Strewing Herbs
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Strewing Herbs
Last updated 6/12/2012 1:25:13 AM. Recipe ID 59075. Report a problem with this recipe.
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      Title: Strewing herbs
 Categories: Info
      Yield: 1 Info below
      1    Info below
  "A list of strewing herbs from the late medieval/early Renaissance
  period...contains many that are familiar to us today: sage, tansy,
  violets, roses, mints, pennyroyal, winter savory, marjoram, hops,
  germander, sweet fennel, cowslips, lady's-mantle balm, basil,
  costmary, lavender, juniper, rosemary, chamomile, 'daisies of all
  sorts', lavender cotton, and sweet woodruff.
  "Many traditional strewing herbs were valued primarily for their
  aromas; others also had cleansing or pest-repelling qualities, either
  raw or in various preparations. Herbs of the genus Mentha (mints),
  particularly pennyroyal, are flea and tick repellents. Cedar (Cedrus,
  Thuja, or Chamaecyparis spp.) shavings or branch tips remain popular
  as moth and flea repellents.  Australian gum or eucalyptus leaves,
  pine needles, and sage have insecticidal properties. Scented
  geraniums, rosemary, basil, fir needles, and bay leaves are said to
  kill as well as repel insects. Juniper needles, chamomile, lavender,
  lemon peel, lemon balm, orange peel, oregano, thyme, and sweet
  woodruff are all insect repellents. Perhaps discovered by accident or
  trial and error are the disinfectant, antiseptic, or bactericidal
  properties of many medieval strewing herbs. Though less effective
  than when used in washes or infusions, the salient properties are
  found in the raw states of many plants.
  "Today, some of us may dimly remember older family members engaging in
  _real_ spring and fall cleaning, when virtually everything in a house
  was scrubbed, pulled up, laundered, taken down, oiled, put up,
  painted, washed out, or taken into the yard and beaten. Strewing
  herbs came into play as well: dried southernwood and lavender heads
  were added to the straw under the wool winter carpets before they
  were tacked down, lavender and cedar sprigs tied up in bags with
  woolens when they were stored away each spring, lemon oil used to
  polish wood floors and furniture."
  "You may place dried leaves, blossoms, and branches of favorite herbs
  under area rugs, either loose or in large, loose cloth bags - old
  pillowcases are ideal. (Don't use fresh herbs, or you may indeed have
  something to muck out!)  You may also tuck bagged dried herbs under
  sofa and chair cushions, between the mattress and mattress cover of a
  bed, under the pillows in pet bedding - wherever their aroma will be
  released by pressure or warmth. A thick layer of freshly dried
  aromatic leaves or branches laid in newspaper and topped with a small
  area rug is a delight in closets. Wherever you use dried herbs, be
  alert for possible allergic reactions to them; in my experience,
  allergies and irritation of mucous membranes are particularly likely
  with the insect-repelling herbs, and fine dust may be released when
  bagged herbs are sat, stepped, or slept upon.
  "Check bagged plant materials frequently if you live in a humid
  climate. They are apt to mildew if rugs become damp or if the weather
  is unusually muggy.
  "Strewing herbs have an attractive outdoor use as well. You may
  scatter handfuls of lightly crushed fresh herbs around a patio or
  lawn just before a party...Pick the herbs early in the day to
  maximize their scents, keep the stems in water until ready to use,
  and use small stems or finely chopped larger stems to keep footing
  safe. Add an extra doormat if your guests will be coming indoors from
  the garden: damp herb bits can stick to shoes."
  Excerpts from Robbie Cranch's "Herbs Underfoot: The Many Uses of
  Strewing Herbs, Yesterday and Today" article in "The Herb Companion."
  Dec. 1992/Jan. 1993, Vol. 5, No. 2. Pp. 57-58. Posted by Cathy Harned.

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Recipe ID 59075 (Apr 03, 2005)

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