Have you ever read a book about herbs and come across a recipe that doesn’t make sense? There is something about our grandmother’s kitchen and the need to rebel against a formal recipe that invades most herbal jargon.
The most confusing seems to be the issue of scaling a recipe using parts.
I was trained to think about formulating my herbs, whether for fun or for health, in parts as a scaling recipe. When I first created the formulas for our farm products I would write them all down in parts. For years, these written recipes were just fine because I was the only one using them. When our farm grew I turned the recipes over to my husband and went on to other things. The first day he went to make a batch of one of our honey spreads he came to me quite confused. What I thought was quite simple was basically another language to him. I had to rewrite all our formulas with weights for him.
Scaling Recipe: Why Do Herbalists Use Parts?
From a practical standpoint, parts allow the reader to scale the recipe to his or her needs. While I may need to make a gallon of tea, you may only want to make one cup. If I wrote the recipe for you in terms of my needs you would have to do an awful lot of math to get it sized down.
Scaling Recipe using “Parts”
When scaling a recipe, a part is anything you want it to be. Let’s go through some examples.
Making a cup of tea
Here are some standard measurements for how much herb you need to make tea:
- 2-3 teaspoons per cup
- 3-4 Tablespoons per quart
Most people would not make up just enough of this blend for one cup of tea, but I can say that I have done just that. When I did it, I wasn’t sure I would like the tea recipe I had found and didn’t want to waste my herbs and be stuck with a big bag of tea. I’ve also made just a serving of a tea to try out a new formula.
Here is the recipe I want to use to make one cup of tea:
- 1 part linden
- 2 parts marshmallow leaf
- 1 part lemon balm
- 2 parts peppermint
Here are the details for how to do it in parts:
I need 2-3 teaspoons total and the recipe contains 6 parts. If I use ½ teaspoon for each part I’ll have 3 teaspoons. The above recipe with ½ teaspoon as a part would look like this:
- ½ teaspoon linden
- 1 teaspoon marshmallow leaf
- ½ teaspoon lemon balm
- 1 teaspoon peppermint
- 1 cup water
Making a gallon of the same tea recipe
What if I need to make this tea for a crowd? This time I want to make 1 gallon of tea.
Here’s how you would do it:
I need 12-16 tablespoons (¾ cup to 1 cup), and the recipe contains 6 parts. I can use 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons for parts to equal 12-15 tablespoons. The recipe with 2 ½ tablespoons as a part would look like this:
- 2 ½ tablespoons linden
- 5 tablespoons marshmallow leaf
- 2 ½ tablespoons lemon balm
- 5 tablespoons peppermint
- 1 gallon water
I promise you, herbalists aren’t trying to make life difficult. When we write our recipes with parts, it’s meant to be a scaling recipe that gives you the freedom to choose the amount to make.
Let me say a collective apology when it feels like just the opposite. Hopefully this makes it a little easier to put a plan together when making heads or tails out of a scaling recipe using parts!
Do you scale your recipes using parts? Tell us about them!