Time for another week of making herbal products with The Dancing Herbalist. I love making syrups at home and I think this fall I may actually give them as gifts to my friends and family. Syrups are easy to make, fun to take, and oh ya, delicious.
So what is a syrup?
A syrup is a strong tea that is preserved using either sugar or honey. A cordial, or elixir, on the other hand, is a tincture (alcoholic extract) that is sweetened, usually with honey. A mead is an alcoholic beverage that is made with fermented honey. Got the difference?
If you want to make a sweet tincture, or cordial, simply make a tincture as discussed in the previous post, and add honey to it after you have strained it. Next week we will be talking about making herbal honeys, a very different project.
Making a syrup is fun and sometimes a bit messy. My favorite to make is elderberry but you can use any number of herbs depending on what you want it to be for and taste like. Often syrups are a great herbal method of giving kids herbs.
To start, make a larger batch of tea (probably about a weeks worth). If you need more instruction in how to make a tea using the herbs you have selected visit this post. Strain out your herbs and put the tea into a sauce pan. Put this pan on medium heat and let simmer until the liquid has reduced in volume to roughly 1/4 the volume it previously was. Be sure to have this pot uncovered or the water will not evaporate away.
After you have condensed the liquid to a smaller amount, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Measure the volume of how much liquid you have remaining and measure the same amount of sugar or honey. Add the sweetener to the tea, stir to dissolve. You may want to return it to a low heat to help the sugar dissolve. Some individuals say that if you are using honey as your sweetener/preservative you do not need to use as much. Using a 1:1 ratio of tea to sweetener will ensure that it will not spoil and it will be fine at room temperature for a month or even longer.
I often keep my syrups in the fridge for it to last 6 months to a year. If you want to learn more about making syrups and learning some easy formulas to make for the cold and flu season, check out our Kitchen Medicine class in our Free Herbal Class Series.