Tag Archives: wild cherry bark

Alewife gets a cold, engages with Osha root: Monica’s tincture.

13 Mar

Brooklyn Alewife has a cold.  I thought I got through this winter without getting  sick at all.  Till now.  I do recall some time in mid-January, I almost got sick and warded it off with plenty of sleep, elderberry brandy, herb teas, and an amazing Osha root-based tincture from my friend Monica.   She discovered the root via her now ex-boyfriend, who left a bunch of it behind, and she began chewing it straight-up to help her overcome a lingering illness.  Liking it a lot, she found that she particularly liked it in combination with both red root and cherry bark.  Periodically when I got a threatening tickle in my throat this year, instead of taking cough drops I took a half-dropper of Monica’s tincture.  It soothed my throat as well as warding off whatever germs were attacking me.

hallsgood.preview

These halls ads were all over the subway a coupla years ago. I feel like this lady right now.

Osha root (Ligusticum porteri)  is an herb that Monica introduced me to last year.  It’s native to the Southwestern US and Mexico, and my herbal books seem to have a blind spot for it.  My wellness wall chart in my kitchen sites it for sinusitus, because of it’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities.  A quick google search led me straight to Wikipedia, and the picture of Osha looks much like poison hemlock, which is not too surprising because both plants are in the parsley family.  The plants are easily distinguished by smell, however.  Hemlock has a mousy smell when the leaves are crushed, whereas Osha has a celery smell to it.  This celery smell and taste is noticeable to me in consumption of the dried root.   Osha is sometimes called bear root, because brown bears are attracted to it, both eating the roots and rubbing it on their fur.

Researching Osha today, I find via both Susun Weed’s website  and on the Mountain Rose herbs website an advisory that Osha is an at-risk species, to use sparingly.  Guilt rises in me, as I just bought two ounces of the root yesterday (okay, that’s not that much).  Because of the scarcity of the root, you should be mindful of your herbal sources:  Do you get your supplies from someone who harvests sustainably?

English: Ligusticum porteri variety porteri (o...

English: Ligusticum porteri variety porteri (osha, Porter’s lovage, Porter’s licoriceroot, loveroot, etc.), showing flowers and part of seedhead, Winsor Trail, Santa Fe National Forest, near Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weed sites Osha as a very powerful herb that helps to prevent against anaphylactic shock and other extreme reactions to both allergens and venoms.   She also refers to it as “singer’s root,” because of its soothing effect on the throat.  I have noticed it listed as an ingredient in prepared herbal remedies such as “Singer’s Saving Grace,” and “Old Indian Wild Cherry Bark,”  two remedies that I have used over the years when I am sick.  The good news is, a little goes a long way.  I was not sparing in my use this winter, and an ounce of diluted tincture lasted me the entire season.

Here’s what Monica did.  Keep in mind, neither Monica nor I are trained herbalists, but amateurs dabbling in herbal crafts, experimenting researching, and having conversations.  Do your own research.  Check out the resource linked, for instance in this article.  Take your herbs with respect and caution.   Via Weed, 2 oz. of dried roots should be combined with 10 oz. of high-proof alcohol.

Monica’s Osha tincture:

In a glass jar, combine

2 oz coursley chopped osha root

2/3 oz cherry bark (read more about it here)

1 and 1/3 oz red root. (read more about it here)

Cover the roots with 20 oz. 100-proof vodka.  Cap the jar tightly, and let it sit for a year.  If some of the alcohol evaporates, you can top it off.

Tinctures are generally consumed  a few drops at a time in a glass of water.  Monica chose to dilute her master tincture with distilled water to a still strong but more directly ingestable level (Dilute yours to taste if you go this route:  she just said, “I put a lot of water in there.” I’m going to guess my bottle is half distilled water).  If you dilute the whole tincture, you will shorten the shelf life, but is a nice way to carry it around and apply at will on the bus, on the road, whatever, even if you don’t have a bottle of water with you.

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Cherry Explosion (and a new recipe)!

2 Jun

English: explosion symbol

It’s been a rough couple of days.  The heat in New York is oppressive, and to top things off, our refrigerator decided to give out yesterday afternoon.

Recently, I made a batch of cherry soda with tibicos (water kefir).  I left the bottled brew out only a few hours for the secondary ferment, but it was enough to create TONS of fizz!  I think this is due to the heat.  The first  bottle I opened up in the sink spewed all over the sink area before I could hold the bottle cap down to contain the fizz, and I lost 3/4 of the bottle all over the place.

Grolsch:  My bottle of choice, up till now.

Since then, I have had better luck opening bottles:  I place the bottle in a bowl, cup my hand  the cap and push down hard so that when the fizz bubbles out, it deflects off my clean hand and bubbles down the sides of the bottle into the bowl.

Then, the fridge died.  We are currently waiting for a new relay switch to arrive in the mail.   In the meantime, our refrigerator is packed with ice from the bodega to preserve our foodstuff.  I learned the hard way that it hasn’t been quite cool enough for my tibicos:  this morning, from a room away, we heard a “bang!” from inside the refrigerator.  I opened the door to find that not only had my cherry soda escaped, but it went the crazy way:  breaking the glass bottle into tons of little shards.  Not fun to clean up, but also scary!  Someone could have gotten hit in the face with that bomb!  I posted the incident to my Facebook fermentation forum, and one fellow fermenter recommended always leaving at least 2 inches of space at the top of the bottle.  She said the same thing  happened to one of her bottles before she started leaving the extra space.  I used to just leave one inch… not anymore!  I may even consider switching to plastic bottles, although the thought hurts me so….

New, Improved CHERRY, CHERRY POP

Before all of this this bad excitement, I have slowly adapted my original cherry soda recipe into something even more fabulous.  The first ferment is the the same as the original recipe.  When I bottle it, I add to a single Grolsch bottle (12 oz bottle):

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp cherry concentrate

1 tsp wild cherry bark

Let the bottled brew sit out at room temperature for a little bit (maybe not too long at all if it’s hot in your kitchen!) to build up some bubbles and to create a secondary ferment.  You can  “burp” the bottle during this second ferment, to allow some of the CO2 buildup to escape.  You could also just put the bottle with the flavorings straight in the refrigerator.  Cooler temperatures significantly slow fermentation but do not completely stop the process.  After a couple of days, the cherry bark should be sufficiently infused into your brew.  Strain the bark out of your soda when you pour it.

Prunus serotina (Wild Cherry)

leaves of the wild cherry, photo credit Wikipedia

About Wild Cherry Bark (Prunus serotina):  

Wild cherry bark should be stored in an airtight container away from light.  It is most commonly used to ease coughs, although it treats the cough symptom, not the healing of infection.  It is useful along with other herbs to control asthma.  Wild cherry bark is also useful as a digestive bitter, and a cold infusion of the bark can be used as a wash for eye inflammation.  (Thanks to David Hoffman’s Holistic Herbal for this information)

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