Posted by: jcapranos | October 26, 2011

Autumn Rituals: a respiratory tonic

Autumn is definitely my favourite season. While some feel overwhelmed by the chores the season brings, I relish them. I adore decanting, pressing, and bottling all my creations from spring and summer. Nothing is more satisfying for me then sitting back and admiring these herbal potions made with all the plants fresh  and in their prime.

My first aid herb table

Tasting the rich flavour of my herbal elixirs allows me a taste of summer when I need it most — in the depths of winter.

The home apothecary

As I was clearing out and rearranging my shelves, I discovered one of my beloved winter remedies that I’d love to share with you. It’s called Professor’s Blend; a fabulous tonic for the respiratory system. What’s so great about it is it’s easy to make, and the ingredients are (mostly) easy to obtain.

Professor’s Blend (named after the great herbalist Dr. Christopher):

Chop equal parts of:

- onions

- garlic

- horseradish (fresh; from the grocery store in a jar will not work)

- ginger

*optional: a few pinches of cayenne, or even 2-6 whole fresh or dried cayenne peppers
** Also optional: stir some honey to taste (also healing for a sore throat)

Step Two: Place all the above ingredients into a wide-mouthed glass jar, and cover with apple cider vinegar.

The proportion for measuring this elixir is approximately a 1:5 ratio. That means, if you weighed out 100grams of chopped ingredients you’d add 500ml of apple cider vinegar.
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, and the idea of weighing this out sounds like a bother, then simply fill any sized wide mouthed jar 1/4 full of chopped ingredients.

Step Three: Line the lid of your jar with wax paper (vinegar rusts metal lids). Fasten the lid tightly, and shake your tonic daily. Store in a cool, dark place. This is ready to consume within seven days.  I never take my ingredients out of the jar, I let it age, and become stronger over the months. You can do this too.

NOW WHAT: Let it sit in a cupboard, or on your kitchen counter to remind you to take between 1-6 TBSP a day, as a respiratory tonic. The great thing about herbal medicine is it is usually food-based medicine. Thus, use this tonic as a base for salad dressings, toss over rice, veggies, etc. Or, mix in water and drink down.

THE HERBS: Used medicinally, many “foods” are considered herbs: think parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil — and yes, onion, garlic, horseradish, cayenne and ginger. Why the herbs in Professor’s Blend? Well, while I could write a whole post on the each, what is essential about each ingredient is that it is warming, spicy, and diffusive. These actions dispel pathogens including bacteria and fungi. That means they are excellent at warding off any potential respiratory bug, and they excel at clearing the respiratory passages of sluggish mucous, helping us breathe better. They are immune tonics, and prevent sickness. If you are sick with an acute infection, this tonic is an expectorant, encouraging the expulsion of hard-to-cough-up mucous, and helps to drain the sinus passages.

Plus it tastes good.

Enjoy!
Coming up next: herbal syrups, rose hips, and hawthorne – stay tuned!

Warmest Wishes,
Jamie Capranos


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