Cut to the chase if you don't want the details! What are Nourishing Herbal Infusions and how do you make them?
Nourishing Herbal Infusions are aqueous infusions of dried plant leaves and flowers. When we carefully select plants that are safe to use this way, we can easily use large volumes of plants, allowing maximum absorption of bioavailable nutrients such as minerals, proteins, and sugars, without risk of “overdosing” on stronger medicinal-type compounds.
The effect is a daily ritual of nutrition that acts like a daily multivitamin, but at a lower cost, with better effects, and a gentler impact on the planet. For more detail on what an aqueous infusion is, and why these herbs are best ones to use, see the long form version of the article.
Here is a list of herbs that make great Nourishing Herbal Infusions:
Red Clover flower
Stinging Nettle leaf
Red Raspberry Leaf
Violet flower and leaf
To maximize the nutrition extracted into the water, we don’t steep for 10 minutes like a tea, we steep for at least four hours, or up to 12 hours. This gives us a deep dark rich infusion chock full of bioavailable minerals and nutrients.
A few notes on making Nourishing Herbal Infusions before I give the recipe.
- You will need a kitchen scale. Dried plant material is not accurately measured by volume like a grain or liquid. It needs to be measured by weight. You will see that there is a huge difference in volume depending on the plant used as well as the way it was dried, shipped, stored, harvested, etc. Always weight it! Don’t get lazy, you will inevitably be cheating yourself.
- Large quart size mason jars are good for this. But when I started doing this, I did not have any. You can use any kind of metal or glass container you want. But do not use plastic or pots with non-stick coating. The hot water will leach chemicals.
Finally, while it is fine and good to start with one infusion and develop a love and habit for it, don’t stop there. Rotate through the five major herbs every week. Oat Straw, Nettle, Comfrey, Linden, Red Clover. Each has unique properties it brings to the table. I do not recommend combining them together, however. There are a number of reasons for this. First you are more likely to get bored with the sameness and routine and stop doing it all together. This is human nature. Additionally, it does not allow you check in with yourself. What do you want today? Are your preferences changing? Might this tell us something about ourselves? Finally, it is good to have variety on a genetic level. This is a topic for a whole other blog, but know that eating the same thing every day for years is not good. We actually turn genes within our cells on and off with the foods we eat. There are benefits to rotating through a variety rather than having daily consistency.
How to Make it
You will need:
A pot to boil a quart of water
A Quart size jar with a fitted lid
A scale to weight out one ounce of dry herb
A bowl or container to use to hold the herb while you weigh it
A fine mesh sieve/ strainer, or a length of cheese cloth to strain the plant out
4 cups of water
One ounce of dried herb
This is one of the suppliers I use. I linked to Nettle, but they carry the other products as well https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/nettle-leaf/profile
- Use a kitchen scale to measure out once ounce of dried herb of choice
- Measure 4 cups (one quart) of water
- Pour water into a pot and bring to a boil on the stove, then turn off heat
- Pour herb into one quart glass jar (or another appropriate container)
- Pour hot water into jar over the herb
- Place lid on jar and refrigerate 4-12 hours (I do mine overnight most of the time)
- Use a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and place over desired storage vessel of choice. I usually use another glass jar, or possibly several thermoses.
- Pour Infusion through mesh to catch the plant material, keeping it out of the storage container.
FINAL IMPORTANT STEP:
Once you have strained the Infusion, it is so important to go back and use your hands to squeeze the heck out of that plant material, over the strainer, into the storage container. You will be amazed how much fluid was still in the plant, and how much of the dark rich color is added to your infusion. This is the good stuff!
Here is a quick instructional video from Susun Weed for visual learners. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsJRfm70dRs&list=PLqq_0iBp8fNubTN4gHlq4LK05FeJZBIji&index=8&t=0s
Voila! You are done. You have Nourishing Herbal Infusion.
I almost always drink it straight and cold, like an iced tea. Several cups a day. However, you can also flavor it with mint (after the long steep), honey, salt, etc. Some people prefer certain types warm rather than cold. You can also add it to recipes for a nutrition boost in your daily cooking.
For pets, you can add some to food, or serve it straight in a bowl if they really like it. I have had some success mixing it with milk or broth for a daily nutrient boost. For small animals you can just give them a few spoonfuls or half a cup from your personal supply. For larger dogs, I recommend making them their own daily or every other day. You can easily double the above recipe. In fact if you are making it for the whole family, it is easier to make it a gallon at a time and store it in a glass or plastic vessel in the fridge with a spigot. This way it is easy to access throughout the day for anyone who wants it.
Make it a habit to make your infusion most days. If you don’t quite need to make it daily, that’s OK, but be consistent for best results.
Green Blessings to you and yours!