Wildcrafting

Charlotte and Susie made countless runs down into the woods for "just one more bunch, please?!" of jewelweed.

Charlotte and Susie made countless runs down into the woods for “just one more bunch, please?!” of jewelweed.

Jeremie and the oldest three have been gone for a few days. While they were gone, the kids and I made all sorts of concoctions in the kitchen! I always have a green salve on hand for baby butt rashes and bug bites. Usually I buy dried herbs to infuse into oils, but I was inspired by a friend to harvest my own.IMG_2899 We have an ABUNDANCE of plantain growing in the yard. Sadly, the lawn had just been mowed. No, not sadly. I mean I an super greatful to have short grass! That is an on-going struggle at the Funny Farm. Jeremie Some people around here like to have the yard look like a hay pasture! :) Anyway, I was still able to find plenty of large leaves of plantain in the orchard. Plantain is good for so very many things! Look it up! Bug bites, burns, itchies. It’s edible, so add some to your salad! After thoroughly washing them (I do have chickens, remember? And chickens poop everywhere.)  I dehydrated them in my Excalibur. IMG_2900You never want to infuse oils with fresh herbs because the water content in the plant matter will make your oil go rancid or moldy. Except when it comes to Jewelweed. That’s another wild plant that we harvested this weekend. Jewelweed is God’s remedy for poison ivy. He even plants is right in the same vicinity. Jewelweed has a juicy stalk that, when applied to the infected area, counter acts the irritation caused by poison ivy. But these juices are ineffective after being dried. So after we harvested this jewel of a weed 😉 (three times!) I did a couple different things with it.IMG_2904 First, I chopped up the stalks and leaves and covered them in water. After letting it simmer on the stove for a couple hours I strained the plant matter out. This juice will stay good in the fridge for a few weeks, but I froze most of mine in ice cube trays to be used as needed at a later date. IMG_2915Don’t forget to pop those frozen cubes into a ziplock container so they don’t dry out in the freezer! Applied directly to the infected area, the coolness and the jewelweed juice ease the pain and the itch. I also used the infused water to make a batch of jewelweed soap. IMG_2921This soap is packed with poison ivy fighting weapons! I infused the water and the oil both, before mixing together. I made the bars very small, individual size. Only two people in the family suffer from a reaction to the poison ivy. Once a bar of soap gets wet, it doesn’t last as long, so I wanted many, small sized bars for the many times Tommy or Benja need them. IMG_2928Then I also infused oil with this plant. Specifically avocado oil and sweet almond oil that are so good and nourishing for the skin. Care must be taken when infusing a fresh herb into oils because of the water content. After the oil is infused let it rest and the water should sink to the bottom. Simply pour off the good oil, leaving behind the bit with water. This will help keep the oil or salve fresh longer. There are a couple different ways to infuse oil. You can let the herbs and oil sit in the sunlight for a couple weeks, giving it a good shake now and then. Or you can heat the jar of oil in a crockpot on low overnight. Or you can heat the oil with the herb on the stovetop. But keep the heat low! IMG_2925I used the infused oil for my soap and I also made some salve by adding a few tablespoons of beeswax to the strained oils.IMG_2926 The last thing I did with my jewelweed was to make a tincture. I chopped the plant, put it in a mason jar and covered it with witch hazel. 100 proof vodka would work as well, but witch hazel is cheaper. If using vodka, the tincture can be taken internally, just a few drops in a shot glass of water. IMG_2909I keep the witch hazel infusion is a small glass spray bottle to apply topically to the infected area. This works not only for poison ivy, but for bug bites and burns as well. There is some controversy regarding tinctures and jewelweed so do your own research. But it works fabulous for us! You might think I’ve got a bit overboard with my remedies, but folks, if you could see Tommy and Benja suffer you would understand. It’s horrible. And we have poison ivy everywhere. And fences must be run. And forts must be built. And creeks must be explored. And boys must be boys.

This post is already too long, so I’ll share the rest of our wildcrafting adventures another day.

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