How to Store Herbs Properly.

Whether you are an herbal business owner or the family herbalist you have asked yourself; “Now that I have all these wonderful wellness supporting herbs, what should I store my herbal bounty in?”

Storing herbs correctly is the first step of preparing herbal preparations and extending their shelf-life. Proper storage of dried herbs is important because over time they lose their taste, scent, color and their herbal constituents(1), which reduces the potency of your herbal products.

Once a plant is cut it starts to decompose. Keeping the herbs refrigerated or frozen, drying them with heat or air, and/or placing them in menstruums(2) to create useful extractions all help to slow down the decomposing process extending the shelf-life. Even with all these fun and useful preserving techniques the herbs still expire.

How do you know if your herbal materials are expiring? Over the years I have learned that everyone has different opinions of how long to keep herbal preparations and ingredients. Each preserving technique has a different shelf-life time period.

  • Tinctures and glycerites: 3-7 years
  • Oil infusions: 1-3 years
  • Dried herbs: 6 months to 2 years
  • Herbal products: 6 months to a year, depending on ingredients.

Don’t worry, you can do a simple Organoleptic Analysis(3) or 5 Senses Test to determine when you should dispose of your expired stuff. For all of time we have used are senses to know whether something is safe to consume. Pay close attention to how it looks, smells, tastes and feels. I am not sure how hearing comes into play with plants but you get the idea. If your materials looks, tastes or smells lifeless…you should dispose of it properly.

None of us like to be wasteful. High quality ingredients come with a price not to many of us can swallow easily. This is why finding proper storage containers is always on our minds. To store herbs correctly we should place herbs in an air-tight, light-tight, non-plastic container on a cold dark shelf. Storing herbal preparations and ingredients correctly helps to preserve their shelf life.

Preserving herbs for making herbal products is important to keep the herbs full of their magical goodness. We all want our products to perform to their full potential, helping those of use them. In my path I’ve used everything from plastic ware to baby food jars. Recently, in an attempt to push plastic out of my life my family and I have started to use mason jars more often for food storage… They come in many different sizes which are all interchangeable. Mason jars are also available nearly everywhere, and possibly most important to my family…cheap.

During my process of going plastic free I happened across the Infinity Jars company. Infinity Jars are created with ultraviolet light filtering technology, which preserves and rejuvenates freshness. Infinity Jars also provide an airtight seal to complete its light-proof container. These Infinity Jars claim to be everything I have ever wanted from a long term storage container. They do all this while looking extremely sleek. Infinity Jars unique dark color ensures that the investment I’ve made in the storage of my hard to find, unique and expensive herbs, tinctures, oils, and vinegar infusions will have the maximum shelf-life. Although they are quite pricey, I added them to my wish list. When they contacted me to promote them through my social media it was truly a dream come true! I can now test them out and see if they are really all they claim to be.

I decided I needed to test if the Infinity Jars were the worlds best glass storage containers. The only comparable option to test it against was the time honored mason jar, which has become this holistic goddess’ best friend for all my storage needs.

Infinity Jars Vs Mason Jars.

For my experiment I placed three tablespoons of rose petals that were fresh from the original packaging from Bulk Herb Store in a standard four oz. mason jar. I also placed the same amount of the sample rose petals in the 50mL glass screw top jar from Infinity Jars. I placed these containers side-by-side, in the sunniest windowsill in my home for 30 days. Well, let’s make that 31 days.

On the 31st day I conducted a Organoleptic analysis(2) to determine which jar was better at preserving my freshly unpackaged rose petals.

As soon as I opened the Infinity Jar I could smell the beautiful odoriferous scent of rose. This made me want to smell the mason jar’s petals right away, to see if there was a difference.

There is a difference between the two, the Infinity Jar’s scent was a lot stronger than what came from the mason jar. The mason jar still had a scent but I would hope the scent would have been stronger after only being in the jar for 31 days.

I next, placed the rose petals in two different piles on plain white paper. The white paper provided a high contrasting background to see if the look of the herbs had changed, and something to write on.

The Infinity Jar’s petals looked like they had just come out of the original packaging from the herb store. The Infinity Jar’s petals felt velvety and freshly dried. The petals had not shrunk and the color still maintained it’s vibrance.

The mason jar’s rose petals seemed dryer to touch, yet they still had some spring to them. They also seemed to have a slightly ashy color.

They both still tasted like rose petals.

I want to add how much the sun bleached the pink napkin I had the jars sitting on in the window sill. I believe there is a marked and visible difference between the Infinity Jar and the mason jar. Where the Infinity Jar sat on the napkin, there is a full perfect circle that is very close to the original color of the pink napkin. The mason jar left a much lighter, misshaped imprinted shadow under its glass on the napkin. This shadow looked like it was more from the lid of the container, than the container itself.

This shows me that little to no light shines through the Infinity Jars. Although there is a darker area where the mason jar and shadow of the mason jar lid protected the bleaching of the napkin you can still see that light is getting through most of the jar.

The strong scent coming from the rose petals shows me that the Infinity Jar had less air getting through it’s lid.

The lighter scent of the petals stored in the mason jar show that, even during short term use, the volatile essential oils are evaporating, and ultimately losing potency.

Which Jar provides a better storage?

Now taking all this in to consideration I know that both jars are good options for storing herbs in. However, Mason jars are cost effective, come in many sizes and are perfect for short term storage of frequently used herbs. I believe that investing in Infinity Jars will extend the shelf life of your herbs to the maximum amount. Allowing you to keep the very special, hard-to-find herbs for your family to enjoy longer. I know that I will continue to grow my Infinity Jar collection even if it means my collection grows only one jar at a time because I want to preserve the potency of my herbal preparations, so they can truly help others. Isn’t that what you want too?

Index:

  1. Herbal Constituents: The active component of the plant that can be extracted for use in herbal preparations and pharmaceuticals.
  2. Menstruums: The liquid used to extract constituents from organic matter.
  3. Organoleptic Analysis: Using your senses to decipher the quality of organic material.

I have by no means received monetary payment for this review. I was provided products to evaluate their efficacy, and to spread the word about this great product and company. This post does contain affiliated links.

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