Tomato Powder – For Those Tired of Canning Already!

Ah, the harvest of tomatoes is a plentiful this year, however … Honestly, I am sick of canning tomatoes.

Too much time.  Too much work.  Too much space.

You get the point.

So I thought I would look up Do-It-Yourself sundried tomatoes, being all clever to figure something different out.  I do love sundried tomatoes but until I looked them up, I did not realize the difficulty in storing them.  Well, I don’t really want to have to freeze tons of sundried tomatoes.

As I was surfing through delicious photos of reds and yellows, recipes slowly going through the back of my mind, I saw the words:

TOMATO POWDER

how the POWDER changed my cooking life forever

These words combined have made my love of tomatoes grow beyond measure. And taste.

MR. DEHYDRATOR

Cutting up large numbers of my beautiful, organic tomatoes (courtesy of my wonderful garden this year!) in slices no more than 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with a dash of pickling salt and now steps in Mr. Dehydrator.

The tomatoes get a really good air drying for around 12 – 20 hours.  Toss in some freshly chopped basil or oregano from my garden on top of the slices and add a punch of flavour.

MR. SPICE GRINDER

Spice grinder in one hand and the other throws a bunch of crushed, dehydrated tomato slices in.

BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

It’s pulse grinding.  Keep at it until you have taken a peek and find the consistency you are looking for, which for me is finely ground tomato powder.

USES

2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato powder plus about 1/2 cup of water creates the most amazing tomato paste to use for sauces.

Sprinkle a small amount into your foods, depending on taste.  Use anywhere you would use tomato or sundried tomato in recipes, just make sure to taste and adjust accordingly.

ALWAYS TASTE.

It is so versatile.

THE TASTE

It totally tastes like ketchup chips minus the chip part.

STORAGE

Storage is the best part it takes up WAY less room.  I store in a mason jar with a bunch of rice at the bottom to keep the moisture out.

Hope you enjoy, let me know any recipes that you may know of that uses tomato powder.

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Lemon Vinegar – The Art of Homemade, Safe Cleaning

Vinegar. A versatile & classic liquid, used in cooking & cleaning.

When it comes to cleaning, it’s a natural disinfectant, a brilliant cleaner, but … it stinks.

Salt & Vinegar Fish & Chips, sure, loves it! But not a house that smells like pure vinegar?  Too abrasive to the senses.

Hence, a formula for Lemon Vinegar.

Now, you can use orange peels if you like … I’m a lemon girl!

What you need:

500 ml Mason Jar or whatever size you wish

Peel from 2 -3 lemons (add more for bigger jar)

Vinegar

How to do it:

Place peels in jar. Fill to top with vinegar. Cap tightly.

Let sit in a cool, dark place for about 14 days, give or take.

ET VOILA!

Lemon scented vinegar to be used for making the house not only shine its cleanest, but smell like bright, fresh lemons!

Enjoy.

Summertime Eats – Pickling Cucumbers – Easy Refrigerator Pickles

So the first harvest of my pickling cucumbers has come in.  Yay!

I decided to try growing them along with regular cukes, so that we could pickle them.  We will be canning, but later.

Now to the easy stuff.

I trellised my cucumbers this year, with old hockey nets on the ground, and it works wonderfully.

Hockey Nets for Cucumber Trellis (upper right in pic)

Giving these delicious veggies some serious support, the first cukes I’ve picked are as clean as a whistle.  Check them out:

organic pickling cucumbers

So, in order to create something easy, I’m using a friend’s quickie recipe for scrumptious refrigerator pickles.  And I cheat.  I use a microwave. (LOL)

I find about 8 medium sized cukes are good for about 1 quart of pickling liquid.

You will need:

8 pickling cucumbers (*slice lengthwise or across, your choice)

* thinner you slice, more flavour penetrates but too slim may get mushy

1/4 cup (or so, adjust!) pickling salt (I use sea salt)

1/4 cup (or so, adjust!) white sugar (try different things, like maple sugar/syrup or honey)

About 1 quart of water or so

3/4 cup white vinegar

2 cloves (or more) of garlic

1 white/red onion

Fresh Dill (or seed)

Fresh Red Chili or flake (optional)

Pickling Spices/Flavours*

* This is totally a matter of taste, however, basic pickles have dill, bay leaf, garlic, onion.

Coriander, mustard, dill seeds

Black Peppercorns (or multi-coloured!)

Bay leaves

For some yummy notes:

Cloves (minimum)

Allspice (dash)

Place your cut cukes, along with some minced garlic (I usually mince one clove and slice into quarters, the other) and onion (I cut in 3) into your refrigerator container.  I use a large glass bowl and not jar because these goodies disappear so very quickly.

Now I boil the pickling liquid in a glass bowl in my microwave.  Boiling in anything less than stainless steel, apparently is a no-no because it changes the chemical composition of the pickling liquid.  I am still learning, canning is my next mission.

So, put water, pickling flavours, vinegar, sugar and salt into a large glass microwaveable bowl and let the mixture come to a boil.  I usually let it boil for about 30 seconds longer than when it started.  Take it out and mix the liquid to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Microwave for another 30 – 60 seconds.

Pour over cucumber-garlic-onion in the glass bowl.  I do not boil the garlic or the onion in the pickling liquid as you will find the flavour turns bitter and unpleasant.  Let the hot liquid basically blanche the yummy concoction (the onion is so good too!).

Let it cool down and after it’s no longer warm, place into the refrigerator. Plastic wrap the top.

Give them about 24 hours before you eat.  But at our house, only a few hours in the frig and literally minutes until they are gone.

Hope you enjoy and please, adjust the flavourings to your own style.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.

I am thinking about making a chinese-style flavouring, using ginger, garlic & sesame oil next.

Refrigerator Pickles

The Healthy Growing Lives of: Chives – Herb, Food, Plant & Flower

Chives: Easy Healthy Add to Liven Up Your Garden & Your Food

I have been taking a good long look at the plants I inherited when I bought my home.  I am blessed with a wonderful property, full of interesting plants, trees and animals.

Recently, for the last couple of years, my garden has been sprouting bunches of Chives.  This year is exceptional, so the following is an ode of information about and for the CHIVE.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a part of the same plant family as onions, scallions and garlic. They actually grow from small bulbs and have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses.

In the Middle Ages, chives were promoted as a cure for melancholy and believed to drive away evil spirits. Today we know that chives and chive flowers are high in vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Therefore, they should be routinely added to recipes to help restore vital nutrients lost in cooking. This herb’s tangy aromatic taste come from its high concentration of sulfur compounds and other essential oils, which are also partly responsible for its healing properties.

Growing Chives: So Easy!!!

Chives can be started from seed but it’s easiest to find a friend that already has an herb garden and dig-up a clump of their chive plant and get started growing your fresh chives.

Once your herb garden is established and you start getting blossoms on your chive plants you’ll quickly find that it’s best to use scissors instead of pruning sheers or a knife on these plants. Scissors are especially useful when cutting your chives to prepare for your favorite dishes.

This hardy perennial grows from 12 to 24 inches tall, with pink and lavender flowers that have flavored meals for centuries. It prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil that high in organic matter. Planting rooted clumps is the easiest way to propagate chives. Seeds germinate slowly and require darkness, constant moisture, and temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees F. Divide plants every few years. Chives also grow well in containers on a sunny windowsill or on your deck mixed with other herbs or edible flowers.

It’s just unbelievable how incredibly versatile chives can be. When you have an abundance of plants in your garden you can always make a chive bouquet.

Here’s a wonderful outdoor dining idea: place a chive bouquet in the center of your picnic table or outdoor dining area, the aroma can enhance dishes placed around it!

You can even use them as dried flower arrangements. They are very easy to dry and keep as edible flowers for your salads and soups.

Chives Save Lives: Surprising Medicinal Health Benefits

You may be surprised to find that there is research that supports how chives ease stomach distress, protect against heart disease and stroke and may help the body fight bacteria that can cause disease. In addition, the herb may increase the body’s ability to digest fat.

Therapeutic Effect:The medicinal properties of chives are as varied as their uses in the kitchen. Chives stimulate the appetite and promote good digestion. They can be used to ease stomach upset, clear a stuffy nose, reduce flatulence and prevent bad breath. Combined with a low-salt diet, they help lower high blood pressure. Plus, they have a mild diuretic effect, as well as some antibacterial properties.

Components: Chives are valued for their many essential minerals, including cardiac-friendly potassium, bone-strengthening calcium and blood-building iron. And unlike most other members of the onion family, chives are high in folic acid (a B vitamin), vitamin A and vitamin C. In fact, just 3 ½ ounces of chives supplies enough vitamin C to meet your daily requirement of 60 mg.

Cold Prevention: The high vitamin C content in chives can help prevent colds. They also speed recovery if a cold develops by helping the body to expel mucus; the sulfurous compounds in chives are natural expectorants.

Cholesterol Reduction: Scientific research shows that chives stimulate the body’s digestion of fat. Eaten regularly, chives may help lower blood cholesterol levels.

The Chive Flower: Tastes as Good as It Looks

Here are a few foodie food ideas …

Don’t overlook the chive flower. The chive’s delicate purple flowers have a milder flavor than the leaves and stems and add a decorative touch to salads, herb oils and other dishes.

Chive Flavored Oil: add 1 ½ ounces of chive blossoms to 1 quart of vegetable oil. After a week, the oil will turn lilac and take on the fragrance of the chive flowers. Use the oil on salads or in cooking. Keep it refrigerated when not in use!

Chive Salt: If you like the oniony flavor of chives, make your own Chive Salt to add zip to all sorts of dishes. First, add some chive leaves to some salt. Then bake the mixture in the oven to dry the leaves and blend the flavors. Store in an airtight jar.

Cottage Cheese with Chives

  • 8 ounces of cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper

1. Blend the cottage cheese and mustard.

2. Peel the shallot, chip finely and mix with the cottage cheese blend.

3. Wash and dry the chives and snip them finely. Stir about two-thirds of the chives into the cottage cheese mixture.

4. Season the cottage-cheese mixture with the paprika and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining chives on top.

Food & Kitchen Tips

  • Cut chives just before you are ready to use them to preserve their vitamins, aroma and flavor. Chives are delicate; to prevent the loss of essential oils, snip them with kitchen shears rather than chopping or grinding.
  •  Don’t heat chives or they will lose their valuable vitamin C as well as their digestive properties
  •  Grow chives at home in a pot on a windowsill. Wait until the plant reaches about 6 inches in height before cutting. Harvest the chive leaves frequently to prevent blooming unless you specifically want to use the flowers. Once the plant blooms, the leave become less flavorful.
  • Freeze chives for future use. Frozen chives tend to retain more flavor than dried chives. Snip fresh chives into small pieces, then place them in an ice-cube tray and fill it with water. To thaw, put a chive cube in a strainer.

We hope you enjoyed the article on Chives.

Please follow us on Twitter @stealtharmour or Pinterest at pinterest.com/stealtharmour

Online Pins and Posts Party: Top 5 Pinterest Gardening Pins – Best Photo, Funniest and More

Welcome to the Kick Off to the Online Gardening Pins & Posts Party!!!

I am still kinda new to Pinterest (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a relatively new ‘social’ networking site & its very cool!) but I am very lucky and really appreciate the interest my followers have given my blog & pins! Thank you.

So, in appreciation, I am creating a TOP 5 GARDENING PINS & POSTS of the Week page, dedicated to my friends and followers on social networks and blogs.

TOP 5 PINTEREST GARDENING PINS of the WEEK:

Categories include: BEST PHOTO, BEST USE OF RECYCLING, FUNNIEST, Do-It-Yourself DIY & OFF THE WALL.

From Abby Iris: Best Photo

Seems this PIN made a terrific impression with Pinsters, clocking in high repins.

http://pinterest.com/pin/153826143492413264/

Brittany McCrea: Best Use of Recycling

Recycling and saving the environment is a daily habit for most of us gardeners.  This PIN hit home with many. Guess we all might be wine drinkers too. Anyone growing grapes? Cheers!

http://pinterest.com/pin/88242473918877569/

Veronica Frontz: Funniest Gardening Pin

Laughter is definitely the best medicine, so get your dose with this PIN.

http://pinterest.com/pin/237846424040579847/

Nicki Hammon: DIY

This is a great way to bling and sparkle up any fence and gate. Also, think about alternatives to marbles, like pieces of coloured glass etc.

http://pinterest.com/pin/130041507960516206/

Gigi-Mays: Most Off the Wall

http://pinterest.com/pin/18295942206398868/

This is the most off the wall and craziest Tulip I have ever seen.  Reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors.

Feed Me Seymour …

Hope you enjoyed the picks and the pics!

Come back and visit next week for another TOP 5 of the BEST PINS & POSTS …

Please look us up on PINTEREST – profile name: stealtharmour – or make sure to connect with us on Twitter @stealtharmour

10 of the Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

So beautiful! I am definitely going to recreate some of these ideas (on a smaller scale of course!). Enjoy.

1. Gardens of Versailles, France

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In the 17th century, one of the most famous French landscape architects, André Le Nôtre, designed the fascinating gardens of Versailles, built for Louis XIV. Placed to the west of the palace, the gardens cover about 800 hectares of land, which includes two ‘French’ gardens, the ‘Petit Parc’ and the ‘Trianon’ and 300 hectares of forest. The gardens feature lovely parterres of flowers, meticulous manicured lawns, sculptures, fountains and water features. The gardens of Versailles are one of the most visited public places in France, receiving few million visitors a year.

www.chateauversailles.fr

2. Singapore Botanic Garden

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10 <em>most Beautiful Gardens</em> in the World” width=”605″ height=”405″ /></a><a href=

Singapore Botanic Garden  is a garden composed with 3 parts: Bukit Timah Core, Tanglin Core and Centre. The garden is considered as one of the most beautiful in the world and one of the oldest. The garden at its present site was founded in 1859 by an Agri-Horticultural Society. Bukit Timah Core is in use for study and practicing while in Tanglin Core part visitors can find a lot of beautiful and unique statues and fountains that are distributed in little small circular gardens. The most popular part among the tourist is Centre. You don’t have many places in the world where you can see 60,000 seedlings of orchid flowers in full bloom. That is the Orchid Garden State.

www.sbg.org.sg

3. Descanso Gardens, California

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10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

If you are in L.A. you should definitely spend half an hour driving to this gorgeous garden. Descanso gardens are called ”Heaven on earth”. They have more than 100.000 diferent plants and are proud owners of the world’s biggest “collection” of the camellia. Gardens and forest of Descanso are spread over 26 hectares of the San Rafael Hills. If you go at Descanso gardens we suggest you to visit Japanese garden and international Rose Garden which is home to thousands of roses.

www.descansogardens.org

4. The Butchart Gardens, British Columbia, Canada

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

In 1904, Jennie Butchart started to beautify an abandoned limestone quarry left behind from her husband’s pioneering efforts in the manufacture of cement. Little by little, the place blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden. The sea-side of the Butchart family’s home was transformed into a lovely Japanese Garden, the tennis court became an Italian Garden, while a wonderful  Rose Garden replaced a big kitchen vegetable patch. Today, the Butchart Gardens is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world and the most visited tourist attraction on Vancouver Island, receiving more than a million visitors each year.

www.butchartgardens.com

5. Villa d’Este, Italy

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

Here we have one more European magnificent garden. His history is quite interesting. After the disappointment of a failed bid for the papacy, a cardinal Ippolito II d’Este came back to Tivoli and decided to build himself a home from old monastery. He called his home Villa d’Este. Now Villa d’Este is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, and recently Vila d’Est was found on the list of UNESCO as one of the 31 most important historical cities in Italy.

www.villadestetivoli.info

6. The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, Washington D.C.

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

The Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, located on the highest point in Georgetown, Washington D.C. features 4 formally landscaped hectares and a beautiful English country garden around the mansion Dumbarton Oaks House. The gardens were designed and created over a 30 year period through the partnership of Mildred Bliss, the owner of the the property, and landscape designer Beatrix Farrand. The gardens include oak trees, an enormous bamboo stand, a rose garden, and the profusion of perennials and color so familiar to traditional country gardens. Much of the property is terraced and planted with  cherry trees, herbs and forsythias.

www.doaks.org

7. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, France

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a French seaside palace constructed between 1905 and 1912 at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat by Baroness Beatrice de Rothschild. There you have seven roads that guide you through the garden that has seven parts. Each part is with a different theme, including the formal French garden, the rose garden, the Spanish garden, the Florentine garden, the stone garden, the Japanese garden and the exotic garden.

www.villa-ephrussi.com

8. Stourhead, England

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

The Stourhead gardens was designed by Henry Hoare II in the 18th century and later enhanced with new species of trees from America by his grandson, Richard Colt Hoare. Placed in the middle of a large estate near Warminster south of Bath, the lovely Stourhead garden surrounds a peaceful lake, a jewel nestled among undulating hills. Various classic architectural features are tucked in strategic spots around the shore and they include few monuments and an arched stone bridge. For centuries, the garden has been acclaimed as one of the most picturesque gardens in Britain.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk

9. Suzhou Gardens, China

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

Suzhou is China’s well-known “City of Gardens” located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China. Suzhou at one time is said to have housed more than 200 gardens right within its premises and for this reason the city had gained the title “Venice of the East”. Though the number of gardens don’t match the original number, there are still around 69 or so gardens to be found within the city. Most of the gardens found in Suzhou date back to the Spring and Autumn Period which lasted between 770 and 476 BC. The gardens serve as a perfect retreat, with the symmetry of the hills, pavilions, brooks, halls, trees, fountains, towers and flowers giving off a peaceful aura and making tranquil ambience. Nine of the gardens are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site list.

www.suzhou.gov.cn

10. The Palacio de Generalife, Spain

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

10 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World

The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace and country estate of  Kings of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus, now beside the city of Granada in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III who started building them in the 14th century. Today this is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. The complex include the Court of the Water Channel or Water-Garden Courtyard. That part has a big pool  framed by flowerbeds and fountains. The greenest section of the Generalife in winter is the pool court, where sunken gardens in the Islamic style contain lavender, myrtle, thyme and other herbs, irises, and pomegranates.

www.alhambra-patronato.es

The Preppermint Case – Versatile, Easy to Gro, Healthy Herb: It’s So Mint!

PEPPERMINT – For a Prepper, its Mint!

Although this article is a bit lengthy, it’s worth it.  A thorough examination of the wonderfully aromatic herb – MINT, including medicinal uses to how to dry it properly.  Hope you enjoy!

Overview:

Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs, used to treat symptoms of the common cold. In test tubes, peppermint kills some types of bacteria, fungus, and viruses, suggesting it may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Several studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

Indigestion

Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. As a result, food passes through the stomach more quickly. However, if your symptoms of indigestion are related to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, you should not use peppermint (see “Precautions” section).

Flatulence/Bloating

Peppermint relaxes the muscles that allow painful digestive gas to pass.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Several studies have shown that enteric coated peppermint capsules can help treat symptoms of IBS, such as pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Enteric coated capsules keep peppermint oil from being released in the stomach, which can cause heartburn and indigestion.) However, a few studies have shown no effect. One study examined 57 people with IBS who received either enteric coated peppermint capsules or placebo twice a day for 4 weeks. Of the people who took peppermint, 75% had a significant reduction of IBS symptoms. Another study comparing enteric coated peppermint oil capsules to placebo in children with IBS found that after 2 weeks, 75% of those treated had reduced symptoms. Finally, a more recent study conducted in Taiwan found that patients who took an enteric coated peppermint oil formulation 3 – 4 times daily for one month had less abdominal distention, stool frequency, and flatulence than those who took a placebo. Nearly 80% of the patients who took peppermint also had alleviation of abdominal pain.

Itching and Skin Irritations

Peppermint, when applied topically, has a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations caused by hives, poison ivy, or poison oak.

Tension Headache

One small study suggested that peppermint applied to the forehead and temples helped reduce headache symptoms.

Colds and Flu

Peppermint and its main active agent, menthol, are effective decongestants. Because menthol thins mucus, it is also a good expectorant, meaning that it helps loosen phlegm and breaks up coughs. It is soothing and calming for sore throats (pharyngitis) and dry coughs as well.

Plant Description:

Peppermint plants grow to about 2 – 3 feet tall. They bloom from July through August, sprouting tiny purple flowers in whorls and terminal spikes. Dark green, fragrant leaves grow opposite white flowers. Peppermint is native to Europe and Asia, is naturalized to North America, and grows wild in moist, temperate areas. Some varieties are indigenous to South Africa, South America, and Australia.

What’s It Made Of?:

The leaves and stems, which contain menthol (a volatile oil), are used medicinally, as a flavoring in food, and in cosmetics (for fragrance).

Available Forms:

Peppermint tea is prepared from dried leaves of the plant and is widely available commercially.

Peppermint spirit (tincture) contains 10% peppermint oil and 1% peppermint leaf extract in an alcohol solution. A tincture can be prepared by adding 1 part peppermint oil to 9 parts pure grain alcohol.

Enteric coated capsules are specially coated to allow the capsule to pass through the stomach and into the intestine (0.2 mL of peppermint oil per capsule).

Creams or ointments (should contain 1 – 16% menthol)

How to Take It:

Pediatric

Do not give peppermint to an infant or small child. Peppermint oil applied to the face of infants can cause life-threatening breathing problems. In addition, peppermint tea may cause a burning sensation in the mouth. For digestion and upset stomach in older children: 1 – 2 mL peppermint glycerite per day.

Adult

  • Tea: Steep 1 tsp. dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain and cool. Drink 4 – 5 times per day between meals. Peppermint tea appears to be safe, even in large quantities.
  • Enteric coated capsules: 1 – 2 capsules (0.2 ml of peppermint oil) 2 – 3 times per day for IBS.
  • Tension headaches: Using a tincture of 10% peppermint oil to 90% ethanol, lightly coat the forehead and allow the tincture to evaporate.
  • Itching and skin irritations: Apply menthol, the active ingredient in peppermint, in a cream or ointment form no more than 3 – 4 times per day.

Precautions:

The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Do not take peppermint or drink peppermint tea if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD — a condition where stomach acids back up into the esophagus) or hiatal hernia. Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus. (The sphincter is the muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach.) By relaxing the sphincter, peppermint may actually make the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion worse.

Peppermint, in amounts normally found in food, is likely to be safe during pregnancy, but not enough is known about the effects of larger supplemental amounts. Speak with your health care provider.

Never apply peppermint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing.

Peppermint may make gallstones worse.

Large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic. Pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken internally. It is important not to confuse oil and tincture preparations.

Menthol or peppermint oil applied to the skin can cause a rash.

Possible Interactions:

Cyclosporine — This drug, which is usually taken to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, suppresses the immune system. Peppermint oil may slow down the rate at which the body breaks down cyclosporine, meaning more of it stays in your bloodstream. Do not take peppermint oil if you take cyclosporine.

Drugs that reduce stomach acid — If peppermint capsules are taken at the same time as drugs that lower the amount of stomach acid, the enteric-coated peppermint capsules may dissolve in the stomach instead of the intestines. This could mean the effects of peppermint are lessened. Take peppermint at least 2 hours before or after an acid-reducing drug. Antacids include:

  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)

Drugs that treat diabetes — Test tube studies suggest peppermint may lower blood sugar, raising the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Medications changed by the liver — Since peppermint works on the liver, it may affect medications that are metabolized by the liver (of which there are many). Speak with your health care provider.

Antihypertensive drugs (blood pressure medications) — Some animal studies suggest that peppermint may lower blood pressure. If you take medications to lower blood pressure, taking peppermint also might make their effect stronger.

Harvesting your Fresh Mint:
The best time to harvest mints for drying is just before they flower. Mint leaves retain the highest oil content prior to flowering. The oil content in herbs is what gives the herb its aroma and flavor. If possible always cut mint mid-morning after the leaves have dried but before the heat of the day. Harvesting in the early evening is also a good time. When you harvest mint cut stems of equal length and at least 4″ -5″ long. You will need the length in the stems if you intend to hang your mint upside down to dry.

Herb Drying Methods:
Most herbs can be dried either in the oven, in a dehydrator or by hanging in a dark, warm area.

Drying Herbs Using the Hanging Method: All herbs must be dried thoroughly before storing and particularly those with high moisture content such as mint, basil, rosemary and tarragon. To dry herbs, gather a bunch of herbs together by the stems and tie tightly with twine. Cover the bunch of mint with a brown lunch bag and secure. Covering the herbs with a brown bag will help them to retain their color and oil content during the drying process. Hang the bunch of herbs upside down in a dark , warm (70 degrees – 80 degrees) well-ventilated, dust free area. We dry our herbs in the  garage or you can use other structures if needed. It typically takes 1-2 weeks for the herbs to dry completely.

Drying Herbs Using the Oven Method: Drying mint in an oven is a faster way to complete the process, but you will loose some of the oil content from the leaves. Dry in a very cool oven (high temperatures will result in tasteless herbs).  Basically, just turn the oven on to “warm” (140 to 200 F) (or 65 degrees C to 93 degrees C, gas mark 1) for 20 minutes, then turn it off and pop in the herbs. Strip dried leaves from stems and discard the stems. Take care to not crush the leaves as this will result in flavorless herbs. Place the leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer. Turn the oven on to ‘warm’ for 20-30 minutes then turn the oven off. Place the baking sheet in the oven and leave until the herbs are dried. Oven times vary based upon the make and model of the oven, so some trail and error is required.

When your mint leaves are completely dry, either carefully remove them from the brown bag or off of the baking sheet depending on the drying technique that you used. I recommend not crushing your herbs, but rather storing them whole and then crushing them if needed right before using. Store the dried herbs in airtight containers such as canning jars. Never store herbs in plastic containers or plastic wrap as the oil will leech out of the herbs into the plastic. Check your stored herbs frequently after you have stored them for the first few weeks to look for any signs of moisture. Herbs will mold quickly in closed jars if not completely dry. Once you are sure the herbs are completely dry, place them in the airtight containers, and store them in a cool, dry place away from light.

How to Make Peppermint Tea:

Take a bunch of mint leaves and leave them on a plate in a warmish area for 24-48 hours. (Or use the dried mint you’ve made as above).

Boil water in your kettle.  Make sure the leaves are dry.  You will need about 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves for your cup.

Pour boiling water over. Let tea steep to your liking.  Add honey for some sweetness.

Mint is a valuable herb to include in your garden and to dry and store.

We hope you have enjoyed this information.  Please remember, be prepared. We can help.

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