpensive, safe to drink regularly, and taste good. Made on an alternating basis, the tonic herbs I use most often are oatstraw, Avena sativa; nettles, Urtica dioica; and red clover, Trifolium pratense. To figure out if these are good tonic herbs for you, check out some of the books listed at the end of this post. As an aside, I see all these authors as my teachers in one way or another, but my structured study and apprenticeship was done under the watch of Tammi Hartung who wrote Growing 101 Herbs that Heal and is about to become a second-time author with Homegrown Herbs (to be released in February 2011).

Back to infusions. Here's a little step-by-step and it's really easy!

You'll need a quart canning jar, lid & screw top, 1 cup of dried herb,
 and a kettle to boil the water. This is dried red clover.

Fill the jar to the very top with the boiling water. Then cap and
screw the lid on. After a little while you'll hear the lid pop when it seals, but that
doesn't mean it's sealed-sealed!

Leave on the counter to infuse for at least 4 hours. I make it sometimes in the morning to drink in the afternoon. You can also make it at night before you go to bed and it'll be ready in the morning.

Now it's time to strain the herbal material from the liquid.
You'll need a strainer and a quart measuring cup or another jar or a
bowl -- just something to rest the strainer on and pour the liquid into.

 Press down on the herbs to squeeze out all the goodness. Rinse out your jar.
Compost the herbs.

Pour the strained infusion back into the jar. Sip directly from the jar right now, or chill in the refrigerator, or heat on the stove to drink hot. You'll find that you like different herbs at different temperatures. I love oatstraw cold, but think nettles is better hot. Store in refrigerator for a day or two. After that, water your houseplants with it. They will love it as much as you will.

Makes a little over 3 cups.
You can see how easy it is to drink this amount in one day if you simply replace
some of your daily water with nutritious and tasty herbal infusion.

Most herbalists have dozens of herbals and I'm no exception. Here are a few well-used herbals that have good, solid information for all levels.

Growing 101 Herbs that Heal by Tammi Hartung
Healing Wise by Susun Weed
The Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce A. Wardwell
Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

On this day of the first new moon in 2011, I raise my quart jar to you. Cheers.

Also posted at Food Renegade.


Deb G said...

I just bought Tami Hartung's book. Very easy to use.

woman with wings said...

Deb, it is a great book! -- I apprenticed with her during the writing of it.

J said...

Thank you so much! This post is exactly what I've been searching for. I can't wait to make some infusions, and I am going to search amazon from some new books tonight!

woman with wings said...

J -- yay! So glad that this helped you. I hope you find the books!