Monday, May 05, 2014

{Herbal Learning Guide} Lesson #1A: How to Tell Quality Herbs


Lesson 1A is a short one so there is going to be two parts of this lesson. First, how to determine good quality herbs; and second, a little information on the first herb order that I placed. I published a post similar to this last fall, but I wanted it to be in order for the lessons so I changed some things and republished it today.

(This is my Comfrey plant growing in my garden. The tomatoes are inside the tires.)
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How to determine good quality herbs. According to Rosemary Gladstar (a lifelong, famous herbalist, author and teacher) you determine the quality of an herb by judging it based on its (1) color (2) smell (3) taste and (4) effect.

1. Color - dried herbs should retain the same color as when they were fresh with very little color variation.

2. Smell - Herbs should smell strongly (but not necessarily 'good').

3. Taste - The herbs should have a strong potency of flavor.

4. Effect - The herb must work effectively. If a herb you are using does not work effectively then the first thing you should suspect is its quality.
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Lesson 1A is a short lesson so I wanted to share with you the following as well: 
I needed to order herbs for the first couple of chapters and I spent hours and hours on the computer trying to figure out which company to order from. I finally went with Mountain Rose Herbs - almost all of the newer books that I have recommended them, many forums that I read recommended them, and they have very good prices. So I took a leap and spent about $200 with them (They have a guarantee so I felt a lot better about spending that much money without trying their products first).


I placed my order and waited and waited. Their website says orders should ship in 1-3 days. Well my order status never changed from pending. So after 6 days I called them - they told me something weird happened with their new computer system and it hadn't printed my order which is why it hadn't shipped yet. But the lady from Mountain Rose Herbs was really nice, she made sure it shipped the next day via 3 day air and waived my shipping charges. AND my order got here one day early! So I was happy! I don't mind waiting a while if I don't have to pay for shipping :)

 My son helping me open the box




All of the herbs I purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs passed the color and smell test. The herbs were very aromatic and had great color. I am working on tasting all of them and using them so I haven't tested the taste and effect qualities yet.


One thing that was difficult for me when purchasing my herbs is that I didn't know how much of each individual herb to purchase. Mountain Rose Herbs sells their herbs by weight and you can purchase them in 4 oz, 8 oz, or 1 pound increments.  The hard part was that I didn't know how much volume 4 ounces of dried hops are or 1 pound of lavender flowers are, etc. So I had to guess. Because of this I decided to put all the herbs that I purchased into either quart or pint jars and take pictures of them so you can get an idea of how much herb you get with the different weights.

There is going to be a lot of pictures (30 of them to be exact) so this will be long. I ordered the following herbs: Black Walnut Hull Powder, Burdock Root, Chamomile Flowers, Chaparral Leaf, Coltsfoot, Comfrey Root, Dandelion Root, Echinacea Root, Elecampane Root, Flax Seed, Ginkgo Leaf, Goldenseal Leaf, Goldenseal Root, Gotu Kola, Hops Flowers, Horsetail, Lavender Flowers, Lobelia, Marshmallow Root, Myrrh Gum Powder, Oatstraw, Oregon Grape Root, Plantain Leaf, Pleurisy Root, Psyllium Seed, Slippery Elm Bark Powder, St. John's Wort, Valerian Root, Wood Betony, and Yellow Dock Root































71 comments :

  1. I have heard a lot of good things about Mountain Rose herbs. I like to grow herbs too.

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  2. I have never used Mountain Rose Herbs but I do my healing with different herbs. A friend just sent me some and her and I are doing a liver cleanse together. I think it might help us to go through it together.

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  3. I live in an apartment and it is small so I do not grow my own herbs. What interested me was the slippery elm--that is great for a sore or irritated throat--do you have to actually grow that or can the powder form sent be used as is?

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  4. I don't grow my own herbs (thank god for the farmers market), but you have SO much useful information in this post, which is awesome. I love that you use tires in your garden!

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  5. What an interesting post. Now I am curious to see what kinds of things you are going to make from all of these herbs. I would buy from Mountain Rose herbs based on your experience.

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  6. You have so many here that I've never even thought to try. I'm getting quite curious now!

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  7. I love addimg herbs to my meals - our family favourites are basil and thyme.
    I noticed you had marshmallow root - what is it, and what would you use it for?

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  8. I will have to check them out! I love cooking with new herbs! Thank you for sharing!

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  9. I love to grow my own herbs, but I will check them out for the dried version

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  10. I haven't been very successful at growing my own herbs, but I do love to cook with them. They definitely make everything taste better!

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  11. I've thought about building my own herb garden. There are a few in this post that I've never heard of before. Thank you for opening my eyes a little wider!

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  12. I have never grown herbs but I think about doing so all the time. I would love to incorporate more into my cooking. Great post! I loved looking at all of the different herbs.

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  13. I have not heard of them before. I have a small herb garden but there are some I just can not grow. I will have to check them out for the ones I can not grow myself.

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  14. This is really interesting, as I've never really had an interest towards herbs. Maybe I should try them.

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  15. I love learning about herbs. This is quite a neat post and it looks like you have a lot of herbs. Good luck.

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  16. Great post, looks like you have a lot of herbs. it would be nice to grow herbs too. thanks for sharing

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  17. Oh wow this sounds like a great place t get herbs - I wonder if they ship to here? x

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  18. There are so many herbs you listed that I have never heard of!

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  19. I love companies with great customer service and they seem like theirs is top knotch. Happy it worked out for you.

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  20. Great post it,we have alot of the same herbs in our house hubby went through a stage of getting all different ones and swear by them i must admit i feel better since taking certain ones.

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  21. I've heard of these. They sound great and very helpful!

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  22. sounds like they use weight not volume. kinda like cereal :) but these are obviously much healthier than most cereal!

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  23. We love herbs, for the life of me I can't grow them.. Will have to check out this company, they sure look like high quality; thanks for a great review, loved your pictures

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  24. I love herbs in my home! Hubby is not a fan but I use them ALL THE TIME!

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  25. We love Herbs and one of my favorite places to order from is Mtn. Rose Herbs!

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  26. I've never heard of the company but I must check them out now! I was just looking for some of these the other day and it's not always easy to find some good solid herbs that meet their high quality

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  27. This is seriously cool! I am definitely going to look into ordering herbs from them! Thank you for sharing. :-D

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  28. We grow our own herbs and I love being able to have the space to do that. I am definitely interested in some of the variety of herbs that I can't grow or find the plants to grow in my own garden. Interested to look more at their website

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  29. We grow our own herbs, but I am definitely interested in possibly purchasing some of the herbs that I can't find or grow myself

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  30. I am trying to get into more herbal uses. I love few for cooking; but there are so many other health benefits for using herbs! I use a lot of Essential oils; but I'd love to learn more about the actual herbs themselves and how to use them before the oil processing stage. These are great tips.

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  31. Okay, I LOVE your herb garden in tires!!! I've been in the planning stage of my herb garden for a while!

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  32. I think those jars look so attractive! Thanks for the tips on spotting/knowing good quality herbs!

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  33. very cleaver idea, mountain herbs seem to know that there is a market for this because I know it's something I would love. I enjoy cooking with herbs my favorite are dill, parsley and cilantro

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  34. Must be nice to be able to grow your own herbs!

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  35. Mountain Rose Herbs seems to sell a lot of herbs that are hard to find! That's awesome.

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  36. This is such great info for those of us who like to garden, at any level. Wonderful post!

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  37. My neighbor grows her own herbs and I'm learning a lot from her.

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  38. My father in law grows some herbs.. cause i have a black thumb for everything.. i would like to make them grow..

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  39. I want to know what you're going to do with all of these. . .and then I want you to come over and teach me.

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  40. I like that you gave us an idea via jars of what you actually get--it is kind of hard to know how much of any one herb you really need.

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  41. Wow, what a nice batch of herbs you have there! That is like a cook's dream come true! I have got to check their site out.

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  42. This is a great post because I wouldn't even know the difference between one quality herb and another. Since you grow your own, they must be of a great quality.

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  43. So many herbs I've never even heard of, much less seen! I'm lucky to grow basil successfully!

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  44. Those are a lot of herbs, I'm impressed that you grow them.

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  45. Wow, such great info. I really know nothing about herbs so this was great.

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  46. I have also heard that Mountain Rose herbs has great herbs. Now that I see your order I am going to make my order this week.

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  47. I have heard so much about Mountain Rose Herbs and keep meaning to check them out. I will head over now. The quality definitely makes such a big difference.

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  48. I would love to grow my own herbs. How awesome would it be to cook with home grown herbs!

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  49. I would like to start growing herbs and incorporate them more into my cooking. I think I might be in the right place to figure this all out.

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  50. I really enjoyed reading all about this. Thanks, I need to know how to keep my herbs. I didn't know that they could go bad.

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  51. This is great! I seem to have issue growing anything but maybe if i could order them from here I would have better luck using them. Thanks for all the great info!

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  52. Very informative. And I agree, herbs always have strong flavour and smell!

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  53. This is awesome to know, I always had a hard time to check on which herbs looks good

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  54. I love the look of the herbs in the mason jars! We use mason jars to drink out of!! Such a cute idea!

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  55. Good tips to finding the best herbs. it's important people know what their looking for and getting.

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  56. You're going to have the best time cooking and experimenting with all these flavors. Thanks for sharing the tips about quality.

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  57. All you have cited and enumerated are very true. herbs must be green not dried, have strong smell and must look fresh. Very clever.

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  58. This is so great to know! I just started my first herbal garden!

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  59. Ok I really really need to check this site out. I love herbs, I grow most but I don't have enough to always fill my jars up

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  60. What an impressive order! Thank you for the information on selecting quality herbs. . . I really didn't know what I was doing on that score. I can't wait to see what you do with them first.

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  61. So many different flavors! You are gonna have a blast cooking with all that :)

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  62. love the photos of the jars of the herbs. I was surprised too when I got my order from Mountain Rose and found out how big some of the bags were.

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  63. This is such a great post. It's definitely important to know what you are picking up

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  64. Thanks for the tips. I had no idea how to tell if herbs were good or not.

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  65. I have an herb garden in my backyard, but didn't know many of the things you've shared! thank you for sharing!

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  66. I've never been a big fan of herbs, just because i'm not too sure on how to use them. I need to learn and do some research.

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  67. That's a lot of herbs. My parents used to have a herb garden so I learned a few things from them.

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  68. I used to believe that anything with the word herbal was really what it was. No I know better!

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  69. I've never even heard of most of those herbs. Are hops flowers the same family as the hops that are in beer?

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    1. They sure are! Hops is good for relaxation and some other similar things :) I thought it was neat that they use an herb to make beer.

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  70. SUCH good information. I have heard of this company, and love that you put the herbs into mason jars. So cool. I will look to this company next time I place and order. I tend to do Amazon, but have been unhappy as of late.

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