The relationship between people and herbs has spanned the millennia—and what a relationship it has been! Herbs have been both our medicine and our food, while their fragrance and beauty have warmed our hearts and delighted our senses.They are nature’s pure and precious gifts to man.
The Whole Herb is an easy-to-follow guide to the many uses of these wonderfully aromatic plants. The book begins by looking at the history and benefits of herbs, while subsequent chapters focus on their many uses, including herbs and health, herbs in the kitchen, herbs around the house, and herbs in the garden. What comes next is an A-to-Z reference profiling over fifty common herb varieties. Each entry provides information on the herb’s background, benefits, and uses, along with helpful buying guides, growing instructions, preservation methods, and safety information. Throughout, insets highlight important facts and techniques, helping you fully enjoy the herbal experience.
Barbara Pleasant has written five books for Storey, including the Garden Writer's Association 2003 Garden Globe Award of Achievement winner, Garden Stone. She lives in Virginia.
Welcome to the wonderful world of herbs. If you are reading this book, chances are herbs have already caught your interest, and you are curious about these intriguing plants. Great! The purpose of this book is to give you a solid sampling of everything herbs have to offer—in the medicine cabinet, in the kitchen, on the craft table, or in your garden.
As you will discover in the following pages, herbs are among the most fascinating and useful plants on earth. Their value to humankind has proved to be timeless. In the age of modern science, new knowledge about herbs is constantly emerging, and up-to-date information is an important focus of this book. The historical value of herbs remains significant, but it is considered alongside sound, practical insights into their uses gleaned from the world of science.
Part One of this book is designed to help you understand herbs, how they have earned their place in today’s world, and the many uses you will find for them in your own life. In Chapter 1, we will define herbs, review their facinating history, and sort through their many uses, past and present. Much herbal lore came to us from Europe, but Native American medicines and rituals have further enriched the history of herbs.
Chapter 2 explores how herbs are used to make people feel better, whether their effects are enhancing well-being or curing illness. We will follow the story of healing herbs from its beginning, which can be traced back at least 3,500 years, and then look at how modern medicinal herbs are processed, packaged, and sold. If you grow your own medicinal herbs, methods for transforming them into teas or tinctures that can be stored until they are needed also get their turn in this chapter. And, since few things are more important than your health, safety questions that pertain to medicinal herbs will be given careful coverage, too.
If you want to be a better cook, Chapter 3 explains how to choose, use, and store fine culinary herbs, as well as how to combine them in classic dishes. You will learn which herbs go together and which ones do not, and you will be offered a buffet of great ideas for using culinary herbs. From how to make herbal vinegars to freezing sprigs of mint in cubes of cranberry juice, cooking with herbs is easy. For meat lovers, there are recipes for dry rubs—the secret behind herb-encrusted anything.
When your hands itch for a creative project with herbs, Chapter 4 will get you going. Along with techniques for making long-lasting potpourri and beautiful herbal wreaths, this is where you’ll learn the symbolic meanings of different herbs, and discover how they have inspired the thoughts and feelings of people for many generations. This is also the place to find information on using essential oils in massage and other forms of aromatherapy, and how to use herbs to turn a bath into a mood-altering experience.
Chapter 5 takes you to the place where an herb-inspired heart naturally gravitates, the garden. Many herbs are very easy to grow, and some are so beautiful that you may hesitate to pick them. If you’re short on time and space, you may still want to grow a “container bouquet” of culinary herbs in the summer, or keep an aloe or bay plant indoors year-round. For herb gardeners with greater aspirations, there are instructions for rooting stem cuttings and other methods of plant propagation.
To bring together as much information as possible on individual herbs, Part Two provides comprehensive coverage of fifty-five essential herbs and shows how they are used for medicinal, culinary, aromatic, and ornamental purposes. As you discover new herbs, Part Two is the place to look for concise information about them.
Whether you want to use herbs to create better health, better meals, unforgettable fragrances, or a beautiful garden to behold when you look out your back door, this book is here to help. One thing you won’t find in this book is herbal hype, because herbs don’t need exaggerated claims. Approached with a curious mind and taken up by caring hands, herbs are good enough just as they are. This is something that you will discover each time you use herbs. Herbs are really very basic plants that have been serving people for a very long time. Expect to be pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it feels to include them in your life.