Here is a recipe for a winter elixir. This is a concept that can be played with, and the recipe can be adjusted based on the ingredients you have available, as well as your particular needs and wants.
The idea of an elixir is essentially a preparation that is healing in nature, often nutritious with some medicinal characteristics but it is mild and safe enough for pretty much anyone to take.
Elixirs are thicker than tinctures. Although, like tinctures they may be based in alcohol, they will often have a sweet, pleasing flavour as well. Honey or some kind of syrup are often included in an elixir to achieve this effect. Of course, honey itself has many healing, immune supportive properties. If a syrup is used instead, it may be an herb-infused syrup such as elderberry syrup or ginger syrup in order to bring in the healing properties of those herbs. To prepare an herbal syrup, one could follow a recipe for a simple syrup, but instead of water, use tea infused with the herb of choice.
For this elixir, I have chosen a blend of herbs that are often found on a kitchen shelf, along with a few herbs that are easily found locally in the wild, or can be grown in gardens (these herbs can also be purchased fairly easily and affordably from an herb supplier).
This is a winter elixir, so the herbs involved are warming, immune stimulating, anti-microbial and Vitamin C rich. It can be taken to give the system a boost when you feel a cold coming on.
From the kitchen shelf, I've included ginger, which can be added fresh or dried, and peppercorns. Note that dried ginger is much stronger and more warming than fresh, so less of it should be used. Other possible additions from the kitchen might be flavourful, antimicrobial herbs like cinnamon, corriander, fennel or thyme.
From the wild harvest and from the garden, I've included Norway spruce needles and twigs. Any variety of spruce or pine could be included in this blend. I like to harvest from freshly fallen branches so as not to take directly from the tree. Also included are rosehips, goldenrod flowers, yarrow flowers and calendula flowers. Spruce and rosehips are markedly potent sources of vitamin C. Spruce is also warming, immune stimulating and antimicrobial. Goldenrod, yarrow and calendula are all aster family plants that stimulate the immune response in different ways. Goldenrod and calendula are good lymphatic clearing herbs, and in addition to being strongly anti-bacterial they are also anti-fungal, helping the body to manage many types of microbial overgrowth and imbalance in the system. Yarrow is also powerfully antimicrobial, and it is a diaphoretic herb. This means that it sends heat throughout the circulation to the periphery, where it helps the body to open the pores and release what is no longer needed through the sweat glands. Gently heating and promoting a bit of a sweat is an age-old approach to fighting off impending illness. Ginger is diaphoretic as well, so these two herbs works together nicely in this blend.
The herbs are infused in brandy, with honey added. For those who prefer, the honey can be left out, or the herbs could be infused just in the honey and the brandy could be left out.
Elixirs can be fun, creative ways to work with herbs and make tasty, health-supportive concoctions that the whole family will likely enjoy. They can be taken by the teaspoon-full or by the shot glass-full, depending on the size, and preference of the taker.
makes approximately 500 ml
Brandy 350-400 ml
Honey (preferably raw) 50 ml
Ginger fresh, 1 Tablespoon finely chopped; dried, 1/2 teaspoon
Black Peppercorns 1 teaspoon
Fresh or dried spruce needles and twigs 1 handful
Rosehips, chopped 1 Tablespoon
Calendula petals 1 Tablespoon dried, or 1 handful fresh
Goldenrod flowers 2 teaspoons dried, or 1 handful fresh
Yarrow flowers 2 teaspoons dried, or a small handful fresh
Place all herbs in a 500 ml jar. Pour brandy over the herbs to cover them and fill the jar (the amount of brandy needed for this will vary depending on how finely the herbs are chopped up and the amounts of herbs included). Add honey. Stir, or place a lid on the jar and shake the blend so that all is nicely combined, and the honey is dispersed throughout. Let the jar sit in a dark place (like a cupboard) for 2-4 weeks. After this, the herbs can either be strained or left in the elixir, but the elixir will be ready to drink. Take, or give to loved ones when a cold or flu is coming on, or they just need a warming, stimulating boost. Dosage can vary between 1/2 teaspoon to a shot glass, depending on the taker 😉
Wishing you a thriving, healthy winter!