23 May 2016
Syrups & Elixirs
Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 4
Herbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs in syrups from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.
Syrups are generally made to help with the flavors of herbs, especially for children. I like syrups just for variety’s sake. There are many methods handed down from our ancestors. I have adapted this first one from Rosemary Gladstar’s teachings to include my own experiences and tastes.
1. Use 2 oz. of herb to 1 qt. of water. Over low heat, simmer the liquid down to one pint. This will give you a very concentrated tea.
2. Strain the herbs from the liquid. Compost the herbs.
3. Add your sweetener. Honey, black cherry concentrate, molasses, maple syrup, etc. The sweetness varies with the different choices so add for your own taste: approximately ½ to 1 cup per concentrated pint of tea. Stir sweetener in and store in the refrigerator.
A simple syrup base from David Hoffman:
*Pour 1 pint boiling water onto 2 ½ pounds of sugar.
*Place over heat and stir until sugar dissolves and liquid begins to boil.
*Take off heat immediately.
This simple syrup can be used together with a tincture: mix 1 part of the tincture with 3 parts syrup and store for future use.
For use with an infusion or decoction, it is simpler to add the sugar directly to the liquid:
*For every pint of liquid add ¾ pound sugar.
*Heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
When I add sweetener to an herbal extract, without cooking, I call this an elixir. I primarily use black cherry concentrate in the proportion of 2:1 or 1 cup extract to ½ cup concentrate. This is a tasty way to take long term tonics and get the benefits of the bioflavonoid from the cherry concentrate.