A few years back, my husband Marcie and I built a cottage in Doctor’s Brook, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. As there were more than two other cottages on our lane, the province’s department of highways requested a title for the road. After several inquiries, it came to our attention that this particular area was known for its elderberries. Our elders had picked these berries in the days of yore, and made elderberry tea to treat their rheumatism. Hence, our road was aptly christened Elderberry Lane. I did some research on elderberries and the ancient Celts and discovered that they were skillful botanists. They used herbs and plants for medicinal purposes and were true animists. Animists believe that plants and natural phenomena have a soul. The branches of the elderberry, being hollow, made it a perfect conduit for their flutes, pipes and bellows. Celtic myth noted that the spirits of the forests dwelt in the hollow wood, and children who misbehaved were sent there (I am seriously considering sending my husband!) A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and grains offers natural chemicals that support and boost our immune system, and improves our mental state and strengthens our body. I believe that the Celtic diet had this in spades.
1 oz elderberries, dried
¼ oz elderberry flowers, dried
¼ cup brandy
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon glycerin
1 tablespoon cinnamon pieces
1 tablespoon ginger root grated
4 cups water
Place the berries and flowers in a pot along with the 4 cups of water. Measure the depth with a chopstick or wooden spoon handle. This will help you know when you have simmered and reduced the infusion by half. Add the cinnamon pieces and ginger. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer until reduced by half (about an hour). Remove pot from heat after it is reduced; place a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer and place strainer in a large glass measuring cup. Pour contents of pot into strainer. Wait until the infusion is cool enough to handle, then carefully fold the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze the herbs until the liquid is no longer being released. Discard herbs. There should be about 2 cups of liquid. [At this point, you can add drops of Echinacea, or other herbal extracts depending on whether you want an immune boost, help with digestion or warming energy. Add brandy, honey and glycerin and stir well. Put into clean bottles and label. This will keep for about a year in the refrigerator, or about 10 days at room temperature. If it turns, you will be able to smell it.
Ith do shàth!
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