Original indigenous peoples have long used wild medicinal plants to treat a variety of ailments. The collection of medicinal herbs in different climatic zones was done at different times. Traditionally, churches as well as other festivals were used as reference points for the beginning of the collection.
The herbs, roots, and fruits collected during this period are considered to have good medicinal properties.
CHARACTERISTICS OF PREPARED MEDICINAL PLANTS
Of course, it is not prohibited to harvest medicinal materials during all warm periods of the year, but it is necessary to observe certain rules for collecting medicinal materials. Otherwise, all the work will be in vain. Properly harvested home collection can help soothe a healthy sleep after a busy day, reduce, and sometimes even completely eliminate gastrointestinal problems, liver, kidneys, inflammation, colds, cleanse and heal the skin.
Preparing medicinal ingredients can be, collecting wild plants or growing them in their own barns. Every gardener must have a medical box of medicinal herbs in his garden. It can be separated into separate beds, which is very convenient for the care and preparation of raw materials, which can not be handled in any way.
If the plant is planted in the vegetable plot and cultivated with the crops growing there, it is not suitable for harvesting medicinal ingredients.
Do you really need such a kit in the countryside, if you can buy ready-made herbs in pharmacies? The answer is clear – it is definitely needed. After all, no one knows under what conditions to grow, when and how to collect raw materials, whether there are rules for drying and storage. It is growing herbs in your own garden, you will pass on the knowledge to your children, teaching them to understand and appreciate the nature around them.
So, how to harvest and dry herbs properly? In this article, we will discuss these questions.
The preparation of herbs for drying and storage can be divided into several stages.
- Collecting medicinal plants.
More related information about growing herbs plants
Provisions for collecting medicinal herbs
For medicinal purposes, the above-ground green matter, flowers, and fruits of plants should only be picked in clear, dry weather, after the dew has fallen and before 11:00 am. Plants lose their essential oils in strong sunlight.
Leaves of medicinal plants are harvested before flowering.
Pick flowers, inflorescences, and above-ground parts with flowers – the upper 4-6inch (10-15 cm) – at 20-30% flowering or when they are heavily sprouted, respectively. Fully flowering plants will lose some essential oil.
In wet weather, allow digging up the roots and rhizomes of medicinal plants to harvest in late fall or before mass defoliation begins.
Medicinal plants should not be harvested from farms, industrial facilities, and near highways.
You should only harvest medicinal plants that you are familiar with, that are absolutely healthy and free of pests.
It is best to pack herbs in large baskets or bags made of natural fabrics that are light and breathable so that the leaves and flowers do not deteriorate. Shake the plants to remove insects before placing them in the basket.
Do not collect excess raw materials. Medicinal plants that are not ready to dry will go to waste – you can throw them away.
Always cut the above-ground parts of medicinal plants with a sharp knife or shears, rather than uprooting them.
When you cut the stems off the shrub, leave 1/3 of the stem for the plant to develop later.
Harvest only the buds and bark from the clearing. Keep the forest alive! At home, collect the bark from removed branches (dogwood, redbud).
Medicine beds in country houses should be kept away from crop rotation areas and gardening areas that are treated with various chemicals during the growing season.
SUMMER MEDICINAL PLANT COLLECTION
Household crops harvested in June
- Currants, raspberries, strawberries/orchid berries, mint, lemon balm, leaves of dogwood.
From wild plants.
- Leaves of plantain, thyme, nettle, cypress (willow tea), mother oil, tricolor violet, horsetail on the ground.
From other plant parts.
- burdock root, cranberry bark, flowers of linden and elderberry, leaves, flowers, and rhizomes of peony.
Household crops harvested in July
- Elderberry, raspberry, bird cherry, and willow fruits.
From wild plants.
- motherwort, St. John’s wort, yarrow, willow, sage, oregano, marigold, chicory, shepherd’s purse, heirloom, yarrow, evasive peony, etc.
Household crops harvested in August
- Hawthorn and rose hips, lemongrass berries, barberry, cactus, willowherb, the rhizome of evasive peony, burdock, dandelion.
DRYING OF MEDICINAL RAW MATERIALS
Dried raw materials for medicinal plants production
Arrange raw materials on a linen or other natural base (not on film or synthetic material).
Sort out diseased, wilted, and dirty herbs.
Do not wash material from leaves, inflorescences, flowers, or the ground. Intensely humidified raw materials will certainly begin to wilt in hot weather, turn black and lose some of their healing properties. If the plants are visibly dusty, you can rinse them with running water (no pressure) and spread a thin layer on a cloth that absorbs moisture well in a ventilated area without harsh sunlight.
Once the material has dried, crush the large leaves, inflorescences, and fruits. Spread out a thin layer on a sieve or other drying device. Stir and turn constantly.
Wash the roots, rhizomes, bulbs, and rough stems under running water. Shred and cut lengthwise and crosswise into 2-4inch (5-10 cm) long sections. They can be strung on a thread like a necklace and hung in a ventilated place for drying.
Smaller fruits (hawthorn, rose hips) are dried whole and larger ones are cut into 2-3 parts.
Harvested herbs (St. John’s wort, sage, chicory, yarrow, etc.) can be bundled into loose bundles and hung in a dry, well-ventilated room (attic, shed, special room).
Drying of medicinal plants
Freshly harvested medicinal plants contain a lot of water, and excess moisture needs to be removed promptly. Moisture contributes to continued chemical processing in the harvested raw material, leading to darkening of leaves and stems, formation of mold, and even rot, especially in fruits with a lot of pulp. In this form, the herb is not suitable for use. Please remember! The first and most important step is the timely and proper removal of excess water from the collected medicinal material by drying. There are two ways of drying medicinal plants: natural and artificial.
Natural drying of medicinal plants
Natural drying in the sun is not suitable for medicinal herbs. Harvested herbs continue to undergo biochemical processing in the sunlight, which results in the loss of a large portion of their medicinal properties. Medicinal herbs turn into dry herbs.
Natural drying of herbs can be arranged in the air under the shed. Loose bundles of herbs and “necklaces” of roots are hung under the canopy, and crushed raw materials are placed on tables with natural coverings, which are constantly tumbled and stirred. In dry, hot weather, this drying takes 2-4 days. Under the same conditions, in a ventilated attic, the herbage can be dried for 1-2 days to reach a proper state.
With the small amount of collected bunches of raw materials of medicinal plants can be hung in the room (not in the bedroom) with a string, arranged for ventilation.
Only the roots can be dried in the sun (sunflower, summer peony, fig, dogwood, etc.).
Artificial drying of medicinal plants
Manual drying of collected herbs is carried out under artificial conditions :
- in an electric dryer.
- in a microwave oven.
- in ovens with gas or electric stoves, in special drying cabinets.
- In an oven heated with wood.
In apartment buildings, it is convenient to dry collected herbs in electric dryers and microwave ovens. These devices are equipped with instructions, which describe the drying process in detail. Drying herbs takes 3-4 hours, especially if the quantity is small.
It should be noted that drying under the rays in the microwave oven can destroy some useful substances (just like drying in the open sun).
In various types of special dryers, drying can be done at different temperatures, which preserves the essential oils contained in the plant. Thus, oregano, artemisia, peppermint, and St. John’s wort are dried at 104-122°F (40-50°C), and roots and fruits, depending on the cut and density of the tissue, are dried at 122°F (50°C) for 158-176°F (70-80°C).
Dacca in a house on the ground, preferably drying herbs in an oven, can be heated to 104-140°F (40-60°C).
Determining the quality of dried raw materials
Inadequately dried medicinal ingredients begin to lose their healing properties and appearance over time, becoming odorous, moldy and prompting the appearance of midges.
- Properly dried leaves and petals are easy to rub into tiny particles with your fingers and have a pleasant odor.
- Dried stems, roots, rhizome parts, and bark break easily. Eaten by insects (if stored indefinitely), they cannot be used.
- The dried fruits break easily into individual berries or cut parts for drying. They break easily when squeezed, rather than sticking together into semi-moist lumps.
STORAGE TIME OF COLLECTED MEDICINAL PLANTS
The storage time of dried medicinal plants depends on the type of raw material. The first sign that the raw material has become worthless is the absence of fresh herbal flavor and discoloration (usually complete discoloration).
- It is best to harvest fresh leaves and flowers every year.
Stems, roots, and some fruits can be stored for 2-3 years.
- Storing medicinal ingredients for more than three years is not recommended.
- Do not mix old ingredients with newly collected dried plants.
- Herbs can be stored in compounds or make the necessary mix (mixture) before use.
- Herbs should be stored in natural cloth bags, paper bags, or other breathable materials. Raw materials should not be stored in plastic bags.