The Homemade Homestead Apothecary
The time is upon us to take back our health and wellbeing. The call is out there, I hear it on the wind and in my heart to share what I have learned, and continue to learn about caring for and healing our bodies, our hearts, and those of our families.
The Homemade Homestead Apothecary is a new section devoted to just that. Here we will learn together how to care for, nurture, and heal ourselves and our loved ones by making herbal preparations and medicines. I will feature herbs, their properties, and how to use them, as a tool to help get you started in your personal healing journey. Each post will provide you with some knowledge to empower you to begin opening up your personal quest to learn how to take back your health and wellness. There are many sources out there to learn from, so please do not regard this as definitive. Instead, allow it to be a doorway, opening a path to pursue natural healing for your family.
Making Healing Teas; Infusions, & Decoctions
Tea is a simple and perfect way to start using herbs. It is very friendly to beginners, easy to do, and usually very palatable for ourselves, and our children. There are a couple of different approaches for tea making, both are dependant upon the type of herb used. Leafy herbs, and flowers need gentle steeping, whereas roots sometimes need a bit of simmering to draw out more of their healing properties. I will walk you through both methods of preparation, and also how to prepare an infusion, and decoction.
Herbal Tea: Making herbal tea is as simple as heating water. In a kettle on the stove top, heat pure, clear water to boiling. A tea kettle is nice, but not necessary. The basic recipe for tea is one teaspoon of herb to one cup, or eight ounces of water.
- We will cover steeping first. Both basic herbal teas and infusions are made this way. Steeping is the method in which the water is first heated, then poured over the herb to sit, or steep, for a desired amount of time. This method works best for more delicate parts of herbal preparation, the flowers, leaves, and tender stems of the plant.
Choose the herb, or herbs that you would like to prepare for tea. This may be a pre-blended tea, or you may blend the herbs yourself simply by adding them to the tea bag or ball. I like re-usable muslin tea bags. But a tea ball or strainer works just as well.
Place tea bag/ball with herbs into cup.
Pour boiling hot water over tea bag.
Cover your cup. A saucer works very well for this, so does a widemouth mason jar lid. Let steep for 5-10 min. I usually let my tea steep for about 10 minutes. When tea has steeped the desired amount of time, remove tea bag/ball, add raw honey to sweeten if desired, and enjoy your homemade homestead remedy.
- Simmering is a method used for the less tender parts of the plant. The root, woodier stems, and bark should all be simmered to procure enough of their medicinal properties from them. Simmering is done on the stove top in a covered pot, or kettle made from a non-reactive metal such as stainless steel. Aluminum, cast-iron, and copper are not appropriate in herbal preparations. Simmer is considered a low-boil, not a hard, fast, rolling boil. It is just when the water begins to bubble, and is maintained at that heat. Be prepared to turn your heat down to low, or med. low, depending upon your stove top.
Place herbs and water into your kettle on the stove top. Remember to use a non-reactive pot. Place lid onto kettle to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, then turn down to medium low, or low heat. Use the lowest setting that will maintain a gentle simmer.
Let simmer gently for 20-30 minutes.
Once desired timing is reached, remove from heat. Strain into cup, add raw honey to sweeten, if desired, and enjoy.
Infusion: An infusion is considered a concentrated herbal preparation. It is made by steeping the herb for a longer time period, 20-30 minutes, versus 5-10 minutes. The basic recipe for infusion is one ounce of herb to 2 cups of water. It is taken in smaller amounts, usually 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time. The need for a more concentrated brew is simply to get more herb into the body in a smaller amount of time. However, please do not underestimate the power of a properly prepared herbal tea. It in itself is quite appropriate most of the time. Stronger is not always better.
Decoction: A decoction is considered the simmering of the tough parts of the herb. For example, the woodier stems, roots, barks, and seeds are more appropriately prepared in this way. It is also a more concentrated herbal preparation. In preparing a decoction, the basic recipe is to simmer one ounce of herb in 2 cups of water for 20-30 min. The dosage for a decoction because it is also a concentrated herbal preparation is 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time as needed.
If you are a beginner start with traditional herbal tea preparation by steeping your herbs. Once you are comfortable with that process, you may move on to using infusions, and then decoctions. You will gain confidence as you gain practice in each process, and begin to identify when to use a particular preparation method.
*Please note that this post is not intended to replace a medical professional’s opinion or diagnosis, rather it is a tool to help empower you as a homesteader, householder, wife, mama, daddy, grandparent, and/or free-citizen to embrace your own health and well-being. Please use common sense and seek a medical professional if needed.
The Barn Hop www.theprairiehomestead.com