Herbal apothecary decor ? How to build your home apothecary

How to build your home apothecary

The most wonderful thing about herbalism is that anyone can do it. With a little knowledge, a few key plants, and some hot water, just about anyone can use herbs in their daily lives. Of course, you could buy a box of herbal tea bags and call it a day, but there is something so lovely about having your own apothecary.
The word apothecary, and even herbalism, sometimes stir up images of ancient shops off of beaten European paths where strange-looking individuals lurk among heads of odd creatures stored in bell jars. I promise you, as cool as that sounds, that’s not what an apothecary is. It’s really just a place to keep all of your herbs and supplies for when you need them.
There’s no shame in keeping your herbs among your spices and cereals, but if you really want to make herbal teas, tinctures, and oils often, it’s nice to have a separate place for them. And while you don’t need too many supplies to begin making your own herbal remedies, there are definitely some items that will make your life a whole lot easier.

The Basics

Herbs of course! Pick 5 strong basics, usually three leafy herbs and two roots. I like Chamomile, Peppermint, and Nettles for my leafy and flowering herbs, and Ginger and Dandelion Root for my roots and rhizomes.

These 5 are so extremely versatile there’s hardly an ailment I can think of that at least one of them wouldn’t help. Then pick another 5 of your own choosing. I get almost all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. A word of warning, DO NOT buy a pound of anything. Seriously. A pound of herb goes a long, long, long way! Start with 4-8oz and move up from there.
The next thing you need is jars. All of them. All of the jars. Start stockpiling mason jars. You’ve never known the value of a good, clean jar until you start using herbs.

Little ones for roots. 8oz jars for leafy herbs. Half gallons for infusions. Jars for tinctures. Jars for oils. Jars for bottles of vinegar. Get jars. Save jars. Never ever throw out a jar. Ball Mason Jars are an herbalist’s best friend. 

That being said, if you’re making vinegar and tinctures, you’ll need wax or parchment paper to place between the mouth of the jar and the lid. Otherwise, the lid may rust. Or you can just getplastic lids.
A good kettle will get more use than you can imagine. I have a giant kettle purchased from an Amish market in Missouri, but any stainless steel kettle will be useful.
80 proof vodka, organic extra virgin olive oil, and raw apple cider vinegar are good to have on hand at all times, too. It’s a real pain when you’re ready to make a tincture only to find that all of the vodkas were consumed. Keep your herb vodka, oil, and vinegar separate from your kitchen stock.

For Tea

How to build your home apothecary
Tea is what most people reach for the most when using herbal remedies. It’s generally the easiest, quickest way to take herbs. Having a good teapot with a strainer on hand will make it even easier. I absolutely swear by Forlife Teapots.

I started using them when I owned a little teashop in Colorado, and have been brewing my herbs in them since I became an herbalist. I have yet to find a better spot with a better infuser

The pots come with an infuser, but you can also buy Forlife Infusers separately for when you need to strain off an overnight infusion.
For several hours or overnight infusions, I like big, half-gallon mason jars. They can hold a lot of herbs and a lot of water so that you don’t have to continually make infusions in quart jars when you’re trying to drink up to six cups a day. That’s a lot of work. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
As witchy as it may sound, a mortar and pestle is a must for almost any aspect of herbalism. I especially like them when making tea and infusions. 

I have a few in different weights for different herbs, but a heavy marble one will do just fine. Plus it makes you look officially herbal and slightly magical.

For Tinctures

How to build your home apothecary
As hard as I try, it seems as if I never have enough amber bottles and droppers. While I use them the most for tinctures, I find that I need them for oils and vinegar, too. And there are just never enough.
For tinctures, oils, and all things training, keeping organic cheesecloth on hand is absolutely necessary. However, nothing has changed my herbal game as much as having a potato ricer on hand.

There’s a lot of strain involved in herbalism, and most of the time the cheesecloth is all you need. But when it comes to tinctures, the potato ricer is the best thing since sliced bread. I probably would have stopped making tinctures had I not purchased a potato ricer. Best. Purchase. Ever.

For Oils and Salves

How to build your home apothecary
Obviously, if you’re going to make an infused oil, you’re going to need oil. I mentioned olive oil above, but I also like to have grapeseed oil, apricot kernel oil, and jojoba oil around, too. If you plan on making a salve out of that oil, you’ll need beeswax. If I can, I like to get mine from a local source. It’s absolutely brutal.

You have to hand grate it. I don’t recommend it unless you’re like me and like to do everything the hard way. When I’m in a rush, there are beeswax pellets. This is a much easier way to make a salve. I just like the struggle.
If you’re in a rush for infused oils or salves, you can make it on the stovetop. If you choose to do this, I recommend getting a double boilerI do not know what I’d do without mine.
As with tincture bottles, it always seems as if there aren’t enough tins. If you’re making salves, ya gotta have tinsSometimes I find them at the dollar store and buy them out. Everyone looks at me like I’m crazy…but you never know when the world is going to end and you have a half a quart of salve and no tins. Then what? Put it in a mason jar? Please, I’m not a savage.
For tinctures, oils, and salves, I keep different sized funnels on hand. Funnels are a must. They keep you from messes and spilled product, and language unbecoming of a lady. Get funnels.

Making your apothecary your own

How to build your home apothecary
Of course, these are just my own suggestions for a functional home apothecary. Your apothecary can have whatever you desire, or you may decide some of my suggestions just aren’t useful.

The key is to make your apothecary a little piece of comfort that works for you. It should be where you turn when you’re weary and need a calming tea. Where you reach when your body needs a little herbal support in a tincture.

A place you can happily spend your days making salves and oils as presents for your loved ones…or just as a little self-care for you. Your apothecary should be just that. Your’s. Your connection to nature’s medicine chest in your very own home.
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