Friday, July 31, 2009

august blog party: sweet medicine

this month's blog party is hosted by kiva over at bear medicine herbals. swing by her place and see all the wonderful submissions this month has to offer!

herbal syrups are one of my favorite things to make. they are so delicious and can use them on pancakes, on ice cream, on cake, biscuits or toast or you can take them straight or make them into soda! who wouldn't like to take their medicine in one of those forms?

my favorite syrup flavors are cherry, elderberry and ginger. all three are great to have on hand and can be stored in the fridge for a month or two, allowing you to make some medicine ahead of time to have on hand for the upcoming cold and flu season.

cherry is great for taming coughs and scratchy throats. it soothes and sedates the nerves that trigger the cough reflex, helping to soothe in that manner. it's best used in persistent, irritating coughs when you don't want to increase expectoration such as whooping cough and bronchitis. it has also been mixed with other herbs to treat asthma. wild cherry can also be used in treating sluggish digestion.

elderberry, is specific for treating colds and influenza. both the flowers and the berries have similar properties but for syrup making purposes, i stick with the berries. elderberry relieves lung congestion, can help with cases of pneumonia and has anti-inflammatory actions which makes it wonderful for treating arthritis. being rich in vitamin c, elderberry has been considered a prophylactic against winter colds which means taking a daily dose is not only a delicious thing, it's a healthy thing!

ginger is warming and stimulating. it's great for treating nausea, upset stomachs, morning sickness, colic and many other gastro intestinal upsets. it is also soothing to a sore throat.

all three make delicious soda, so you need not be sick to enjoy them! simply add about 2 oz of syrup per 8 oz of seltzer water, stir and enjoy!

to make the syrup, i start with about 2 cups of the fresh herb and 2 cups of water. for the cherry and ginger, i bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes then cover and steep for an hour. with elderberries, i bring to a boil, turn off, mash the berries, cover and steep for an hour.

after the hour is up, strain off the herbs and compost them (ginger may be reused once or twice. simply freeze and thaw when needed). add 2 cups of locally raised honey to the infusion and gently heat to thin the honey enough. stir together and cool. store in a bottle in the fridge and it will last about 2 months (of course, in our house, it never stays around that long!).

take a teaspoon at a time, serve over pancakes, waffles or ice cream, or turn into a delicious soda! a sweet way to take your medicine.


Captain's Wife - Jennifer said...

I think I will try this. What would you recommend for an overall cough/cold type thing? It would have to taste fantastic too...if you saw us trying to get our 5 year old to take medicine, oh man, it is a 2 hour ordeal and we usually don't even end up successful.

tansy said...

any of these could help the cough or at least soothe the membranes. what type of cough is it?

with this, you wouldn't even have to tell your 5yo it's medicine. you could pour some in a small cup and sip it and then offer some to them, almost as a treat...that might help with the not wanting to take their medicine.

or even, right after you've made it and it's cooled, ask them if they'd like to try a yummy syrup you've just made for pancakes...they might like it so much they beg for more throughout the day...that always works in my house. ;)

Captain's Wife - Jennifer said...

She doesn't have a cough right now. I am just thinking ahead to winter and the inevitable. I will give it a shot. Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

mmm- I grew up with Elderberry syrup on my cakes- I miss it. I need to check into growing some!

Gina said...

Hi Tansy!

Hope all is well! Miss your updates! ;)

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