Tinctures are a favored method of extracting medicinal properties from plants. They are one of the oldest herbal preparations, created and used thousands of years ago, and are still widely used today.
What is a Tincture?
A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract that uses alcohol as the solvent.
To understand what a tincture is, we need to also understand what isn’t a tincture. So, a tincture is an herbal extract that uses alcohol as the menstruum (solvent): if the menstruum isn’t alcohol, then the herbal preparation is not a tincture but an extract. An extract uses water, vinegar, . . . → Read More: How to Make an Herbal Tincture (Folk Method)
Recipe by Hannah
Mullein is a beautiful large plant that thrives in disturbed areas. Mullein is also full of medicinal and beneficial components like mucilage, flavonoids, iridoids, sterols, and sugars.
Mullein as a Medicine
Medicinally, Mullein is traditionally used for lung and bronchial ailments such as coughs, asthma, congestion, and colds. Additionally, it is thought that Mullein has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. This is a great plant to have on hand during the cold season!
During one of Wolf College’s Herbal overnight camps, the campers had the opportunity to use their new herbal knowledge to treat a lingering wet . . . → Read More: How to Make Mullein & Honey Cough Syrup
Recipe by Hannah
Who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing, sparkling soda?
We’ve noticed that lately, more and more independent artisan sodas are appearing in our local grocery store. Most of them use organic (or even local!) ingredients, cane sugar or stevia, fermented starters, or even herbal extracts. This is awesome! We can join in the artisan/homebrew movement and easily make our own natural herbal sodas at home, using just a homemade herbal syrup, sparkling water, and some ice. At Wolf College’s Herbal camps, we like to teach how to make herbal syrups. Syrups are a favored way to make herbal . . . → Read More: How to Make Sparkling Elder Herbal Soda (Two Recipes!)
Recipe by Hannah
Ox-Eye Daisies (also spelled “oxeye” daisy) are an abundant wild edible that thrives in fields, meadows, and other disturbed areas. It is a familiar plant with a sun-yellow central disc and spreading white ray florets, found in backyards, parks, and out in the wild.
Ox-eye daisies are edible: the leaves make a nice (but somewhat bitter) addition to salads, and the flowers can be eaten raw, added to dishes for decoration, pickled like capers, or cooked in a variety of ways.
While we can add the flower heads to a salad, there are, in my opinion, . . . → Read More: How to Make Ox-Eye Daisy Fritters 3 Ways!
Recipe by Hannah
Dandelions thrive in meadows, fields, the side of the road, and in our backyards. The happy sun-colored flowers are a common sight, and are even (unfortunately) considered a weed. Despite the weed classification, dandelions are a prized wild edible — all parts are edible and contain a variety of medicinal benefits.
The root of a dandelion is used as a bitter liver cleanser, a blood purifier, and a digestive stimulant. Drinking a dandelion root decoction can help aid digestion and cleanse our livers, as well as fight inflammation. Long-term use of dandelion root can help clear . . . → Read More: How to Make Dandelion Root Coffee
Recipe by Hannah
My first taste of ‘real’ root beer was during one of Wolf College’s day camps. I had never had homemade root beer before, only the commercial soda, so this was a real treat. I love fizzy drinks and herbal root beer was unlike anything I had tasted before. It had a complex taste, with the anise, sassafras, and sarsaparilla (what fun words) most prominent, along with spicy ginger and the deeper flavors of dandelion root and cherry bark. It tastes almost nothing like commercial root beer and I’m glad — it has a unique, herbal taste.
. . . → Read More: How to Make Herbal Root Beer
Book Review by Hannah
John Kallas’s Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate is one of my favorite wild edible field guides. I like to think of this book as a primer in foraging because it details how to find, harvest, process and eat over 23 different wild plants.
Edible Wild Plants is a comprehensive guide that addresses many of the wild edibles that we can find first and foremost in our backyards. Instead of planting conventional lettuce and other nutrient-poor plants, we can eat the “weeds” — the nutritious wild greens that already grow in our backyards, . . . → Read More: John Kallas’s “Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate” Book Review
Recipe by Hannah
Spring and summer mean an abundance of Stinging Nettle. Stinging Nettle grows all over the Pacific Northwest, and this spiny friend can be used for food, medicine, technology (rope, craft, dye), and even for natural beauty products.
→ Click here to read Wolf College’s comprehensive Stinging Nettle guide, including how to find, identify, harvest, eat and cook stinging nettle.
Benefits of Stinging Nettle: A Healthy Scalp and Beautiful Hair
Although Stinging Nettle may seem like a plant you wouldn’t want to touch, it is easy to respectfully harvest and process. It is a staple plant to . . . → Read More: How to Make Stinging Nettle Shampoo
Book Review by Hannah
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use is a staple book to have at home. It is suitable for all levels of herbal experience and contains recipes applicable for all members of the family.
If you are a beginner herbalist or curious to know more about the many uses of plants, this is the book for you. If you are an experienced herbalist, this book contains insight, advice, and new and old recipes from one of the most significant members of the American herbal community.
Who . . . → Read More: Rosemary Gladstar’s “Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use” Book Review
Recipe by Hannah
Cattails are pretty amazing plants! The common marsh, lake, pond and ditch plant is actually a very valuable and multipurpose plant, with technology, food, permaculture and even medicinal uses.
→ Click here to read Wolf College’s comprehensive Cattail guide, including how to find, identify, harvest, transplant, and cook cattails.
Cattails: Top Survival Food
At Wolf Camp, we teach that cattails are the #1 survival plant in temperate North America. If you are in a survival situation and are in an area with cattails, you have lucked out! Cattail rhizomes (the root structure) contain very high levels of . . . → Read More: Wild Edible Recipe – Cattail Chips
Instructions by Hannah
No first-aid kit is complete without a medicinal salve. A salve is an ointment used topically (externally) that helps to heal and protect our skin. It is a natural herbal remedy that is easy to make and can be used for a variety of skin troubles — from sunburns to bee stings to eczema and beyond!
What is a Salve?
A salve is different than a cream, lotion, or balm in that it contains no water or butters (such as cacao or shea); instead, it is made from a combination of oil or lard and wax . . . → Read More: How to Make an Herbal Salve
We just noticed that the ubiquitous internet still has our old WordPress Blog site published. The following posts are from the first year after Kim and I got married, then moved to Puyallup, and began teaching weekly homeschool, after-school, and evening classes on our various topics. The photos are great, the stories are fun, but the instructional information contained in the posts is a bit sparse because we didn’t yet realize that to become popular, blog posts are supposed to be highly informational, rather than a documentation of what happened in the past. That said, feel free to check out . . . → Read More: Vintage Blog Posts from our Old WordPress Site
Lorraine Olivas-Romey with Hericlum Abietis – Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Guest writer Lorraine Olivas-Romey is treasurer of the Snohomish County Mycological Society through which you can join her and other members on mushroom forays and their incredible October Mushroom Show.
Wild Edible Mushroom Hunting
Foraging for mushrooms has recently become quite popular. Is it due to a “back to nature” movement, consuming food that is naturally grown, or the thrill of finding something totally organic? Whatever it is, be cautious about eating a mushroom without total identification that it is an edible. In fact, “a mushroom chooses its victim”. One . . . → Read More: Top 5 Wild Edible Mushrooms for Wilderness Survival in the Northwest
Book Review by Patrick Wiley
When I received an unexpected email detailing the upcoming release of Nikki van Schyndel’s Becoming Wild, I was ecstatic. I had heard about the book seven years prior, but it had practically become an urban legend. Drawing upon my own experience and occasional lack of follow through, I had long ago concluded that the book was probably just a dream Nikki held that would never come to fruition. As is often the case, Nikki proved me wrong. Nearly a decade after the initial birthing of an idea, Nikki’s book has arrived. The . . . → Read More: Nikki van Schyndel “Becoming Wild” Book Review
Wolf Camp and the Wolf College founder, Chris Chisholm, collecting bullwhip kelp on Orcas Island after a storm blew it ashore.
Living near the Pacific coast, we have the luxury of being in close proximity to countless numbers of seaweed (edible algea) including kelp species, each with their own flavors and uses. One of my all-time favorite seaweeds to use is kelps such as kombu (laminaria spp.) in the creation of dashi stock – the flavorful base for miso soup. Miso soup is fast, easy, and can be made from any fresh or dried . . . → Read More: Making Healthy Natural Miso Soup with Kombu Kelp Seaweed
Check out other cooking blog posts by Wolf College wilderness chef Charles Borrowman including How to Cook for Backpacking Trips and more.
Lead instructor and french culinary chef, Charlie Borrowman, demonstrates a marinade for campfire roasted veggie skewers.
When on a backcountry wilderness or backpacking expedition, it doesn’t take much more than the thought of yet another night of eating half soggy, half crunchy freeze-dried disaster to wrinkle one’s nose up in disgust. Thankfully, all it takes is a few lightweight and easy to pack ingredients to rescue you from eating $10 a pop astronaut cuisine or that MRE . . . → Read More: Backcountry Camp Cooking Recipe – Rice Pilaf
Please click here to read critical introductory material in Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management including how to Engage the Frontal Cortex, recognize the difference between Perceived & Actual Risk, and mitigating the Eight Great Outdoor Hazards. These articles are designed to help the outdoor leaders cut the chaff, and start guiding students and clients with a solid foundation of knowledge.
If you would like intensive, hands-on training to become a highly effective outdoor leader, join us in mid June for our annual OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING EXPEDITION: Backpacking into Wolf Country course or stay all summer . . . → Read More: Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part II – Trip Preparation plus Wilderness Emergency Response Protocol
If you would like intensive, hands-on training to become a highly effective outdoor leader, join us in mid June for our annual OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING EXPEDITION: Backpacking into Wolf Country course or stay all summer and graduate from one of our six unique residential summer Environmental Education Apprenticeships on Outdoor Leadership & Nature Guiding, on Ethnobotany & Herbalism, on Wildlife Conservation & Tracking, on Traditional Technology & Survival, or on Homesteading & Sustainability.
Habit of Engaging the Frontal Cortex
Calling all 20 something outdoor leaders! Don’t be like me. Realize that the neural insulation that connects our frontal lobes is . . . → Read More: Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management
Child of Air – Artwork used with permission by Joanna Powell Colbert of GaianTarot.com
Do you get a vague feeling that you hike past a lot of wildlife without seeing it – the deer hiding in the thicket, the coyote silently watching your every move, or the minutes-old cougar tracks saying she heard you coming? Do you wish you could be as good as those wildlife photographers or famous naturalists who tell stories of countless wildlife encounters that seem unreal?
It is true that some people have a natural aptitude for putting themselves in situations that attract wonderful experiences, . . . → Read More: Sensory Awareness – If You Learn Nothing Else!
It All Comes Back To Tracking – The Most Critical Outdoor Skill
Explorer of Earth by Joanna Colbert of Wolf College instructor and used with permission.
If you can find it, you don’t have to make it. But what’s more, tracking is exciting as a mystery. You can discover the story of what happened in nature before you got there, so next time you’re on the trail, see if you can spot an animal track. Don’t try to identify it. At least not at first. Jumping to a conclusion about the identity of a track unwise, and it’s . . . → Read More: Tracking Animals for Fun, Photography and the Hunt