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Additional Details
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Just Tina Again
What part of the echinacea plant do you use as an herb?
I grew myself an echinacea flower (purple cone flower)...I want to dry it for future use but I don't know if I dry just the leaves, just the flower, or the whole thing!
Could you tell me the answer,
Thanks!
                      









Violet
The root is the most potent part of Echinacea, although the leaves, flowers and stalks can be used as well. If you harvest the above ground parts, it should be done while the plant is in full flower, lush and green, which is usually in July/August in my area. Roots are harvested either in early spring or late fall of a plant that is at least 3 years old.

Before you dry it, you should know which species you have. Echinacea purpurea root loses a great deal of its medicinal properties once it is dried. Echinacea angustifolia root retains its medicinal value for at least a couple of years after its dried.

The best way to preserve Echinacea for future use is to make a fresh plant tincture. These will remain as potent as the fresh plant for at least 10 years, if its stored in a cool dark place.

I prefer to make Echinacea tinctures using the whole plant. This is how I do it.

1) When the plant is at its peak of health, in full bloom, harvest 1/3 to 2/3 of the leaves, stems and flowers. (I like to leave some for the plant to keep going till the fall when I harvest the roots)
2) Harvest on a dry, sunny day
3) Weigh what you have harvested. Let's say it weighs 100 g
4) Place the herb in a blender with 200 ml 40% alcohol, such as vodka or brandy and blend well (this will give you a potent 1:2 ratio=1 gram plant to 2 ml alcohol)
5) Place this mixture in a sterile glass jar, ensuring the jar is filled right to the top. If there is a bit of space, you can top it up with a bit more alcohol
6) Cap and place in a cool dark place for at least 6 weeks. During this time, check in every now and then to ensure the alcohol is right to the top of the jar. Top up as necessary
7) Strain out the liquid through cheesecloth or jelly bag, making sure to squeeze out every drop you can.
8) Save this liquid until the fall. Store in a dark, cool place until then
9) In the fall, dig up the root of the plant. Wash off any soil and pat it dry
10) Chop the root into small bits and weigh it
11) For every gram of weight add 2 ml of the previously infused tincture
12) Place in a sterile glass jar and let it sit in a dark, cool place for at least 6 weeks
13) Strain and bottle. Store in a dark, cool place

Its just that easy to make a good quality tincture that will last you many years.

Many people just make the tincture with the roots, but I prefer to use the whole plant as a double infused tincture as I find it is more potent this way. I don't know anybody who just uses the above ground parts.


Pimp Stain
I wish I knew the answer. We grow herbs- pineapple sage, basil, cilantro, lavendar, rosemary, dill and parsley (I *think* those all qualify as herbs). I will hazard a guess based on what I do, although I've never grown echinacea.

When the plant is ready to dry, I cut it and tie it at the base of the stems, and then let them hang upside-down for about a week, or until dry depending on the humidity. I like to do it on my porch, which is sheltered from rain, but indoors is fine too.

If you're making tea, I would guess that the leaves would be the best tasting part. Maybe the flower, depending on taste- it might be full of good properties, but bitter as hell. It's going to be a trial and error type-deal. You can also press the leaves and stems between wax paper and freeze it, but the freezing process will cause it to lose some of it's value and flavor.

Let us know how it turns out. Good luck!


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