Monday, November 14

Peppers and Solar Herbal First Aid Salve

Peppers for Winter
Been busier than a one-armed paperhanger, finishing up the garden harvests and playing Christmas elf in my craft shop. You saw the pepper bounty in last week's post, right? Well, something had to be done with both the bell peppers and the banana peppers. As you can see, I've strung up the best banana peppers to dry naturally. They'll become bright red, as they dry, and will also make a colorful kitchen display through the winter.

The bell peppers were diced and placed in a single layer on cookie sheets and then frozen for a couple of hours. Then, it was time to separate any pieces that had stuck together and put portions of 1/2 cup each into small freezable bags. The whole process took less than two hours and, now, I'm ready for spicy winter meals.


Solar Herbal First Aid Salve
Remember, the lasagna herb gardens I put in last year? Well, they have done themselves proud, this year, and it was time to do more than dry the herbs for cooking. Time to make some healing salves.  My binders would be lard, because the skin absorbs animal fats so much faster than mineral (liquid petrolatum) and vegetable oils, and beeswax for its antibacteriant and emollient benefits. And, don't worry. By the time it's done, you can only smell the wonderful blend of herbs.

There's a bit of the alchemist in me, I think, because I so thoroughly enjoy creating my own organic salves and cough remedies (think hot toddy with homemade brandy!). So, into my old recipe files I went and found this all-round first aid mix that we loved and decided to try the magic in my solar oven, this time 'round.

The herbs are chosen specifically to blend their particular benefits together to handle most cuts and bruises, muscle aches and pains, and insect bites. Definitely an all-purpose non-toxic salve for most injuries. And, if your pet or small child should decide they want a taste, they'll discover soon enough that it tastes terrible and will leave it alone.

My herbs of choice: Pineapple sage, Rosemary, Spearmint, Lavender, and Thyme.  Since it's so easy to Google these herbs for their benefits, I'll just give a brief summary of why I chose them for my healing salve. If you do your own search, you'll discover multiple benefits, but mine were for their more specific elements. Pineapple sage as an antioxidant, antibacterial herb; rosemary for its pain relief; spearmint as an analgesic to reduce itching; lavender as an astringent to reduce inflammation and help the skin heal itself; and, thyme, as an antiseptic to destroy disease-causing bacteria. The lard binder to help my healing herbs be readily absorbed into the skin and beeswax that is naturally absorbed into the skin to help solidify the salve. The ratio is approximately 8oz. of lard to 2oz. of beeswax. You won't improve it by adding more beeswax, you'll just make it too hard to use.

Step One: Clean and dry all herbs, thoroughly, before preparing your salve. Using a dehydrator or your solar oven to dehydrate them won't take more than a day. By letting the door of the oven rest on top of the side latches and keeping the oven turned just enough away from the sun that it doesn't get above 175F, you can dehydrate most anything. In fact, Sun Oven International now offers a dehydrating kit specifically designed for their oven that makes the whole process very easy. My next post will tell you all about it. But, for a quick peek, go here!

Rinse all herbs to remove any protein (bugs) hiding midst the foliage. You can choose to remove all the leaves from the stems before dehydrating or just wait until they're done. You're going to be chopping this all up to add to the lard, so it doesn't matter. But, if you do remove the leaves, the drying time is less. Now, that you have thoroughly dried herbs, you can move to...

Step Two: You'll need to liquify the lard, first, by placing it in a pan/glass jar that will fit inside another pot. Then, add at least three or four inches of water and heat over very low heat until the lard is totally melted. I do this inside and prepare the herbs whilst the lard is melting.

Step Three: Finely chop all your herbs. I take a gallon-sized plastic bag and simply use a rolling pin to crush the herbs, then give it a serious shaking to combine them. Snip off a corner to create a funnel that will let you slowly pour the herbs into the melted lard. Stir it with a wooden spoon and keep adding herbs till you can barely move your spoon. You want the dried herbs totally submerged in the lard, so stop when there is about 1/4" of liquid above the herbs.

Step Four: Preheat your solar oven so that the temperature doesn't get above 100F. This means you'll have to NOT face it directly into the sun but at an angle that will maintain the low temperature. Help your oven by resting the door ON the latches. Now, comes the hard part -- the waiting.  Whether inside or outside, the best salve is allowed to do its thing for at least nine to ten hours. If it can't be done in one day, simply reliquify in the morning on your stovetop and then return to the solar oven to finish. For once, I don't suggest using your microwave to reliquify the herbal mix. I think it's too intense and can change the finished product. You want a slow, gentle, extraction that removes all the beneficial oils from your herbs.

Step Five: Assuming that you have all your containers ready, it's time to strain that wonderful salve over a bowl with a spout. Line your strainer with at least four layers of fine cheesecloth, an old t-shirt, or two layers of paper towels. You'll be able to really squeeze the cheesecloth/t-shirt for those last drops but not the paper towels. They'll just disintegrate. Let it slowly drain so that you don't force any debris into your liquid. Move the herbs around to help it along so that it doesn't thicken during the process. [NOTE: Just thought of this! Not too late for the next batch, though. If it does thicken up, you can always use your hair dryer to liquify the herb-lard mix. Tada!]  Isn't the green a beautiful shade for the salve!

Step Six: Discard the drained herbs. NOW, you can use your microwave! This is when you'll add the beeswax and give it short spurts of 20 seconds on med-high (6-7) in the microwave untill all the beeswax has melted. Don't think adding lots of beeswax is better. It will simply make your salve impossible to use. Keep with the ratio.  This will take some adjustments because you DON'T want to add any water to the mix. Ever! Get your containers ready and fill each to 1/4 inch of the top. I've used 1.5oz screw-top jars and a larger one for my medicine cabinet.

Step Seven: Cover when salve is totally cooled from top to bottom.

Finish: Now, you can make your labels and share with loved ones.

And, here's my Solar Granny Grumbles' Herbal First Aid Salve. The label gives ingredients and will include a mini description of each ingredient on a separate gift tag.

To prevent introducing any bacteria into the salve during use, I like to use either a craft stick or cosmetic spatula to remove what I need. Kept in a cool place, this salve will last up to two years. This is such a great thing to know that I've also linked to the following great blogs: It's a Keeper Thursday: Recipe & Project Linky and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways. Check out all the other great blogs, recipes, and crafts -- and, don't forget to leave some comment love.

It's a Keeper 

22 comments:

  1. I have been promised a bunch of bell peppers this week as the harvest comes to an end. I think I'll try freezing them fresh like you did. Normally, I roast my peppers before freezing, but I think I'd like some "raw" bells for winter soups. Thanks for the instructions!

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  2. I wish I'd seen this post while my banana peppers were going crazy. I'd have loved to have dried some like you're doing. It's going to be gorgeous.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the salve creating step-by-step piece as well. How cool is it that you make your own! If I only had sun . . .

    ReplyDelete
  3. I.love.this.post.

    Its right up my alley! I would absolutely love it if you could come and share this post on Frugally Sustainable! I think my subscribers would really enjoy reading this. I am hosting a Wednesday blog hop and the linky is still up today:) I really hope that you will put Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on your list of carnivals to visit and link to each Wednesday! Here’s the link: http://frugallysustainable.blogspot.com/2011/11/frugal-days-sustainable-ways-1.html

    I hope to "see" you there:)

    Warmly,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
    Here's the link: http://www.frugallysustainable.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. You made it:) Thank you so very much for linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways:) I'm so happy to "meet" you! I am totally loving your blog and your posts! I really hope you make Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways a part of your Wednesdays! And keep the great posts comin'
    Very sincerely,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds amazing, thanks so much for sharing your recipe!I love that it turns out green, too - very festive. :D

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  6. If it does thicken up, you can always use your hair dryer to liquefy the herb-lard mix healing herbs

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow! I am going to try making some herbal first aid salve, this stuff sounds amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry I'm late, getting back to you, Terria. And, surprise of surprises, just this week, two different people let me know just how great the aches and pains one was -- a group of skiers with lots of aches and pains and a fellow who had a stiff neck. Within minutes, he was able to move his head comfortably. Have fun, and don't rush it.

      Delete
  8. Askmara.com provides best highest quality natural skin aromatherapy products herbal salves purchase essential oils for over 5 years!

    ReplyDelete
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  10. wow..!!!
    i never thought peppers have these many medicinal features.Though i include pepper in my meal,never knew that it acts as a healing herbs ..

    amazing article thanx for the share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alan. So glad you stopped by. Hope you'll visit, again. I might have one or two other articles you would enjoy...

      Delete

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