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An herb garden is a delicious addition to any homestead. But what do you do with a bumper crop of oregano, basil, or lavender? Don’t commit the deadly sin of letting your fresh herbs go to waste! You can easily dry today’s fresh herbs to add a splash of seasoning to tomorrow’s home-cooked meals.

How to dry herbs

Before drying your herbs, it’s important to remember that every herb is different. Some herbs, like basil, rosemary, and oregano, have hardier leaves and dry very easily. Delicate herbs like parsley or lemon balm require a more tender touch during the drying process. Know what you’re working with and adjust accordingly! You don’t want moldy or flavorless herbs.

Be sure to harvest your herbs before they bolt, or flower. Once they go to flower, the flavor and texture won’t be the same. Keep the leaves on stems or stalks if possible; they’ll be much easier to work with.

Gently wash the herbs with cold water. Spread them out on a dry kitchen towel and let them dry completely at room temperature. You want as little moisture as possible for the best results. Toss any discolored or squashed leaves.

Tie the herb stalks or stems together with kitchen twine or rubber bands, with about six stems per bundle. Fill a brown paper bag halfway with the herb bundles and fold the bag shut. Don’t overfill your bag! You want enough air to get to the herbs to remove moisture.

Now it’s time to play the waiting game. Store the sacks in a dry, dark cabinet for 2 – 4 weeks until the herbs are totally dry. Once the herbs have dried to your liking, remove the leaves from the stems and process if necessary. Give herbs like basil, parsley, or lavender a good crushing in a mortar and pestle or food processor.

Once the herbs have processed, it’s time to get to the fun part: cooking! Store the herbs in glass Mason jars to preserve their flavor for up to one year. If you still have more herbs than you can use, they make great great gifts!

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5 Ways to Use Peppermint To Beat The Winter Skincare Blues

Winter can be rough on your skin, hair, and nails, but there are a range of all-natural ingredients that can help. One often overlooked option is peppermint. Peppermint is seemingly everywhere in the winter – it’s in warm winter drinks, candy, chocolates and candles. It’s also an herb that many of us have growing wild in our gardens year-round.

But believe it or not, peppermint is more than just a tasty wintertime flavor. It’s also great for your skin and hair, and it can help fix many unique winter-time skin problems, like redness and itchiness.

Here are 5 excellent ways to incorporate this wonderful herb into your routine.

Soothe itchiness.

If your skin or scalp is dry and flaky due to the harsh winter air, try adding a product with peppermint oil to your routine. Peppermint has an immediate cooling effect that makes the itchiness completely go away, which makes it easy to avoid scratching your skin and making the flakes worse.

Repair chapped lips.

There’s a reason that so many lip balms contain peppermint, and it’s not just because of the minty fresh smell. Peppermint contains menthol, which helps soothe chapped, burning lips – a must in the wintertime, when chapped lips seem to happen as soon as we step outside!

Refresh and tone skin.

For those who deal with oil, sweat, or grime in the winter time, peppermint has a lovely refreshing effect on the skin. It naturally cleanses clogged pores, soaks up oil, and tones the skin.

Cool red or inflamed skin.

If your skin has become red or inflamed, a bit of peppermint can help gently cool it off. Peppermint reduces inflammation and balances the skin, so it’s great for treating redness or even acne. (And if you have aching muscles, peppermint’s cooling effect is helpful for that, too.)

Stimulate hair growth.

Ever wonder why peppermint makes your skin tingle? That’s because it’s a natural stimulant. When you apply it to your scalp, it causes more blood circulation in that area, which in turn stimulates hair growth. Magical!

For the obvious reason I left off aromatherapy. We all know it smells oh, so good. But it’s worth a mention, because it’s hard to fight off the winter blues, especially when it gets dark at 4pm. Peppermint oil wakes up the senses and reduces stress, making it easier to focus. It also helps to reduce headaches, and it can even fix a stuffy nose. Try peppermint for all the wonderful benefits!

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