(a recipe for you, so that you, too, can feel nourished and ready to take on the world) For last month's surprise box, I sent out this blood building syrup, and all was going well until it started arriving in warmer places, and, due to the low sugar content, started exploding. Needless to say, I have learned my lesson about sending out low-sugar syrups, and thankfully nobody was injured in the process. Meanwhile, I've been taking it every day and loving it (especially given the recent frenzy, driving back and forth to the desert on gathering sprees), and wanted to share the recipe here for everyone else, whether yours exploded or not.
I often think of my friend Butter at the beginning of spring. She gets most of her food supply from the wild, and by the time the spring rolls around in Colorado she is so desperate for something green in her diet she’ll go and gather the first dandelion leaves from under the snow. For non-southern Californians (our farmers markets have strawberries and greens practically year-round), the spring tonic syrup is a necessary nourishment: after an entire season with few fruits or vegetables people start to feel antsy, sluggish, desperate for something fresh. Tonic/ blood building syrups are jam packed full of minerals and nutrients from the various herbs and the molasses, and given that most of the herbs are alterative, they assist somewhat with metabolic function, giving the body a metaphoric kick in the back side to get going. And they nourish the blood.
Blood is life. Nourishment. Movement. Its the root of our ‘selves’, our connection to our ancestry, the things that is common and yet different in every person. It is life. In taking a person’s pulse as a herbalist, you have a connection to their very life force: the intimacy in such a movement can be staggering, or uncomfortable. Blood as individual life, collective life, the constant movement that is life, connecting us to the generations of people that came before us and to those who will come after. Nourishing it is a good thing because it is also nourishing that connection, our roots in our humanity: a very different root to those under our feet.
I like to use equal parts of roots seeds/ fruits and leaves in this syrup— that image of a well rooted plant, shooting up towards the sky, expressing itself with a flower, then going into fruit, it exemplifies what it is we want when it comes to nourishment: not just rooting and grounding and nourishment but the ability to shoot up when necessary: to channel that energy into something productive and useful.
Quantities are approximate so you have permission to mess around, but here’s the gist of it:
Roots: Any combination of the following, fresh or dried; 1 cup total dandelion root sarsaparilla root aralia root burdock root nettle root astragalus root shatavari ashwagandha root yellow dock root marshmallow root
Seeds/ berries/ fruits: Any combination of the following, fresh or dried; 1 cup total schizandra berries nettle seeds hawthorn berries rose hips dates jujubes sumac berries oregon grape berries elderberries
Leaves: Any combination of the following, dried; 1 cup total nettle leaves red clover leaves alfalfa leaf oat straw raspberry leaf
Spices: 1/4 cup total cinnamon cardamom orange peel lemon peel fennel seeds
Other bits: molasses (1 cup) herbal-infused honey or regular honey (1 cup) sucanat or cane sugar to taste (I use approx 1 cup)
Pick your ingredients. Pour 4 quarts of water into a stock pot or crock pot. To that add your ingredient mixtures. Put the herbs, molasses, sugar (if using) and water in a stock pot or crock pot of some kind and bring to a simmer for a few hours. Put the whole lot in a blender and give it a good mash-up then strain out as much of the liquid as you can. Back to a clean container, pour in the honey if using. Taste it. Slightly bitter, slightly tart, very iron-y tasting (ah the taste of irony)? Its ready. You can preserve with a bit of alcohol but personally I prefer to just refrigerate and use it up. Take a couple of teaspoons per day.