February is for Citrus
The herb of the month for February is citrus fruit. Citrus ripens in midwinter, the perfect time to brighten the cold and dark winter months. In mediterranean climates, citrus is harvested from January to April. I like to think of citrus as our first ray of sunshine peeking through the winter clouds, calling in the soon to be blossoming spring. Citrus fruit comes in all shapes and sizes: lemon, lime, mandarin, cara cara, satsuma. The inner fruit is tangy, juicy, sweet and provides Vitamin C, folate, potassium and other vital minerals. Citrus fruit is also loaded with beneficial phytochemicals like flavanoids and carotenoids. The peel of citrus is filled with naturally stimulating essential oils that have lifting, energizing and antidepressent properties.
In Chinese Medicine dried citrus peel or “chen pi” is a digestive stimulant, and is often added to herbal formulas to strengthen the stomach and reduce nausea and vomiting. It is also excellent at helping to clear phlegm and cough. The properties of citrus are pungent (spicy), bitter, and warming; and it makes a delicious and nutritious tea. If you have a wood burning stove at home, take the crushed peels and place them on top while a fire is burning, for a natural home scent infusion.
Dried Orange Peels:
Save the skins of oranges as you eat them.
Cut into small ½ inch squares and put them in the dehydrator for 5-8 hours
Once dried, save in a sealed glass jar for future use
RECIPE: Orange Peel Tea
4 tablespoons dried citrus
1 tablespoon rose hips
1 tablespoon rose buds
2 cardamom pods
Pour 1 quart boiling water over herbs and let steep 20 minutes. Serve as is or add a pinch of honey