All summer the gardens are growing high with herbs and flowers. We have balms and ‘docks and roses and berries growing wild along the forest’s edge. And in this rich season, we prepare for the less abundant winter to come.
Restocking the apothecary is an essential part of winter preparation. We don’t use many conventional medicines, most of our remedies are home-grown and/or home-mixed. And primary among them all is the Oxymel.
Oxymel breaks down to, essentially, “acid and honey”. And that’s it, really. Acid (vinegar) and honey, steeped in herbs and mixed into a delightful tonic!
We use apple cider vinegar, which has it’s own health benefits, to steep the herbs for about two weeks. After the steeping the herbs are strained out and the infused vinegar is mixed (60/40 is ideal in our house, but you can play with the measurements) with raw, local honey. The oxymel is then bottled and set on the medicine shelf with all our other winter-time remedies.
Yesterday, I started a cough & cold oxymel with bee-balm, lemon balm, red clover, mullein, and yarrow. I filled a quart jar nearly to the top with the fresh herbs (bee balm and lemon balm taking up most of the space. The mullein was dried and measured just a couple tablespoons. Two sprigs of yarrow and about 1/3 cup red clover. I covered them in raw apple cider vinegar, capped the jar, and shook it. I’ll shake it semi regularly for the next two weeks as the herbs steep into the vinegar. Then I’ll strain them out and mix in my honey.
In a couple weeks, or more, whenever the elderberries are ripe, I’ll mix up and elderberry oxymel in the same fashion, except my quart jar will be barely half-full of berries before being filled with vinegar.
If you’re taking fresh or dried herbs regularly, consider making them into an oxymel! They taste fantastic with some tonic water and lime, too.