Herbalism: Processing Herbs

One of the most important parts of herbalism is knowing how to dry and store herbs properly, whether if they are wildharvested or homegrown. The herbs you see below – Balm Of Gilead, Fennel, and Moorish Sage – were first hung in bundles in a well aired and sheltered area of the  house that is prepared for that task, but since we are in top wildharvesting season and need the hanging space constantly, today the almost dry bundles were removed to process, so we can go out again in the next days. We found out that the stalks were not completely dry, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to store these herbs yet, as any humidity left in the leaves will cause the herbs to mold and rot. So, we separated all stalks from the leaves, and placed them on shallow cardboard boxes  – these boxes are from the plant nursery we get plants from, but of course you can just cut any cardboard box to size, and make shallow trays. The cardboard will absorb a lot of humidity, and the only work left is to turn the leaves around every day for a few days.

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Balm of Gilead (Cedronella Canariensis), Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare) and Moorish Sage (Salvia Canariensis)

The Mallow and Sage Flowers, the Canarian Wormwood and the Heather were ready to store, so we sterilized several recycled jars with rubbing alcohol, tagged them and placed them on the Apothecary cupboard. Very soon, they will be used on formulations for customers’ spellwork, herbal teas, incenses, sachets, soaps… each one of them will be put to good use, have no doubt of that. One of the first rules of a herbalist should always be Use What You Have As Soon As You Can – it’s not going to heal you by staying in a jar in the cupboard!

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Mallow (Malva Sylvestris), Moorish Sage flowers, Canarian Wormwood (Artemisia Thuscula), and Heather (Erica genus).

And of course, a part of today’s work goes to the Spirits in the form of an offering – this time, they asked for Heather to be burnt as incense – and of course, I obligued :). They not only guide us to the places where we should wildharvest; they teach us many secrets of herbs, and protect us while we work from any danger.

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4 thoughts on “Herbalism: Processing Herbs

  1. Carolina…I love your description of how you harvest & prepare your herbs. I never thought to use cardboard boxes…great idea! I have a large table I dry my herbs on. I spread thin, cotton tea towels over baking racks on the table on which I place the herbs , then cover with another towel. Each day I turn the herbs. This works well for me: herbs dry pretty quickly; the towels keep dust & curious kitties away :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is another excellent way to do it, I wouldn’t change a thing! I use towels for flowers with seed, seed pods and roots, and the boxes for bigger amounts of herbs, so they don’t take so much space.

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