A Few of My Favorite Things – The Shoestring Herbalist

old jars and containers

I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to kitchen appliances. I don’t have much patience for electronic devices. Most of them take the same amount of time to clean and maintain as the time they promise to save. I have no interest in hot dog toasters or non-stick doughnut fryers. It’s just extra stuff.

I live in a house that was built before refrigerators were common. When we moved in, there was a slot in the back of the house for the ice man to store his deliveries. As charming as our house is, it comes with a micro-sized kitchen. It has room for a sink, a stove, and a cutting board. The icebox was kept in the hall. Space is a premium. As an example, I don’t have a stand mixer. I have a hand mixer.

My herbal hobby leads me down some enticing corners. I would love to have an electronic press to strain the menstrum from tinctures. Alas, I would be charmed with an apple parer. Nope. Think of the bandages I would save with a mandolin. Not in the cards.

Thus I present this list of bare necessities of kitchen gadgets for the busy herbalist. I’ve included some ideas for their use in case it isn’t obvious.

  • HT_herbalinfusions-1Mixing bowls–Metal ones are best.
  • Blender–Even a small one designed for personal-sized smoothies will do.
  • Slow cooker–Safely cook syrups and heat extracted oils while you’re at work.
  • French press–Squeeze out the plant parts for your teas and tinctures. (Before I had the French press, I used a ricer on a pedestal.)
  • Coffee grinder–Chop difficult herbs such as kudzu root for extraction or encapsulation.
  • Quality knives–Every herbalist needs a few good blades.
  • Pruning shears–They don’t always stay in the kitchen, but they sure spend a lot of time in the kitchen during harvest time.
  • Turkey baster–Neatly fill salve containers and lip balm tubes.
  • Stainless steel cooking pot–Vital.
  • Mesh strainer–Sometimes cheesecloth just isn’t good enough.
  • Cutting board–For cutting, of course.
  • Funnels of various sizes–Save your precious tincture and syrup from ending up on the counter.
  • Scrapers of various sizes–Get every drop.
  • Glass measuring cups with a pouring spout–I have a couple of sizes now, but the one cup size was all I owned for years.
  • Chopsticks and skewers–Stirring and poking possibilities galore.
  • Mason jars with matching lids–Best storage containers ever.
  • Permanent marking pen–Write it directly on the jar or on a piece of masking tape, but keep your products clearly labeled.
  • Portable hot plate–I have used the stovetop for plenty of things, but when you’re doing big projects, hot plates provide an extra burner and a heat source that travels from room to room.
  • Measuring spoons–For smaller projects.
  • Kitchen scale–Even a cheap one is fine.

That’s it. Those are all my basics. There are some items I use a lot now but could do without in a pinch. I love my freezer, for example, but did herbalism for years without knowing what an asset it was. Your list may vary depending on the kind of projects you prefer. Just remember to keep it basic.

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