Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Getting started: in the beginning

There are a few basic supplies for our herbal adventures. You may just enjoy being able to take a walk and recognize what you see, maybe take some pictures. Or, you may get so excited about this bountiful green world that you actually want to be partners with it. I hope so! Here's the check-list:

Useful things to have if you are going out foraging with me:
*gloves, ie gardening gloves
*grocery bags - both paper and plastic
*bowls, boxes, or baskets - about 12" diameter is good, easy to carry
*identification book is a good idea - commonly referred to as a "field book", being smaller and easy to slip into your pocket or tote; check your library, for books specific to your area; I'll be adding some titles in THE BOOKSHELF sidebar as we go along.
If you are a little hesitant about your ID skills, and have a friend who is knowledgable of herb/plant ID, invite them for a walk - they'll love the opportunity to get out and about, and can help you learn.

NOTE: SAFETY FIRST! Do not harvest or use a plant unless you are 100% sure of it's identification. PERIOD.

Once you return to the house, it is useful, but not a deal breaker, to have a dehydrator. Saves a lot of time. Otherwise, ovens and microwaves can work, also air drying if your climate isn't too humid. Ours generally is, during the summer.
You also will use a good sharp knife for chopping, with a cutting board.
My food processor, with the cutting blade, is my right hand when prepping herbs for steeping.

Round up a few glass pint or quart canning-type jars (mayo jars are fine, we won't be heating them up) with lids and rings. Used jelly, spaghetti sauce, pickle jars, etc., with their lids, are dandy. I am a strong advocate of recyle and repurpose!
Then go check your pantry for some olive oil. I buy it by the gallon, at Sam's. While you're in the pantry, do you have about a gallon of plain apple cider vinegar? Good, we'll be using that, too.

These are all pretty basic kitchen items. So you should be all set to head outdoors now!

Note: Containers for your finished herbal products can range from small lidded tins and jars, lip balm tubes, canning jars of all sizes, and other creative options. Good lids are a must. There are resources we can discuss later when you get that far.

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