We're doing a talk today about using herbs to stay comfortable through the winter months. We put together a number of herbal recipes and, rather than print out a bunch of copies, thought we'd post them here for their reference - and yours!
Elderberry Syrup (Tina Sams)
I make mine a little different each time, depending on what is around.
If using fresh berries, I first squeeze the juice of a lemon into a pan, and then simmer the berries along with some cinnamon chips or a broken stick, slices of ginger and I love a cardamom pod or two. Cardamom is anti-viral, as is cinnamon! Sometimes if there are some old vanilla beans around, I'll toss one of them in too.
I smoosh it every so often with a potato masher.
After 30 minutes or so, I strain the berries in a mesh strainer, and then pour them into a square of tight knit cloth (I cut up old t-shirts specifically for this job) and squeeze the dickens out of them to get as much juice as possible.
If you're using dried berries, use about 1/2 cup of berries to perhaps 2 cups of water and the juice of a lemon. Continue as above with the fresh.
Measure the juice. Add an equal amount of sugar (I usually add an additional 1/2 cup or so), and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes, skimming off any foam that may rise to the top.
There are alternatives to sugar, such as honey, maple syrup, and/or alcohol in varying amounts. I just find the sugar easiest.
I would like to caution against agave, since it has been found to be produced in the same manor as high fructose corn syrup (from starchy roots) and in fact it is often either adulterated with hfcs or is totally corn syrup!
Chest and Cough Syrup (Tina Sams)
Today I made a syrup specifically for this thing that seems to fluctuate between my head and my chest. I got out some Osha, Licorice root, Elecampane, Wild Cherry bark, Ginger, and Lemon to start a decoction. A decoction is different than an infusion, because roots and barks need to simmer for a period of time, while infusions involve leaves and flowers that are steeped in boiled water for a few minutes. There is another, newer definition of infusions, but for our purposes, this will do.
I filled a small pan with water, and put all ingredients except the lemon in to simmer for 45 minutes. I added the juice of a lemon for the last 5 minutes.After it was done, I
strained it out. You can see here that my favorite method of straining things is with a steel mesh strainer lined with fabric from an old tshirt. As shirts wear out, they are washed and cut into squares for this purpose. They work beautifully.
There was 2/3 of a cup of decoction, so I measured out 2/3 cup of sugar, and added a good dollop of honey. At that point, I also added 1/2 ounce of goldenrod tincture.
It all went back into the pan, and was brought to a boil for a few minutes before being poured into bottles.The decoction alone could be drunk without being made into syrup, and I will make some more for after dinner tonight. It's nice to have it ready to go, though.
Cold & Flu Fighter
(formulated by Brigitte Mars)
This spicy tea relieves swollen nasal passages and calms an upset stomach. Place an inch of the herbs in a quart jar. Fill with hot water and steep for two hours. Strain and refrigerate. Reheat whenever you need relief.
2 parts peppermint leaf
2 parts elder flower
1 part elder berry
1 part ginger root
(formulated by Sara Martinelli)
Congested lungs will love this aromatic breath of fresh air. Place two teaspoons of the mixture in a strainer, add one cup hot water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
2 parts oolong tea
1 part rosemary
1 part chamomile
1 part rose hips
Sore Throat Soother
(formulated by Deborahann Smith)
Steep two teaspoons of this soothing herb blend in a cup of hot water for quick throat relief. Licorice root also adds a sweetening effect.
1 part slippery elm
1 part licorice root
1 part marshmallow root
1 part anise (Pipinella anisum)
1 part wild cherry (Prunus virginiana)
Andrew Weil’s Ginger Tea
For cold relief, Weil suggests steeping a tastier ginger tea. He advises grating a 1/2-inch piece of ginger root and adding it to 2 cups of boiling water. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper; simmer another minute. After taking the tea off the stove, add 2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh) and one to two cloves of mashed garlic. Add honey to taste. Let the tea cool slightly, pour it through a stainer and serve.
Herbal Steam Inhalations
When you're very congested, it is a relief just to breathe in the steam from a hot bath or shower, or put your face over a bowl of steaming hot water. It helps relieve congestion and sinus pressure. It is even more effective when you add herbs to the water. The easiest way to do this is to run some very hot water into your bathroom sink, and add some chamomile, eucalyptus, or thyme to a tea ball or tied up in cheesecloth. Lean over the sink with a towel over your head (to keep the steam in your little "steam tent") and inhale deeply for several minutes.
To make a tincture, simply fill a quart canning jar about 2/3 of the way with fresh Echinacea blossoms, then pour 80-proof alcohol (or apple cider vinegar -- it won't be as strong as the vodka solution will be, but it will still work) to fill the jar. Let it sit in a cool dark place for two weeks.
To use your Echinacea tincture, strain the mixture and store in a clean jar in the refrigerator. Add a teaspoon of the tincture three times per day to fruit juice, herbal tea, or water.
Essential Oil Vapor Rub
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil
3 drops thyme essential oil
1/8 cup olive oil
Once the oils are combined, rub them over your throat and chest, then cover up to help increase the warming effect of the herbs. This is very effective when done right at bedtime, as it helps relieve congestion and allow you fall asleep easier.
Herbal Fever Remedy
1 ounce dried Elder Flowers
1 ounce dried Peppermint Leaves
1/2 pint distilled water
Mix the herbs. Place in a quart saucepan. Pour 1/2 pints of distilled boiling water over it. Cover and allow to steep in a hot place for 10 to 15 minutes (do not boil). When ready, strain into another saucepan. Sweeten with honey if desired.
Basil tea may be helpful in the beginning of a cold, encouraging a sweat to reduce fever - a pinch of ground cloves
Rosemary Gladstar’s Immune Boosting Soup
1 ounce dried astragalus root
4 ounces fresh dandelion root, thinly sliced (or 2 ounces dried)
4 ounces fresh burdock root, thinly sliced (or 2 ounces dried)
1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon dried kelp, dulse, or other sea vegetable
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
5 to 8 medium-size fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup miso paste, (any variety)
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and reduce heat. Add astragalus, dandelion, burdock, ginger, and sea vegetable; cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Strain, return broth to pot, and keep over medium heat. In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and mushrooms, and saute until tender. Add garlic; saute for a few more minutes. Add entire mixture to broth. Turn off heat, and stir in miso paste.
FireSider Elixir - modified from Rosemary Gladstar's Fire Cider
In a quart jar, combine:
1 full head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
1 lemon, sliced
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish
1/4 cup grated fresh turmeric (or 2 T powdered if not available)
1 med. chopped onion
1 chopped fresh cayenne pepper
Cover with raw apple cider vinegar for 2 weeks, shaking occasionally.
Transfer to larger jar, and stir in
1 - 2 cups raw, local honey (depending on taste)
Continue steeping another 2 weeks.
Use by the Tablespoonful at the first sign of a virus. Also helpful for allergies, indigestion, and sinus stuffiness. May even increase energy and assist in weight loss.
If you need to take some before the month passes, it should be fine, but leave it to steep as long as you can.
Some optional addtions:
1 tsp. peppercorns. 1/4 cup elderberry. 1/4 cup dried medicinal mushrooms (reishi, oyster, maitake, etc.), Turmeric, Other Citrus fruits and peel
This delicious, spicy vinegar can be mixed with water or juice to cut the vinegar. We like to use it for a marinade for chicken or pork. It also can be blended with olive oil for a zippy salad dressing!