The Gift of Herbs And Spices Introductory Class

I love my mints and part of that is that once I learned to drink tea. Herbal tea’s especially Licorice Spice became a big part of my life. Then I learned to grow them and use them fresh as tea. They are even better and give you so many nutrients fresh.

Apple Mint
This is the soft mint and has hairs on the leaves that make it really touchable. It also has a nice flavor in salads and though very mild is good in tea.

This member of the mint family grows veraciously and seeds well. It is frequently used to stuff cat toys. I plant to try it as a repellent for rodents this fall. It seems to be a grood repellent for ants as well. I pulled enough this summer to wish never to smell it again.

Chocolate Mint
Chocolate Mint makes a great tea. It also works well in desserts, salads, and is nice added to chocolate.

Creeping Mint
This is better as ground cover in my book. I just don’t care for it any way that I have tried it so far. It does provide great ground cover though and could be used to stabilize hillsides. It is a great spreading mint and maybe one of these days I will find more uses for it.

Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is used for tea and can be dried or used fresh during the summer. I grew it this summer and will collect seeds to grow later. This is closely related to the mint family and has many of the same growing habits and uses.

Orange Mint
I really enjoy Orange mint as a tea, in salads, in dessert, and has beautiful flowers. This makes good flower arrangements but if you wish for long stems you will need to prop it up. It tends to creep over the ground as well as under the ground like many other mints.

I have the most of this mint growing and that is a good thing because I love it as tea, in fruit salad, in smoothies, and for arrangements. Spearmint and other mints are susceptible to mildews so need to be sprayed on occasion with a mixture of baking soda, soap and water. I usually blend it in my blender then put it in a spray bottle to use against powdery mildew. I think that I have worse trouble than most because I have so much shade. This video is of me harvesting the spearmint which I do from May till the first frost or two.

Probably best known for tea and Christmas candy this is one of my favorites. It grows well and is suited for growing in containers as well as around the house. It has an antioxidant rating of over 100,000. Mint oil is used for flavoring as well. I use it mostly for tea, salads, and with chocolate.

This is only a small sampling of the mints available. They all have amazing qualities and can be used for numerous things. Please explore more of the mint family in the Intermediate and Advanced Herb Classes.

This was a funny tasting garnish to me as a kid. I now know it as an amazing flavor great in salads, soups, sandwiches, and tabbouleh. I loved tabbouleh from the first bite. I love cucumbers to begin wit and the combination was amazing. I have learned many other uses since the nineties for this spice that is rich in anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, and nutrients.

There are hundreds of kinds of both sweet and hot peppers. Many of them are loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and trace minerals. They add flavor, nutrition, heat, and cancer killing angigenesis chemicals to our diets. I had the privilege of working on one of the best pepper farms in the nation while I lived in Wapato. I only got to help out with apple harvest and a little time in the stand but enjoyed learning about peppers and trying numerous kinds of sweet peppers while working at the Krueger Pepper Gardens. They still grow amazing peppers as well as a number of other things.

Growing on the Roof
Peppers and Basil

I love this spice because it goes so will with pasta. It also has a number of other places that it can be used salads, soups, pizza. I grow three kinds of oregano at present and love to just eat the leaves on my Cuban Oregano which are kind of like a succulent and crunchy with a spicy bite to them. The golden oregano is great with pasta and works well fresh or dried. Greek oregano is great for pasta, pizza, bread sticks, and many other places. Oregano is a good anti-bacterial and anti-viral as an oil. I have taken it occasionally in capsule form. You never want to chew on one accidentally though because it will become a very memorable experience.

Regular rosemary is great in food. It is not just for potatoes though great on most varieties of them. It as an oil can be used medicinally. Barbaque Rosemary in particular is good with potatoes, in salads, and added to pesto, just a touch.

Where does it come from you might as and there are great farms with just the right crocus to answer that question. The little late blooming Saffron Crocus can be ordered. It can purchase and grow in your yard from multiple places. Harvest your own and in a few years maybe even sell it as a spice if you enjoy taking care of them and collecting it.

Sage is not something I was familiar with cooking or growing till this last year. Then I discovered pineapple sage. I enjoy growing it.

The famous sugar substitute that allows you to add sweet without adding calories. This is a pretty plant to grow. I love the taste as long as I don’t get too much because in excess this comes with a warning label that basically says I’m bitter.

Tarragon can be used in salads, soups, with potatoes or pasta. Tarragon has medicinal benefits as a sleep aid, for digestion, and for toothaches. It is best fresh but can also be dried.

Thyme comes in many varieties and flavors. It is easy to and care for. It provides great ground cover in places. I remember the smell most in veggie burgers. It can be used in salads, soups, on potatoes, with pasta, and as a tea. Thyme has medicinal uses as a anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It is also used in respiratory infections. It gives basic immune support to many of the bodies organ systems.

Turmeric is often used in curry along with many other Indian dishes. This spice can be used in salad, on pasta, potatoes, or rice. Turmeric can added to a smoothie, or made into golden milk by stirring it together with warm not boiling coconut milk. This is a really good way to up the absorption of turmeric rate. If you add a fat to Turmeric like olive oil or coconut fifty percent more of it will get into your blood stream. This addition of fat to spices is a common way to increase absorption rates.

This is one of the most studied herbs on this list. Why, you might ask? Turmeric is really good against inflammation. It has a number of chemicals compounds that boost the immune system and fight disease. It generally grows in the tropics so needs lots of heat.

Herb Starting
Most herbs can be started from seed, cloves, roots, or cuttings. You can purchase or save seed and start it. I like to start mine in a sprout-er either in the kitchen or a jar on a window sill. The jar has a lid that makes it easy to rinse the seeds. If you have trouble keeping the seeds moist you can add a piece of paper towel or paper plate.

There are really nice starting soils that hold moisture well to directly sow the seed into. I usually do direct sowing of my garlic because it is a clove which is kind of like a bulb. Timing on this can very I do it pretty much year round so long as the ground is workable. Onions and chives are easy direct sow plants that you can put in the ground most any time. They should have time to get to a reasonable size in fall before frost if you are growing them outdoors.

Herb Harvesting
Harvesting seems to be a all summer job with things like mint. I start harvesting my mint in may and it continues though first frost. Basil is a mid summer through fall sort of chore. You need to keep taking the blooms off of basil to keep it producing leaves. A number of herbs are like basil you just harvest them as needed from the time they get big enough to start taking leaves and flowers off of until they are done. Herbs like garlic can be harvested in spring if you planted them in fall but will be bigger if you leave them to mid summer. Garlic is generally ready when the top dies back, I also feel free to pick the tops and use them if I need them. I try to take only a few inches of the top off.
I harvested some spearmint above and other herbs are harvested in much the same way. Knowing which part of the herb it harvest is important. Basil leaves and blossoms are most commonly harvested. End of season for things you will loose to frost you can also collect the stems to make spicy teas.

Herb Preserving

Garlic, Onions, and other roots can be hung in a warm dry spot and allowed to air dry. I use a, dehydrator for most of my mint, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, not because they wood not air dry but I want to make sure they are really dry when I package them for storage. Hot and sweet peppers dry really well in a dehydrator.

Many herbs can be made into tinctures which preserve the nutrients or valuable chemicals. This year I have made several vinegar tinctures. I got interested in tinctures when I purchased a detox kit with black walnut tincture. Now I am making my own back walnut tincture since I have a number of them in my back yard.

I used this method especially for onions, basil, and flowers. Basil I simply pick and put in a glass jar which I put in the freezer. My glass jar fills over time as I harvest the leaves and I can pull it out when I make pesto and blend the leaves with oil. Many herbs freeze well with very little loss of nutrient value. Bell and other peppers need to be cooked first to preserve by freezing.

Preserved in Oil
There are beautiful bottles of oil flavored with herbs that you can purchase in stores or online. I love looking at a bottle with peppers, garlic, any kind of herb in it. I use olive oil and it works well, the oil needs to completely cover all herbs because it one goes bad it can ruin the whole batch.

Added to salt
People preserve their spices and make their own seasonings by adding them to salt. This is a simple way to have both the salt and herb ready and handy when you are cooking.

Herbal Packaging
If you wish to send your herbs through the mail it might be wise to place them inside paper, then into a plastic bag or a plastic protected shipping bag. Directions should also be given to the person receiving the herbs that the herbs should be stored in a warm dry place in glass if possible.

There are so many more wonderful herbs that have amazing benefits for enriching our foods, adding color to our tables, making us healthier and happier. I am hoping to have more advanced herb clases in the next year or so. Come and back and check for Intermediate herbs, Advanced herbs, and Master herb classes.

There are a few of the resources that I used listed below. There are many hours spent learning about herbs both from growing them and from the my mentors both online and in person who have taught me so much.

Resourcs the short List
Anti-oxidant values
Triphala powder 3 berries combined better when synergistic 700,000

Dr Axe has many video’s and articles on herbs and foods and this is just one of them. He has a huge website full of information.
Lavender Oil Dr. Axe Lavender Oil benefits for both Major Diseases and Minor Ailments.

Nutrition values of 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs, and supplements used worldwide.

Brain-Building Nutrition: How Dietary Fats and Oils Affect Mental, Physical, and Emotional Intelligence,” Michael A. Schmidt
“The Herbal Kitchen: 50 Easy to Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family”; Kami McBride, Rosemary Gladstar; 2010

“ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine: A Food Lover’s Road Map to Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, Getting Really Healthy”; John La Puma, Rebecca Powell Marx; 2009

“Total Breast Health: The Power Food Solution for Protection and Wellness”; Robin Keuneke; 1999


Cancers Kryptonite…Stevia rebaudiana

I am looking forward to the day when in the Garden of Eden we will have a tree of life. “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2

Link to quiz for Certificate
Created by Judy Woodworth 2018
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