Tag Archives: Susun Weed

365 Frankendael day 122

Today I was kindly sent a batch of beautiful photos of herbs in the park by Joop Eisenberger.  I often meet Joop in Frankendael whilst I hunt for herbs and he hunts for dragonflies, butterflies, frogs, bees, plants etc. He is well known for taking the most wonderful nature photos in this area.  Joop, thank you so much for sending these to me! I am showing a few photos today and will post more over the coming days. It’s always inspiring to see the work of someone who takes such time and effort to get just the right shot.

Firstly, black rosehips of Burnet Rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia).  These are really quite an amazing colour, compared to most other hips. I showed the flowers of this shrub a few months ago and now the hips are maturing and standing out gloriously. All rose hips, of whichever colour, from whichever species, can be transformed into delicious and nutritious vitamin c rich conserves. I look forward to giving these a gentle squeeze, when I return from holiday, to see how ripe they are. Rose hips need to be fairly soft but not at all rotting, to be harvested. Whatever preparations are made from hips, the pips (seeds) must be carefully removed by sieving, before the final storage as they are covered in tiny irritating hairs.

I thought most St John’s / Joan’s wort flowers (Hypericum perforatum) were over now but this photo taken yesterday prove otherwise.  I have taken a bottle of oil, infused with this plant, on holiday with me. It is my sun lotion.  Contrary to popular beleif, this sunny little wonder herb can prevent sunburn as well as soothing aches and pains and uplifting depressed minds.  Avoid the dried herb for depression, it tends to make things worse. The tincture seems to do a better job.  If you are interested in this herb, take a look at the writings and recordings about it by Susun Weed.  The herb can interect with the contraceptive pill, so beware.

Speaking of contraceptives, I’ve a renewed interest in Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) flowers and seeds at present because where I’m holidaying is absolutley covered in the plant. There is some extrememly interesting reseach into its effectiveness as a birthcontrol herb, by Robin Rose Bennett. Read her research findings and updates if it is of interest to you.  In short, it appears to work like a herbal morning after pill. If taken regularly it stops working. So if you facy trying it, read up on it thoroughly, get some advice and make sure you harvest the right flowers or seeds!

Lasty today, here is a poisonous herb, also associated with birth, or otherwise.  It is called Pijpbloem in Dutch, Birthwort in English and Aristotolochia clematis in Latin. The Doctrine of Signatures was responsible for wrongly linking many herbs with dieases of body parts which they resemble. This is one such herb.  It was thought to resemble the birthcanal or uterus and was used by many for quite sometime to help childbirth proceede and for other gynacological issues.  It does cause the uterus to contract, eventually, but it all also causes kidney damage and failure and thus sometimes death.  It’s quite a beautiful plant, creeping around the woodland area with unusual leaves, tendrills  and a vibrancy that really makes it stand out from the other plants. It is very poisonous and shouldnt be ingested.

Chickweed Amsterdam April 2012

Chickweed abounds!

Chickweed Amsterdam April 2012Chickweed makes a delicious and nutritious sandwich filling, it’s also plentiful, easily forage-able and available almost year round (it gets scorched and disappears at midsummer and has a slightly different form in mid winter but still tastes great).

It’s a popular medicinal herb, used as a tonic and for a multitude of ailments including skin complaints. It tastes fresh and peppery and it’s so successful that you are very likely to notice it as a”weed” in any plant pots or borders you may have. Birds love it, hence the name.

I took the photo this afternoon in my neighbourhood, the chickweed is growing in a city tree pit (aka dog latrine) so I won’t be harvesting this patch. But when I find chickweed on my balcony or in a nice clean area, I don’t hesitate to pick some for food.

If your not familiar with it use a good field guide for wild flowers to help with correct identification. Herbalist Susun Weed has lots of detailed information about this plentiful nourishing herb on her website.

As low impact lunch items go, I don’t think you can get much better than a weed which most people dig up and send for incineration here in town. If you haven’t already, please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Today I shared an exquisite meal at gastronomic restaurant Bord’deau in Amsterdam with my lovely and was delighted to find chickweed in one of the amuses! In the photo you will see a sprig of fresh chickweed nestling against beetroot and mustard ice cream. A perfect combination and what a great recipe that would be for the blog. The meal also included a sprig of what seemed to be rock samphire and many other seasonal herbs. Umm, no dinner required for me this evening.

How To Make Cold Infused Herb Oils

How To Make Cold Infused Herbal Oils

This is how I make cold infused herbal oils. Infused oils are very useful; they are sometimes used directly (as with Calendula oil) or may be used to make ointments and salves. Generally I infuse a single herb, blending the finished product with other infused oils if required, but you can try infusing two or three herbs together.  I wouldn’t advise this for beginners as you should first understand how the herbs will interact.  This method is straightforward, I have tried other oils and techniques but this method gives reliable results. Quantities are not specified; simply harvest as much fresh herb as you wish and choose a jar (or jars) which you can comfortably pack them into. Generally I make a litle more but I often use tiny pesto jars to make small quantities of infused oil, they hold around 100ml.  That’s enough to make several ointments or will last a while for massage.

This method is based upon the one advised by Susun Weed in several of her books.

  1. Harvest fresh herbs on a dry and sunny day.
  2. Don’t wash the plant at all. Inspect your harvest and discard any diseased or soiled parts. If the plant is dirty simply scrub it clean with a stiff, dry brush.
  3. Coarsely chop the herb.
  4. Fill a dry, sterilised jar with the chopped herb.
  5. Slowly pour olive oil into the jar, whilst using a clean chopstick, skewer or knitting needle to release any air bubbles and allow the oil to reach all layers of the herb material. Mould is likely to grow in any air spaces within the jar so take your time to get this right.
  6. Fill the jar right to the top, covering every part of the herb.
  7. Again check that there is no trapped air. If necessary release air with the chopstick and top up with oil.
  8. Seal the filled jar with a well fitting cork or screw on a lid.
  9. Label the jar: Name of the herb, herb part used (flower, root etc), type of oil used, and the date.  Label the lid also, in case oil seepage makes your jar label illegible.
  10. Leave the jar for six weeks, at room temperature in a place where any seeping oil will not cause a problem. Moldiness may occur if herbs are left to infuse for longer.
    N.B. Some herbs release gas as they infuse, causing bubbles in the oil. This is not a problem and does not indicate spoilage but it may force some oil out of the jar, so be prepared! Chickweed, Comfrey, and Yellow Dock produce quite a lot of gas as they infuse. The gas will force some oil out of even tightly sealed jars. If corks pop out the oil may become rancid.
  11. Decant the infused oil by carefully pouring out the oil into clean, dry containers, leaving the spent herb material in the jar.
  12. More infused oil can be extracted from the spent herb. Put small handfuls of it into a clean kitchen towel or cotton cloth and wring out the oil.
  13. Leave the decanted oil to sit for 4 -7 days while the water within it (which is from the fresh plant material) settles to the bottom of the container.
  14. Carefully pour off the water-free oil, into clean, dry containers.  Leave the water and a small oil layer, which is touching the water, behind.  Any water will allow mould to grow.
  15. Store the herb infused oil at cool room temperature or refrigerate.
    Remedies for mould problems:

    Mould will grow in air spaces and where there is water in your oil.

    • If it grows at the top surface of the oil it is often possible to scoop out all traces of mould and then to top up with oil.
    • Mould may also grow up the inside surface of the jar or as a few colonies throughout the oil. This can happen if the jar was not completely dry to start with or if it is left in too sunny or warm a location.  Prevent this by drying jars in an oven for a few minutes immediately before using and storing in dark spot.  If the problem occurs the preparation may be salvaged by carefully pouring the oil and plant material into a completely dry jar, discarding any mould colonies.
    • If mould grows throughout the oil it is probably due to wet plant material being used. Saving the preparation is impossible. Discard and start again.

Using olive oil as a base for infused oils helps prevent them becoming rancid, at cool room temperature, for several years. Where they are likely to become warm, try adding the contents of one or two vitamin E capsules to the final decanted oil. Tincture of Myrrh or Benzoin can be added to ointments or salves (made from infused oils). Use about ten drops of either tincture per ounce of oil.