Alcohol extracts, tinctures and glycerites are wonderful ways to take your herbs in concentrated liquid form but if those aren't to your tastes or you want to try something a little different, you may enjoy an herbal oxymel! This combination of vinegar, honey and herbs can make a delicious addition to your herbal repertoire.
This traditional recipe has been in use since at least Hippocrates time in Ancient Greece and was a staple of Renaissance pharmacopoeiae. Aside from the inherent benefits of honey and vinegar, it was thought that the sweetness would make it easier to get people to take pungent aromatic and bitter herbs. Oxymels are a wonderful way to preserve the medicinal properties of herbs.
Here are some recipes you may want to try at home. As we move closer to the holidays it's good to note that many of these recipes would make delicious and affordable gifts!
Basic Oxymel Preparation (from James Green)
-Mix equal parts honey and vinegar (we like apple cider vinegar best!) in a pot on the stove.
-Simmer until it forms a syrupy consistency.
-Add your herbs and pour into a heat-safe jar.
-Allow your mixture to infuse for about 2 - 4 weeks. Shake your jar every day or every other day to aid the infusion process.
-Once ready, strain your concoction through a fine mesh strainer (you can also use cheesecloth or muslin if you wish) and remove all the plant material.
-Store in glass jars or bottles. Oxymels have a good shelf life. If properly strained and kept, they can stay good for years!
You can use this method or the decoction method for any of the oxymel recipes below.
Stay Well Oxymel
½ cup ginger root
4 garlic cloves, coarse chopped
½ cup orange peel
½ tsp. cinnamon chips
1 Tbs. dried rosehips
1 Tbs. dried elderberries
1 tsp powdered turmeric
½ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp fennel seed
¼ tsp whole clove buds
2 cups apple cider vinegar with “the mother”
½ cup or more raw honey
Breathe Easy Lung Support Oxymel (from Five Flavors Herbs)
Dried elecampane root
Dried wild cherry bark
*Equal parts of the above herbs
Raw apple cider vinegar
Raw, local honey
Fire Cider Oxymel
1 full bulb garlic, peeled and chopped
About ¼ cup of ginger root
1-2 Tbsp black pepper
2-3 inch of horseradish root, peeled and chopped
3-4 cayenne peppers (or any other spicy pepper you prefer!)
About a teaspoon each: rosemary, thyme and garden sage
Apple cider vinegar
Fire Cider Oxymel Dressing
About ¼ cup of Fire Cider Oxymel (feel free to use whatever blend you like)
¼ cup nutritious, flavorful oil (Olive, Avocado, Hemp and Sunflower work nicely)
1 Tbs. Stoneground or Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
-Combine your ingredients in a bottle and shake until combined well. This will likely need a shake before each use as well.
Vitamin C Oxymel (from Little Green Dot)
2 Tbs. rosehips
2 Tbs. hawthorn berries
2 Tbs. hibiscus
1 piece jalapeno, to taste (I add a 1 inch piece)
2 Tbs. ginger root
1-2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-4 tbsp honey, to taste
Cool & Sour Detoxymel (from Adrian White, Herbalist)
Here is an Oxymel recipe using cool and damp herbs, perfect for the upcoming hottest of summer months. One sip of it hydrates deeply and opens the pores. It is also a little detoxifying so as to help you kick any lingering winter stagnation.
2-4 Cups chopped Rhubarb (fresh)
2 Cups Violet flowers (dried of fresh)
1 Cup Wild Cherry Bark
4-5 Cups Honey (preferably raw/organic)
Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Beet (optional, for color)
-Place chopped Rhubarb and Violet flowers in a jar, preferably in an amber-tinted glass jar that can be sealed tight. Pour Apple Cider Vinegar over herbs until evenly covered, and all herbs appear to float but touch one another. Cover tightly. Let steep (or “macerate”) for 2 weeks or longer in a cool, dark place.
*Many thanks to Learning Herbs for the inspiration!