Herbal Wisdom - September 2015 - Santa Fe
By Tomas Enos and Erin Galiger
With your plum lips
Sweet syrup moist on mine
What has made your round flesh
And juice flow with no bound?
Just as the trees hang low
With swollen ovaries in summer
I fall in heaven to the ground
What better way to enjoy the harvest of late summer but to nourish our “sweet-loving” organs? The stomach and spleen, that is. The fruit bearing trees and shrubs have time to ripen their pollinated ovaries into tasty fruit, making the sweet Earth our one Mother. What, we think, can prolong this sensuous season just a bit longer? How can the center of our digestion, our stomach, enjoy the flowers and herbs while keeping us healthy?
Herbal honeys are an age-old means to keep food preserved and sweet flavors available from our kitchens. And we can make other seasonal flavors, such as sour and bitter, more palatable. Medicinal and culinary herbs can be preserved in honey rendering them more enticing to both children and sweet-loving adults alike. I prefer using honey as a sugar base and will discuss that method here. For other methods of honey and syrup making you may consider attending our Syrup Making Workshop this fall.
The honey and water balance needs to be adequate as to not allow for yeast or mold growth. Honey itself is self-preserving but once another ingredient is added to it there is potential for bacteria or mold growth. In the case of medicinal honeys, the constituents from botanicals are extracted in sufficient amounts to make them therapeutic in value.
A few guidelines are critical to making well-preserved herbal honey:
Use clean, sterilized bottles or jars for syrups; follow the same guidelines of heat sterilization as with jelly making. Sterilize the lids as well.
I prefer to use no more than a 16 ounce size jar to keep the portions smaller and exposure to air smaller. The lids must fit tightly and the final product stored away from heat and direct light. Slightly lower than room temperature is best.
To Make a Medicinal Honey
Choose the fresh herb that you want to infuse such as lemon balm, peppermint, garden sage, or thyme.
Chop the herb finely and fill a sterilized jar half way up. Slowly add the honey while filling out the air bubbles from the liquid; put the lid on and slowly shake the jar trying to remove any more air. Add more honey to fill the jar to the top. Have as little air between the lid and top of honey as possible. Let the infused herb sit for at least 2 weeks in a warm place, then strain out the finished honey through clean cheese cloth. There should be no solid plant matter in the final product.
I like to make garden sage honey because it protects the immune system, soothes a sore throat, and assists digestion. You may want to taste the leaves of your chosen herb before using them to make sure they taste fresh. And support your local beekeeper by buying unheated, unfiltered honey from local plants!
Tomas Enos studied with Michael Moore in 1990 and then created Milagro Herbs. Erin Galiger has worked with herbs for 10 years. Their philosophy of health and healing is holistic and rooted in the ancient tradition of “Solar Living,” synchronizing our bodies according to the biological time clock, circadian rhythms, and seasonal patterns found on Earth. www.milagroherbs.com 419 Orchard Drive (off Paseo de Peralta next to Kakawa Chocolate House)