Friday, January 23, 2009

Herb preparation in my kitchen

Here is what my herbs and my preparation with them, looks like in the kitchen. I have my canisters for each dried herb, I store them in the pantry. I also have a lovely, bright ceramic and wood cabinet I use for storing smaller amounts of each herb for quick access each day. Then I have a large brewing tea pot and a smaller one, plus a handy little teastick!

The herb cabinet has ten drawers, in them are the 10 herbs I use the most:

Stinging Nettle

Herb Robert
Gotu Kola

Ladies Mantle
Hawthorn berries
Chaste Tree berries
Small flowered willow herb

King of Bitters

I have more herbs but they are not ones I use daily, mainly for acute situations.

Looking down on each nob, I have taped the name of each herb, because I can't rely on my memory for anything, anymore!

Adding this herbal cabinet to my kitchen has streamlined my access to them, especially when early mornings are very busy. When I am brewing a pot of herbs, it is usually a few in the pot - anything up to five herbs or so. When you use more than one herb at a time, it creates a synergistic effect. (Used especially of drugs or muscles that work together so the total effect is greater than the sum of the two (or more.))

When I first saw this cabinet, I thought "the herbs!" ....then I started to really think hard about it all. Timber's are usually impregnanted with varnishes/stains or anti-pest solutions. Not always, but you can't be sure. We bought a handsome kitchen cabinet and it was made with that same Asian timber and influence. I had to contact the company about what products had been used on them previously, before re-covering it with a new varnish made of natural ingredients, it was then I discovered that they had only used a natural, beeswax solution.

Not wanting to let go the herb idea, I wondered how I could be cautious with this yet still have something that would help me in quickly getting my brews together each day. Then I thought I could stretch glad-wrap over the top of each draw. Maybe that would prove just as difficult..lifting the wrap each time, but it hasn't, which is great.

So it is still far easier to lift the wrap, take a pinch and cover again and open the next drawer to repeat rather than open bigger cannisters, that also take up alot of room on the kitchen top when they are all lined up together. The wrap also helps in protecting the quality of the herbs, in a sealed environment.

This is the size of my bigger cannisters, you can see how just one of them takes up a lot of space compared to the herb cabinet.

Here are my brewing tools. I bought them from the tea center in my city. There is the large, icon concepts 1 litre, double walled tea pot on the right. It is perfect for brewing for myself or for the whole family. When I brew for myself, I will often drink a few cups in the day. If it is for the children, it will give them all a cup.

It is made of glass and stainless steel. I am very fussy what these pots are made of, I don't want any leaching of plastics or metals into the brews. This was a quality buy for life. It is double walled, it helps it stay warm, longer and allows me to handle it a little more freely as it boiling hot to touch the outer glass wall.

Then on the left there is a 1 litre, Euroline stainless steel teapot it is a smaller one I use mainly for my husband or if I want to brew a small amount. The reason I've bought this for dh is I am limiting both myself and him by previously sharing the main brew. I don't want to put in herbs that are more traditional herbs for a woman, an example would be Ladies Mantle.

Also, the Small Flowered Willow herb is the revered herb for the prostrate, though in dh's case, I use it as a preventive or a prophylactic. Dh is doing alot of shift work which includes a sprinkling of overnight shifts. I make sure that he has a cup or more before he leaves at night and that he has a fresh brew when he arrives home in the morning, before going to bed.

I like to add into his brew, herbs that a specific to endurance, all round rejuvenation and while many people talk of the headiness and hangerover headaches of night shift, it has not affected dh in that way. Maybe the herbs have played a part in this.
The last little gaget is a Gamilia teastick made of stainless steel. It's brilliant, you just load up the compartment with herbs/teas (take into consideration the herbs swell, don't need to fill it too much) and shut down the sliding lid and sit it into your cup to infuse.

I have chamomile in the picture above. Often I have an aunty visit who only drinks chamomile tea and since I have the loose, dried flowers only, I would find myself brewing a pot even though she was wanting only a cup of it. Now I have my solution, tea for one! This will be handy at other times as well, for us or guests.

Brewing up those delightful flowers, if only you could smell it, the gentle smell of chamomile!
I hope to blog regularly about my love of herbs, but I thought this was a good starting place since brewing herbal teas is a big part of my life with herbs and trying to improve the health of myself and my family - naturally.

I have many herbal books, I love them all. But if I had to choose just one - what I believe to be the best, the most comprehsive, packed with the most practical advice, it would be Isabell Shipard's book, How to Use Herbs in My Daily Life.

It is a big, thick book and it stands head and shoulders above all the rest I have or seen. You can buy from Isabell's site, she posts around the world, accepting paypal or credit. Remember too, our dollar has collapsed under the US dollar and anything bought from Australia is almost half the price of the US dollar, good value for overseas customers!


Meredith said...

That is the CUTEST little ceramic and wood cabinet I have ever seen, I love it! Thank you for this very educational post, I always like to use fresh herbs in my cooking and baking and I see there are so many ways to use them here!! Many blessings,

Purpleflowerpatch said...

Anne, I am so glad you will be sharing more about herbs with us! I want to run out now and buy the book but I will save first. ;-) Can you share (over time of course) the herbs you use the most and why, please? Also, best suppliers here in Australia?

Anne (aussieannie) said...

Sure thing on both accounts Jenny!!

It IS cute, isn't it?

Maria Therese said...

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about herbs! I am hoping to learn from you and start using them myself. Maybe they can help me with the endometriosis and the infertility?

I have found something else that really helps me, which I just wrote about in my blog - praying the rosary! I just learned another friend is newly pregnant. I am very happy for her, but was a little sad for myself. I grabbed my rosary and prayed and guess what? I feel so much better now! Praying the rosary really helps me!

Please continue to blog about herbs, the rosary, and St. Anne. I am seriously considering praying the chaplet every day. I am hoping to be able to find a St. Anne chaplet soon!! I will also be praying for your sister! Maybe you could encourage her to pray the rosary? It really helps me. Maybe it could help her too? I think I can understand how she feels.

May God Bless you and your beautiful family. I love visiting your blog - it's one of my favorites! It always encourages me! Thank you so much!

Maria Therese

little sparrow , florasita , sticklady , strong tree woman said...

I love your canisters , may I ask where you found them . I'd love to get a set but if they are only found in OZ it'd be a bit out of budget ;-)
I use baby food jars I get from my sweet nieghbour who runs a home daycare . Very handy little jars work well for water clour mixing too ;-)