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Why Freeze Drying Herbs Is Important For Health
Preserving herbs by freeze drying is extremely important to me. Many years ago I had the unfortunate experience of being over-dosed (first with Thyroid medication) by my Doctor. I’ll avoid going into all the details, but it resulted in my blacking out and my husband finding me purple and not breathing on the floor. He resuscitated me and got me to the hospital where my doctor assumed I was having seizures, so he added medication for grand mal epilepsy to the already too high dosage of thyroid.
I would black out and end up in the hospital (sometimes for a week at a time) 5 times throughout the next year. My heart was beating so crazy fast from all the drugs, that he then put me on heart medication (yes, in addition to the other two very strong drugs). I felt so close to death after that third medication that when the nurse came in to give me more, I dreadingly told her I really didn’t want to take it because of the terrible night I had. She just said, “Okay!”
Could It Really Be That Easy?
I thought, that’s all I had to do?
That emboldened me to the point that I then fired my doctor! I know there are good doctors (and I had a pretty good one throughout the years after that) but this one didn’t care. And like my husband said, “He was practicing medicine. But, I wasn’t going to allow him to practice on me anymore.
I went to the Mayo Clinic for 3 weeks and they sent me home saying, “Don’t take so much as an aspirin for the next 3 months and have your Dr. send us a blood sample. You are so drugged that none of the tests will come out right”.
Time To Listen To My Gut
In the meantime, my Aunt told me about her Naturopath (who had been a Medical Dr. for 16 yrs and was tired of seeing people like me). He put me on an apple juice fast for the next 4 days. He added mild herbs during that time as well, to help the cleansing process. At the end of those 4 days, I was a new person–all the drugs had been cleansed from my system–I never blacked out again.
I picked up a little book in his office about herbs and studied it. I referred to it from then on. Whenever I could find something natural to use medicinally, I would go that route with my whole family.
Can I Freeze Dry Herbs?
Herbs freeze dry beautifully in my HarvestRight freeze drier! Here are some that I grow and freeze dry:
This herb is said to ease stress, anxiety and insomnia. When I taste one of its beautiful leaves, I think it tastes like Lemon Pledge smells –kind of a unique, strong lemony taste. I have a friend who adds this to Elderberries as she juices them for a flu resistant home remedy. It can also be added to other herbs for a nice lemon flavor.
Cats aren’t the only ones who can benefit from Catnip. This is one freeze dried herb I want to save more of.
Catnip is said to have calming qualities and is good for nerves, fever, cramps and miscarriage according to my Herbal book. After my over-dose experience I conceived my third child. I started to miscarry her at 5 months. This same Naturopath had me drink Catnip tea (along with other herbs) every 4 hours.
My contractions stopped before I went to bed that night. I was so relieved to have not miscarried, that I continued drinking this tea throughout the rest of my pregnancy. Each afternoon about 2 pm during my little one’s nap time, I would relax with a cup of this herbal tea.
This herb is known for settling upset stomachs, helping with digestion, heartburn and gas. It is wonderfully flavorful and I love mixing it with other herbal teas that may not taste so good. My peppermint grows shorter and is a heavier stem & leaf than my other mint plants. When you freeze dry this herb you have a way of preserving the palliative effects for a long time.
This herb is very hearty, growing tall, almost like a weed. It can take over if allowed to! Spearmint has menthol in it, making it beneficial for treating cramps and spasms. And it has decongestant properties and also antiseptic properties making it beneficial for treating wounds.
Freeze dried, crunched up red raspberry leaves
Red Raspberry Leaf
After my raspberries (check out how to freeze dry raspberry powder) are finished bearing, I snip off leaves to freeze dry for tea. This is beneficial for everything female –from periods, morning sickness and childbirth to after pain. It is also beneficial for flu and diarrhea. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. And with freeze dried herbs, you don’t have to worry about losing any of the nutrients or vitamins.
Whenever any of our kids are sick, they request herbal tea. I usually mix Catnip, Peppermint and Red Raspberry leaf; a mixture that always helps them feel better! Most herbs are like food. They are beneficial to the whole body and most are very cleansing as well.
Chives, Cilantro & Parsley
I also grow and freeze dry herbs for cooking. Here’s a mountain of chives with cilantro & parsley that I just washed. If you cut them when they are first ready, you will usually get at least one other bumper crop. I just grow them in plastic window boxes on the ground to help contain them, where they get watered with the sprinkler system, and get morning sun and afternoon shade. (Remove their drip pans).
With 4 full trays, I’ll have plenty of chives to share with my family.
But without my herb scissors, I couldn’t have cut all those perfect little chives and other herbs. These are a life saver!
I only need one parsley plant to keep me in parsley for the year. I just freeze dry it when it’s ready to cut, along with other foods.
Freeze Drying Looks So Much Better
You can see the difference in color as I add it to my container of store bought parsley. The freeze dried looks sooo much more appetizing!
I grow other herbs, but I haven’t freeze dried them yet, so I may have to do a little P.S. on herbs!
So, the bottom line to my story is, everything on me tests a bit low. All I needed was the little iron pill that my Dr. originally said I didn’t need any more and therefore he wouldn’t prescribe it. That started the whole thing. I did need it (unbeknownst to me) because my blood pressure IS low & iron speeds the oxygen through your system so you don’t feel light headed. It was a hard, but vital lesson to learn; one that I’ve always used and been grateful for.
I highly recommend adding freeze dried herbs to your food storage.
How do I freeze dry herbs?
Many people think it’s next to impossible to do the freeze drying for themselves. This is far from factual. Freeze drying at home is made easy by Harvest Right. They sell three different sizes of freeze-drying machines that do everything in the machine – except prep and package.
That’s up to you.
For all intents and purposes, here at Freeze Drying Mama we use the medium sized freeze dryer. You can check out the sizes offered at Harvest Right here.
What this machine does is first freeze the items on stainless steel trays to -41 degrees or lower. This takes about 10 hours or so.
Then a vacuum pump turns on and creates a vacuum inside the drum. This is the drying stage and will vacillate the heat of the tray up and down to a pretty warm temperature. This makes the frozen items release any water in them in vapor form. The vacuum sucks the moisture to the drum and this collects in ice form on the inner circle of the drum.
Then there’s the final dry which is essentially the same thing, but with a time associated with it and an end in sight!
What settings do I use for freeze drying herbs?
On the Harvest Right freeze drier – this works on all sizes – after putting the trays inside the drum on the shelves, I put in the drum cover and then tighten the handle as I lock it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START > NON-LIQUID > NOT FROZEN > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube was closed, I walked away.