Hooray for rain…!!!
I hope it rains all week, then is sunny for the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival this weekend! Hope you all can make it.
(By the way, we will be closed at the farm Saturday, since we will be at the Garlic Fest!)
There is a great variety of locally grown food, products, music and much more. This will be our 5th or 6th year with a booth there, come visit us! We are the ones (only ones I think) with a stand made of wood, milled and built at the festival site (friday). You can smell the delicious fresh pine scent just walking by (but please come in!) We’ll have all my bodycare products, as well as tea blends, first-aid kits, salve-making kits and hopefully lip balm-making kits (if I can get them done in time…)
We may bring garlic and onions again, or we may just save them for our Shutesbury Market. We will bring a few cases of Olea Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil for customers who need to pick some up, but may keep it under the table since we do not “grow” it ourselves. Just ask if you need some.
So on another note – it’s time to start your elderberry elixer for the coming season of viruses (I write while blowing my nose, already caught one!) so the following is the absolute easiest method of making elderberry elixer yourself. Fresh elderberries made into a syrup is just as wonderful and healing, but much more time-consuming, and they have mostly been eaten by birds, so try this:
one quart jar
1 cup dried organic elderberries (I sell them if you need ’em)
about 3 cups of honey (we use Warm Colors Apiary Honey)
brandy, vodka or organic apple cider vinegar ~ 1 cup or less
(I have never made it with cider vinegar but it is very healing and preserving and great if you are avoiding alcohol – but have no idea as to the overall taste outcome… and The Wine Rack in Greenfield sells organic Vodka, FYI)
optional: fresh(Old Friends Farm in Amherst!) or dried ginger – not much, maybe 2-3 tsp grated fresh, 1 tsp dried
or a pinch of cayenne, a little cinnamon, some dried echinacea root…endless possibilities (best to start simple)
So put the elderberries and any optional herbs in the jar (typically dry herbs should be 1/5 of the total mixture, but I am simplifying by saying 1 cup (1/4 of the total, so add a little less if you want, it wont hurt either way). Then pour in half the honey and mix well with a wooden spoon (so as not to break the glass!). When thoroughly mixed, add more honey, leaving about 1-1/2 inches open at the top. Add alcohol to 1/2-inch below the top, leaving room to shake it up (once covered). Put a lid on it, preferably BPA-free (Quattro Stagioni by Bormioli Rocco are sold in 2-packs at Greenfield Farmers Coop Exchange or throught the NOFA-MA bulk order next Spring) or use on of those hard-plastic (white) Ball lids. Shake daily. Ideally a dark place is great, but I find the only way I shake them daily (or a few times daily) is to leave them on my counter! That is fine, too. This will need to infuse for about 6 weeks. Take a spoonful when you feel a cold or flu coming on, 6 times a day or more if you are really fighting off something strong! Sleep also helps, and avoid all other sugar/honey/syrup/wheat/flour products (besides this elixer) until you are in the clear. Voila!
Elderberry is antiviral, and if you add ginger, the warming effects of the ginger help the Elderberry get where it needs to go, speedily.
You can make this more of an “extract” or “tincture” by using mostly alcohol with a little honey (switch the amounts, or any combo in between) but this is delicious and seems to keep well out of the fridge. In June I put last-year’s batch in the fridge, strained, just in case it was thinking of molding, and it is still fine (delicious!). The elixer can also be used in tea in place of plain honey. I have tried it with ONLY honey and dried berries and it was too thick. I added a bit of steeped elderberry tea to thin it out, but it never really got the strong berry-flavor that I got with the alcohol (and I’m guessing with cider vinegar).
These make great gifts, reusing jelly jars, with the herbs in them so people see the process…
It is very easy and satisfying to make your own medicine. Especially when you fight off your cold or flu by drinking ginger tea and taking your Elderberry Elixer… that being said I guess I should put in a disclaimer that I am not responsible or making any claims to cure or heal any disease, all that. Go to a doctor if in question. We have great Naturopaths and Herbalists around here if you want someone less conventional.
That was more than I was originally going to say about that! But I hope it is helpful. Call or come by Wed 4-6 or Sat 12-6 (but not this Sat, we’ll be closed for the Garlic Festival) or come to the last few weeks of the Shutesbury Farmers Market! I’m always happy to give demonstrations or private classes, or just answer questions! Enjoy the rain!!