Herb Uses-From Food to Dyes

By into the rustic - 12:37 PM


There is nothing better than fresh ground herbs, so when choosing between whole and pre-ground, go for intact herbs and grind away at home. It's recommended never to make more than a 6 month supply of ground up herbs at a time. Once they have been broken down, they will immediately start to lose their flavor, so if you are storing them for long term, whole is always best.

To grind your own herbs you can use a mortar and pestle, a pepper or salt mill, or your blender or juicer-whatever is easiest for you, it doesn't really matter. Then store them in the ways mentioned in the chapter Herbs-Harvest Time.

How to Make Herb Butter

This delicious and gourmet treat is easy to make. First decide whether you want salted or unsalted butter (Salted butter will keep longer than unsalted F.Y.I.). Then soften your butter up and cream into it chopped herbs of your choice. You may want to add a touch of lemon juice as well, but it’s to your taste. Use 1-2 Tbsp. fresh herbs (well packed), or 1-2 tsp. dried herbs, for every ¼ c. of butter.

Make Your Own Candied Leaves and Flowers

You can candy rose petals, mint leaves, and the blossoms of oranges, lemons, lilacs, violets and sweet peas.

You candy them by dipping them into a stiffly beaten egg white. You can color and flavor your egg whites to suit your taste or décor. Coat them with sugar. Then dry them in an oven preheated to 110 degrees F. with the door left slightly open, or use a dehydrator.

Crystallizing Herbs

To crystallize more delicate items like rose petals, ginger root, etc, first cover the item to be crystallized with water. Boil for 5 minutes and then drain the water off. Now repeat this process 3 more times. Save the liquid used to boil the item the 4th time. After it has cooled, measure the liquid and the herb content by its volume and add sugar equal to that volume plus half more. Now boil this herb sugar water solution until the herb becomes more translucent. Drain the herb, dry it and then roll it in white sugar. Store this in sealed jars to be used later.

How to Dye Fabrics Best With Herbs

Make Your Own Natural Dye’s: These colorings will be softer than the artificial ones, but you are not adding any toxins to any products in this fashion so overall, it is better for your health.

These herbs make these different colors:

Black- Barberry Leaves

Blue- Blueberries

Brown- Coffee, Tea, Rose Hips, Tobacco, Hickory Chips and Nut Hulls (Walnuts make the best color)

Green- Sunflower Seeds, Birch Leaves, Beet Tops, Elderberry Leaves, Spinach, Rhubarb Leaves, Cabbage, Spanish Onion Skins (outer leaves only)

Orange- Orange Juice

Pink- Beets, Sassafras Roots, and Cherries

Purple- Cherries, Huckleberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Grapes, Raspberries, and Purple Cabbage

Red- Beet Juice, Red Onion Skins, Bloodroot, Madder Root, and Logwood

Yellow- Cinnamon, Curry, Goldenrod Flowers, Stems and Leaves; Mustard, Paprika, the Stems, Flowers and Leaves of Apple Bark; Saffron, Turmeric, Ginger, and Pear Leaves.

Secrets of Using Natural Dye's

In the interest of all please do not use your cookware for dying fabrics. Mordants (substances used to set the dye in the fabrics) are often times highly poisonous.

1.)Do not use iron, aluminum or tin pans to do dying in. They can effect the color and chemistry of your dying process. Enamel pots and pans are best.

2.) Plant coloring can vary from batch to batch, so do not be surprised if you see different shades come from the same kind of plant. Factors that change the makeup of the plant and thus the color as well are amounts of rainfall, soil composition, light intensity, etc.

3.) When deciding how much plant to use for your dye project, use the same weight of plants to match the weight of the fabric.

4.) Flowers are the best place to extract color from, but roots, stems, leaves and fruits may produce a color too.

5.) Heat, steep or boil the plant to produce a water that has a strong color from the plant.

6.) Mordants placed into this colored water will make the color set into whatever substance you are dying and will many times make the color brighter. Alum, Acetic Acid (from vinegar), and ammonia are mordants. Keep in mind that using different mordants wiill give you completely different colors.If you are low on cash, lemon juice, salt and white vinegar can be used as mordants.

7.) Natural fabrics take dye best. Cotton, wool, jute, silk, linen, and rayon (cellulose based)

8.) To make sure your fabric takes the dye best, first wash the fabric out. Then soak it in the mordant. Next add your dye.

9.)To dye the fabric, heat it slowly in the mordant and dye solution to almost boiling. Then cool it down equally as gradually. Do not ever actually boil the fabric in the dye solution or allow the fabric to soak in the dye for more than one hour. For silk keep the temperature of the solution below 160 degrees F.

  • Share:

You Might Also Like