Oxymels: Love in the Medicine
Oxymels are one of my absolute favorite remedy forms. There’s something about the sweet tang of an oxymel that seems to embody the love and heartfelt good wishes of the medicine maker, as well as the complexities of caring for each other. They are delicious, versatile, high in a wide variety of medicinal constituents, and I can generally get them into any client–from the world’s crankiest toddler to my fussiest “…but it tastes weird” clinical client. This delicious, nutritious medicine is a mineral-rich digestive aid, in addition to being full honey’s anti-inflammatory, wound healing, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties, as well as the medicinal properties of whatever herbs you used.
Any combination of honey and vinegar medicines is an oxymel, including fire cider and herbal vinaigrette. There’s no wrong way to do this. Following is my preferred method after years of puttering and experimenting. I find that combining gently heated honey and raw vinegar gives me the perfect balance of effectiveness and palatability, but find your own kitchen magic and do what works for you.
I usually use equal parts honey and vinegar if everything tastes good. If one of the herbs is especially bitter, I may infuse it in the vinegar and use half as much. Sometimes I’ll use less vinegar if I want less of those particular herbs, as I have a pretty solid stash of both infused honeys and infused vinegars in my apothecary, so I’m often just mixing together existing creations.
My favorite herbs for oxymels are fragrant flowers and herbs, including rose, lemon balm, lilac, bee balm, thyme, and garlic. I also really like using herbs with primarily water-soluble ingredients (more info here) like borage, as those constituents extract and preserve really well in vinegar.
- Infuse half your herbs in honey, instructions here
- Turn the other half of your herbs into a folkloric tincture using vinegar, instructions here
- Combine honey and vinegar in a glass jar or pretty bottle and shake vigorously
- Label with ingredients and date. Store for years in a cool, dry place.