Sunday, November 13, 2011

Herbal Fun - Margaret Ullrich

You might have an aloe vera in your kitchen and use it as a burn soother.  But, you might say, what can I do with fresh herb leaves and flowers?

Boil a kettle of water, snip the leaves and flowers off the stalk, simmer in water for about three minutes, take them off the heat and let steep overnight.  Non-caffeinated herbal teas are great hot or cold.  
They can also be blended with classic 'teas', spices or fruit juices.  

Bergamot, a member of the mint family, has a strong taste similar to oregano.  Oil of bergamot is used to flavor Earl Grey tea.  

Let the kids make sun tea.  Just let leaves stand in full sun in a clear container of water for a few hours.  Then drain and serve, hot or cold.  The tea will be caffeine- and sugar-free.  And, since the kids made it, you know they'll drink it.

Why not try an herb theme garden?  Kings and queens grew herbs in formal gardens.  Early settlers brought medicinal and culinary herbs from Europe.  Healers knew all about herbal plants.  Remember the monk in Romeo and Juliet?  

Don't worry about your herb garden being just a patch of green.  There are deep burgundy basil varieties, as well as purple and red basil.  Thymus vulgarus is the best for cooking, while thymus serpyllum makes an aromatic ground cover between the stones of a path.  The flower of white sweet clover can be used to flavor cheese and to keep moths away from fur in storage. 

Chamomile is easy to grow and makes a soothing cup of tea.  A bit of trivia: in the ancient world it was the main herbal ingredient in the embalming oil used to mummify the Egyptian king Ramses II, who died in 1224 B. C.   

Mable grey geraniums and lemon balm have a scent like citronella.  That's handy in any Manitoba garden.

Herbs are a mild form of medicine.  And with all the recalls and warnings about prescriptions, they are becoming popular.  
Why not try spearmint for giddiness, sage for headaches, mint for nausea and headaches, ginger for tummyaches and mugwort for gout?

Be well!!

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