Sunday, 9 January 2011

Herbs To Keep You Warm

 We had a great workshop at Sarah's yesterday, I feel I learnt so much by being able to touch, taste, smell and experience herbs.
 The most prominent herb of the day was ginger. We made a warming syrup, a big root of ginger, handful of rosehips for vitamin C and a tablespoon of warming fennel seeds in 1-1.5 pints of water. The botanicals were boiled for 20 minutes and strained, sugar added at 1lb per pint. The usual method for a syrup, which would keep better as it has a lower water content, is to reduce liquid to 1/8th and then add sugar. Reducing it by this much is time consuming but improves the keeping. I tried it out on my mom and my Aunt and they both liked it, it’s sweet, obviously but has the hot ginger aftertaste.
 We also had ginger tea which was infused for 10 minutes, it was very warming, much pleasanter than expected, and I could drink it frequently. It warms the blood. We made a second, larger pot that steeped for about 15-20 minutes and we used it to soak hands and feet. I soaked a hand for 10 minutes, I could feel the circulation buzzing in my hand when I took it out and I felt heat for about 15 minutes afterwards. I would love to sit with both feet in a bowl of it. This can be used as a treatment for cold hands and feet, warm herbs improve the circulation, it would be good for Reynard’s Syndrome.
 Another ginger tea recipe we were given is 1” ginger, 1tsp sage, 1tsp thyme poured onto juice of ½ lemon with honey to give a warming cough treatment.
 Sarah had started a ginger oil, it had been infused once, I strained it, grated some more ginger and put it back on the heat for another 2 hours. It was then strained again and we used 8oz of it with 1oz of grated beeswax to create a salve to give warm heat treatment to arthritic/painful joints. A pale yellow salve was produced.
 We did the same with a chilli oil. The first infusion had been done with scotch bonnets and we did the second with dried chillies which were put into a grinder. The oil and salve were a pale orange. This is also to warm painful joints.
 Sarah had searched for a cardamom recipe and found one for Indian rice pudding, rice pudding with cardamom pods in and we sprinkled it with flaked almonds and sultanas. It made a delicious pudding and is a tasty way to get someone to take a warming spice.
 We had a tasting session of warming tinctures. Clove was the hottest, too hot to take neat, nobody liked the taste. Cinnamon was not quite as hot but still very warming and made my tongue a bit fuzzy. Fennel made from the aerial parts of the plant was pleasant and warm. To compare and contrast we tried a cooling tincture, elderflower, it tasted lovely, had a sweetness to it. I also tried angelica honey; it was a gentle, warm, mixture. Angelica honey soothes fibroid pain. I tried horseradish honey; I didn’t fancy it at all but was pleasantly surprised, it was not too hot, I would describe it as a bit woody and nutty, Sarah adds it to her Fire Cider vinegar to treat colds and viruses. Horseradish honey recipe is ½ - 2/3 jar of horseradish topped up with honey - ready to clear sinuses in 3-4 weeks.
 We also made a horseradish plaster, ground, dried horseradish was mixed to a paste and placed inside cloth and then on a part of the body requiring heat treatment such as an aching muscle or painful joint. We found a willing victim and left it on for about 10 minutes, checking at intervals that it was not burning the skin. When the plaster was removed there was a red area where it had been, showing that blood had been drawn to the area.
After the workshop I went to hunt for horse chestnut to make my oil with. I found a big tree with leaves beneath that looked correct and then I saw the sticky buds on the branches and remembered people mentioning these in the past. Feeling confident that I had found what I wanted I took only what I needed, thanked the tree and took a picture so as I can remember the tree shape with its branches bending upwards.

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