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How to Make Herbal Oxymels

Yesterday, Rebekah felt she was coming down with a cold, so I grabbed both my “Preventative” tincture and my “Too Late! Get Better” tincture. After wrestling with her to take a simple dose of the first one (not literally) I remembered how fussy she is about bad tastes and made an Oxymel. It won’t be ready for use for a couple of weeks, but she will be happy to take it when it is ready.

In the world of herbal remedies, oxymels stand out as a time-honored concoction that marries the tang of vinegar with the sweetness of honey, offering a palatable way to enjoy the benefits of medicinal herbs. I have included a simple yet potent recipe featuring elderberries.

The Historical Roots of Oxymels

The term ‘oxymel’ originates from the Greek words ‘oxys’ (acid) and ‘meli’ (honey). This blend has been used for centuries, with its roots traced back to ancient Greece and Persia. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, famously prescribed oxymels for various ailments. In the Middle Ages, these concoctions were a staple in apothecaries, offering a way to preserve and administer herbal remedies.

Why Elderberry?

Elderberries have a rich history in folk medicine, particularly noted for their immune-boosting properties. These dark, tiny berries are packed with vitamins and antioxidants, making them an ideal choice for an oxymel, especially during cold and flu season.

The Art of Making Oxymels

Here is my personal recipe that is not only easy to make but also super tasty:

  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries
  • 1 TBSP mulling spices
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • Instructions:
  1. Combine Elderberries and Mulling Spices: In a jar, mix the dried elderberries and mulling spices. These spices, often used in making mulled wine or cider, add a warm, comforting flavor to the oxymel.
  2. Add Vinegar and Honey: Pour the apple cider vinegar and honey over the berries and spices.
  3. Let It Sit: Seal the jar and let the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for about two to four weeks. This steeping process allows the flavors and properties of the elderberries and spices to infuse into the vinegar. I shake mine daily, but you can when you remember it.
  4. Strain and Sweeten: After the steeping period, strain the mixture, removing the solids.
  5. Store and Use: Store your elderberry oxymel in a cool, dark place. It can be used as a daily tonic, a salad dressing, or even as a base for a refreshing beverage.

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