On these damp and cloudy days, I feel Autumn’s presence strongly. These days feel just right for concocting healing oxymels for the winter months ahead.
The name oxymel comes from the Greek word ‘oxymeli’ meaning acid and honey. It is a traditional herbal extraction, using a vinegar and honey to extract and preserve the potent goodness from an array of plants, that can then be taken as a medicine.
Not only do you get the goodness of the plants you are infusing, but you also get the healing properties of apple cider vinegar and the honey themselves. I have seen the honey substituted for maple syrup for a vegan recipe too.
Our first oxymel of the year was made with some very early but ripe foraged elderberries. They are packed full of vitamin C and have a wealth of properties that support the immune system, helping ease coughs throughout the winter months. We also teamed our elderberries with anti-viral herbs and spices, including fresh thyme, sage, grated ginger and dried elderflowers, tumeric and cloves, but these could be substituted for what herbs and spices you have available.
We simmered about 3 cups of elderberries with a cup of water and our herbs and spices gently to release the juice from the berries. After around 5 – 10 minutes we strained the juice through a sieve, ensuring that we pressed all of the pulp to get as much juice as possible out of the berries, before allowing it to cool. We then mixed 1 part juice with roughly 1 part raw apple cider vinegar and 1 part raw honey and bottled. The ratio of honey can be adjusted if you would prefer a sweeter taste.