Garden Herbal Harvest
Updated: Sep 21, 2021
Our botanical garden is so prolific this year! We grew German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens var. roseum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and many other herbs. We have already processed many aromatic plants into dried herbs, hydrosols, and infused oils.
Whether you have a garden or are growing potted plants, there are many ways to prepare your bountiful harvest for use throughout the year.
Drying- for culinary use or as herbal teas. After you harvest the plant material, you can place them in a basket with a cloth or paper towel in the bottom to soak up any moisture, hang them up, or place them in a paper bag.
Once well dried, put it into a glass jar and label. It is best to store dried herbs in a dark and cool environment to prolong the shelf life. These can be used for tea, spices, infused oils, ground up for facial products or distilled for hydrosols and essential oils.
Distillation- steam distillation for all aromatic plants can be processed for both essential oils and hydrosols. There are many glass and copper home garden distillers on the market. They range in size from 5-100 liters.
Stovetop Hydrosol- this is another easy and inexpensive way to distill any aromatic plant. The distillation equipment is simple and is usually found within your home; stainless steel pot, stainless steel bowl, ceramic bowl, brick, and ice. This process results in a lovely hydrosol with a minimal amount (0.02-0.5%) of essential oil.
Flower Essences- if you still have fresh flowers in your garden, processing them into flower essences can be a fantastic way to soothe the emotions and instill a healthy balance throughout the year. A helpful book reference for this process is Flower Essence Reparatory by Patricia A. Kaminski and Richard A. Katz.
Infusion or Maceration is another extraction method used for plants and herbs that cannot be steam distilled or extracted through pressing the seeds or nuts.
The flower heads are collected and covered in a vegetable base. Olive or jojoba oil is the best base to cover the plant material and draw out the beneficial nutrients. Neither of these oils will oxidize nor become rancid, as so many other carrier oils do. See the detailed step-by-step process of infusion below.
Examples of plant matter used for infusions:
Arnica (Arnica montana) The flowers are used in the maceration process, while the plant's roots are used for homeopathic remedies. Arnica oil is used to reduce pain and inflammation for fractures, sprains, bruises, strained muscle