Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Harvest

My sister is Tina Sams and she publishes herbal books along with her magazine, The Essential Herbal. We have been attending a number of herbal classes and an herbal conference in North Carolina just the other week. All this herbal learning and remembering (from when we had our herb shop) seems to be inspiring me to get back to working more with herbs again.

Fall is here and the days are getting cooler, threatening frost in the not too distant future, so this afternoon, I decided I had better harvest a couple of things before my chance was over.

This past Saturday, my sister and I attended a class at The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA. The class was taught by Gail Faith Edwards of Blessed Maine Herb Farm. One of the herbs that Gail spoke of was Witch Hazel or Hamamelis virginiana.  She explained that while the witch hazel that we know in the US is a distillation, in Europe, it is tinctured and the resulting alcohol is used as a muscle rub.
I had some green isopropyl alcohol, which means it has oil of wintergreen added to it. We had learned about green alcohol from Phyllis Light at a class earlier this year and just out of curiosity, I had found some and bought a bottle of it.  By itself, it is supposed to be superior to regular old rubbing alcohol for sore muscles. I figured adding witch hazel would only make it better.

I took the witch hazel up to Tina's and we pulled all the blossoms off the twigs, along with a few leaves and then chopped the smaller twigs into a canning jar.  Finally we poured the alcohol over it and though we hadn't put it on before I took the picture, labeled it with the contents and the date.  This is just for personal use.

I had already harvested one batch of comfrey just before we had our summer deluges and it dried so beautifully that I thought it would be nice to get another batch dried for use in our bath herbs.

Here it is laid out on a sheet in my sister's unused second floor bedroom. Comfrey has such a mucilaginous nature that it never seems to get completely dry.
In a week or so, this should be dry enough to process.  I'll remove the big central ribs and whirl the leaves in a blender to make a lively green dried herb to add to some of our products.  This will only yield a few ounces, but home dried herbs seem to be far superior to even those from some of the best commercial sources.