Thursday, October 24, 2013

Natural Dyes from Flowers Plants and Roots

For ages nature has provided man with colour in his surroundings; and over the last 5,000 years or so man learned to transfer some of her colours to cloth, paper, wood, leather, soaps etc
The vegetable dye known to have been in use the longest is indigo. An indigo-dyed garment dating from about 3000 B.C. was found in the ancient Eygyptian city of Thebes. A process called mordanting-treating the material to be dyed with other substances that serve to fix the coulour-was discovered, probably in India, around 2,000 B.C.
General Information about Dyeing

First of all you will need:
  1. A scales to weigh the plants parts and the material to be dyed etc. A large postal scales or kitchen scales would be suitable.
  2. A stainless steel pot large enough to comfortably hold 4 to 5 gallons of liquid and materials to be dyed.
  3. Measuring cups for liquids.
  4. A cooking thermometer
  5. A stick or long handled wooden spoon for stirring.
  6. Plastic measuring spoons.
  7. Rain water.
  8. Large Buckets for rinsing.
Here are some suitable mordants, you can find these at the pharmacy or your local supermarket.
Acetic acid (vinegar would do)
Alum (potassium aluminum sulphate)
Ammonia
Blue vitrol
Caustic soda
Chrome
Copperas or green vitrol (ferrous sulfate)
Cream  of tartar, or potassium acid tartrate (potassium bitartrate)
Lime (calcium hydroxide)
Tannic acid
Tartaric acid
Tin (stannous chloride)

Raw animal fibers such as wool and silk have a greasy coating that must be removed through repeated washing with a mild soap and water. Vegetable fibers do not need washing. In mordanting the clean prepared material is simmered (wool) or boiled (cotton, linen) or soaked in hot water (silk) in which the mordants have been dissolved. After the prescribed time the material is removed, rinsed and allowed to dry. The dye bath is then prepared by soaking the chopped plant material in water overnight and then boiling until sufficiant colour is extracted. The plant material is then strained out and water added to make 4 to 4 1/2 gal. of lukewarm dye bath, to which a pound (dry weight) of wet yarn or fabric is added. Wool, cotton and linen are usually simmered in the dye bath; for silk the temperature must be kept at 160 F or less. After dyeing and stirring as long as nessesary to get the material dyed through one series of rinses, each a little cooler than the previous one, until the rinse water remains clear. After drying the dyed material is ready for use.

Typical mordanting instructions for one pound of wool (dry weight):

Heat 16 to 17 litres of soft water until it is lukewarm. Add 3oz/85g alum and 1oz/28g cream of tartar which have been first dissolved in a little hot water. Immerse wet (but not dripping wet) wool in the water; spread and stir to ensure even coverage. Heat gradually to boiling and then simmer for an hour turning the wool occasionally. When the bath is cool enough to let the wool be handled, remove the wool and squeeze (don't wring) out the excess liquid. Place loosely in a bag or towel and let dry slowly in a cool place.

Typical dyeing instructions for one pound/ 450g of wool (dry weight):

Crush or chop about 8 dry litres of leaves, soft stems or flowers, or soak about 1lb / 450g of hard materials such as bark or wood; soak overnight in enough soft water to cover. The next day, boil for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how readily the colour is extracted. Strain out the plant matter and add water to make 16 to 17 liters of dye. After heating the dye bath to lukewarm, add the mordanted wool, which has first been wetted in lukewarm water. Move the wool back and forth and lift it in and boiling and simmer for 30 minutes or more. When the colour is right, rinse the wool in buckets of successively cooler water until the rinse water remains clear. Squeeze out and hang it up in a shady place to dry.



Untitled Document
List of Plant Dyes by Colour
BLACK

Barberry

Black alder

Blackthorn

Common plum

English oak

Flowering ash

Logwood

Meadowsweet

Valley oak

Yellow dock

BLUE

Bearberry

Cornflower

Dogs Mercury

Elecampane

Hollyhock

Indigo

Logwood

Meadowsweet

Mesquite

Pomegranite

Privet

Sweet potato

Woad

BROWN

Alder buckthorn

Bird's tongue

Black alder

Black birch

Black gum

Black oak

Blackthorn

Black walnut

Canoe birch

Cascara sagrada

Catechu

Cotton

Dyer's camomile

English walnut

Ginko

Heather

Hemlock spruce

Iceland moss

Indigo bush

Juniper

Larch

Logwood

Lombardy poplar

Osage-orange

Pomegranite

Rooibos

Rose of China

Sumac

Sweet potato

Turmeric

White oak

GOLD

Black oak

Dyer's camomile

Fistic

Goldenrod

Lily of the valley

Osage-orange

Privet

Smartweed

Turmeric

GRAY

Bearberry

Black alder

Blackberry

Bracken

Butternut
GREY (Cont)

Logwood

Red maple

Rhododendron

Rose of China

Rowan

St Johnswort

Shave grass

Sumac

Wax myrtle

GREEN

Bearberry

Beard's tongue

Black alder

Black oak

Bracken

Canoe birch

Coltsfoot

Dog's mercury

Dyer's broom

Fumitory

Heather

Lady's mantle

Larkspur

Lily of the valley

Lombardy poplar

Meadowsweet

Motherwort

Nettle

Onion

Red maple

Rose of China

Scotch broom

Shave grass

Tansy

Wax myrtle

White birch

ORANGE

Annatto

Black oak

Bloodroot

Calliopsis

Henna

Onion

Sumac

PURPLE

Black alder

Dandelion

Heather

Pomegranite

Rose of China

Tall field buttercup

Yellow bedstraw

RED

Alkanet

Alpine cranberry

American ivy

Annatto

Barberry

Black birch

Blackthorn

Bloodroot

Calliopsis

Dandelion

Dye bedstraw

Henna

Madder

Poinsetta

Pokeweed

Red alder

Rue

Safflower
RED (Cont)

White birch

Wild marjoram

Yellow bedstraw

TAN

Apple

Butternut

Fustic

Goldenrod

Osage-orange

Sumac

Tea

YELLOW

Almond

Alpine cranberry

Apple

Barberry

Bearberry

Beard grass

Big-bud hickory

Black alder

Black elder

Black oak

Bracken

Broad-leaved dock

Calliopsis

Chinese arborvitae

Coltsfoot

Cotton

Dog's mercury

Dyer's broom

Dyer's camomile

European ragwort

Flowering ash

Fumitory

Fustic

Goldenrod

Hackberry

Heather

Indigo bush

Jewelweed

Lily of the valley

Lombardy poplar

Marigold

Meadowseet

Nettle

Osage-organe

Pomegranite

Privet

Red maple

Rooibos

Rose of China

Safflower

Saffron

St Johnswort

Sassafras

Scatchbroom

Shave grass

Smartweed

Sorrel

Stickleweed

Sorrel

Sticklewort

Sumac

Sundew

Sunflower

Sweet potato

Tansy

Turmeric

Virgin's bower

Weld

White birch

White mulberry

Wild crab apple

Yellow bedstraw

Yellow root


Ref: The Herb Book by John Lust
Stockists of herbs and plant materials

Friday, October 18, 2013

Healthy Bread Recipes


Making your own bread is very rewarding. On a cold day it's comforting to have the oven on for warming the kitchen and almost nothing beats the smell of freshly baked scones. Here are some tips before you start. 

Yeast bread tips: make sure you don't use too hot water or milk as it will kill the yeast, have it as hot as feels comfortable when you put your hand in there. Make sure you knead the dough well. Time yourself to be sure because ten minutes kneading feels like a long time and most times we under-knead. You can't knead too much when it comes to yeast bread. Don't leave out the salt. Have your oven hot. Don't over rise your bread or it will sink when you put it in the oven. If you over rise it just knock it back and reshape, let it rise again and then bake. Use stoneground flour for yeast breast. Coursely ground wholewheat flour will make very heavy bread if you are using yeast unless you use 50/50 wholewheat and white.

Soda bread tips: this is the opposite to yeast bread, handle the dough as little as possible. Just enough to make sure everything is evenly distributed and then stop. Have the mix rather too soft than too firm. Only use a light dusting of flour to stop it sticking. Don't leave it sitting around waiting to go into the oven. Have your oven hot when you put the bread in there. 


Wholewheat Herb Scones

1 Cup of wholewheat flour or whole spelt flour
1/2 cup of good white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon raw sugar
2 oz (60 g.) butter
1 teaspoon mixed herbs (your choice)
5 tablespoons natural yogurt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and lift the dry mix with your hands a few times to get some air in there, this will help to make the scones light. Rub in the butter. Add the herbs and then the yogurt and mix until a soft dough is formed, add a little more yogurt if the dough is too firm and sprinkle with a little flour if it's too sticky. Do this fast and don't handle the dough too much as this will make your scones tough. Roll out gently onto floured surface and use an upturned glass or scone cutter to cut out rounds. Place them on a floured or oiled tray and bake for about 25 minutes. Serve warm

Basic Wholewheat Bread

1 and 1/2 lb. (700 g.) wholewheat flour or whole spelt flour.
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup of good honey
1/2 cup of good vegetable oil
3/4 pint (4.5 dl.) warm water
1/2 oz. (15 g.) fresh yeast or 2 teaspoons dried yeast

Mix the flour, salt and oil in a large bowl; in a separate bowl put the honey, pour over the warm water and blend in the yeast. (if dried yeast is used, leave for 15 minutes to activate.) Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast and honey mixture Blend until a firm dough is formed. Knead on a floured surface for at least 10 minutes. Form a ball with the dough, place in a covered greased bowl and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour - the dough should be double in size. Knead for another 2-3 minutes; shape into a loaf and put into a greased 2 lb. (1 kg.) loaf tin; cover and leave in a warm draft free place until it has reached the top of the tin. Bake in a hot oven 230 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 200 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. To test empty the bread out of the tin and tap the bottom of the loaf. It should sound hollow.

Country Loaf

1 lb. (450 g.) wholewheat flour or whole spelt four
1/4 lb. (125 g.) rye flour
1/4 lb. (125 g.) cornmeal
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 cup of raw milk or milk alternative
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 oz. (15 g.) fresh yeast or 2 teaspoons dried yeast

Mix the flours together with the salt; in a saucepan combine the wet ingredients and cook over a low heat until the molasses has dissolved and is well blended. Put the yeast in a bowl and slowly add the warm but not hot milk and molasses, stirring thoroughly. Pour the yeast mixture into the flours. Blend until a firm dough is formed. Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes; put the dough in a covered bowl and allow to rise until it has doubled in size. Knead for a few more minutes; make into two oval loaves and put on a greased baking sheet; make a couple of knife slits on the top; leave to rise again until about double in size; bake for 35 minutes at 200 degrees centigrade.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nature Casts Her Radiance

ONE of the most interesting and vital substances in the world is "the green colouring matter of plants" known as chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is closely related, chemically, to hemoglobin, "the red colouring matter of the blood". The basic difference between the two, in fact, is simply that whereas the molecule constituting the hemoglobin of blood contains, in addition to carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, the element iron, in the chlorophyll molecule magnesium is substituted for iron.
Blood, of course, is also related to chlorophyll in function. Chlorophyll is the vital element in the "blood" of the plant, of plant life, serving the same purposes in the plants economy that hemoglobin does in higher forms of life.

How is Chlorophyll made?
"A ray of sunlight strikes the green leaf, and instantly the miracle is wrought. Within the plant molecule of water and carbon dioxide are torn apart-a feat which the chemist can accomplish only with great difficulty and expense. First there are only lifeless gas and water; then, presto! these elements are transformed into living tissue and useful energy. Oxygen is released from the plant to revitalize the air we breathe. Units of energy, in sugars and other carbohydrates, are speedily manufactured and stored within the living plant. Out of the process stems much of what we know as life and growth. Man consumes the energy as food-both in vegetables and the flesh of herbivorous animals. He uses it in the form of coal, oil and gas-green vegetables locked up in the earth for ages."

The above excerpt is from one of the earliest reports on the miracle of chlorophyll. As the writer pointed out at the time: "Don't be surprised if your doctor tells you that he has never heard of chlorophyll being used in this way (medicinally). But evidence of chlorophyll's medicinal value is most encouraging so far. Distinguished medical specialists report that in 1200 recorded cases they have seen chlorophyll combat deep-lying infections, and banish common head colds.. More remarkable, they say, is the way it accomplishes these things-speedily and effectively, with none of the harsh, irritating effects common to most antiseptics. Chlorophyll, the healer, is at once powerful and bland-devastating to germs and yet gentle to the wounded body tissues. Exactly how it works is still Nature's secret. To the ordinary person the phenomenon seems like green magic.
Chlorophyll, according to another scientist, is associated with the various oil-soluble vitamin complexes, with vitamins A, E, F and K. (Vitamin F is more generally referred to as UFA, the principle of the unsaturated fatty acids proved so essential to health, and with the enzyme phosphatase.)

Antiseptic Effects
The conditions which have been reported as responding favourably to the administration of chlorophyll include both internal and external infections; simple and infected wounds and ulcerations; various skin and bone diseases, peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the stomach cavity, the viscera), mouth, gum and sinus infections. Chlorophyll has also been used therapeutically to reduce hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Chlorophyll's antiseptic effect, in addition to its property of strengthening the walls of cells, may also be due in part to its other beneficial effects; importantly chlorophyll's ability to neutralize the metabolic toxin, guanidine, which could be "the main toxic agent in severe burns. Chlorophyll acts much quicker than vitamin F in treating burns. It nullifies the pain; the quicker it is applied after the burn the less severity, for the toxic agents are destroyed before they do much damage. Chlorophyll applied to extracted tooth sockets stops the same type of pain-the agonizing, irritating pain that keeps the patient awake, that is so hard to alleviate with narcotics."

Nutritional and Healing Properties
Commenting on the nutritional qualities of chlorophyll Dr. Royal Lee observes: "Another effect attributed to guanidine is the precipitation of calcium from blood serum, and it is suspected to be a cause of calcification of coronary arteries, diffusing in from the muscle-guanidine being an end product of muscle fatigue. We may consider that this chlorophyll complex is of much greater importance than heretofore suspected and that its use by races such as the Chinese, where arthritis and heart disease is practically unknown, may be a very important factor in contributing to the prevention of these diseases so prevalent in this country, where greens, if eaten at all, are generally cooked and of questionable quality in the first place."
In a dramatic series of experiments, made to determine the relative efficiency of various chlorophyll preparations as healing agents, in comparison with a large number of other substances widely used for the purpose, the chlorophyll preparations proved more effective than any of the other-by a wide margin.
"In summary, we note that 67 percent of all wounds treated by one or another preparation of chlorophyll healed more rapidly than their controls...it would seem to indicate that chlorophyll does not cause some biologic response in respect to stimulating cell growth which can be put to a useful purpose in the many problems associated with would healing...Of all these agents, only the chlorophyll preparations consistently showed any statistically significant effect in accelerating the healing of both traumatic and thermal (heat-caused) wounds."

Natures Miracle Medicine
Of probability the most vital importance in its significance in the above experiments is the fact that chlorophyll increases the body's intake of oxygen, as the result of which the disposal of the metabolic toxin, carbonic acid, is facilitated with increased efficiency-up to twenty percent more rapidly. 
Chlorophyll, much to the bafflement of early investigators, is inert in the test tube; that is, it has no antiseptic effects in the test-tube. It was not until it was realized that it operates in the above manner that the physiology of its activity was understood. Its clinical effects are largely explained by this phenomenon.
Perhaps the best indication of the tremendous potentialities of this substance, chlorophyll, "the green miracle," is offered in an experiment that took place not long ago.

In this investigation into its oxygenating properties a man was sealed-literally sealed-into an airtight tank, for a matter of no less than 57 hours. As we know, normally this would mean suicide, within minutes. But the man emerged from his air-tight chamber no worse for the experience.
The secret? Chlorophyll. The tank contained a series of tubes containing algae. Under the influence of batteries of lamps-what might be termed synthetic sunlight-the algae were activated in the process called photosynthesis, in which the single-celled plants-initiated nutrients essential to their existence, and of course, used in turn by higher life forms of life for their existence. The man breathed in the released oxygen and breathed out the metabolic waste product, carbon dioxide, the carbon and oxygen of which then become available to the plants, permitting them to product carbon-containing molecules-a fair exchange between plants and man that provide the vital essentials for both.

In Summary
Chlorophyll, in common with miracle-working vitamin C, is another example of the natural superiority of the contents of nature's wonderful medicine chest over man-synthesized products, i.e., safe, harmless, physiologically compatible, free of "side effects" -incomparably better, more effective.
It certainly appears that in our obsession with the rapid development of our chemistry in our laboratories we have tended to largely overlook the value of the products of the laboratory that was here long before our own laboratories. On the other hand, it must of course be realized that, paradoxically enough, in order to be in a position to learn the true extent of nature's gifts it was necessary for us to learn, through laboratory techniques, their nature. Chlorophyll is an outstanding example of this fact.
Excerpt from NATURE"S MIRACLE MEDICINE CHEST by C. EDWARD BURTIS