Herbs, Teas, Tinctures, Infusions and Salves

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I love growing, cooking with and using herbs for home remedies. I will probably do a number of blogs on this subject and begin with how to make teas, tinctures, infusions and salves.  These basic recipes for teas, tinctures, infusions and salves are so easy.

My simple rule of thumb with I cooking with them is to put a small mixture of whatever I may want to cook with into my hand, rub my hands together, then smell what I’ve bruised. If the herbs smell good together and seem like they will go well with what I am cooking, then that is what I use.

The following recipes for the teas, tinctures, infusions and salves are all easy to do.

Honey can be added to teas and tinctures. It has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and is full of antioxidants. Honey may also better for diabetics (go easy though) and can lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. There is some research suggesting this.

I use local organic honey because it can help with any allergies derived from local sources. Additionally, organic honey is free of pesticides (no thanks, Monsanto). How beekeepers make sure their bees stay only in pesticide-free gardens is beyond me, but the jar says “organic.”   If you know the answer, please let me know in the comments.

Honey is a natural antibiotic that has been used for centuries and is still used today. Honey alone can be and is used as a field dressing. It helps heals wounds and keeps them free of infection because of its antibiotic and antimicrobial properties.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas are lovely. Most of them have a wonderful aroma. And strong herbal teas can be the basis for jellies and salves too. Adding a little honey can be soothing for the throat.

You will need:

4TB of fresh herbs or 2TB of dried herbs per cup

How to do it:

  1. Place herbs in cup or mug.
  2. Heat water to just under boiling point.
  3. Then put water in cup.
  4. Cover cup with saucer and let steep for 15 minutes. If using for jelly or salve steep overnight.
  5. Strain if you like, or just drink as is (using your teeth as a natural strainer).

Tinctures

Tinctures can be added to water to make teas. They can be mixed with a little honey to make them more palatable and honey is nice and soothing on the throat. I keep these in jars with eye droppers in the medicine cabinet.

You will need:

  • A glass jar with a well-fitting lid. A dark colored jar is best.
  • Herbs to pack into the bottle or jar.
  • Vodka

How to do it:

  1. Pack herbs into jar.
  2. Cover with vodka.
  3. Keep covered jar in cool dark place.
  4. Gently shake every day or so for a month.
  5. Strain.
  6. You have a tincture! That was easy, wasn’t it?

I like to store my tinctures in these beautiful cobalt blue glass bottles with droppers:

Infusions

This is an easy way to make an infusion in your slow cooker. If you are going to make a salve from your infusion, you can continue on with your slow cooker. One pot clean up!

You will need:

Herbs – as much as you have or as much as will fit in your slow cooker.

Sweet Almond Oil – enough to barely cover herbs. I do not use my infusions for cooking or eating. If you want to use your infusion for culinary or internal medicine I suggest you use edible oil such as coconut oil, olive, canola or other edible oil. Here is a link to a good and economical sweet almond oil that I use.

How to do it:

  1. Place herbs in slow cooker.
  2. Cover with Oil.
  3. Put lid on slow cooker and heat on low setting for 8 hours.
  4. Strain through cheesecloth, squeezing as much of the oil as possible out of the cheesecloth.
  5. Voila – you have a herbal infusion for using in a salve or for external purpose.

Salves

You can use a herbal infusion or strong herbal tea for this. Thicken this with beeswax (I use organic for this). The tea tree oil is used to lessen chances of rancidity. There are 2 methods.

Method 1

You will need:

  • Herbal infusion or strong herbal tea
  • Grated or shaved (I use my vegetable peeler) Beeswax (about 1/4 C per cup of oil or tea)
  • Tea Tree Oil (about 3-5 drops per cup of salve)
  • Double Boiler or Slow Cooker

How to do it:

  1. Melt beeswax in a double boiler or slow cooker on low
  2. Add herbal infusion or tea.
  3. Test for consistency by blowing on a spoonful to cool. Is it the consistency that you want? If not add more beeswax.
  4. Add Tea Tree Oil.
  5. Put in jar with good lid and store in cool dark place.

Method 2

You will need:

  • Slow cooker
  • Herbs – as much as you have or as much as will fit in your slow cooker.
  • Solid coconut oil
  • Tea Tree Oil (about 3-5 drops per cup of salve)

How to do it:

  1. Cover bottom of slow cooker with enough coconut oil (you’ll have to reckon the amount) to cover herbs when coconut oil is melted.
  2. Add herbs.
  3. Add more coconut oil (if needed) to cover herbs. Keep in mind that your herbs will give off a little liquid and will also wilt into the oil.
  4. Cook of low setting of slow cooker for 8 hours.
  5. Add Tea Tree Oil
  6. Strain quickly before coconut resolidifies.
  7. Pour in jar with well-fitting lid and store in cool dark place.

RECIPE

I was asked for a recipe in the comments.  This recipe is basic approximations using some herbs from my garden.

Here is how I did it:

Amounts are approximations because I never measure.

  • In a large slow cooker
  • Combine Lemon Balm and French Lavender – enough to cover bottom of slow cooker to a 1.5″ depth
  • Add the following oils to cover when melted:
    • About 1C solid coconut oil
    • About 1/2C shea butter
    • About 1/2C cocoa butter
    • About 1/2C sweet almond oil
  • Heat on low for 6-8 hours (don’t let oil simmer).  If you have to turn slow cooker off and let sit overnight.  OR Heat on very low overnight or longer.
  • Add tea tree oil.
  • Pour into glass jars (I use 4oz wide mouth Kerr glass jars) and let cool.

This should make a nice lotion.  If needed add some lavender essential oil.  I added a little orange essential oil to mine to make it smell even nicer.

Some Herbs and How to Use Them . . .

, , , in the above recipes. .

This will be covered in blogs following this one. I’m not cooking so much right now. Instead, I’m gardening.

I’ll begin by covering the herbs that I grow and some that I keep in my kitchen at all times.

Some of the herbs that I will cover:

Bee Balm

Marjoram

Basil

Oregano

Cuban Oregano (also known as Mexican Mint)

Peppermint

Sage

Lemon Balm (trying to take over part of my garden)

Catnip (trying to take over another part of my garden)

Rosemary

Lavender

Yarrow

Aloe Vera

Epazote

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5 thoughts on “Herbs, Teas, Tinctures, Infusions and Salves”

  1. Isabelle says:

    I love this article! Natural remedies are the best medicine. God supplied us with all we need out of the ground, and we can use them in many positive ways. I have always wondered how to make some of these things such as infusions and salves. My hope is to stop by in the future. Thank you!

  2. James says:

    Very useful post! Thank you 🙂
    I would love to know how bees are kept making organic-only honey, too! One resource said it isn’t always entirely possible, even if the product is still certified as organic.
    With summer now amidst, foraging is increasingly easy and plants / herbs more available. I’d love to try making some sort of salve or infusion, so this could really help 🙂 I make teas a lot, and it’s not only easy, it’s fun and healthy!

  3. Margherita says:

    I love natural remedies, but I’ve never tried tinctures… I’m definitely going to try them! Thanks for explaining in a very easy way how to make them 🙂 p.s. Are you going to write about recipes for particular tinctures?

  4. Andrey says:

    Dear Suzanne
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to make towards their healthy living and perfect cooking. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,
    Andrey

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