This summer I had the opportunity to take a wild crafting workshop at the Devonian Botanical Gardens just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. If you haven’t visited the gardens, please do. They are an incredible resource for those in love with gardening and for those who are just beginning their gardening journey. You can easily spend the day there or, like me, take a workshop or one of the many courses they have to offer. So much to do!
The wild crafting workshop was to be five hours long, but could have easily been so much longer. Our instructor was very knowledgable and had so much to share. One of the little gems I came away with, was making electuaries. Simply, electuaries are herbs or plants mixed with honey. To make an electuary, you need to use “real” honey as I call it. No, seriously, you need unpasteurized honey as it contains nutrients and the “good” bacteria that fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections. For years, raw honey has been used on wounds and to fight illness and has shown great healing properties. When I feel a sore throat coming on, I take my raw honey by teaspoon and have found my sore throat does not last as long. Pasteurizing heats up the honey and kills the good and bad bacteria. Sometimes, if not rarely, raw honey can grow the botulism bacteria (nasty stuff that will make you very ill). This is why it isn’t recommended to feed babies raw honey. For most adults, this is not an issue. The benefits for me of raw, unpasteurized honey outweigh the risk of coming into contact with the botulism bacteria. I have consumed raw honey for many years and keep the practice of storing my honey in the fridge. Although I have read many articles suggesting refrigeration is not necessary.
If you can get organic, unpasteurized honey, good. However, I am still on the fence about organic honey. Really, how do they track where the bees go to get nectar? What are those bees really up to? I do know organic bee keepers, do not use pesticides around or within their hives. This is good! So organic may be more about good housekeeping practices with hives. Enough about the honey- just use unpasteurized honey if you can.
So how do electuaries help us and why the heck would I want to make one? Well, the recipe we were given helps to build a strong immune system. With the benefits derived from the plants working with the antibacterial and antiviral properties of honey, the electuary is meant to help fight illness in the early stages. I have always preached about the benefits of using herbs as medicinal agents, however, the little skeptic that resides inside of me cries out for PROOF! So I need to see it to believe it. But, hey, why not try it? What can it hurt?
With the electuary recipe I was given, you add minced garlic, ginger, fresh thyme leaves (believe me you need a lot of thyme leaves), and you can also add rose hips which are high in vitamin C. I did not have rose hips and I understand the seeds are somewhat hard to digest, so I opted out of adding them to my electuary. I could give you exact amounts, but truthfully I just added according to my taste. I did use organic garlic and ginger and the thyme came from my garden (I DO NOT use pesticides on my plants- not necessary). I also think if you are making a product to promote a healthy immune system, you really need to use organic products as much as possible. Why give the body another chemical to process that it does not recognize and which could possibly harm the cells in your body? Seems rather contrary to what the electuary is intended to do.
Making the electuary is really quite simple. Mince the garlic and ginger and then strip the leaves off the thyme- Ta-Daa! This preparation is what seemed to take the longest. Heat the honey just so it becomes liquid on a very low heat. You don’t want to kill those good bacteria smiling back at you in the cooking pot. Add the garlic, ginger and thyme to the honey, stir and then pour into clean jam jars. You can even sterilize the jam jars by boiling in water and removing them using tongs (kitchen utensil). Not only do you not want to burn yourself when removing the hot jars from the boiling water, touching the jars will undo your efforts to prevent contamination of the jars. I didn’t bother with it and feel confident all is well with my electuary. See my photo below for the materials I used.
The directions for using the electuary is to let it sit for a month prior to using and then take one teaspoon daily just before cold and flu season starts up. So I have started this regime and will report in the spring on my impressions of how the electuary worked. As I said I need proof it works and hopefully I will maintain good health throughout the year. Hope you are able to try it!
Note: You can strain the garlic, ginger or thyme out of the honey, but I prefer to leave it in.