How to Buy Good Quality Dried Herbs
One of the greatest benefits to growing your own herb garden is that you know exactly where the finished product is coming from. You control the growing conditions, when the herbs are picked and how they are dried and stored. Buying herbs is a different story because you don’t know all of these fine yet pertinent details.
An added disadvantage is that because herb-based products are not regulated by the FDA, companies can make claims about their herbs that are untrue.
Even though there are many mediocre companies out there, many high-quality companies exist as well. By doing a bit of research and knowing what to look for, you can find good quality herbs to use for physical, mental and health purposes.
Ask for Recommendations from Trusted Sources
The easiest and most effective way to find dried herbs is to get a recommendation from a friend, family member or doctor. If they’ve used the products firsthand, they will be very familiar with the quality of the herbs and how the business operates.
If you don’t know of anyone off the top of your head that uses fresh or dried herbs, send out a quick post on Twitter or Facebook asking for recommendations. You’ll be surprised to learn who uses herbs on a regular basis.
Evaluate the Company’s Website
It’s still important to do your own research even with a recommendation. View the website of the company and get a good feel for the nature of their business.
A trustworthy company should have experience in the industry, sustainable farming practices and a commitment to quality. They should be able to tell you exactly where the herbs are coming from and in what conditions they are grown, dried and stored.
Dependable companies will also have their contact information posted on the top of the page.
What Storing Practices Does the Company Use?
When you have found what appears to be a reputable company, take a look at their storage practices. While we all wish that the herbs would be freshly picked just for us, it doesn’t work this way. In fact, the herbs you’re about to buy may have been sitting in a jar for months or years, making it less potent.
Since you want to get the quality herbs you’re paying for, there are a few things to look for.
First, How are the Herbs Stored?
Ideally, the herbs should be stored in a dark colored glass jar, although some companies store them in foil bags, which is also acceptable. Clear jars are not ideal since they let in light, and the light will cause the herbs to lose color and flavor.
This process occurs because of oxidation, which is an interaction between oxygen molecules and the various substances they come into contact with along the way. If dried herbs are sitting in a clear glass jar, light will pass through the glass and come into contact with the herbs, thus diminishing their quality. They will fade in color, taste and aroma and be far less potent.
Where are the Herbs Stored?
In addition to the herbs being stored in dark glass jars, they should also be kept in a dark room with good air circulation. Most herb companies will have a large storage room where they stock the herbs on shelves. What you hope is that this room is an ideal arrangement with no direct sunlight and good airflow.
Knowing that light can affect the quality of herbs, always inspect the product and ensure that it is of good quality. If the color of the herb is faded and the smell is not strong, chances are the herb was either not stored properly or is old.
Are the Herbs Clean and in Good Condition?
If you are buying bulk herbs such as ginger root or dried flowers, be sure to inspect the condition of the herb. Dried herbs may be cleaned up already, but other raw materials may have grass or other debris still stuck to them.
When these herbs are picked, they may not be cleaned all the way, so it’s a good idea to assess their condition for insects or other debris that can affect the purity of the herb. Thankfully, most herbs are well cleaned and dried before being sent out to the customer.
Signs of a Good Quality Herb
Old herbs are far less potent, so they won’t have nearly as good as an effect as one would hope for. If you’re adding dried herbs to oil for instance, you won’t get much aroma from the herbs.
A good quality herb that is new and has been stored properly will have a vibrant color and a strong smell, so don’t be afraid to use your senses to inspect what you are getting.
If you are making a purchase online, it’s difficult to assess the quality of the herb, so make a small initial purchase. If possible, stick to herbalist stores where you can look at the herbs, or shop with a company that has good recommendations. Once you know you can trust the supplier, you can buy online or through a mail order.
Growing your own herb garden gives you the best quality products, but chances are, you’ll need to buy herbs from a company at some point. Whether it’s to try an herb that you haven’t grown or to buy an herb-infused product such as an essential oil, medicinal oil or supplement, it’s important that you have a company that you trust.
There are many great retailers out there who are committed to the environment and produce high-quality herbal products at a fair price.Share with friends!