Medicinal & Edible Benefits of Hibiscus

The colors of Fall are beautiful with the trees changing into an array of yellow, red, gold, orange and brown. You don’t expect to see many plants producing as you do in the Summer.

hibiscus-close-up

There are some exceptions of course. The beautiful Hibiscus Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), with its ruby red calyces and deep burgandy stems. After flowering, the calyx swell with a seed pod at which time we harvest the calyces and peel the red outer covering off to use for teas and jellies and more!

hibiscus-parts

The leaves, flowers and calyces are all edible. The calyces are well known around the world for their gorgeous red color for your teas. In Jamaica they call their drink,  Jamaican Sorrel which is made from the hibiscus calyx along with fresh ginger and sugar. It is delish!!!

I do have one hibiscus plant but it bloomed late so I only have a few calyces to pick BUT I am lucky enough to have some good friends that invited me to the farm they work at to pick all I wanted!

hibiscus-roselle
My Hibiscus plant

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My friend Denise helped me process this giant load of hibiscus. I could not have done it without her. 🙂

hibiscus-closeup

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fresh hibiscus peeled from seed pods. Pic Credit*Denise Hardin
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the leftover pods pic credit* Denise Hardin
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All my trays of drying hibiscus!
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My favorite photographer Denise Hardin

Here is an Herb Profile for you about Hibiscus:

Herbal Lesson on Hibiscus

Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as Roselle or Jamaican Sorrel, is a beautiful tropical plant with reddish green leaves, red stems, red calyces and pale yellow flowers with a red center. It can be grown here in Georgia if started early enough because it flowers in late summer.

Edible uses: The leaves, flowers, calyx are all edible. The red calyx swells up after flowering and then peeled to dry for teas.

To make tea: Use 1 T fresh calyces or 1-2 teaspoons dried per cup of water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten.

SYRUP/CORDIAL
This syrup will keep for at least a year. Once opened, it will keep for months if refrigerated. The syrup is delicious over crepes, fresh fruit, custard, ice cream. To make cordial, a very small quantity of syrup can be added to a glass and filled with water. The syrup can also be added to milk to make a delicious drink.
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups calyces, chopped
Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the calyces and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the volume of liquid is reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and strain. Bottle the syrup while still hot into clean bottles and seal. The strained calyces can be eaten as a dessert with ice cream or custard.

Medicinal Uses:  Good for the cardiovascular system – can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Full of antioxidants, high in vitamin C

Cooling to the body and astringent due to the tartness so helpful for fevers, excess fluid, hot flashes, sore throats.

Hibiscus and Ginger Tea : 4 T fresh hibiscus and a few slices fresh ginger to a quart jar, add boiling water, let steep 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with sugar, honey – I used coconut sugar.

www.bellavistanaturals.com – Anne-Marie Bilella  – Bella Vista Farm

Have a beautiful day friends!

Recap of 2014

Early this morning I decided to finally cut up the dried lemongrass, remember the lemongrass – labor of love post? It was warm in the kitchen so I took my bundles of lemongrass, a large bowl, clippers and a cup of coffee to the front porch to enjoy  the early sunshine and crisp air.

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The view from my front porch inspired the name of our farm but I do not know why I am not out there as much as the back yard. It is so beautiful and peaceful. 🙂

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As I sit to patiently cut the lemongrass into tiny pieces, I ponder the events, happenings and memories both good and bad that occurred in 2014. Most of the news programs bring the bad events of the year, why not the good, why is it always the gloom and doom! Yes there were some bad times in 2014 for us but I will not focus on them as I am grateful for the many blessings God has brought to our lives and look forward to what 2015 has in store for us.

Yes 2014 started out really darn crummy! John was out of work for two and a half months, no unemployment, no farmer’s markets. It was a tough start but we were faithful, I WAS faithful. I had friends and family that were faithful, we prayed, we believed, we trusted.

It got better of course, new jobs, new starts and new opportunities! In March I was helping my friend Cyndi, of Lazy B Farm, set up a class with Patricia Howell, who we love so much and was so excited to be there, actually I was lucky to be there thanks to my good friends!! Patricia asked me when I would take her Herb Program and I told her it would take a miracle or winning the lottery for me to attend the year long program. AND she said, as most of you already know, “Would you like to be my assistant and attend the program?” Yep the rest is history. I finished and graduated from the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies a few short weeks ago. Ready to continue my life as an herbalist. 🙂

Herb classes at the farm always make me smile, thinking back to all the classes with happy students learning and exploring the world of Herbalism especially seeing certain plants for the first time and realizing they too have those plants at home to help them medicinally. 2014 brought classes in Backyard Medicine, Natural Beauty Products, Wildcrafting Jams and Jellies, Herbs for The Immune System, Breadmaking and Medicine Making 101. I even had the privledge to take an enormous amount of people(more than expected) on an Herb Walk at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center. Very cool!

The Farmer’s Market this year was fabulous as usual, meeting new faces and seeing old friends.

I got my first wholesale account at Rinse Soap in Monroe with my Herbal Salves. Wowsi!!!

chickweed salve

My son is in 12th grade, our last year of homeschooling. He did amazing on his ACT exam and got into Piedmont College for dual enrollment and accepted as a student for his Freshman year 2015-2016. Awesomeness!!!!!

We did have some loss, my Gram lost her battle to cancer in September at the age of 89. She was my most favorite person in the family. I love her and miss her dearly. 😦

Our old dog Lightning passed away too – 14 years old. We have Luke – sweet, protective Lukey!

We still have chickens – 8 total at the end of this year but they are not laying eggs. Grrrr….6 may be around the age of 4 so dinner soon??? 2 are only 8 months old so do not know what their prob is.

Realized I grow herbs better than veggies.

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Comfrey
Comfrey

 

 

Hee Hee Hee. My garden will be even bigger next year but mostly my favorite medicinals like Holy Basil, Nettle, Calendula, Lemon Balm, Yarrow, Burdock, Chamomile, Echinacea and St. John’s Wort. There are more but those especially. Of course I will have to plant tomatoes and basil. You should have seen hubby’s face when I told I wanted to plant the entire horse riding arena with fruit trees and herbs – priceless!

My shiitake mushroom crops was bigger than I ever expected, can’t wait to innoculate more logs.

shiitakes
shiitakes

New things I learned this year?

How to identify turkey tail and oyster mushrooms, how to tincture more precisely, garbling herbs, cooking in an iron skillet(I know, finally), make kale powder, grow burdock, cabbage, okra, learn new medicinal plants, how to plant a million(ok 142) beets in rows at the UGarden, drying all of my own herbs, make lacto-fermented pickles, make apple cider vinegar, make my own tea blends, make homemade vanilla, how to be more accepting of people with different beliefs as well as be more open to new ideas, and to be even stronger this year in my own faith. I am very thankful for all the many blessings I have received.

I made a bunch of new friends –

celebrating my birthday with my new herbie friends!
celebrating my birthday with my new herbie friends!

One of my new friends, Noelle(You must visit her cool blog – The Fuller Life) invited me to volunteer with her at the UGarden (University of GA) and I got to work with her and Maisy for about 6 weeks on Wednesdays. We worked in the Medicinal Garden and the Culinary Garden. Oh and planted beets 🙂

planting beets!
planting beets!
Me and Noelle at the American Herbalist Symposium
Me and Noelle at the American Herbalist Symposium

What about you? Any new things that you learned or cool memories of 2014? Let me know, I would love to hear them. 🙂

As I finished my lemongrass, I snapped a few cool photos of hubby walking up the drive with his newspaper, Luke and the horses nearby. So sweet – I love this life!!!

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Enjoy – Have a Happy New Year,

Anne-Marie

Day 12: Grow Your Own Herbs

Day 12 – Grow Your Own Herbs –

How many of your grow your own herbs? You can save a TON of money by growing your own culinary and medicinal herbs even if all your grow is Basil, Parley, Mint and Lemon Balm – in my opinion – the four easiest herbs to grow!

Each year I have been growing more herbs so that I can dry them and enjoy them year round. I am NOT paying $3 for a teeney weeney jar of basil this year – no way.

Enjoy the following post from Frugally Sustainable and Growing Herbs For Beginners. 🙂

At the end of the post there is a link to Grow Your Own Herbs archives. I do believe the blog is inactive but there are some great articles for herbs.


“Will growing your own herbs save money? Absolutely!

I wondered about writing a blog post on growing herbs and saving money for two reasons.

  1. I have grown herbs for a very long time so it does not seem new or remarkable.
  2. I have not checked the price of fresh and dried herbs at the grocery store in a long time. Yowza! Talk about sticker shock.

After getting all gussied up (clean jeans and shirt) we went to town on our mission to check out herb prices. We visited three grocery stores and a small health food store. At all four stores I looked at fresh and dried packaged herbs and checked the prices of medicinal herbal teas. The fresh herbs at the grocery stores were small packages- each contained a mere .75 ounce of ‘fresh’ herbs. The least expensive store priced each package at $1.99 and the most expensive at $2.79.

The teas ranged in price from $4.59 (on sale) to nearly $7.00 for a single BOX of teabags and most only had 16 teabags per box. Ouch.

Honestly, I was stunned by the prices. Even a lone container of mint or Lemon Verbena can provide you with a lot of herb. Dry it yourself and you will have fresher tasting tea than anything you can buy in a box… and you’ll have a lot more of it.

Grow Your Own

If you purchase your plants in the Springtime you can expect to pay $3 or $4 per live started plant. Starting your own plants from seed will save you even more, especially if you have a place to start seedlings. You may have an initial investment for things like pots and soil, but being frugalites we know that so many objects can be re-purposed and used as containers.

Growing and harvesting your plants over the summer will make your investment money back quickly. After all, those little grocery store herb packages each contained just a few snippings, so regularly pruning your herbs would provide as much, or more than those packages.

Things to Consider

In most areas perennial herb plants don’t need replacing yearly and most annuals will set seed for you. This means you won’t have to replace plants and buy seeds every year. A biennial like parsley will provide seeds every other year and edible leaves all of the first year. That’s a heck of a deal!

We often have people ask about garden space and herbs. Many people believe you need a lot of space for an herb garden and don’t realize that many herbs are happily grown in containers. You absolutely don’t need a huge herb garden to grow teas, medicines and gourmet herbs for your family. Many of the larger herbs like fennel, bee balm and marshmallow are perfectly content in big tubs or even 5 gallon buckets. If you only have room for a few herbs, think about what herbs you might use the most. Many herbs can be used both in the kitchen and medicinally. A few dual purpose favorites are mint, thyme and sage. All are helpful medicinals and wonderful for cooking.

Anything you grow and dry for yourself will help keep the family budget in check and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing where those herbs came from.

So, do I grow all of my own herbs? No. There are somethings that just cannot or do not grow well here and so I buy what I can’t grow. Do I save money growing my own herbs? Evidently much more than I thought!”

Now It’s Your Turn

Daily Goal:
 Give one great tip for growing herbs and start some fall seeds.

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Rhonda is a Midwestern Organic Master gardener, farm gal, homeschool mom of six, artist, and commercial herb grower turned teacher. Besides her garden she raises poultry, Angora rabbits, and livestock for milk, meat,eggs and fiber (spinning, weaving, crochet). Learn from her through her website and join the facebook community.

Enjoy your day today!

 

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