Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Home Remedies

It's that time of year for sniffles, sluggishness, and general malaise. This change of seasons can also bring on sore throats, coughs, and aches of all sorts. I turn to home remedies that are easy to make and quite effective. One of my favorites is an infusion that I've named "Cold Chaser". I keep a bottle in my pantry through the winter months.
We are evening tea drinkers and  a glug of this in our tea ensures sweet dreams and a bit of protection against those cold germs. Another infusion that can help relax and bring on dream time is a lavender and vanilla concoction.
Besides tea, you can add a shot to club soda for a custom soda drink. Or, you can add to lemonade for a lovely beverage as well. Following is the basic recipe. Switch out the aromatics for what pleases you and create your own custom infusion.

Basic infusion recipe:

1 cup honey (sorghum or molasses work too, but give a very pronounced flavor)
1 cup water

Mix honey and water in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and add aromatics. Steep until mixture is cool. Pour through a mesh strainer into a large measuring cup. Pour into a decorative bottle or a basic canning jar. Store in a cool place.
NOTE:  I actually steep fresh fruits for 2-3 days to achieve maximum infusion. If using dried herbs or spices, I usually infuse for a week or even longer to make a strong infusion.

Cold Chaser:
1 lemon, washed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger (I don't even peel it)

Mix with simple syrup. Infuse for 2 days. Remove lemon and leave about 8 ginger pieces in infusion.

Sweet Dreams:
1 TB dried lavender
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half

Mix with simple syrup. Infuse for 1-2 weeks or until as strong as desired.

Vitamin C Heaven:
1 orange, washed and thinly sliced
1 lemon, washed and thinly sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries, washed
Double recipe of simple syrup

Mix all with simple syrup. Infuse for 2-3 days. Remove citrus. Leave cranberries if desired for another week.

1/2 cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp whole cloves
4 whole allspice

Make simple syrup with dark molasses (not blackstrap). Add spices and infuse for 1 week. Taste, if strong enough, strain and re-bottle. Store in a cool location


dried lavender
vanilla beans
whole allspice
whole cloves
cinnamon sticks
whole cardamom
citrus (use the peel and the fruit) Watch carefully, after a couple days the citrus has infused the syrup and will start tasting bitter. If mixed with other ingredients, simply pour off the infusion, remove the peel, and re-bottle with the other ingredients. Continue to infuse until the desired strength is achieved.
pomegranate seeds

I like to use honey for home remedies. I grow stevia in my garden so summer infusions feature several stevia leaves for natural sweetening. When using stevia, I simply just heat water and add the aromatics. Technically, I am making a tisane which is a tea-like drink using herbals. Also, you can use granulated sugar instead of honey with success.