What Type Of Product Should I Buy?
What does stem mean?
Is the Catnip washed?
So what does the catnip you purchase really contain?
Should I buy Organic?
Should the plants be pesticide free?
How is the catnip harvested?
For the most freshness for the longest period whole leaf is the best. Leaves have not been crushed so the important compounds are still encapsulated in the leaf material just as mother nature intended. They will remain there until you, or your cat, crushes the leaf and removes them. However dried catnip leaves are fragile and even in a whole leaf product there is bound to be some crushed material. This is fine as the leaves are just a little broken up not crushed. The goodness is still there waiting for you.
The only disadvantage with whole leaf is that it is light and fluffy. It takes up a lot more space so by volume it looks like a lot but when its crushed down its not as much. It also means that the container it is enclosed in should be strong enough so as to keep the leaves as whole as possible and not be crushed during transit. It has a long shelf life because the compounds are enclosed in the leaf.
Partially crushed catnip leaf.
This is basically whole leaf that has been crushed just a little bit. The leaf is still in fairly large pieces providing containment for those precious active compounds but not full whole leaf. This is often the best product to go for if you are looking to make tea. The advantage is that it takes up a lot less space than whole leaf. The leaf should still be in fairly large pieces and have a container that does not allow the leaves to be crushed. Being fairly large pieces ensures that the active compounds are still encapsulated giving as much flavour as possible. It also allows you to look at the material and ensure that it is good quality leaf and not stem. It has a fairly long shelf life since the compounds are enclosed in the leaf.
Crushed or powdered catnip
This is totally crushed and powdered catnip. It has the lowest shelf life since the active compounds will have been released from the leaves and can readily evaporate. It is also impossible to see the quality of the material that you are receiving because it's a powder and its impossible to see what it was made of. This product is good for those who know there is going to be a quick turnover in the material, rapid consumption by humans or cats or want to incorporate the material into something else like 'catnip infused toys' etc.
It means the stem of the plant. It does not mean the leaf stalk. If you buy a product where you can actually see the plant parts rather than crushed powder then its fairly easy to identify the pieces. Stems tend to be slightly woody, and can appear in crushed material as woody pieces. Leaf stalks look more like little thin sticks. Its very very unlikely that any product would not contain leaf stalks as its almost impossible to pull these off since they are actually part of the leaf. So when looking at crushed catnip check for woody bits and don't be put of by little stalks.
Most catnip growers don't wash their product. They just gather it in the fields then dry it. The problem with this is that the material may also contain insects, bird droppings, insect poop and all kinds of other unwanted material. (yuck!). These are inevitable on any farm where plants are grown outside, there is nothing anyone can do about it except clean it off before it gets to you.
Floral Encounters washes all our catnip. Leaves are stripped from the stems then washed, spun dry and then dehydrated slowly to ensure the maximum amount of active compounds is retained in a clean washed product.
From reading the 'Catnip growing cycle' you now know that catnip should be harvested in late stage 1 or stage 2 when the leaves are still young and tender and contain high levels of nepetalactone. Stems are only desirable when they are young and fleshy. This is when the plants shoots are first emerging or the top parts of the stem when they are growing and beginning to flower. After that the stem is nothing but dead wood and not desirable in any product its basically 'filler' to bulk out or 'cut' your good product down.
Seeing what you have in your product is hard if you buy powdered catnip. For the most part this product usually contains material harvested at late Stage 2 or Stage 3. This is because it yields the largest amount of mass for the grower. The more product they have the more money they can make. High quality is not the issue. Most commercial catnip is harvested by machine. It's basically like a combine harvester that cuts off the stems which are then shredded. The resulting plant material is dried, then it is further crushed and sifted to remove any large pieces. Drying and then powdering the material ensures that stems are well blended into the mix and cannot be seen individually.
When the material is not powdered its easier easy to look at it and see how much stem you are buying, so picking a product that is whole leaf, catnip tops or whatever you choose allows you to be discerning and actually know what you are buying.
Organic is about the soil. Its not about chemicals or anything else but the soil. The farmer must look after the soil. This means it should have a nice amount of organic material and plants should be fed good organic fertilizer. If this is done then of course you will get stronger healthier plants that have a lot more flavour than standard grown plants. Organic does produce better product.
YES! All plant material that we eat should be, but sadly its not. Even
organic produce is not pesticide free. Organic farms use pesticides just
as much as regular farmers they just use different pesticides. That does
not mean that they are any less toxic! So if you buy something that is
organic does not mean that it has not been sprayed.
We don't think that herbs should be sprayed with anything. We would recommend that you not only look for organic but also look for those who state that the catnip and hopefully, the whole farm is not sprayed with any chemicals. That is the best and safest route to follow humans and cats.
Floral Encounters NEVER uses any chemicals on any of our products ever. If you find a diseased or insect infested plant we remove it, it means less crop for us but a safer healthier product for you.
Most farms harvest their catnip with machine and process it with other
machines. This means its quick and easy to do. It also means that a lot
of unwanted poor quality material can get into the mix. Farms that hand
harvest their catnip and hand process it to pick out all the poor quality
leaves, remove the stems and leave only good quality whole leaves is going
to give you a much better higher quality product.
Floral encounters hand harvest and hand processes all our catnip to ensure the highest quality possible.
OTHER CATNIP INFORMATION
|Janice Hazeldine PhD is the owner and head grower of Floral Encounters an organic Medicinal Herb farm that is also a designated sanctuary for pollinators.|