What is an Oxymel, and How to Make One
You may not have heard of oxymels, I certainly had not until an herbalist friend of mine mentioned one last fall. But if you're looking for natural immune-boosting in an easy to put together recipe, they're a great way to get started.
I love Fire Cider and I even did a post on how to make your own last year (link here). Oxymel is kind of like a speed fire cider, or at least that is how I use it. Technically the name just means a mixture of vinegar and honey, usually infused with an herb. Because of the manner in which I use it, and also what some of my favorite flavors are, I infuse with ginger and garlic.
Apple cider vinegar and honey are both known to be soothing and good for your immune system. Ginger is a remarkable herb and one of my favorite spices to add to any meal, and it has been lauded for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its ability to ease stomach issues. Garlic, another great addition to any dish, is wonderful for fighting off infections. You can see how this combination of flavors will be a powerful punch against the common cold and flu.
You can also make oxymels with other flavors, either just for sipping or to fight a particular problem. You can use almost any dried or fresh herb, including rosemary, thyme, turmeric or elderberry. It is a tasty way to enjoy the magical benefits of these plants, as well as the benefits of apple cider vinegar and honey.
The particular mixture I make is very strong, and is intended to mimic Fire Cider. It will make your eyes run if you gulp down too much, so I like to enjoy a couple of teaspoons everyday as a healthy cold preventative.
Oxymels can be made in a few different ways. You can mix the ingredients in a jar and shake them to combine, then leave them to sit in a cool dark spot for 2-3 weeks before straining and enjoying. But because I usually find myself remembering to make preventative remedies right as cold season begins, I like doing a vinegar reduction. It's a quick way to make the recipe and it is instantly effective. Vinegar reductions may not work with some herbs, but they are very effective for the ginger and garlic combination I use.
Use a ratio of 1 part herb and 6-7 parts vinegar. For the shaken method mentioned above, you use 1 part herb to 4 parts honey and vinegar, but in a reduction much of the vinegar steams off. Because of this steaming off process your whole kitchen will smell of vinegar, which I personally like, and you'll want to avoid putting your face directly above the steam as it can sting.
For a reduction, combine the garlic, ginger, and apple cider vinegar in a large pot, and stir occasionally while letting it simmer for about forty minutes. The ginger and garlic work best if chopped finely beforehand.
Allow the mixture to cool before adding 4 parts honey and stirring together until well combined. Store in a cool, dry place in a sealed bottle and enjoy to ward of illness!
There is much more wonderful information on oxymels on Mountain Rose Herbal's fantastic blog, which you can check out here.