Autumn is always an anxious time for me - trying to gather in the last of the harvest to make sure I have enough medicaments to cope with whatever winter throws at us.
Having been away much of September, I have missed most of the blackberries and elderberries, but on Thursday, while the sun shone and the police cordon around the Birmingham International Convention Centre had been removed, I ventured up to the canal towpath and found some black, juicy elderberries and a few rosehips. That night I made up two jars of elderberry elixir using Kiva Rose's new recipe. http://bearmedicineherbals.com/?p=515
I didn't have any osha (warming) or orange peel (bitter) so I substituted some cinnamon bark and the rind of a lemon. The elixir should be ready in the middle of November.
We've heard a lot on the news recently about the novovirus (tummy bug) closing hospital wards. For most people it is a ghastly but self limiting illness, but to people with weak immune systems and other problems, it can be life threatening. Amongst the American pioneers, the cure for diarrhea was blackberry root - something we seem to have forgotten over here, although Penelope Ody, I think, mentions using a blackberry leaf tea for stomach disorders.
I've made two batches of bramble root vinegar this year - one solely with roots and the other with roots and young leaves. Back in August,Tammy, a US grandmother, told of easing her husband's problems with bramble leaves http://witchenkitchen.com/2008/08/18/blackberry-leaf-tea-for-diarrhea/
and recently Michelle wrote about curing her stepson's condition with blackberry root tincture
Jim MacDonald has suggested making a blackberry syrup using a similar recipe to elderberry syrup for people who won't take either bramble root or leaf concoctions and I really wanted to try it. The recipe he recommended was Ellingwood's, which is up on Henriette's website, but I couldn't find it, so after gathering a small amount of blackberries and rosehips yesterday afternoon in the blustery winds, I decided to make up my own.
Blackberry and Rosehip Syrup
Small bowl of blackberries and rosehips
1 inch of fresh ginger root peeled and chopped (or you could grate it whole)
3/4 nutmeg grated
1 cinnamon stick broken up
Juice of a lemon
alcohol of your choice (brandy, sherry, a good whiskey, vodka etc)
Wash the blackberries and rosehips (depending on whether you live in the town or the country). Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over a low heat for half an hour. Mash the blackberries and rosehips to a pulp with a potato masher and cook on the lowest heat for another 15-30 minutes. Strain the liquid through a plastic sieve and measure the volume. Wash out the saucepan. Return the liquid to the pan together with a lb of runny honey for every pint of liquid. Heat gently until honey is dissolved. Add juice of a lemon. This can now be poured into clean, sterile bottles and sealed and kept in the fridge to use with children and anyone who doesn't like/can't have alcohol. To preserve the syrup without keeping in fridge (but in a cold place) add alcohol to taste. I had a pint of liquid originally to which I added a lb of honey which gave around 2 pints of syrup so I poured out one jar then added about 1/2 pint of madiera to the remaining syrup. I probably could have added less. Both taste wonderful!
There's still time to collect hawthorn berries to make either hawthorn brandy (a really nice winter toddy even if you don't have high blood pressure or heart problems) or hawthorn vinegar (which tastes wonderful!)
(my latest blog posting about elderberry)