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Bottling up Nourish Farm


fresh picked flowers and herbs

Spring here on our farm is always, always my favorite time of year. Especially after a rainy winter, like the one we had. The abundance and beauty of this place is on full array from March-June. After that, things start getting a little dry, dusty and brown (unless I'm constantly watering everything). Everywhere I walk there is a gorgeously scented flower in bloom - wisteria, rose, jasmine, orange blossom, yarrow, sweet pea, sweet alyssum, elderflower or geranium. Jesse is at that age (almost 3) where he's asking questions 24/7, so he walks around with me and points to every plant, flower and bug and says "Mommy what's this?" in his high-pitched question voice. Then the next time we pass that flower or plant, I ask him if he remembers. I try to tell him what the plant is good for too. Their little brains are like sponges!


It makes me so sad that I will be leaving all this beauty and medicine behind. I know we will create another bountiful, beautiful farm down there, but we will be starting from scratch, so that is still a ways off. When we arrive in Panama, we will be renting for at least the first 6 months. It will be a fun home, minutes from a gorgeous, quiet beach, with a pool and big yard, but I don't know if they have any fruit trees or medicinal flowers or herbs. We are so used to having so much flower medicine, fresh produce, home grown meat and eggs, and the likes at our fingertips, because of the farm we've built here. So, a few weeks ago, I decided I was going to try and bottle up all the magic here at our farm, as much as I possibly could, and take it with us. I'm hoping this will hold us over until I can find and learn about good sources of food and plant medicine down in Panama.


All of these products had to be shelf stable, not needing to be refrigerated or frozen, since we'll be flying and driving before arriving at our temporary home.


HERBAL INFUSED OILS


Fresh or dried herbal and floral oils are one of the easiest ways to dip your toes into creating your own flower/plant medicine. I love to pick roses, calendula, lavender, chamomile, dry it on a drying rack for about 4 days, then add it to a jar. I store the jar in the fridge until I have about 3/4 of a quart jar full of my plant material. Then I pour over organic olive oil, shake it up, then let it infuse for 4-6 weeks. Strain it out and you have a gorgeous smelling, potent healing oil to use on your skin, face, bath water, or to turn into a salve or lotion.


drying roses for infused oil

calendula infused oil


herbal infused oils


FRESH HERBAL/FLORAL TINCTURES


Tinctures are another simple way to create your own powerful plant medicines. Tinctures use alcohol to extract the properties of a plant, instead of oil. Then you take this infused alcohol in small dropper amounts for different reasons (stress, sleep, pain, fever, colds, etc). You can make tinctures with freshly harvested plant materials, which makes the tincture so potent and beautiful. I made a nettle tincture, earlier in the spring when nettle was abundant here. I also started an elderflower tincture with vodka and a bit of honey. That one will be for fevers (if I feel they need to be brought down) and bad colds. I have a yarrow and peppermint tincture going as well, that I plan to use for a bug spray. We are sure to be dealing with alot more bugs when we arrive in our new tropical home.


When harvesting plants for anything remember this: if you want the leaves, harvest them before the plant flowers, so all the energy is still in the leaves. If you want the flowers, harvest right as the flower is about to open, when it still has a strong smell and not too many bugs have pollinated it yet (always leave a few for the bees). If you want to harvest the root, you usually do that in the fall, when the plant is dying back and all the energy is returning to the roots. Dandelion roots, however, can be harvested in the spring.


elder flowers
Jesse by the elder tree. I have a photo of Jude like this from a few years back.

FLORAL HAIR RINSES


Some of you may know I've been on a "no-poo" (not using shampoo/conditioner anymore) journey since November. I'm using Arielle DeMartinez' method, you can get her pdf guide here through my affiliate link. Anyways, I do a weekly ACV hair rinse, but recently started adding herbs and flowers to my ACV, making an infusion instead of just using basic ACV. The results are so noticeable! The first infusion I made was fresh chickweed and plantain leaf from the yard, and my hair is so soft and untangled after washing/rinsing. So, I made some new infusions the other day with rosemary, rose petals, lavender, yarrow and geranium. After only a few days, they smell so beautiful. The ACV infusions need about 2-4 weeks before you strain them. Since you only use about 1-2 tbsp per hair rinse, these infusions will last me months- long into our time in Panama!


herbal infused vinegar hair rinse

DRYING CULINARY HERBS


Yesterday, I harvested a bunch of culinary herbs from the garden and will be drying those on my homemade drying racks, then crushing them a bit and storing in glass jars to take with us. We'll be able to season our food with our herbs grown here for the first little while we're living in Panama. I picked a lot of peppermint, dill, and parsley; and my calendula flowers are finally blooming, so I've been slowing picking those to make a new infused oil.


harvesting culinary herbs, peppermint, dill, parsley

drying fresh picked peppermint

drying dill, parsley and calendula

BONE BROTH GUMMIES


The last thing I wanted to share that I worked on over the past couple weeks are my bone broth gummies or homemade bouillon cubes. I'm super excited about these. Our meat freezers are almost empty. We are trying to eat and go through all our meat stores before we leave, and we are definitely running low, BUT we do still have a lot of soup bones, broth bones, scrap bones that make wonderful, delicious, gelatinous broths. So I looked up the process of turning the liquid broth into a kind of gummy square that can be used to make a single cup of a broth at a time. I found this recipe/process on Nourished Kitchen and it worked great.


homemade gelatinous broth
Gelatinous broth after refrigeration. White chunks are hardened fat scraped off.

You basically just condense/simmer the broth down into a thick sauce-like consistency and then let that set in the refrigerator, and then cut it into cubes. Now, she recommended adding gelatin powder to it, I didn't do that because I didn't have any. So, the cubes turned out great, but I do not think they are shelf stable. They started to melt when I left them out on the counter on a warm day, so I'll be keeping them in the freezer until we go and if they melt too much on the plane ride and drive down there, I'll just have to kind of recreate the cubes again. But the basic product will still be good.


So, now we just add a cube of our homemade bouillon to a cup of hot water and voila! We have a cup of Nourish Farm lamb/beef/pig broth in Panama! The amount I made gave me about 30 finished cubes, which was amazing and will keep our guts healthy for a while down there until we can secure a good source of meat. And of course, until we are ready and set up to start raising our own meat again.


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That's all I have for now. If you have thoughts, questions or comments on this, please share in the comment section and I'll happily respond. What are your favorite ways to preserve and bottle up what you grow?



Stay nourished,

Nicole

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