Buying Herbs and Herbal Remedies – What you need to know!
By simply going into a herbal store and buying something off the shelf you are risking the effectiveness of the ingredient or remedy if it was not stored properly. How fresh were the ingredients that were used? Was the product stored in direct light? Was it kept airtight or in heat? These factors will significantly affect the quality and therefore effectiveness of the product you are buying. Be aware of what you buy – your remedies are only as good and effective as the ingredients you make them with.
Often it makes no difference whether the herbs you are using are fresh or dried. As long as your herbs were properly harvested, packaged and stored they will have not lost any of their healing powers.
Try to locate a reputable supplier that has knowledgeable staff and a high turnover. A high turnover will assure that products have not been stored for a long period of time. There are some great Australian suppliers who guarantee to only use organic or wildcrafted herbs, free of chemicals, which have not been irradiated. We do suggest you use organic ingredients where at all possible, your health will benefit from the difference.
Of course it is just as important to store your herbs correctly at home in order to maintain their strongest features. If you are using fresh herbs you need to wrap them in a moist paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the fridge. Store bought dried spices generally come in an air-tight container or plastic bag and these should be stored in a cool and dark area for up to 6months before replacing them. When it comes to cooking most fresh herbs need to be added at the end of the recipe with the exception of the woodier type of herbs which will benefit from extra cooking time. Dried herbs are added earlier in the cooking process to allow them to re-hydrate and release their goodness. By following these simple rules you will maintain the strengths and flavours of the herbs and spices and therefore always be using the best.
Herbs are typically used in small amounts, even if you are using them for remedial purposes. You can use the proper herbs in practically any recipe and even in tea if you are more comfortable using a single herb instead of a blend of many. By taking an interest in herbal remedies and herbal characteristics you can enjoy a more natural side of healing.