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What do you do with expired herbs?

What do you do when you have an abundance of an herb that is getting close to or passing its expiration date? One thing you can do is make an infusion out of it!

There are many ways to infuse and extract herbs and picking which method to use will depend on your need and urgency. One of my favorite ways to infuse an oil is to use my crock pot. By setting it on the warm setting, I add my herbs and cover them until they are completely submerged and just let it sit for 24-30 hours. I stir them when I can, but it's very relaxed. After straining them several times, I have a beautiful infusion that I can use right away. Once you have made an oil infusion, there are so many things you can make with it! Lip balm, butters and ointments, lotions and face oils... the list goes on.

You usually want to make tinctures with herbs that aren't too old because these will be taken internally and you want them to be effective. These are usually made with alcohol because this medium tends to pull the majority of medicinal properties out of the herb. If you do not want to use alcohol, glycerin is the next best thing. The safest way to ensure bacteria is free from your product is to use herbs that are dried. You can use fresh, but the shelf life is very short and the risk of mold setting in is very high. Alcohol tinctures need to be at least 40% and they can take 3-4 weeks to brew. I usually mix my Glycerin with a ratio of 3:1 (3 parts water, 1 part glycerin) and once the herbs are covered in the menstrum, it can take 6-7 weeks to complete. Tinctures both alcohol and glycerin can fit into a daily regime along with other vitamins that might be taken.

You can use expired herbs to make a variety of gifts for people. Herb candles are unique and beautiful. Mix the herbs into your melted wax before setting in a mold and when the candle is melting, the aromas are amazing! Potpourri, or sachets for drawers or closets are another idea. If you have a garden and are wanting a natural insect repellent, a lot of herbs can be powdered and mixed into a solution to spray on the vegetables you don't want to share. Soap, bath salts and scrubs can all use some herbs to spice up, sweeten or make them look extra fancy. My son and I made ornaments out of cinnamon, applesauce and glue this last season. I added some essential oils for an extra punch. They were fun and they made our room smell delicious! So instead of throwing away your herbs, think about all the things you can still do with them. I hope I gave you some ideas to think about.

Have fun and take care! Jody


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