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Keeping Herbs Fresh for the Ride Home?  RSS feed

 
Lin Record
Posts: 2
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Hello all, so I live in large city in MA (Not Boston) and I find it difficult to acquire herbs even grown in my own yard, especially being that some of the best herbs are wildly picked. I go hiking with my boyfriend quite often and I find all sorts of amazing herbs along the way. However I refrain from picking them due to the fact that many of the herbs are best used freshly made into tinctures, teas, salves, etc. I go hiking for hours and they tend to wilt or dry before I can make it home. What is the best way some of you have found for keeping your herbs fresh for the ride home? Would a plastic bag with a dampened paper towel work well?

I plan on collecting some jewelweed and making salves to give to my friends and family this season as the poison ivy has been awful this year. However it requires fresh jewelweed but I can really only find it deep in the woods when I go hiking and it's usually 30 minutes to an hour from my house not including the actual hike to find it. I know it might seem a little silly as I'm sure it could still be used same day, but I want it to be as potent as possible when I make it.

Thanks for the help in advance!
Lin
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6781
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I was thinking of a resealable plastic bag with a paper towel inside. It's the simplest and the first thing both of us thought about. Try this before going to anything more elaborate.
 
Sharol Tilgner
Posts: 41
Location: Pleasant Hill, Oregon
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I am copying some data out of past things I have written that should be useful to you.

If you are collecting in warm weather and want to get back to your house with fresh plant material that is still in good shape, figure out how you will accomplish that. If you drive two hours in mid-July in a hot car or truck, how will your plant material look when you return with them. Things to consider are protecting them in coolers with ice, in boxes or large insulated containers with ice, a car air conditioner, or perhaps even processing the plant in the field.

SHIPPING FRESH HERBS - This is something I wrote up for people who want to sell fresh herbs to herbal manufacturers. I use it in one of the classes  I teach. I owned an herbal manufacturing company for 13 years and  I quickly learned the necessary methods for keeping herbs fresh. You can read this and use the parts that relate to you best. It may seem over the top to do it this way, but this is the way that gives you primo herbs and ultimately that is what I always want.

Your herbs are the finest available and when you put them in the box to ship you feel a sense of pride at a job well done, but your customer refuses the box because the herbs were prepared for shipment improperly and are damaged. I have seen this scenario happen quite a few times with growers shipping fresh herbs for the first time. The following guidelines will help ensure a happy customer upon receipt of your shipment:

1. Ship the fresh plants directly from the source harvested. If you have a contract with another grower or wildcrafter to supply the herbs to you,  have them drop ship the item to your customer with your address as a return address so your customer will not bypass you and go directly to them.

2. Ship the herbs the same day they are harvested.

3. Keep the herbs cool prior to shipment, but not wet. Never ship wet plants. You are increasing your chances of composting in the box. The plant may grow mold if sent wet. When shipping roots it is best to wash the dirt off and allow the moisture to dry, but don't let the roots themselves dry out.

4. In warm weather, the herb should be packed in layers with butcher paper and ice bags. The best ratio for ice bags to herb when shipping aerial parts is 1 ice bag for every 3 pounds of  plant material. It is best to put the ice bag inside of a plastic baggy to protect the herbs in case the ice bag breaks. If the ice bag breaks you will be considered responsible for not preparing the box appropriately. Most growers have a return policy for ice bags. The grower will refund the cost of the ice bags for every clean, non damaged bag returned to them. Layer the paper and ice bags in the following manner. Herb - paper - ice - paper - herb  - paper - ice - paper - herb. In a box with dimensions of 45" x 14" 14" and containing aerial herb parts it would be expected to have two layers of herbs with 3 layers of ice. It is also possible to put butcher paper all around the perimeter of the box and space the ice bags throughout the herb material. In this situation, if it is not packed tight enough the ice bags may all fall to the bottom and not perform their job adequately. The layers of newspaper keep the ice bags in place. Ice bags may not be necessary for shipping roots as they are usually shipped during the fall, winter or spring when it is cooler. Roots are also less susceptible to damage and dehydration than aerial parts. Call your customer with questions regarding local weather.

5. It is preferable to ship with new cardboard boxes to make sure the plants do not get contaminated from previous material in the box. The best dimensions for shipping roots is 22" x 14" x 14". The best dimensions for shipping aerial parts are 45" x 14" 14".  When the weather is hot punching small holes in the boxes can increase the  amount of airflow to the herb during shipment. This will decrease the heating of the herb.  Don't make the holes too big as you don't want the plants to loose moisture during shipment. The more ice in the box the less need for making air holes.

6. If you are organically certified, send the certificate with the plants. Many companies are also certifying their business and need this certificate. Put this certificate and any other paperwork into a plastic bag so it will not get wet.

7. Phone your customer the day you send the herbs so they will be expecting them. They will need to contact UPS if the shipment is not received in time, so immediate tracking can commence. It is necessary to use ground track service from UPS to make sure they can track it immediately.

8. Regarding ground, 2nd day and next day air shipments. If the shipment can be sent ground UPS and be received in one day, send it  this way. If not send it next day air. Sometimes you can send a shipment 2nd day air such as cases where it is a sturdy root and the weather is cool. Let your customer decide how they want to send it. They will be paying  for shipping. Make them responsible for the final decision. How the plant arrives is then their responsibility.

9. You may want to consider contracts with your customers or if not a contract at least send them a confirmation sheet which can be faxed, emailed or mailed to your customer verifying the order. A buyers and sellers agreement should contain your  both the buyers and sellers name and address, phone number, fax number. It should also contain the latin and common name of the herb ordered, how many pounds were ordered, the part of the plant and quality of the particular plant expected to be received, packing requirements, shipping requirements, price per pound, mention of the buyer paying for shipping, method of payment, and requests for confirmation of receipt of the order and an expected date of shipment.

10.  If you are unsure about the proper way to ship a particular herb, call the customer and ask them about their past experience with the specific herb.
 
Abbey Battle
Posts: 85
Location: Wealden AONB
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I had some organic groceries delivered. They came with a nice little ready made cool bag that is ideal for storing herbs during the day before I head home. (I probably suffer a much cooler climate than you). Needless to say, it looks like loosely shredded and chewed newspaper inside a sealed plastic bag that you can pop a little ice pack into.

I have received live plants packed with newspaper and wrapped in plastic bags inside cardboard boxes that have thrived well after transplanting.

Only thing that really concerns me are the laws regarding picking wildflowers in your area. Here it is totally illegal to pick wild flowers or harvest from the wild.
 
Sharol Tilgner
Posts: 41
Location: Pleasant Hill, Oregon
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I use to do a lot of wildcrafting on public and private lands before I grew most of my own herbs. Often with public land it is as simple as getting a permit that can be obtained for free. Permits can be obtained from the ranger station, BLM office or parks and recreation office, depending on who is maintaining the land you wish to harvest from. They will usually want to know where you are going to harvest, what you are harvesting, how much you will be harvesting, if it is for self use or market use and do you know what you are doing. They will not let you harvest in some areas. They will not let you harvest things that are endangered or threatened in the area. (This is a good thing.) They love to have you take weedy things that are bothering them.

One thing I would advise you to inquire of them is if there is going to be any new road installation, timber sales (clear-cuts specifically), power line installation or buildings/parking on the land they are managing. If there is, you may want to scout that specific area out for herbs you can use. If they are going to cover the area with roads or buildings or clear-cut the area, there are many herbs you can collect and use rather than seeing them wasted under asphalt or concrete. In clear cuts it is a bit more complicated as you would only want to take the herbs that will be not be able to continue living in an open field. This requires additional knowledge on your part.

Good luck and have fun!
 
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