Historically, turning medicinal herbs into tasty wines was a common way to preserve the medicinal qualities of the herb year round. Making tinctures (soaking an herb in an alcohol such as vodka to extract the medicinal qualities) is much more common today, and a convenient way to market and sell herbal medicines. Herbal wines are similar, except that instead of simply soaking the herbs in alcohol, you make the alcohol yourself, using the herb (along with water, sugar and yeast.)
This year in May we made dandelion wine. We gathered a gallon of dandelion flowers,
Infused them into a strong tea, added sugar and boiled the tea with oranges, lemons, raisins and cloves.
We added yeast and fermented for weeks, bottled and left them to ferment for weeks more, until finally corking. The whole process and recipe can be found here.
We left the wine to sit until solstice, then we tried it. It is delicious: sweet, spicy with a kick. To keep the wine medicinal, the trick is not to drink the whole bottle at once! A common dose which cleanses the liver is a tablespoon to a small wineglass.
Some Europeans believed fairies were involved in the process of wine making: turning bitter medicine like dandelions into sweet wine. There is something magical about it! Herbal wines can be made from all sorts of herbs: roots and bark are decocted (boiled) into strong teas while flowers and leaves are usually infused (steeped in boiled water.)
It's a nice way to remember the freshness of spring during the darkest time of year.
Happy holidays and happy new year!!
In our sister blog Food Under Foot, you can read:
David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.
The Birch Center for Acupuncture
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