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.
One year I decided to put in a berry patch in the disused run of an old chicken coop. My friend, Cindy, came and helped us to clear the weeds and to lay out concrete blocks for a raised bed look. We even used old crutches for bracing and training the vines. Along with this amazing plan, I had envisioned composting stalls on the western side of the enclosure. We planted raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Then I forgot about them.
Fast forward, two or three years ( I can’t remember how long because I forgot about them!) – maybe even four, my husband comes into the house from mowing and reminds me about the berry patch. He tells me that the vines are full of berries and I should go and pick them. So I did with a machete. Actually, with my husband leading the way with a pair of shears to trim back the jungle, we ventured forth into the area which had been closed off. He was not wrong. There were berries everywhere. As I picked through I did notice a distinct difference between the wild black raspberries, rubus occidentalis, which grow all over the property and the red ones, Rubus idaeus, left to grow amuck in purposed patch. I also noted that there may have been some intermingling of the two species in this forgotten small ecosystem. Needless to say, the berries were very tasty. However, I am interested in more than just the berries. I am also interested in harvesting the leaves.
Probably since the first raspberry leaf accidentally dropped into a sun warmed hollowed gourd of water, raspberry leaves have been used to make a refreshing medicinal tea. Women, in particular, have benefitted from drinking the tea, or in more recent times, taking capsules of powdered raspberry leaf. Raspberry leaves have a particular affinity for the uterus and pelvic area, providing toning and relaxation of the muscles. A warm infusion of raspberry leaves will bring balance to our lovely lady parts as well as our hair, teeth and bones. Raspberry leaf is a wonderful energizing overall tonic, rich in nutrients. Tonics in general, are great for long term use, particularly during stressful periods of life and during recovery from illness.
Not only do I suggest eating raspberries during pregnancy or at any time in a woman’s life, I also recommend drinking the tea made from the leaves. Raspberry leaves contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. It will provide pain relief during a woman’s cycle by strengthening the uterus and pelvic muscles and by offering nutrients where there’s a deficiency. Considered a nervine and an astringent, raspberry leaf will aid in clearing out a congested pelvis as well as relieving postpartum pain and depression. It may help with fibroids.
This plentiful herb is one of the few considered safe during pregnancy. Drinking raspberry leaf tea everyday will strengthen the uterus and pelvis, getting it ready for safe Baby Day delivery. Because of its nervine action, raspberry tea will also quell nausea during those first few months. It’s tonic and relaxing actions aid in decreasing pain during delivery while increasing efficiency of contractions, making for faster delivery. After delivery, a warm cup of raspberry leaf tea will hasten recovery and may encourage milk flow. Be careful of drinking raspberry tea in large amounts during those early breastfeeding months as it may slow milk production. But later an extra cup may help with weaning.
Raspberry leaf acts as an astringent in other areas of the body as well. The kidneys and urinary tract benefit as well as the mucus linings throughout the rest of the body. It may help with diarrhea and can stop hemorrhaging.
As an herbalist, I do tend to add raspberry leaves to many female specific formulas. Raspberry leaves pair well with mullein, oat straw, lemon balm, nettle and cranesbill. Here’s a comforting tea recipe for that not so comfortable time of the month:
1 part peppermint leaves, 1 part raspberry leaf, .5 part skullcap leaves, pinch of raw stevia. Place loose tea in an infuser. Pour hot water over leaves. Cover and steep for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy.