Making an Electuary Nov 25, 2015 7:19:28 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Nov 25, 2015 7:19:28 GMT -5
Making an Electuary
“Elecutary” is an archaic term that refers to a herbal medicine mixed with syrup or honey. Its textures and ingredients obviously vary and it can be taken as a paste, or rolled into small pills. In the days before distillation, honey was used as a preservative in kitchens and even in the tombs of kings. The word itself is assumed to be from the Greek ekleikhein, which means “lick out.”
So how do you use an electuary? The standard “dose” for a sweet herbal paste is usually a teaspoonful taken as needed, depending on the electuary’s potency. It can be stirred into hot drinks (tea, milk, hot water) or taken straight from the spoon, or even on buttered whole grain toast. I’ve even used electuaries to make medicinal mead and fermented drinks!
How to make an Electuary
The honey: This is an important part. My preference is always honey from a local source, preferably raw. Local, raw honey contains pollen from the plants in your area and can help with building up a tolerance to some airborne pollen allergies. You are also helping to support your local economy and in this time of ecological change and dubious farming methods, we need responsible beekeepers.
Fresh herbs: Think of all of the edible plants in your yard. Rose petals, spruce tips, basil leaves, lavender flowers, or even orange and lemon slices can be fantastic additions to a jar of honey. Fresh herbs are strong and add something special, but also give it have a shorter shelf life than dried herbs.
Take a clean jar and add your fresh herbs. Cover with honey and stir with a chopstick to remove the air bubbles. Place a lid on the jar and let it sit in a sunny window or warm place for a week or two. Strain the honey into a sterilized jar. The honey will likely be runny because of the liquid from the plant matter. Therefore, it needs to be stored in the fridge or there’s a possibility it will become moldy. Don’t forget to label the jar! Here’s a sample:
Lemon-Infused Honey. We go though this one more quickly than the other infused honeys and syrups. There is something magical about the way the sharp sour lemon and rich sweet honey combine ... like angels dancing on your tongue! You will need:
1 or 2 lemons
Honey (raw and local is best!)
1 jar and lid
Slice as many lemons as you need to fill your jar halfway, or so. Pour in your honey and cover the lemon slices. Fill it all the way to the top if you can. Lid the jar and place it in a windowsill, or on your kitchen counter where you can see it so that you will remember to check it daily. Open the jar and push the lemons underneath the honey every day. You can taste it too, if you like. The honey will become more and more runny as it pulls the moisture and oils from of the lemons. After two weeks, strain the runny honey into a new, clean jar or bottle. Label it and store it in the fridge. It will ferment or go moldy at room temperature. What can you do with lemon infused honey?
• Drizzle it over pancakes, crepes, french toast, yogurt…anything!
• Pour some into tea to help soothe a cold or cough. Whisky is optional, but encouraged!
• I’ve caught my husband with the jar and a spoon in the kitchen, so don’t rule that out.
Bonus: You now have honey soaked lemons. There are so many awesome things to do with honey soaked lemons!
• Chop them up into a chutney.
• Turn them into a syrup!
• Dice and put them in a teapot, cover with hot water and add some whisky for a hot toddy!
• Dehydrate them and use them in teas or spice blends.
• Put them in a jar and cover them with vodka. Shake every now and then, strain in six weeks for a bittersweet lemon cordial.
Dried herbs: Using dried herbs offers an advantage over fresh herbs, as these honeys store much, much longer and do not require refrigeration. Basically, any aromatic herb leaf or flower will work, but dried roots must be ground before being added to the honey. I’ve also noticed better, more potent results if I use a bit of heat to encourage the dried herbs to infuse into the honey. But there are so many options. Where to begin? Here are a few suggestions:
• Powdered ginger: great for warming the blood and opening the sinuses, as well as easing the tummy!
• Vanilla Bean: Oh, how well honey and vanilla go together ... just delicious!
• Chamomile: Make a honey for a night-time or calming tea.
• Cinnamon: A cinnamon stick (and maybe some powdered cinnamon) makes a delicious honey.
• Cayenne: A little heat goes a long way!
• Chai Spices: Oh, so good drizzled on oatmeal or pancakes…
My method for infusing dried herbs into honey is to use a double boiler or similar gentle heating method. Allow the water to simmer and reduce heat to low. Add honey to the pot and allow it to warm a bit, so that it is easy to stir. Add your herb, stir it in and allow it to rest on low heat for an hour or so. It is your choice whether or not to strain the honey before jarring it. I don’t bother straining honey made with ground herbs, or large bits like vanilla bean or cinnamon stick. Transfer the honey to a measuring cup and pour into clean jars! Label once cool and enjoy! One more thing! Whatever method you used ... do not throw away the strained herbs! Toss them in a jar and cover with a liquor of your choice – vodka, brandy, rum, etc. Cover the jar, shake, label and strain and after six weeks, you will have an herbal elixir!
Source: Pixie's Pocket.