In the fall and early winter, and we are pre Solstice so it is early winter listening to The Talking Heads, I think all of us, wherever in the Northern Hemisphere we live, become in large part squirrel, saving the harvest for when winter comes. As I am sure you all know I sell and visit regularly several farmers markets, and even with all that available to me there are foraged and garden grown foods I cannot procure without doing the work myself. These recipes are what I make at home, beyond Kombucha, Elderberry syrup and drinking vinegars. I think many of these come from the old times and are both healing and nourishing in the way our Gramma’s soup is healing and nourishing.
Traditionally used for lung conditions, there are several Pinecone or Pine bud syrup recipes, probably as many as trees in a forest. Here is ours. Please use organic or hand collected pinecones if you possible can.
• 2 ¼ lbs. soft, green pinecones
• 3 - 4 3/4 cups honey
• 1-3 cups water
• ¼ cup fresh lemon or lime juice or other citrus juice of your liking
• the peel from the lemons, limes or other citrus,
• several weeks time
1. Gather your pinecones when they are small and green. I have a friend who gathers them for me up north after all the cones here have hardened and turned more brittle and amber. Make sure the place where you gather them is not sprayed with poisons. They can be up to about 1.5 inches long; the truth is bigger should be fine as long as they’re green and young. Older ones won't be as soft.
2. Place your cones in a stainless steel or glass pan and add about half the water and all the honey.
3. Bring to a simmer. 15 minutes simmer is a good time to start with. The color will change to a gorgeous amber. Add more water if the syrup gets too thick, when it cools the honey will crystalize and be much thicker.
4. When you think it is ready, pour about a teaspoon on a plate and allow it to cool. When it gets so thick it doesn't run it's ready. If it's not thick enough return to the pot and simmer a few more minutes.
5. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, stir well.
6. I know some of this recipe visual; I wish I could show you in person, but we don't have that available.
7. You can also order this form fancy food places for about 30 dollars for 8 ounces. To me it's worth the trouble to make it yourself.
Spruce or fir syrup
• 2 cups honey
• 2 cups fir or spruce tips, gather them in the same conditions you do the pine, using only the tips, the small soft ends, under conditions that have not had poison sprayed.
• 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
Put all ingredients in a canning jar, leave about an inch of empty or
head space, do not seal. Use cheesecloth or a clean cotton t-shirt to cover the jar. Tie with a string, as you might with a rubber band, and leave until the honey taste citrusy and yummy, after 3 weeks is a good time to start checking. This make a tasty glaze instead of lemon for lemon chicken.
Onion cough syrup (I swear it taste better than it sounds.)
A mix of a variety of onions, Vidalia, purple, yellow, white, sweet, big and tiny all work beautifully, I also like to mix it up with what the farmers have, what I can barter for or what they are giving away because of a bumper crop. Peel and slice onions and place in a canning jar leaving about an inch head room, pour honey over onions, again leave about an inch of space. Cover with cheese cloth and tie tightly, place in fridge on a plate (really use a plate) the process of fermentation is happening, and the honey may come out the top. Use as needed for coughs, colds and sore throats. This is one of those things you can't mess it up. They did this in medieval Europe, so if they could you can do it.
Garlic honey and vinegar syrup (I've shared this recipe before but it's one of my favorite things to drink when I'm not feeling up to par, and it's another 'I swear it tastes better than the name makes it sound' recipes.)
Fill a mason jar with garlic cloves. Break them apart. If I am feeling like it, I roughly chop them, or not, your choice.
Fill the jar half with half honey and half with good apple cider vinegar. Cover with cheese cloth and tie with string (do you see a common ‘thread’ here?) put on a plate, store at room temperature. I if you put a tight lid on this the fermentation process will break the glass. This will bubble and burple and be wonderful. Wait a couple of weeks and you'll have a fantastic syrup that’s tastes like bumble honey with a note of garlic. Great to kicking the cold out of your life.
My final recipe is from my Grampa. In a non-reactive pan (glass, enamal, stainless steel) fill ½ full of water place an entire head of chopped garlic, skin and all, and a whole chopped organic grapefruit skin and all. It is important to use organic garlic and grapefruit. Simmer until super mushy - as it simmers mash it a bit- adding more water as needed. Strain, reserving liquid and drink, add plenty of honey. I don't add honey, but I like the garlic grapefruit flavor. Grandpa Joe used this when he felt an illness coming on and drank 2 or more cups a day otherwise he'd drink a tablespoon or two daily. I use it pretty solidly the entire winter. Use common sense, garlic is thought to lower your blood pressure.
Stay safer. Maya.