It’s a tradition of smoking plants – even the Three Kings brought incense as a noble gift. However, it doesn’t have to be that great: garden herbs are also suitable.
Smoking expert Kristen Fox from Magstadt, Swabian, explains in an interview why people smoke in winter, what plants are suitable for this and what should be considered when collecting and drying them.
How long is winter a traditional time for smoking?
Christine Fox: In the early agricultural rhythm, people spent most of the time in the winter. There was no TV, no Facebook, just a meter of snow, freezing cold and a lot of darkness. So what was harvested in the summer was smoked. The scent brought back memories of summer and led people into a positive and stimulating mood with their first breath. Nowadays, winter smoking is more about comfort – especially when the arrival season is accompanied by candlelight and incense – but it is also about thinking and looking ahead, for example during noisy nights.
What plants can be used for smoking?
Fox: The classics in our European culture include, for example, basil, juniper, fragrant grass or sage, angelica, and mastwort. Depending on the season, mistletoe, pine needles, fir resin, ivy or yarrow, wood, St. John’s wort, and meadows are also used. Also, medicinal and garden herbs such as mint, lemon, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lavender and hyssop, as well as rose flowers and chamomile can extract wonderful smoky scents.
What makes these plants ideal for smoking?
Fox: The more aromatic essential oils and plants are, the more fragrance can develop through evaporation. In order to preserve the aroma in the room for a longer time, herbs are often mixed with resins. They tie the scent and ensure we can enjoy it for a long time – sometimes until the next day.
What resins would you recommend – also to collect yourself?
Fox: fir and pine resin are very suitable. However, only old dry resin should be collected. The little resin is soft and sticky like honey and still cannot develop a good smoky smell. If the resin is solid and red-brown in color, it can be easily removed from the bark and is ideal for smoking. Fir resin is also used for smoking. However, collecting them is very tedious: it is the cones that essentially sweat into the resin – like the white crumbs between the scales of a cone.
When is the best time to harvest herbs?
Fox: It is best to harvest herbs in the summer. There was a specific date for this: On the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15th, the herbs are said to contain most of the essential oils. Today they are often completely dried by this time. Depending on the weather, I actually harvest at the beginning of July and can then harvest again at the end of July / early August. It is important to select a sunny day to harvest so that the plants will dry out and are already able to absorb the sunlight.
How do I continue?
Fox: Only dried incense is used for smoking. To remove moisture from herbs, they are hung in groups or dried in stacked boxes. A dark, well-ventilated storage room or storage room is ideal. Plants can also be dried in the oven and in an automatic dryer – but only very carefully and not too warm so that the essential oils do not leak. Otherwise, it smells like one time, that is, during the drying process. dpa
© Bergsträßer Anzeiger, Thursday 24 December 2020