Hey there, I'm Savannah - welcome to the Crose Nest blog! Once a month I'll be dropping in to share bits of herbal + seasonal wisdom, recipes, and lifestyle tips to ground, empower, and inspire. I invite you to follow and try out what piques your interest! I'm a staff herbalist here at Crose Nest and also have an independent holistic health coaching practice. If you have any questions about the information shared here, you can always drop by the shop or email me at email@example.com.
I founded my small health coaching practice, Nourish Shakti, in 2015. Today, I see clients who are interested in implementing holistic, herbal, and other natural lifestyle shifts, and I offer a line of botanical products for internal and external beauty and wellness. My approach to health, teaching, and coaching is rooted in the belief that wellness comes from a place of feeling nourished, abundant, and joyful. Discovering how to deeply nourish our bodies is exciting and inspiring! For me, this intrinsic desire to deeply care for my health comes from learning the incredible workings of the human body (anatomy + physiology), how to help support what the body is already working to do, listening to my own body, discovering the world of plants and their healing properties, getting in touch with the rhythms and seasons of the natural world, exploring food and lifestyle wisdom from traditional peoples around the world... and so much more!
If you're interested in learning more about my coaching offerings, approach, or to get in touch with me, please visit Nourish Shakti for more information.
Local folks: I'm now offering sessions at both Crose Nest locations. Get in touch to book a session!
Oxymel - An Ancient Ambrosia
An oxymel is a remedy from ancient Greece and Persia; the most simple version is made of equal parts vinegar and honey. The word oxymel means acid (oxy) and honey (mel). Oxymels were used to treat a wide, nearly never-ending variety of complaints, from digestion and respiratory dis-eases to circulation, fevers, sore throats, and more. Its companion remedy was the "hydromel" (water and honey), more commonly known as mead, or honey wine.
Today, herbalists like to use vinegar as a menstruum (solvent) for extracting minerals from herbs. Other menstruums include alcohol (to make a tincture), (water to make a tea), honey, etc. Before the invention of the still (and thus refined spirits), vinegar, wine, and water were the more common ways to extract herbal medicines Each menstruum is suited to extract different properties from a plant. Vinegar is excellent at extracting minerals, as well as a range of other plant constituents.
Herbalists also use vinegar to make non-alcoholic extracts ("tinctures") safe for children and folks who are alcohol-free.
Rosemary Gladstar, fondly referred to as the "Godmother of American Herbalism," coined the term 'Fire Cider' for a panacea-like folk remedy specifically used for building immunity and aiding during cold/flu season. Guess what? This famous folk remedy is an oxymel!
Formulating + Uses
So, if you want to be clever, you could take into consideration the mineral-extracting power of vinegar, and the traditional uses of oxymels (respiratory, digestion, circulatory, etc), and choose herbs that excel in these areas to make a super formula! Or, you could simply formulate it to be delicious.
Oxymels are a wonderful example of "food as medicine", and can be used to flavor teas, water, or whip up into vinaigrettes! Oxymels can also be used as a base for cough syrups, a sore throat gargle, or to make hydrating switchels (a natural electrolyte drink).
Nutritive Oxymel with nettles, dandelion, seaweed + fresh parsley
Garden Oxymel with sage, rosemary + thyme (could turn this into a lovely vinaigrette)
Digestif Oxymel with fresh tarragon (my favorite!)
Herbal Oxymel Recipe
- raw apple cider vinegar or other fruit vinegar (do NOT use distilled white vinegar)
- raw honey
- fresh garden herbs, or dried herbs from Crose Nest!
- a wide glass jar
- a plastic lid OR wax paper + any lid
1. Choose your herbs. If you have culinary herbs growing or in your spice cabinet, use them!, draw inspiration from the ideas above, or come into the shop for ideas.
2. If using fresh herbs, loosely pack the jar full of herb. If using dry herbs, fill jar 1/3 full of herb.
3. Add vinegar to 1/2 full mark on jar.
4. Fill the rest of the jar with honey.
5. Mix well. If using fresh herbs, tamp down to make sure plant material is completely covered.
6. Cover with a piece of folded wax paper + metal lid to prevent rusting, or with a plastic lid.
7. Let sit for 2-6 weeks. Strain, cover tightly, and store in a cool, dry place (or the fridge!) Use within 6 months.
note: When I make homemade herbal or fermented products for my own use, I rely on my senses of sight, smell, and taste to make sure they are still good and not "expired." Since vinegar and honey are already shelf-stable, an oxymel should last for quite a while! If I taste or smell something that is foul and not vinegar-y anymore, or off-putting in any way, I will put it in the compost. If I notice surface mold growing (though unlikely in a vinegar!), I just scrape it off carefully with a spoon, and continue to use as long as it smells and tastes right.
another note: When you're making straight infused vinegars - especially with fresh plants and very raw vinegar - you might start to grow a vinegar mother! (This is happy news.) If you're familiar with kombucha, they resemble a SCOBY. You should search online for pictures of vinegar mothers if your jar is growing something kind of scary looking, as well as how to preserve a vinegar mother and use one to make your own homemade vinegar. I've done this in a simple way once, making basic apple cider vinegar and it was delicious!
Ready-made oxymels in the shop
We are currently selling two wonderful oxymels in the shop from Fat of the Land Apothecary, a local herbalist & maker. One is a blood-building iron tonic, the other a delicious uplifting tonic for grief, a heavy heart, and promoting feelings of joy and wonder.
Share your inspired concoctions (and how you're using them) with us on social media!
Dear reader: This blog is intended for sharing general health information that I feel confident and safe using in my home and everyday wellness routine. The information presented here is not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any illnesses or diseases, and should not be used in place of medical advice. Please use caution, wisdom, and respect when adding anything new into your own wellness routines, and consult with your trusted medical practitioner - especially if you are taking pharmaceutical medications.