Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tummy Trouble? Turn to Tisanes

We still have snow drifting down, turning everything to fairy land.

We also seem to be having tummy troubles.  They seem to be going around the area.  I thought I would talk about a few herbs that can be helpful and taste good, too.

The first that comes to mind is ginger because I am getting ready to plant a nice "hand" of ginger that is sprouting.  This is extremely easy to do if you have some sandy soil around.  I don't, but I have quick draining orchid soil and I am going to mix that with some potting soil and compost - my black gold - and in will go the ginger, a few inches under the top of the soil.  I'll water it well and soon it will grow nice green shoots.  In the fall, when the leaves die down I can harvest it and replant it.  This will be a back porch plant, where it will get filtered sun and I will remember to feed and water it well.  It needs to come in in the north, as it is a tropical plant.

In the meantime, I have cut off about 1 inch of it, peeled it and grated it for some tea.  This is very soothing to an upset stomach and the 1 inch piece will make enough for about 3 cups, which I will sweeten with honey.  Of course, if you happen to have ginger tea bags around, you don't need to do this, but I like it this way.  A very easy way to keep a big hand of ginger is to peel it and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer.  When you want some, grate it and return the rest.  Works a treat, as they say.

Another tummy friendly herb is peppermint or spearmint, in fact, most of the mints.  This is an extremely easy to grow plant, and if not controlled, it can take over,  so if you plant it, put it somewhere by itself.  You can snip all summer to add to tea or raitas or to put in Middle Eastern food.  It does do wonders in calming your tum and you can drink it cool or iced as well.  Alternating the ginger and peppermint throughout the day will help you feel better, as well as ensuring drinking enough liquids.

Our third tummy tamer is chamomile.  Not only can it ease distress, but it is generally a calming herb for the whole system.  It is very gentle and smells like apples.  Again, it is an easy to grow plant, but it is far more polite than the mint family.  I warn you, you need a lot to dry enough to be worthwhile.

For these and many other herbs, if you can't wait to grow them, I have found that Mountain Rose Herbs http://www.mountainroseherbs,com/ has very good ones at reasonable prices.  They also carry some herb seeds and some teas.  Make sure you get their catelog, it has a lot of neat stuff and they carry wonderful catnip, heartily approved by Andy, Sarah, Bert and Ernie, the little beggers.


Steph said...

Oh, keep us updated on how the ginger grows!

Alex Zorach said...

Ginger is also the first herb I think about when I think of settling the stomach.

I also have grown ginger outdoors, and taken it indoors like you mention, during cold weather.

A local farmer has recently started growing ginger commercially, here in PA. He has been producing quite a lot of it, and sells it for $7 a pound. It is quite outstanding! Fresh ginger has a sweetness and a complexity to it that dried ginger root that you can buy at the store generally does not have.

I hope he keeps growing it and eventually becomes more efficient at doing so, so he can sell it at a lower price...although since it's a spice, and is so strong, even at $7 / pound it's not terribly expensive.