This Might Be the Best Way to Preserve Your Garden Harvest
Whether you want to make garden-grown cooking oils or beauty balms, at-home infusing has never been easier.
Have you ever found yourself knee-deep in a harvest without the time to do proper canning or lacking the freezer space to stockpile perishables for future use? Sure pickling, fermenting, and dehydrating the season’s bounty will never go out of style, but at-home infusion machines are giving gardeners another way to preserve harvests in new and exciting ways.
I recently had the chance to test out the LEVO II and while I definitely have no business (read: counter space) to collect yet another culinary gadget, I was quickly convinced that this is a very fun and functional addition to my seasonal gardening tasks. While I love the traditions and meditative pace of other preserving methods, tapping into my inner “infüsiast” is now a clever way of re-thinking my harvest hauls. From creating vibrant vinaigrettes and spice-filled sauces to concocting herbaceous bath bombs and medicinal oils straight from my garden, I’ve discovered how easy it is to pull off garden infusions as a form of preserving with this single appliance.
A few features that made this machine a yes for me were the dry & activate (Decarboxylation) modes, which allowed me to play around with potency by offering pro-level temperature and timing controls. It’s also really good-looking, coming in seven different colors to match your kitchen. You can also set it and forget it. Like a Crockpot (but better), let it do the work while you get onto other things. The system also comes with a cheat sheet of projects to get familiar with infusions and actually has a pretty small footprint (think along the lines of a Sodastream). Maybe the best part is that it’s an absolute breeze to clean with only three removable parts that are all dishwasher-safe.
Have I made room for this new device to stay? You better believe it. Read on to learn how you can start infusing from your garden this season and beyond!
Types of Infusions You Can Make
If oils and vinegars seem too obvious of a place to start, try your hand at homemade gummies or fat-washed cocktails. Whether you have aspirations of stepping up your morning barista game or just want to impress with happy hour hors d’oeuvres, there is a flavorful infusion for every occasion.
Make vegan lip balms, body butters, and scrubs; you can even try your hand at beard oils and shaving creams. You might be surprised to learn how easy it is to tap into the wellness wonders right in your own backyard.
You can create a number of tinctures by dissolving a concentrated dose of a medicinal botanicals in alcohol, glycerin, MCT oil (flavorless coconut oil), or even water. The Decarboxylation mode is crucial to activate, dry, and infuse flowers for their optimum benefits, and depending on which botanicals you choose, can help alleviate stress, reduce inflammation, and promote better sleep.
What to Infuse from Your Garden
Opportunities to get creative straight out of the herb bed are endless. From allium-based oils and vinegars to elderberry infused honey, you can make so much, including creating fragrant and soothing balms, shaving salves, and healing ointments using rosemary, lavender, and lemon balm. If you’re looking to experiment growing medicinal plants, try your hand at nettle leaf, holy basil, or echinacea.
If you have the patience to leave plants in place after they’ve gone to flower you’ll be rewarded with seed pods filled with aromatic potential. Coriander, cumin, fennel, dill, turmeric, and even celery or carrot seed can be used in a number of culinary applications. Try mixing up your own infused coconut milk for a number of beverages or sweet and savory dishes.
While lavender and chamomile are probably the first flowers to come to mind when making medicinal tinctures and salves, there are a number of easy-to-grow blooms to add to your creations. Try marigold, calendula, chrysanthemum, and yarrow for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties.
Fruits and Veggies
Spicy chiles, citrus peel, ginger, fruits, and vegetables are all fair game for infusions. Whether you’re wanting to make a botanical syrup or body scrub, there are a number of ways to turn produce into amazing recipes and remedies.
When to Harvest
When it comes to clipping herbs, harvest in the morning after dew has evaporated. While many leafy plants can be picked throughout the growing season, flavor is best when growth is young, fresh, and vibrant. For flowering plants, the highest oil concentration and flavor occur just after flower buds appear, so make sure to harvest before blooms fully open. If you’re growing for spice infusions, allow seeds to mature and dry on the plant, waiting until they turn dark brown or black before collecting. With any herbal harvest, dry conditions are particularly important if you plan to dry or dehydrate the leaves, flowers, or seeds to eliminate any mold while properly storing for future use.
To Infuse or Not to Infuse?
While I understand not every gardener needs an at-home infusion machine, it does level up how you use the botanicals you grow. If you’re someone who likes to dabble in gourmet culinary creations or want a low-mess way to whip up beauty balms, I think this is an excellent device to experiment with. It has definitely challenged me to think differently about how I garden and create from my garden. Not only am I re-thinking what to plant this spring, I’m also inspired about how seasonal infusions can become a new creative way for me to keep learning in the garden while sharing my bounty with others in unexpected ways.
Here’s to all of us trying something new in the growing year ahead!
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