8.26.2015

kitchen witchery

calendula, clover
the st. john's wort turns a brilliant ruby-red when infused~ it's so pretty!
we were able to harvest enough of our own elderberries for a quart of tincture and a batch or two of elderberry syrup before leaving for vacation and having a lot of them go to the birds.  luckily I was able to grab enough from the farm for an extra batch of syrup- we use it heavily during cold and flu season!
calendula, holy basil, yarrow, lemon balm
some of the tincture jars (I don't keep them in the windowsill, they are stored away in the pantry)
I've made our elderberry syrup for the last few years, but this year I've been getting into making tinctures, drying herbs for teas and such, and other things as well.  we've got a half gallon jar full of red clover blossoms and one full of usnea.  there is calendula infusing in oil as well as some dried.  dried comfrey and dried red raspberry leaves.  and currently swimming in 100 proof vodka, on their way to becoming tinctures, are elderberries, tulsi, lemon balm, st. john's wort (I debated between infusing it in an oil for topical use instead, but then decided it will be even more happy-making if needed to fight winter blahs given that it came from the meadow behind the house in Maine.... happy memories, happy medicine), nettles, and yarrow.  I plan to mix and tincture a couple blends.  one for digestion, an immune blend, and a heart blend.  also planning to infuse some comfrey and plantain in oil, and dig up some roots pretty soon.  in a way I feel like all of this information, all of these books read and herb conferences attended over the years, where I've excitedly taken notes and come home with good intentions of regular medicine making....... it's all ripened to the point where I just have to do it.  maybe I needed I new little project, maybe the plants were calling my name a bit louder..... who knows.  next up, I think, are some salves and some fun and yummy medicine balls.


such fun, this medicine making.  especially when you realize how much good medicine is right outside the back door.


36 comments:

  1. OK recipe time. Elderberries - tell us all about them! How do you make your syrup? Why do I find medicine making intimidating. I am generally fearless in the kitchen and yet a boatload of elderberries went to waste last year due to my hesitance. I think, just like you said about your notes and intentions, you sometimes just have to be ready before you can follow through.

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    1. Hi Amanda! I generally follow this recipe: http://realfoodrn.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup/, adding a bit more ginger and cinnamon sometimes. I do find it takes way longer than 45 minutes to truly reduce by half, so be patient.

      I really do believe that! I've come home from conferences all excited to make medicines and all sorts of things and often I've made one small batch of something, or just read over notes again and again, and then filed the notes away. not anymore- I'm ready! I'd definitely encourage you to not be intimidated by making your own medicine. it is like following any other recipe and is so easy. and a bit empowering, I think.

      have fun!

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  2. Impressive, you are certainly well prepared for the coming season.

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    1. I'm trying to be! once I have the immune blends stewing I'll feel ready....

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  3. I love this.... and kitchen witchery is so my thing xxxx beautiful blessings to you and yours xxx

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  4. Love natural medicines! I need to get out and see if the elderberries are still around these parts - thanks for the reminder!

    At the moment I have lemon balm drying for tea and am going to make a salve from yarrow, comfrey, plantain (my favourite!) and self-heal once they are dry. Cannot wait!

    I’ve never made a tincture of lemon balm but you have me interested! We have tons of usnea here but I’ve kept it for tea - do you do a solar infusion and use it topically or a tincture for respiratory challenges? Love the colour of st. john's wort oil!

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    1. yarrow, comfrey and plantain are definitely some of my favorites for salves, too! I don't have experience with self heal- not sure why I've overlooked it.

      a friend of mine likes to triple tincture her lemon balm and finds it to be so very effective and soothing at such small doses when she does. I tend to get pretty wired in the evenings sometimes, so I'm happy to have another thing to try for that and general anxiety/stress. I plan to tincture the usnea along with red root and echinacea for my immune blend, and I'll keep some usnea on hand to powder and use as a styptic when/if needed.

      this was my first time infusing st. john's wort and I was giddy watching it turn such a brilliant red color!

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    2. I haven't hear of triple tincture. Can you explain? I have a ton of lemon balm and although I am drying some for tea I’d now love to tincture it. You have my attention!

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    3. I hadn't heard of it before my conversation with her either- forgive me for being vague and not explaining it in my last comment.... she says that with some herbs she finds that 'tripling' (essentially seems like concentrating) the tinctures makes a huge difference, and she does so by infusing them in the alcohol and then after say 6-8 weeks, she will strain out the herb and replace it with fresh (fresh or dried if necessary, I suppose, but a new batch) herb and re-infuse for another 6-8 weeks (or so), and then repeats it one last time. lemon balm was the main one that she does this with- saying that with a basic tincture she notices a subtle effect upon taking it, but that when doing it this way the results are quite potent and immediate. I hope that helps! :)

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    4. This helps a lot - thank you!! I will have to try this tripling as well. xx

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  5. I love all of this so much! My window looks very much the same :)

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    1. oh I'm sure it does! I'd love to get a peek at your (ever-expanding, no doubt) apothecary!

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  6. ps - at my apprenticeship, the teachers say to leave the tinctures and oils in the sun while "brewing". In fact many of them put them in the garden. They all like the idea of the tincture soaking up the sun and moon rays over the weeks. Then after the medicine is decanted it is stored away from the sun or in Amber colored glass. All herbalists have different opinions of how to do things course (like beekeepers!) - happy medicine making!

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    1. I've definitely heard folks recommend both ways. generally I leave herbs that are infusing in oils on my windowsill, and have the tincture jars in my pantry. I like the sound of the tinctures soaking up the rays though~ that's nice :)

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  7. I was able to forage for elderberries this Summer and have some waiting in the freezer to be made into syrup. I'm making lemon balm vinegar to use as a cleaning spray and I have some very strong smelling mint leaves and vodka in a dark cupboard, hopefully turning into mint extract for yummy chocolate cakes with mint icicng this winter! I'm learning and trying a little bit more each year. You have a ton of inspiring goodness going on in your kitchen!

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    1. our elderberries for syrup are in the freezer, too! I felt like I didn't quite need to make it just yet. soon though. homemade mint extract sounds great delicious.

      indeed there is always so much to learn~
      thank you.

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  8. Amanda - I look forward to reading your dyi articles in the Black Mountain News each month and have been greatly enjoy following your blog. My husband recycled the last news article on chicken treats before I could cut it out and I haven't been able to locate it on the newspaper website. Is there anyway you could send me your recipe? Thanks so much - Mila Kirkland milawkirkland@gmail.com

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    1. Mila, thank you so much for saying so! It is so nice to hear that you enjoy the articles and look forward to them. I've already emailed you with the recipe~
      cheers!

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  9. I adore this post and want to learn more. Where can I find your recipes and info?

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    1. thank you~

      I generally follow this recipe for the elderberry syrup: http://realfoodrn.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup/

      for the tinctures, I simply fill the jars with the herbs and then top off with 100 proof vodka, essentially following the 'simpler's method'.

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  10. I love all this, very inspiring! Can't wait to learn more.

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    1. thanks so much~ I'm really enjoying diving in after getting my feet just a bit wet for several years.

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  11. I would love to see your recipe for elderberry syrup - I make it but no one but me likes it :( I'd also like to know what books you use!! :) Thank you for being an inspiration - you have me wanting to dig out my books and herbs!

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    1. I generally follow this recipe: http://realfoodrn.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup/, and sometimes add a bit more cinnamon or ginger. also, I find it takes quite longer than 45 minutes to reduce by half, so I just plan on hanging around and stirring the pot that day ;)

      that's so nice of you to say- I am honored that you've called me a source for inspiration and happy to finally be scratching this medicine making itch a bit more regularly!

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    2. as for books and references- I love Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal and fins Susun Weeds website to be such a wealth of information. those are probably my main two sources aside from various handouts and notes from conferences over the years (though even then much of the info came from these two amazing women!).

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    3. Thank you! I'll be browsing that website for a while :) I think I have that book (somewhere!) and I love Susan Weed - Time to start studying since we are sick for the second time in 2 months - Somethings going on!

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  12. This was just awesome to see. It's like the wisdom of old is coming back. A few weeks ago I got Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal herbs book. I have devoured it and have been taking notes. My garden is slowly filling up with all these lovely herbs.

    This post has me all excited and inspired.

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    1. I love Rosemary's books! Have three of them and use them often. Oh, I wish I could take one of her courses! :)

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    2. she is so incredible, and I find her books so user friendly and they seem to completely remove the intimidation factor for me when I'm wanting to make something new. she'll be at the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference again this year..... I'm not going this time but it is a great conference if you can ever make it!

      KC- I intend to start planting more medicinal herbs around our yard as well! have fun!

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  13. this is wonderful! i have been wanting to try some tinctures for awhile, but just haven't gotten around to it. i'm really hoping to make some sauerkraut soon. thanks for the inspiration! hope to hear more about this as you continue :)

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    1. I'm hooked now!
      have fun making your sauerkraut!

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  14. How great! Are you going to the Women's Herbal Conference this year?

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    1. Hi Molly! No, I'm actually going to pass this year. it's such a great gathering though, so I'm sure I'll make it back again some time. I very much enjoyed each time I attended.

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thanks for taking the time to read and comment~