Plants, Extracts, Salves and Essential Oils

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Saving plants to use during the winter is vital. If you are going to use them for cooking or teas, you can simply dry them down. But if you are wanting to use them for more medicinal preventative use, you need a different method of storage. 
Tinctures, Vinegar, Glycerite, Honey, and Oil Extracts
Liquid extracts are made using the bark, leaves, or berries of the plants and soaking them for 4-6 weeks in liquid. This pulls the active plant ingredient parts into the liquid, concentrating them. When making a liquid extract decide what the use will be and find the quality herbs that fit for that use. 

  • Tinctures are made with alcohol. This is a great way to store the plants for medicinal user, as it keeps for several years when stored in a cool dark place. The concentrated liquid is also easier to get children to take when needed. 
  • Glycerites are made with glycerin.  These only store about a year but are sweeter than a tincture.  So, children may take it easier.
  • Vinegar is great for making a oxymel, which is a probiotic.  You can take these as is or add them as a dressing to salad or seasoning to vegetables. 
  • Honey infusion is perfect for a little sweet treat that is also beneficial to your health. Raw local honey has great benefits anyway. Infuse with something like elderflower and you have an immune boosting treat!
  • Oil is the best to use when making the extract into a salve.  Olive oil is the preferred oil for most skin care salve.
Salves are excellent for wound or rash care. Let the herbs soak in oil for the desired time (varies depending on the plant), strain off the solids, warm to melt bees wax and pour into jars. I will occasionally add essential oils, if I am making the salve with a specific purpose. My personal favorite is the calendula salve. It is great for healing the skin and promoting tissue growth. Another good salve is pine, which is good at drawing infection out. 
Essential Oils
Essential Oils are extremely concentrated and keep for nearly forever, IF THEY ARE PURE. They are very tricky to make however as slight differences in pressure or temperature or time can make a big difference in what active ingredients are pulled out. When an essential oil is made, it also pulls from everything the plant has gathered and stored. This means if there are chemicals in or on the plant they’re coming too. When making essential oils for medicinal use the minor constituents are very important. These constituents are also dependent soil health (more on that next week). 
Whatever you decide to make, be sure to label what it is and what you intended to use it for if your memory is full like mine is. 

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