pH of Herbs
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Anita
Posted on: November 21, 2000

Is there a simple way of determining the pH level or acidity of certain herbs (e.g., basil, rosemary, thyme, savoury)? Could you direct me to some resource material? My question relates to bottling herbs in a liquid base.

I don’t know if anyone has that information? When we think of pH and herbs we are usually thinking about the soil pH ranges that herbs can tolerate.

My guess is that the contribution to pH by fresh or dried herbs is relatively insignificant compared with the carrier used to process the herbs. For example, if the herb is prepared as a liquid extract and the carrier is water then I expect that the pH of the extract will be close to that of the water. Whatever contribution fresh or dried herbs might make toward the pH of the resultant extract would, I think, be much the same for all herbs. There are exceptions, of course: sphagnum moss, which is a plant and a herb, is very acidic. But spaghnum is a special case because it is a bog plant, whereas most plants are terrestrial and I expect that they yield much the same pH when extracted in the same amount of liquid carrier.

The only reliable way to determine the pH is to use a pH meter. Most pH meters work only in a solution. The mixture cannot be an emulsion. You might be able to use older techniques such as litmus paper to get a rough idea of the pH, perhaps even by simply pressing the paper in a fresh paste, but I don’t know how reliable that would be.

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