Tinctures, Tonics & Teas Feed

Tinctures ,Tonics & Teas : Harvesting Wild Ramps

 

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Last night, a friend posted a gorgoues picture of spring radishes on facebook and it started me thinking about wild ramp season! In fact, I'm so obsessed with wild ramps that I  had dreams about them all night and I woke up starving!  It's still early in February, and more snow is heading our way, but my half full cup says that it's almost Spring and what I'm dreaming about is a lovely trail ride through the woods with my favorite horse, Henry and my gathering basket, being seduced by the enticing flavour of the wild ramps that can can be found in early  March through mid April! Wild ramps are a seasonal vegetable, that used to be found from late March to mid May depending upon where you live, but the last few years have found the effects of climate change beginning to change their growing season. If you've never tasted a wild ramp, trust me, you'll love them. The flavor is of a wild garlicky leek and like all edible members of the Allium family they have an immediate and pronounced tonic effect on our circulatory and immune systems.  I love to use them in soups and stews, and have even been know to eat one or two of them raw with fresh sweet butter and bit of French sea salt. I love to add one or two of them to my juicer along with carrots, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and cucumber for my morning juice and this very same juice has been known to double as a perfect base for a Bloody Mary!  I cook and puree them with asparagus, wild mushrooms and cream for a wonderful spring soup and  I love to stuff them under the skin of a roasting chicken or toss them in the stock pot when I'm making bone broth!

 

Ramps

If you're out in the woods  you'll know that you've found a patch of them when your nose picks up a spicy garlicky aroma, amid the yummy fresh greens and sweet dirt smells of spring. They are beautiful plants with fleshy, vibrant green leaves and purple shoots that lead into a lovely familiar looking white bulb. When you're harvesting them just take a few of the shoots and leave the rest, trust me, a few is all you will need because the flavour is intense!  If you don't have time to go find your own, the good news is that wild ramps will have been harvested for you by many of the wonderful Eastern farmers who have booths at the outdoor markets that begin in the Spring.  That being said, it's a wonderful thing to happen upon a patch of wild ramps and a terrific excuse for a walk on the early spring forests but it's always important to remember to harvest any wild plant appropriately- here are a few tips!


A Few of my Rules About Harvesting Wild Foods!

Always make sure that you know what you are harvesting. Get a really good guide book, and if possible go with someone who knows how to distinguish between similar looking plants. Old farmers are usually a great source of information, but please leave wild mushroom harvesting to the pros!

Take a smaller amount than what you think you need and if possible gather from several different spots.

Always make sure that you have permission to gather on the land that you're foraging.

When you gather wild foods, make sure that you leave dirt on the roots, and keep a moist towel with you to wrap them in. I like to use cloth dishtowels, because I think that paper towels are too absorbent for the delicate roots.

Use a small hand cultivator to harvest your wild plants, and when you are choosing which plants to take, (as goofy as this may sound!) simply ask them! It's my experience that plants that are ready to be picked simply slide out of the earth more easily. If you get some real resistance, move on to the next one, and please don't pull on them so hard that they are damaged! There will always be one or two that will be happy to go home with you! A gentle tug is all that they need and then a light twist of your cultivator to help release them.

Like the Native Americans before us walk gently on the earth wherever you are and when you gather wild things  please consider leaving something in return. The tradition of giving back to the earth is a very old one used by the Native Americans who were the first to farm this land. I've always got something in my pocket (corn, hay, a little  bit of compost) to leave as a thank you when I take any plants from the wild. I know it sounds silly, but for me it completes the circle of harvest and life!


Tinctures, Tonics and Teas: Herbal Lullaby Elixir

Linden
LInden Tree & Blossoms~ Photograph not easily attributible


If you're anything like me, at age 53 it's a little bit tough to get a good nights sleep. My husband puts his head on the pillow and sleeps like a baby but oh no...not me. Menopause by itself can have me tossing and turning and if you add a bit of stress to the mix, I'm bound to be up for most of the night. Removing caffeine and alcohol before bed is very helpful, but I also have found that 2 dropperfuls of my "Herbal Lullaby Elixir" in a cup of warm water about an hour before bed works wonders! Then just slide under the covers, read a book for a bit and doze off. You should wake up refreshed and ready to start your day!

This tincture is an infusion of some of my favorite herbal allies. I'm not one for Ambien and I'm naturally very intense, so I made friends with these plants quite some time ago. Everyone of them is cooling, soothing and promotes a restfulness without drowsiness. Hops and valerian are well known relaxants but you still won't wake up feeling as if you've taken a sleeping pill. Linden is one of the loveliest nervines that I know and is used all over France to promote relaxation. Oatstraw keeps everything cool and juicy and the lavender is a natural sleep enhancer, slowing the activity of the nervous system and thought to promote lovely dreams. Hyssop is a delightful anti-anxiety herb and the catnip speaks for itself. All you need to see is your favorite kitty rolling around on a catnip pillow to know why I included it in the mix! And then there's the Rose Absolute. Rose Absolute is just such a beautiful and evocative scent and is the ultimate aphrodisiac, nervine and antidepressant.  It's magical presence in this elixir provides the alchemy that ties it all together and makes it work so well.

 

 Herbal Sleeping Elixir/ Beth Schreibman Gehring

 

I make this tonic in large mason jars (dill pickle size!) so my measurements are for one of those!

In each mason jar layer:

2 tablespoons of raw honey

1 and a half cups of tart cherry juice

1 and a half cups of  blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

3 tablespoons each of:

Linden flowers

Hyssop

Oatstraw

Chamomile

Lavender

Catnip

Hops

Valerian

10 drops of organic, culinary rose absolute  ( My favorite culinary essential oils are the Chef's Essences by Mandy Aftel)

Vodka

 

Layer all of the ingredients into the mason jar and top with vodka. Close the top of the jar and shake until blended. In about three weeks, strain and funnel into dropper bottles. To use, add two dropperfuls of this tincture to a cup of warm water or  herbal tea. Add honey if you'd like and sip, preferably in a warm bath or wrapped in a soft robe.

 

 

Lavender-flower-harvest
Courtesy of Everything lavender.com


 

A lavender and hops filled sleeping pillow is the perfect sidekick to this potion and so easy to make.  Just get two pieces of rectangular shaped soft flannel and sew them together , leaving one side open. Fill the pillow with arborio rice or buckwheat hulls, lavender and hops flowers and then add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Sew up the open side and roll the pillow back and forth to distribute the lavender oil. Either take it to bed as it is or heat it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes. You'll be dreaming sweet dreams in no time flat!

 

 


Tinctures, Tonics and Teas: Fire Cider

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I don't know how cold it is where you live but here in Northeast Ohio it's very chilly at this time of year. In January when the temperatures dip into the single digits I really begin to feel rundown, almost like I just want to hibernate for a while. That's when I know that it's time to make Fire Cider!

Fire CIder 1

Fire Cider is an old fashioned herbalists remedy full of warming herbs, roots, vegetables and spices. Everything in it is dedicated to warming the blood and helping to stimulate the agni. (digestive fire) Unlike most of my tinctures this one is vinegar based so it's really a fermented food , not just a medicine. The apple cider vinegar base is so good for your digestion, helping you create an alkaline environment in your body which is necessary to keep the immune sytem functioning  in tip- top shape. Every person that I know makes theirs just a little bit differently so FIre Cider never tastes the same from one batch to the next. I like mine very spicy and heavy on the garlic and horseradish. I add beets for color and also as a blood purifier. Warning! Just a little of this goes a long way and if you've got blocked sinuses this is your perfect food!

 

For each mason jar of Fire Cider you will need:

1/3  cup of chopped onion

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh horseradish root

1 tablespoon of chopped Jalapeno

2 tablespoons of chopped red beet

2 tablespoons of chopped ginger

2 tablespoons of chopped garlic

1 cinnamon stick

1 stem of fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon each of Turmeric and Mustard Seed

1 slice of lemon

Layer all of these in a mason jar and cover with several tablespoons of red wine (antioxidants) and raw apple cider vinegar. Close the jars and shake until the ingredients are well blended and let them settle. this year I used my cuisinart to chop the vegetables and I noticed that within two hours everything had settled in the jar and I needed to add more apple cider vinegar, an outcome that I really liked. Next let them steep for a few weeks, then when you're ready strain and decant the Fire Cider into a larger jar. Add several tablespoons of raw honey and stir. Then strain the Fire CIder into small dark glass bottles or a larger bottle if you like.  When you're feeling rundown, take a small shot of it and prepare yourself. The heat produces such a wonderful energy, not a burning, but a warmth that spreads all the way down to your toes! 

I also like to use my Fire Cider to cook with. You can make slaw with it or thicken it with even more honey and use it as a glaze for a delicious pork tenderloin or chicken stir-fry. How about mixing it with a bit of walnut oil for a perfect salad dressing. Because of the earthy grounding nature of the ingredients I like to mix my Fire Cider with nut oils, not olive because I think that the blend tastes richer. Last but not least although I know that it sounds a bit blasphemous,  Fire Cider is absolutely delicious mixed into tomato juice and makes a perfect Bloody Mary! Either way, you'll be very glad that you've taken the time to make a batch the next time that you're feeling just a wee bit chilled!  

One last thing. I share my recipes  because I believe with all my heart that Herbalism is a form of "medicine" that belongs to the people and I hope that you'll have so much fun making them. Herbal remedies like these have always been passed down from generation to generation; almost every herbal culture has some form of this Fire Cider. If you'd like to purchase some of mine it will be available in a couple of weeks. Just email me at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com

 

I'd love to hear from you! Please keep in touch with me at http://www.facebook.com/bethschreibmangehringholistichealthcoach or at www.bethschreibmangehring.com

 


Tinctures , Tonics & Teas: Elderberry and Linden Immune Support Tonic

 

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PIcture Courtesy of http://www.treeplantflowerid.com


 

When I was a little kid I used to go riding at this wonderful farm about 3 miles from my folks store. Actually as the story goes, my mother the Brownie troop leader took our troop there and when it came time for me to cross the Brownie bridge to my mother's chagrin I refused. Shaking her head and knowing that there wasn't' any turning back she asked me what I wanted to do. "I want to spend every day at the pony farm with Dolly" I said. So mom arranged it and it began one of the most significant chapters in my life. 

Dolly was a wonderful Southern woman, a bit like Granny Clampett only she also had a Doctor for a husband. She raised and butchered her own chickens and Muscovy ducks and she made the best Elderberry wine and tonic. She taught me all about the plants that she had growing on her 36 acres and oftentimes would send me out with a basket to gather plums, strawberries and blueberries and in the springtime, Elderberry Flowers because she made the most delicious fritters! She was the first person who ever put a rifle in my hands because she loved to go hunting and my mother trusted her. She taught me how to deliver a foal. The one time that I saw her all dressed up I didn't recognize her because for all those years I'd never seen her in anything other than jeans and Wellington boots. I loved her. She's been gone for quite awhile now and I still miss her everyday.

By now you can probably tell where I come from. 

 

 

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Handcrafted Immune Support Tonic


 

So here in Northeast Ohio it's raging flu season and Elderberries are definitely one of the best immune support weapons that we've got in our natural arsenal. We've all had the flu in this house  and I refuse to get it again AND I refuse to get the shot. I just don't trust it and so many people that I know who've gotten the shot have gotten the flu anyhow. So I mixed up a batch of my favorite Immune Support tonic and I thought that I'd share the recipe here. This batch has home infused blueberry vodka as it's base, but you can use just plain vodka. I love to infuse my own with fresh summer fruits and herbs and that way I've got it in the thick of winter when I need it. This particular batch was infused with fresh summer blueberries, lemon balm and sage. I add mullein to help cleanse and refresh the lungs and linden to help soothe the nerves. Lemon to help flush the liver.  Lots of raw honey to soothe the throat and plenty of ginger , cinnamon and other spices to help boost the antibacterial qualities of the tonic.  It really tastes good and that's before it's steeped for a bit. 

 

You will need: 

Large clean mason jars with tight fitting lids 

1/3 of a cup of Elderberries for each jar

1/3 of a cup of elderflowers for each jar

 4 tablespoons of dried mullein

4 tablespoons of dried linden flowers

Half a teaspoon each  of cinnamon, fresh ginger and cardomom

3- 4 heaping tablespoons of raw honey 

1 sliced Meyer lemon

Vodka to top it all off

 

It's simple after all of that. Put the herbs, spices and lemons into the mason jars and add the honey. Cover to the top with vodka, stir briefly,   close the lids tightly ,  shake the jars a few times and let them sit on the windowsill for about 4 weeks (although I've been known to break into it sooner!) Open the jars and strain each into a pitcher, stir to blend.  Using a funnel,  decant the tonic into small dark glass dropper bottles. 

I love to put this into tea or it's good enough to take straight when you feel a bit under the weather. Making your own tonics and tinctures insures that you've got the quality you want and the energy that you want. There's nothing nicer than taking care of your family with tinctures and tonics that you've crafted yourself with all of your love. Trust me, they'll totally notice the difference!

If you'd like some of this it will be for sale in a few weeks. Just send me an email at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com and let me know!

 

Please feel free to stay in touch with me at  http://www.facebook.com/bethschreibmangehringholistichealthcoach or www.bethschreibmangehring.com