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Does anyone ferment herbs?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Mostly I dry my herbs, use fresh or I do put a few in the freezer.  I have also done a tincture or liqueur with some.


This year  I am planning to try fermenting them due to the health benefits of fermented foods.

I know that these herbs cannot be added to foods except at the last minute as to not lose the health benefits.  I am mostly thinking of using in salads or drinks where there is no cooking process.


Has anyone fermented herbs?  Any suggestions or comments?



 
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I have not, but i just finished reading "the wildcrafting brewer" and it has me wanting to try it. Beautiful pictures in the book. It seems to be an artform for the author.
 
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I've never done herbs on their own but you can definitely include them in a kraut or kimchi type of ferment. You could also use them to flavor kombucha or jun. Neither of these will deal with large volumes of herbs. I think one of the best ways to preserve to lots of herbs would be in a pesto that you freeze. You should totally try fermenting some straight herb leaves and let us know how it goes, could be an exciting new food stuff.
 
wayne fajkus
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No herbs yet, but this is my first little micro brew. Herbs will be added in to other batches.

I used strawberry syrup(homemade) and a little lemon juice. I put in a 1 gallon jug with airlock before i left town. I just got back and its bubbling good. I filled 2 bottles and will leave it out for 4 days, then fridge it. This should carbonate it. The flip top lets you check the fizz so i may fridge it earlier or later.

The book i referenced has good info. Taste it and change it to your liking. I added more water when i bottled it cause im looking for an easy drink. Like a carbonated fruit water. Not super fruity or sugary. I may dilute further in other bottles to make a sorta gatorade. Not letting it pressurize by fridging it immediately.
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Anne Miller
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Wayne, the micro brew pictures are beautiful.  What was your main ingredient and did you add something to help the brew?

Stephen, I plan to document my results on this thread.  I have lots of lavender,   rosemary, and could do something with echinacea leaves.  The main ones I want to work with is lemon balm and parsley so I have to wait for them to grow more. 
 
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I have long wanted to take the time to ferment a variety of everyday herbs all by themselves (as opposed to adding them into food ferments for interesting flavors) and see how they turn out. I would love to hear about your experience fermenting them. I do have a couple fascinating research articles I have read regarding this subject that I will share below. I have also used a lot of herbs in making beer, but I think you are focusing on lactic fermentation.

It appears that fermenting Echinacea may be able to enhance its beneficial qualities. Echinacea purpurea suspension (5%, wt/vol) in distilled water, containing 0.4% (wt/vol) yeast extract, was fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum (The bacteria used to make sauerkraut.) It was studied against a control that was made from the same Echinacea suspension in water but was chemically acidified rather than fermented. The fermented Echinacea exhibited a significant antimicrobial activity towards Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. It had two times higher free radical scavenging activity than the control. I think it would have been interesting to also have compared it with a tincture of fresh Echinacea.


Blueberries
are both a food and herbal medicine:  Serratia vaccinii is a bacteria found on some blueberry skins. It had been found that fermentation of blueberries with this bacteria found on the skins of the berries, was able to greatly increase the phenolic content and  increase its antioxidant activity.   This same fermented blueberry juice has been used on mice to decrease high blood sugar levels in diabetic mice and to reverse adiponectin levels which the researchers think will have an anti-obesity action. (Adiponectin is a protein made by fat cells that circulates in the bloodstream, acting as a messenger. It plays a role in how the body uses sugar, or glucose, and fat for energy.)

Recently researchers took freeze-dried fermented blueberry juice and found it reduced adipogenesis but not as much as the intact fermented blueberry juice had done previously.

Basically this recent research ended up identifying fermented blueberry juice as being a potential agent to use for obesity and diseases related to obesity. Additionally, the researchers identifed  chlorogenic acid and catechol as the active components of fermented blueberry juice in this case.

Using Herbs in Beer Fermentation with Yeast: Saint John's Wort makes a wonderful beer and gives a very different effect to the drinker who partakes of the Saint John's Wort Beer. It has to be used fresh and it has to be added towards the end of the boil. You want to try to kill of any bacteria on it but you don't really want to boil it or you loose its nice flavor and effect. Yarrow is a nice bitter to add, but you don't want to add too much. Sometimes you do end up with accidental lactic acid bacteria in making a beer and it will produce a "sour" beer that some people like. This is more likely to happen if you are making cheese in the same room at the same time as the beer. (I have done this when teaching classes on how to make both products in the same day in my kitchen.) People who like sour beers have loved these accidents. I would have thrown it away, if not for having friends who find these beers agreeable.


 
wayne fajkus
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Anne, i added yeast to that first batch cause the ingredients were dead (strawberry syrup that i boiled down). Its syrup, sugar, lemon juice, yeast, rainwater.

If you have any fruits or flowers, either homegrown or organic, the yeast is on the skin. This is my next batch. Fern lavender,  3 halved plums (natural yeast on skin,)cut in half, honey, lemon juice, and rainwater. Ill give it 4 days to see if it bubbles, if not i will add yeast.
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Anne Miller
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Sharol, thanks for the explanation and for sharing.  Was the Echinacea roots or leaves?

Wayne,  I'll have to try to make some with lemon juice.  Thank you for sharing.
 
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That's really interesting about both the echinacea and the blueberries.

I was actually thinking that for some herbs it may be harmful to ferment, as the active compounds might be consumed as food to fuel the fermentation. Does anyone know if this is a concern at all? I know it would probably be herb-specific, and the evidence of the increased potency of the echinacea is enough to suggest to me that there are some herbs that benefit from that treatment, but do we know of any herbs for which potency might be lost through fermentation, or worse yet, from which dangerous compounds might be produced accidentally?

Or is it possible that the same herb, when fermented, could offer different benefits from the unfermented herb?

If we don't find the answers amongst ourselves, I will contact my cousin in Texas. She is an herbalist, and would know, but what I have seen are mostly sun teas, glycerite extracts, and other non-microbial processes. Although she does make something called fire cider. I am going to have to ask her about that.

Great thread, though. Good information. Keep it coming!

-CK
 
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I was wondering many of the same things that Chris has brought up. I think we can assume that most sugars and starches would be consumed, so it's just a matter of what else is going on in there.

I was trying to think if I had ever eaten fermented herbs and the only one that comes to mind  is Lea & Perrins sauce. I think they brew it for 6 years. The English version is the one available in Canada. I understand there was one available in the US made with corn syrup and other low-grade ingredients.
 
Sharol Tilgner
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I believe that was Echinacea root.

By the way, I have found Echinacea leaves are fairly useless compared to the rest of the plant, except to use as a spit poultice on insect bites. I suggest using the roots. The seeds are also helpful as an immunomodulator as are the flowers on most species, but given my choice, I will always use the root.

Yes, I do realize there are companies selling the leaf extract. If all I cared about was making money, that is the part of the plant I would sell too.
 
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Many types of herbs and wild edibles benifit from fermentation before being used as teas. The traditional techniques such as crush, tear and curl can be applied to your herbs and greens. You will find that strawberry, willowherb (with it's many guises), nettle, sage, ect develop a depth of flavor when allowed to ferment for a few days before being dried.
I am unclear as to exactly what kind of fermenting you are referring to though. Ultimately the ferment process is basicly the same regardless of the end products when doing a tea leaf ferment.
(Jun is particularly well suited for home fermented leaves and herbs.)
Honey, oils and vinegars are always nice preserving techniques..
 
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I have done (and will do every season) melomels and fortified fruit wines and liquors with various herbs and spices. Absinthe, whilst not fermented, is an excellent herbal distillate that is too often ignored because of it's psychoactive reputation, but it has it's place. If you're looking for medicinals ferments, you might start with a small carboy primary fermenter and just start making fortified fruit wines and vinegars.
 
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Herbs are fermented all of the time.  Think of Ginger Ale and Root Beer as two fine examples of fermentation.  These recipes can be altered with whatever herbs you want.
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks everyone for the comments they have all been helpful.

Bbb Bailey wrote:  I am unclear as to exactly what kind of fermenting you are referring to though. Ultimately the ferment process is basicly the same regardless of the end products when doing a tea leaf ferment. ... Honey, oils and vinegars are always nice preserving techniques.. 



Just looking to ferment like you would any vegetable.  I plan to start with rosemary and lavender then when my plants get bigger - lemon balm and parsley.

I also want to experiment with oil and vinegar, too.   Thanks for the suggestion of honey, I have not thought/heard that before.


Google has not found much info on "how to" so I am just going to make a standard saline solution and go from there.  I should know something in 2 - 3 wks.


With having to water plants due to a week of predicted 105' temps and dealing with a squirrel digging up plants, I am off to a slow start.

 
Anne Miller
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Yesterday, 5/27/18, I started by experiments with rosemary.

After trimming the bush, I filled two jar:  One to make Infused Vinegar with Rosemary and will use the resulting product to flavor salad dressings and marinades; and one will ferment with a 1 tablespoon canning salt to 24 oz water.

With the left over stems, etc I made a rosemary mouthwash and a room deodorizer spray.

All the lest over trash will become mulch for the garden.

On the garlic ferment, I just didn't have enough garlic after throwing half of it away so I am going to freeze or cover with vinegar to preserve the last of it.
 
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