by Liz Koch
It is time to prepare your Winter Holiday tonics and elixirs. Each season offers different plants, berries, and herbs to help create a rich warm soothing elixir or uplifting winter tonic for maintaining health
Choose a liquor such as vodka, gin, brandy, or whiskey. I prefer using vodka as it is clear, which shows off the color of the tonic, and has a simple taste that does not overwhelm or add too much sweetness.
Start with gathering your berries and herbs. Way of Life offers an array of dried herbs just ready for tincturing and making into tonics and elixirs and bulk glycerin for nonalcoholic syrups.
Hawthorne Heart Tonic: for Lifting Your Spirits
Gather fresh ripe berries and allow them to dry out a few days to remove excessive moisture or purchase dried Hawthorne berries. Using a tall ball mason type jar place one or two handfuls of berries and cover with vodka. Be sure to let the berries have room to move inside the jar. Add small amount of dried hibiscus or rose hips to improve vibrant red coloring. Add slices of fresh ginger
(3-4 or more), a cut up ripe persimmon, fresh orange, raspberries, and/or pomegranate. Be creative! Be sure all fruit and herbs are covered completely in vodka and have room to move in the jar. Cover and let sit for 10 days or more. Turn gently upside down at least once a week.
Periodically taste for a pleasant strength. When ready, strain through cheesecloth squeezing all the fruit to gather the delicious pulp. Strain liquid again for any fruit fiber and then pour into glass gift bottles. Serve in small thimble aperitif dessert glasses or take a tablespoon a day as a welcomed tonic for lifting your spirits.
Hawthorne Constituents include: Flavonoids, Procyanidins, Oligomeric procyanidins, Triterpenid acids, Chlorogenic acid, Vit C.
Lemon Verbena Syrup: for Sweetening Your Life (non-alcoholic)
Gather fresh Lemon Verbena leaves, stripping them from their stems. Allow fresh plants to dry out a day or two to remove moisture or purchase dried Lemon Verbena. Using a ball jar or crock put several large handfuls of Lemon Verbena in the bottom of a crock or jar and cover with vegetable glycerin. Don’t be afraid to use a lot. Be sure plant fiber can move easily. Add grated ginger or lemon, fresh quince or apple slices, and/or dried rose petals to vary the taste and outcome. Cover and let sit for 3-4 weeks. Stir once a week and be sure all ingredients stay well covered with glycerin adding more when needed. Taste along the way, once the glycerin is infused to your liking, strain the liquid off and bottle for use. Use syrup to flavor dishes, top desserts, and as a refreshing addition to any desire for a bit of pleasure.
Lemon Verbena Constituents include: oil of verbena, contains -citral, -citral, methyl heptenone, carvone, l-limonene, dipentene, linalool, -terpineol, borneol, nerol, geraniol…
Plum Brandy Elixir: for Deepening Into Darkness
Choose the last of the deep colored ripe plums, figs, grapes, or berries – wash and let dry thoroughly. Use brandy and purchase your adaptogen* Chinese herbs available from Way of Life. Place your fresh fruit at the bottom of a large ball jar and pour in Brandy to top. Add a slice of Astragalus*, and at least two slices of fresh ginger root, plus either a cinnamon stick or licorice root, and possibly a bit of peppercorn or red pepper. Put a top on the jar and let sit in darkness for 4-5 weeks. Once a week gently turn jar upside down several times, open and be sure all plant and fruit is covered in alcohol. Taste for subtle adjustments: add more fruit to bring out different qualities. Desire sweetness? Add more fruit. Want to deepen the color or flavor? Add more dark fruit and a bit of dark cacao! When ready strain through cheesecloth and pour into gift bottles. It will be a rich dark color. Serve your elixir in small tumble size aperitif glasses or take a spoon full as a nightcap.
*Adaptogen: are a class of healing plants that balance, restore and protect the body. Astragalus is an adaptogen used in Chinese medicine to boost immunity and buffers the effects of stress.