All classes are held on Saturdays through our year at the Markets of Hanover, located 1649 Broadway, Hanover, PA 17331.
Making a Shrub – Saturday, October 12th, 2019, at 9am or 1 pm. More details to follow
Making an Herbal Syrup – Saturday, September 7th, 2019, at 9 am or 1 pm. You choose which time suits you. The class includes instructions and education about herbal syrups, featuring elderberry, how to use different types of sweeteners – honey, raw cane sugar, raw stevia and agave, and a live demo. Each participant leaves with a goodie bag with ingredients to go home and make their own syrup. Class will last 2-3 hours depending. Cost is $30.
Herbal Syrup Making Class – September 7th, 2019
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Elderberries have a long tradition and also empirical evidence to support their use for keeping our immune systems primed for the upcoming cold and flu season. We are fast approaching the time when we will be sharing confined air with co-workers, family, and snotty nosed children – bless them. So, we need to get our bodies ready for the onslaught. One way to do so is to keep a bottle of elderberry syrup in the frig and swig about a teaspoon a day during the next several months.
What they look like – Elderberries are the fruit of the flowering plant known as Sambucus, more commonly referred to as elder or elderflower. The scientific name of the most common variety, from which we get the majority of our elderberries, is Sambucus nigra. You generally find elderberries in the Northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America. You can wildcraft the berries with permission of the landowner, cultivate them yourself or purchase them dried from a health food store or your friendly neighborhood herbalist. The berries are black or very dark blue and have a tart flavor which makes them ideal for desserts, syrups, jams, jellies, spreads, and as the base for various adult beverages.
Herbal actions: Elderberries have quite a few medicinal benefits for our bodies for this time of year in particular. Recent research suggests that elderberries boost our immune system by increasing cytokine production, offering antioxidants, and inhibit viral infections. Let’s break this down a little. Cytokines are small chemical agents in our body that monitor potential infections and alert our immune system to respond. Elderberries are also a great source for antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for scooping up radical molecules in the body which will attach themselves to other molecules and create havoc. Finally, elderberries show potential in suppressing or inhibiting viral infection. Some early laboratory testing has shown that elderberries have seem to coat the virus and render them useless. Please note these early studies have not reached human trials. So in sum and Faithspeak, elderberries are super great at keeping us healthy over the coming cold and flus season by bolstering our immune system, keeping infections at bay and if we do happen to get sick, shortening the length of the sickness.
Making Elderberry Syrup: Making the syrup is relatively easy and there are a plethora of recipes online. When I made elderberry syrup yesterday, I used a ratio of 1 dried cup of elderberries to 3 cups of filtered water. So here are some basic instructions:
Pour 3 cups of water into a medium saucepan and 1 cup) of dried elderberries along with herbs of your choice – echinacea, ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. Remove from heat and cool enough to handle. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer. Mash the berries with a flat spoon. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool. Add sweetener of your choice to taste. Store in the refrigerator and take one teaspoon a day to increase immunity.
I love to experiment with herbs and egg dying seemed to be a fun way to see how some of our medicinal plant friends can actually color eggs. I had been thinking about which herbs would actually dye an egg. My experience with specific herbs like turmeric would certain lend some color to the white oblong canvas. So this got me thinking about other teas that would color eggs for Spring. I thought about some of my favorite herbs like hibiscus and elderberries. I had been introduced to another colorful tea, butterfly pea, at my market booth.
So I thought about how to best dye these eggs. Do I boil the tea and then put the eggs in a cup of tea with a shot of vinegar? This is the more traditional way of dying eggs. I tried this and the color wasn’t bad but I had another idea. I thought about boiling the eggs and while making the tea. So I did that as well. I prefer this way as I did not have to use vinegar. I did not however drink the tea!
The turmeric turned the white of the egg shell a lovely golden color. I was very pleased with the varying shades of gold and mustard. The eggs also had a natural kind of stripe to them left by the hen who laid them.
I decided to use hibiscus because the tea is a lovely rich purple red color. My first attempt was to make a cup of tea, add a splash of white vinegar. The color seem to bubble off the egg so I took a paper towel and wiped off as much as I could. It gave it an interesting designed. My husband liked it as well and thought I had done something creative. Hah! Not really. But it does look pretty neat. So, I decided to boil the egg as I made the tea. I did learn in graduate school was how to properly boil an egg. Apparently, I had been hard boiling eggs incorrectly for 30 years. Who knew? I brought the herbs, water and egg to a boil, turned off the flame and left it steep.
I repeated this same process with the butterfly pea tea which makes a gorgeous blue tea. I decided to use the same two methods to see which egg would best be dyed. I discovered as before that both eggs were the same hue. It didn’t matter whether I added the vinegar or not. I also added one of the turmeric eggs into a cup of the Butterfly Pea tea to see if I can get a green color. I did get a light pastel green.
Still to be consistent, I did the same with the elderberries. The color was very deep purple almost a dark gray.
I did read about some other plants which could be used to dye eggs. Spirulina, if you can handle the smell, could be use for a blue color. And of course, beet powder or juice could be used for red. I had a lot of fun working with these teas. I hope this endeavor of mine inspires you to explore and consider better ways to dye eggs.