One of the keys to self-reliance is confidence. The ability to know instinctively that what you are doing is right, dismantle your doubts and throw caution to the wind – let it sail away like a kite!
When you first start foraging for herbs start with the basics: dandelion and nettle. Most people know what those look like, but do you know what they taste like? If you don’t then you are missing out on a bounty of vitamins and minerals that you won’t find in your supermarket veggie stand.
Then move onto yarrow, it is the white flower below, residing in prairies and fields, sometimes it jumps into the garden too:
Yarrow Achillea millefollium is wonderful for many ailments, most notably for its ability to stop bleeding on minor wounds. Just rip off a fresh leaf, roll it between your fingers and apply it to the cut or scrape. It is invaluable for colds and fevers (combined with elderflower and peppermint), for circulation, for digestion and the reproductive system – just avoid it during pregnancy. The taste? A little bitter, but as it turns out, bitter may be one of the flavors you need for bountiful health.
Hyssop and sage are two garden plants that do well, even in times of drought. They make a great seasoning for sausages and stuffed cabbage – the benefits don’t stop only at their pungent flavor.
There is no great science to drying herbs for winter use. Harvest them in the morning once the dew is off the land, tie them in neat little bundles with natural string and let them hang for a week or more in a dry shady place. Let your fingers judge the dryness. Once the leaves come off with a crunch, they are ready to be destemmed and placed in jars alongside all of your other preserves for cold weather cooking and spicing.
Another way to forge your path to self-reliance is to sun dry your own garlic rather than buying small packets with too much packaging at the store. The recipe is no harder than cleaning cloves of garlic, cutting them into small pieces and placing them on a stainless steel tray covered by thin cloth in the sun. It takes a couple of days of bright skies and the flavor is superb, like nothing you have ever tasted before. The garlic loses its spiciness and returns the aromas of the earth.
It takes only moments of physical work to dry your own herbs, time and the sun do the rest.
What are you waiting for?