By Kathy Larson
I was recently asked what my favorite winter herbs are. The first ones to pop to mind were echinacea, horehound, eucalyptus and other cold weather “remedies.” But even though these are wonderful herbs that I turn to from time to time, they really aren’t my everyday winter favorites. The three herbs that I rely on almost daily during the short, cold days of winter are ginger, peppermint and calendula flowers.
Ginger: I feel warm and energized just thinking about a hot cup of ginger tea, and a strong ginger tea soak is also a treat for my feet when I work outside in the winter. On a blustery winter day, there is nothing I like better to warm up with than a hot, brothy miso soup with lots of ginger, hot chilies, shitakes and Chinese veggies.
Peppermint: Another tea I drink often in the winter is peppermint. Winter always seems to bring more opportunities for celebratory family meals with hearty, heavy fare. A cup of peppermint tea after these meals really helps ease that sense of over-fullness and cleanse the palate.
Calendula flowers: Sometimes winter’s cold weather and heated spaces make my skin dry, itchy and dull. Calendula is my go-to herb to sooth and brighten my skin — and my attitude. The dried yellow and orange flowers are as cheery on a winter day as the sun breaking through the clouds. I like them in tea, and I also make a strong infusion to add to the bath or to use as a face- or hair-rinse. Calendula’s emollient nature helps to soothe me inside and out.
Winters here in Iowa can be harsh. I rely on these three comforting herbs to help me enjoy it no matter what the weather is like. What are your favorite winter herbs?
About the author: Kathy Larson is Vice President of Sustainability at Frontier and an avid gardener.