Garlic & Cayenne Oxymel

When I came down with my 2nd nasty cold of this season, I decided it was time to test my apothecary skills. While on our Ladies Homestead Gathering Retreat, we were honored to attend an herbal class with Patricia Kyritsi Howell of BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in Mountain City, Georgia. (You can check out her website at WildHealingHerbs.com) She brought along her knowledge and ingredients to make a few winter-time remedies for us. We discussed three remedies in great detail: Elder Rob Syrup, for use at the on-set of illness; Garlic & Cayenne Oxymel, to loosen a stuffy nose and soothe a sore throat; and Elderberry Wild Cherry Cough Syrup.

So last week I tried my hand at medicine-making and brewed a batch of Garlic & Cayenne Oxymel. And lest you fear I re-printed this recipe without permission, worry not! I cleared it with Patricia before publishing this. (As a new real-life blogger, I often forget to document my work as I go along, and thus, have no in-progess photos to share with you. My apologies…)

Garlic Oxymel

8 ounces cider vinegar
1/4 ounce each crushed fennel seeds and caraway seeds
1 bulb fresh garlic (approximately 10 cloves), pressed
3 fresh cayenne peppers
10 ounces honey

Put the vinegar in a pan with the seeds and bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add garlic and cayenne peppers. Let mixture cool. Strain back into pan. Mix in 10 ounces of honey. Warm over a low heat until thinned slightly. Store in a sterile jar in a cool place.

To use, take 1 tablespoon and dilute in 1 cup of warm tea. Drink as often as needed to clear congestion and soothe a cough.

Shelf life: Approximately 1 year.

My adjustments: I did not have any fennel seeds or caraway seeds so I omitted them. I did not have enough fresh garlic, so I used dried garlic. I did not have any fresh cayenne, so I used dried cayenne. But other than that…! It was delicious and effective, nonetheless.

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Homemade Herbal Remedy Swap

If you have talked to me in the last month, you already know this, but I have become totally engrossed in the world of herbalism and natural healing. Ever since joining the Ladies Homestead Gathering (LHG) I have learned more and more about the power of plants and am determined to learn how to survive and thrive using just what the earth provides. The first thing I did was make a list of my top 10 remedies for the home first aid kit (based on what we tend to use most often):

  1. Headache/fever/pain reducer (to replace ADVIL)
  2. Antacid (to replace TUMS)
  3. Cough Syrup
  4. Something for minor skin irritations
  5. Something for major skin irritations (to replace Neosporin)
  6. Aromatic Chest Rub (to replace Vicks)
  7. Something for ear infections (afterall, I have two little ones)
  8. Something for a sore throat
  9. Something to relieve sinus pressure/pain/stuffy nose
  10. Something to relieve diarrhea

While I believe this is a practical list, I also think it’s a LOT to learn, and could be somewhat costly up front. I know a lot of folks out there have the necessary weeds growing in their very backyards, but due to our suburban location, useful weeds are rare in my neck of the woods. So, sourcing the herbs and supplies necessary for this undertaking would require quite an investment in a pound or so of each herb – which with this list could mean 20+ different herbs.

I mentioned my dilemma to Cyndi last week and told her I thought we could do this together to make it simpler (and cheaper). So, this holiday season, the gals at the Ladies Homestead Gathering are forgoeing the traditional “Cookie Swap” and are instead participating in our first Homemade Herbal Remedy Swap. At our last meeting, Cyndi passed around a sign-up sheet and two handfuls of women committed to making enough of ONE remedy for everyone else on the list. That means procuring the recipe, the ingredients and some kind of container so that when we come together for our Christmas party next month, those that participated will leave with a fully-stocked Herbal First Aid Kit. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am about this!

Here’s what I’ll be making:
Simple Comfrey Salve  borrowed from Paganspace.net

Comfrey salve is a must-have for any herbal first aid kit! We use it almost every day chapped lips and elbows, dry noses, cuts, scrapes, burns, even as an under eye cream! Here’s a super simple recipe for comfrey salve recipe that you can make right in your kitchen. This salve also makes great gifts for friends and family. I like to put up big batches to give out at the holidays.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups good quality olive oil
~ 1 ounce (about two tablespoons) fresh comfrey leaves (or 1/2 ounce dried)
~ 1 ounce (about two tablespoons) fresh lavender flowers (or 1/2 ounce dried)
~ 1 ounce (about two tablespoons) fresh calendula flowers (or 1/2 ounce dried)
~ 1/2 cup beeswax

INSTRUCTIONS

~ Gently warm the olive oil and the herbs in the top of a double boiler for about 30 minutes. Stir frequently. It should bubble a bit at the edges, but not throughout the mixture.
~ Strain out the oil by pouring through a strainer.
~ Discard herbs and reserve oil.
~ Melt your beeswax in the top of the double boiler.
~ Add the strained oil and stir until completely blended.
~ Pour the mixture into jars or salve tins.
~ Once it is cool, label and date your creation.

I decided to get my herbs from Mountain Rose because their prices were good and I could purchase in less than 1 pound. quantities. I plan to double, triple for quadruple the recipe depending on how many women are participating. I think I should be able to get about 20 ounces from one batch, and would like to use 4 oz. containers, so 5 jars/recipe = ?? x Also, the Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH) recommends keeping ointments (those remedies which contain oils or fats heated with herbs and, unlike creams, contain no water) in a dark glass jar. So I’m going to get some of these. Again, still not sure of quantity though I don’t think I could have too many….could I?

And yes, if you’re my friend or my family and I’m going to be seeing you this holiday season, expect to get some too!