Being able to identify plants is more than plant-nerd cool. It’s real world cool because it means that you can forage. And isn’t foraging just about the trendiest thing a nature lover can do these days?With wild gathered food featured on the menus of the finest restaurants in the world, (Case in point: Copenhagen’s Noma, a restaurant serving foraged ingredients, has topped Restautant Magazine’s “World’s 50 Best” list for the third year in a row.) foraging has officially moved past its pauper roots and into the realm of real-world consideration, and not only for sustenance, but for beauty products, as well.There is a special kind of joy that comes from foraging that gets right to the heart of what makes it a wonderful pastime. It is a treasure hunt; it is beautiful way to get in touch with your surroundings and the cycles of the seasons; and it nurtures your soul to move through the landscape and see it with a different set of eyes.MORE: Read Leaf Magazine’s Autumn 2012 IssueDisclaimer: When foraging, be sure that you follow foragers’ guidelines. Know what you are picking, do not pick an area clean (leave plants to grow for the next person and the next season), and use with caution. Many plants have powerful medicinal qualities, and should be treated with care when ingesting or using on your body. Be sure to consider allergies.Flip through our gallery for foraging ideas, and follow the recipe below it to distill your plants into botanical tinctures or oils, which you can then use on your skin alone, in our cold cream recipe (also below), or to add a dose of ski-improving punch to your bath or shower.

 How to Make a Botanical Tincture or OilThe process for making tinctures and oils is essentially the same, but for tinctures, use a clear alcohol like vodka, and for oils, use grape seed or almond oil.Using a wide-mouthed mason jar, tightly pack the leaves, flower, or root that is the subject of the oil or tincture. (It can be helpful to bruise these materials slightly with a wooden mallet or similar item before packing them into the jar). If making a tincture, fill the surrounding area of the jar with vodka. If making oil, add roughly a ½ cup of oil per 4 cups of tightly packed materials. Tightly seal the lid of the jar.Both need to process for 3 to 4 weeks (at least). Tinctures should be placed in a dark area, and oils should be set in a warm sunny location. Use cheesecloth to strain, and press liquids to create your final product.Basic Homemade Cold-Cream RecipeTinctures and oils can be used in this recipe to create your own custom beauty cream using foraged ingredientsCombine:

  • 1 to 2 drops of essential oil for fragrance
  • 1 Tbsp. lanolin
  • 1 cup of oil (use almond oil for heavier winter cream, and grape seed oil for a lighter summer cream).
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 to 1 oz. grated beeswax

Blend over low heat in a double-boiler, taking care not to boil. Set aside. This can be tricky and is best done in small batches—about 1 cup at a time.Combine:

  • 2/3 cup rose water or distilled water
  • 1/3 aloe vera gel
  • Any additional tincture or extract that you may want to use

Combine liquids in glass measuring cup. Set aside.Pour oil mixture into blender and cool to room temperature. The mixture should become thick and creamy.When the mixture has cooled, turn blender on at high speed and drizzle water mixture in center vortex of the blender. When enough water has been added, the blender will start coughing, and the cream will resemble butter cream.- by Rochelle Greayer