herbalist's kitchen part one

Ever wonder what exactly goes on inside the home of an herbalist? Chances are, her kitchen doesn’t look that much different than yours. There might be a few subtle differences-some hanging herbs, fermented foods, unknown concoctions in fridge, herbs simmering on the stove, and mason jars-oh, the mason jars! Any herbalist worth her salt will have a cabinet full of them.

Here are my ‘must haves’ in my kitchen:

  • Double Boiler-This is really important if you are interested in making salves and fast infusing oils. You don’t ever want your heat source to directly heat your oils and waxes. Mine is a vintage enamel pot from the 30’s. 90% of my kitchen equipment comes from a thrift store. It is a great resource!
  • Slow Cooker-This is another device used to quickly infuse oils. I like to just let my oils infuse over time, but sometimes I need something sooner, so a mason jar in a water bath in a slow cooker does the trick.
  • Mortar and Pestle-I really enjoy the meditative process of manually masticating my herbs rather than using an electric grinder. The thought of adding mechanical energy to my herbs doesn’t appeal to me, but a lot of people like the efficiency of a coffee grinder.
  • Tea Kettle-This is a must for obvious reasons.
  • Strainer-I just use a plain ol’ wire mesh kitchen strainer to strain my tinctures, infused oils, and teas. Nothing fancy here.
  • Cheese cloth-A lot of times, small particulates of herbs get through the strainer. So, I line it with cheese cloth and then squeeze the remnants out. You can also use thin muslin that can be reused after washing.
  • Measuring cups-I always use either Pyrex or Anchor Hocking brand glass measuring cups. They are heavy duty, and you don’t need to worry about plastic degrading or metal interacting. I also buy these at the thrift store.
  • Various sizes of bottles and jars-You’ll need all the mason jars for steeping your teas, percolating your tinctures and vinegars (NEVER use plastic or metal-only glass), storing herbs, drinking glasses, etc. I also think investing in some good amber bottles, glass droppers, jars for salves, etc is a good idea.

What do you have in your kitchen? Do you like to play with herbs? Next time, we’ll talk about basic herbs to keep on hand in your kitchen without spending a fortune.

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