With all the recent natural disasters (it must be a record high for a Spring season) and moving into a new home, I have been thinking more about emergency prepardeness and food storage, or, my 'extended pantry'. What good things do I need to have on hand so that every time I want to make a meal I don't have to make a grocery run? As I've been researching this, I found a wonderfully insightful list of the uses of those herbs and spices that mostly just sit on my shelf. So I thought I'd share it!
Because Knowledge is Power.
This list comes from a foodstorage booklet put together by a woman who you can reach at this website: http://www.debidawn.com/. I'm grateful for the research she put into making her booklet! Some of the uses were rather surprising to me. Enjoy!
Alum (white, powdered)- When sprinkled on an open wound it will draw out infection and any drainage. It will leave the sore disinfected and dry, and will speed healing. (Buy alum in the spice department at your grocery store.)
Baking Soda- There are so many uses for baking soda that a book could be written on its uses. It can be used as a deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, cleaning and scouring agent, degreaser, and a natural deodorizer. It has leavening properties and can be mixed with cream of tarter to make baking powder. 1/2 tsp. mixed in a 4-oz. glass of water is good for upset stomachs (remember bicarbonate of soda?). In laundry it’s good as cleaner and water softener. It also makes soaps stretch farther. It can be used as a coolant for the skin, especially for sunburn, rash, bee-sting, poison ivy and oak. Helps maintain pH in water. Baking soda can be used safely without polluting the ground water. It also makes a great fire extinguisher.
Basil- Basil tea taken hot stops vomiting and eases stomach cramps. Helpful when applied to snake bites and insect stings. (The tea is made 2 tsp. per hot cup water once a day.)
Corn Starch- Cornstarch can be used in place of talcum or baby powder. Great for diaper rash and other rashes. Absorbs moisture. Great for cooking. Used as a thickener with simple broth to make gravy. Also will stretch soup and thicken it. It has carbohydrates to provide energy.
Ginger- Powdered or gingerroot. Made into a tea it can be used as a decongestant (like hot mustard plaster, but better because it won’t burn the skin). Just immerse a towel, rag or old shirt in a strong, heated ginger tea and place on chest to loosen chest congestion. It causes heat even after it’s cooled, though it can be re-rinsed in the warm tea. A milder tea can be drunk for upset stomach and gas. Ginger in the water of beans as they soak will control gas problems.
Jell-O- This product offers a way to cover the taste of chemically treated water. It can be added to with canned, fresh or dehydrated fruit. Jell can also help relieve diarrhea symptoms. To do this prepare jell as directed with just slightly more water than normal. Then drink the jell water while still warm, like tea. This will also provide necessary liquid to avoid dehydration, which is a big danger of diarrhea.
Nutmeg- Should be used SPARINGLY only. Can settle stomachs, nausea, and vomiting. Also can be used as an expectorant. Helps improve appetite and digestion. Good for helping maintain a healthy intestinal tract. In boiling water it can be used as a deodorizer.
Oats- Excellent source of bran and fiber. Oatmeal baths, masks, and soap are healthy for skin and good for itches and rashes.
Parsley- Fresh or dried. Parsley is rich in vitamin C and in iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin A. Prevents urinary infections. Good for fevers. Excellent for prevention of, or maintenance of, cancer. Cures sting from insect bites when used in a poultice. A tea made from the seeds can be used as a shampoo to kill vermin in the hair. Helps aid digestion (which is the original thought behind sprigs of parsley being placed on dinner plates in restaurants).
Salt- In ancient times salt was highly valued. Nowadays this inexpensive item is an excellent addition to your food storage for your own use and for future barter needs. Salt is very versatile. It can be used to cure meat, add flavor to otherwise bland foods, and can be used to help ease the pain of sores. It will speed healing (try it on a canker sore). Apply the salt straight on the wound (it sometimes stings initially), or dilute it with water. ½ tsp. in warm water is good for headaches and indigestion.
Sage- Can be used as a cure-all. A strong sage tea is an excellent gargle for tonsillitis or ulcers in the throat or mouth (good mixed with lemon and honey). The sage tea can be drunk cold or hot. It’s one of the best remedies for gas, liver, stomach, kidney or bowel trouble. Will stop bleeding and is good used to clean old wounds and ulcers. A wound will heal more quickly when washed with a sage tea. It’s useful for typhoid and scarlet fever, measles and smallpox. Soothes nerves and relieves headaches. An effective hair tonic (will make hair grow if roots haven’t been destroyed), and will remove dandruff. When used in high quantities sage is good for easing female problems, and all lung problems (colds, asthma, coughs, bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia). Tea from sage should be steeped (while covered), not boiled.
Vinegar- When mixed with honey it’s a cur-all. It can be used as an astringent. It’s a wonderful glass cleaner.
Whole Cloves- Whole cloves can be used directly on toothaches to help relieve pain. One clove can freshen breath after only a few minutes in the mouth. Several cloves in a pan of hot water is an effective air freshener (added citrus peel and a cinnamon stick makes it even more aromatic-especially during the holiday season).
Hydrogen Peroxide- (and rubbing Alcohol) An excellent source of disinfecting. This item could mean the ability to avoid a severe infection. Besides being used directly on wounds it can also be used to disinfect surfaces (bathroom sinks and counters, and needles to take out slivers).
Bleach- This is an inexpensive storage item that is quite valuable. It can help you have a purified water supply, clean clothes, and disinfect almost anything. Don’t buy a more expensive name brand. Bleach is bleach. Also, avoid bleach with a fragrance added.