September Herb of the Month; Annatto

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Annatto, Bixa Orellana

• An orange-red dye or colorant, flavoring for food and healing agent derived from the seeds of
the achiote tree, an evergreen native to tropic and subtropic zones of the Americas
• Spiny red fruits contain the seeds and the reddish pericarp that surround the seed contains
the annatto or color
• Foods colored with the annatto pigment range from yellow to deep orange and include
chorizo sausage, cheese (like cheddar and American), smoked fish, popcorn, oil, butter,
margarine, rice as well as processed products like snacks and breakfast cereals
• Historically used to create a face or body paint by rainforest tribes and natives of the
Caribbean; Applying the paint lips dubbed achiote tree the lipstick tree; annatto paint was
also used as a sunscreen, bug repellent, food, and medicine
• Aztecs enhanced the color of hot chocolate with annatto
• Commonly used in Mexican cooking…

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Food as Medicine: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) is commonly known as nettle, common nettle, or stinging nettle. The species is an herbaceous perennial with a spreading growth habit. Growing 4-6 feet tall, stinging nettle produces numerous erect and wiry stems that hold up its opposite, roughly textured, serrated leaves.1-4 It produces small, inconspicuous greenish-brownish flowers that emerge as axillary inflorescences.The stems and undersides of leaves are covered with hairs called trichomes. When touched, these stinging trichomes inject a chemical cocktail that typically causes localized skin irritation as well as a painful, tingling sting from which the species has derived its most common name, stinging nettle.1,5

The Urticaceae family contains about 500 known species, distributed mainly in tropical areas.1 The genus Urtica, whose name comes from the Latin uro (to burn) and urere (to sting), consists of both annual and perennial herbaceous plants known for the burning properties of the…

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Our Pantry Profile: Rosemary

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Rosemary {Rosmarinus officinalis}

The name Rosmarinus loosely translates to “dew of the sea,” given to rosemary because of its affinity for the wind-swept cliffs of the Mediterranean coast, where it originates. Beloved for centuries for its aroma and health benefits, this strongly aromatic member of the mint family is now cultivated worldwide.

Greek scholars wore garlands of rosemary to improve their memory and concentration, and many ancient herbalists recommended rosemary for failing mental acuity. During the Middle Ages, some would wear it around the neck to protect from the plague. Thirteenth-century Queen Elisabeth of Hungary claimed at 72 years of age, crippled with gout and rheumatism, that she had regained her beauty and strength by using “Hungary Water” {largely rosemary-infused}, compelling the King of Poland to propose marriage to her. Along with juniper, rosemary was frequently burned by the tub-full to disinfect the air from disease, from ancient times through…

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Our Pantry Profile: Thyme

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Thyme {Thymus vulgaris}

Common garden thyme has been used for protection, courage, food, and medicine since the beginning of recorded history. A low-growing, aromatic shrub native to the rocky hills of the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, it’s now a staple of herb gardens around the world.

Roman soldiers bathed in thyme to maintain their courage and strength before a battle, and in medieval times, departing knights received thyme-embroidered scarves from their lady loves to keep up spirits and inspire courage. A popular belief was that thyme tea prevented nightmares and even encouraged dreams of fairies. Carrying thyme warded off evil spells and witchcraft, while sewing thyme and fern into the hem of a dress kept the Devil from taking a woman as his bride. Placing a sprig of thyme in one shoe and a sprig of rosemary in the other on the Eve of St. Agnes {January 20} was said…

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How to Brew Herbal Sun Tea

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Cool down with delicious, thirst-quenching herbal sun tea. Follow a few simple steps to enjoy a variety of refreshing flavors that are perfect for front porch sipping. Solar tea has never tasted so good.

Fresh organic herbs produce healthier, more refreshing teas, so pick your ingredients straight from the garden or buy from a local grower. All you need to make solar tea is a quart canning jar (good for preserving the herbs’ fragrant oils and properties), water, coarsely cut herbs of choice and sunshine.

To start, toss a half cup to 1 cup of fresh herbs into the canning jar. With practice, adjust this amount to suit your taste and the plants’ nature. Add water, a lid, and a few shakes. Place the jar where it will receive full sunlight, such as on a rooftop, open field or driveway. If possible, give the mixture a couple more shakes throughout…

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The Ultimate Sun and Plant Connection; Summer Sun Tea

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Connecting sun, plants and water is one of the easiest ways to bring herbalism into your life during the summer months.

As plant lovers, we spend time every day during the seasons connecting personally with the foods & plants in our gardens, and the wild spaces around our homes. But no matter where you are, and your level of training in herbalism, sun tea is simple to make, and enjoyed by everyone. Herb availability will change throughout the season as different leaves and flowers come into bloom, so it’s something we do all summer long and like getting creative with our recipes.

My favorite way to make a fresh sun tea is to walk around the garden and pluck a few herbs here and there, noticing which ones are ready to harvest and let the tea blend form itself. If you want to get to know the flavor and energetics…

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Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars: Berry Delicious! — Gather Victoria

Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars …

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You may not have heard of Mahonia berries but I know you’d love them – and they’re likely growing near you. Mahonia japonica and Mahonia bealei are both extremely common ornamental shrubs found in a wide variety of urban spaces – and in early July both are laden with deep blue dusky berries hanging in fat grape-like clusters.…

via Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars: Berry Delicious! — Gather Victoria

Wild Food Profile: Milkweed + Fried Milkweed Pod Recipe

Wild Food Profile …

The Druid's Garden

Monarch catepillar enjoying a milkweed feast--they know the good stuff when they see it! Monarch caterpillar enjoying a milkweed feast–they know the good stuff when they see it!

I love the summer months for foraging wild foods.  One of my very favorite wild foods is Common Milkweed (asclepias syriaca).  Around here, the pods are just beginning to form–and its a great time to explore this delightful wild food.  They have a light vegetable taste, maybe something like a sugar snap pea–very tasty and delicious.  In fact, this is one of the best wild foods, allowing you to have four different harvests from the plant at four different times during the spring, summer, and early fall.

Ethical Harvesting and Nurturing Practice

With the excitement of harvesting from common milkweed, however, comes a serious responsibility.  New farming techniques over the last 20 years have eliminated many of the hedges that used to be full of milkweed.  Because of this issue, the monarchs have been in serious…

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Southwest Gardening: Sacred Mesquite ~Recipes

By Crooked Bear Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Mesquite grows well in desert areas from the southwestern United States to the Andean regions of South America. Traditionally, native peoples of the Southwest depended on mesquite. It provided food, fuel, shelter, weapons, medicine, and cosmetics. As times changed, and as refined sugar and wheat flour became staples, the role of mesquite was diminished.

mesquite flour

Mesquite meal was once made by hand-grinding the plant’s seeds and pods on stones. Now modern milling techniques speed up the process, grinding the entire mesquite pod at once, including the protein-rich seed. This produces a meal that is highly nutritious as well as very flavorful. The meal ground from the pod contains 11 to 17 percent protein. High lysine content makes it the perfect addition to other grains that are low in this amino acid.

mesquiteflourfinal400

http://www.mesquiteflour.com/

Although desert dwellers used mesquite pods as a source of food for centuries, when you order and use this product…

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Aromatic Culinary Herb Called the Savory

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Savory

Satureja hortensis / Satureja montana

Also, Known As:

  • Mountain Savory
  • Savory
  • Summer Savory
  • Winter Savory

Ancient herbal texts frequently mention about two types of savories – summer savory comprising the dense parts of the herb Satureja hortensis L., and the winter savory, which is acquired from the herb Satureja Montana L. While the summer savory is an annual plant, the winter savory is perennial and is used to add essence to foods. Both these aromatic species belong to the mint (Lamiaceae) plant family. They are small plants that are cultivated extensively as garden plants. These plants produce slender leaves and flowers whose color varies from pale lavender to pink to white. Of the two Satureja species, the summer savory is valued highly and has been used widely in folk medicine in comparison to the winter savory. Both these herbs have been valued as sex medicines for several centuries. It…

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