MONARDA and Blackberry Oxymel

I try to make at least one oxymel a year. I enjoy experimenting with different combinations of fruits and spices. An oxymel is an infusion of herbs into vinegar and honey (see also shrubs, kvass, kombucha, switchels and other similar fermented “sodas”/drinks ). Plants easily give up their vitamins and minerals when added to vinegar. The raw honey serves as a powerful antibiotic when not exposed to heat. The yummy result can be mixed into salad dressing, braises or marinades. A tablespoon added to carbonated water or iced tea makes a refreshing drink. Because of a hiatal hernia I am highly sensitive to both the acid and spices in a typical fire cider. I can safely and comfortably consume a small amount oxymel and some of its health benefits (nutrients, medicinal properties, pro-biotics, and acid).

Monarda and Blackberry Oxymel

I typically start with a large 2 quart canning jar I fill it…

1/4 of the jar with honey

1/4 of the jar with fresh blackberries compacted

1/4 of the jar with apple cider vinegar

1/4 of the jar with fresh wild bergamot ( m. fistulosa) flowers and leaves compacted

Combine all ingredients by gently stirring. Put a piece of plastic wrap or baking parchment between the lid and jar lip. Seal tightly. Let sit six weeks in a a cool dark place. Shake and invert weekly. Press and strain to remove any solids or seeds. Divide up into smaller bottles which can be stored or refrigerated. With proper storage an oxymel will last for at least a year.

Monarda is a perennial herb that is native to the United States. This herb grows 2-3 feet high. It has opposite, ovate/lanceolate, serrate, deep green leaves. Like all members in the mint family it has square stems. These are hairy, slender and branching. This plant has numerous, tubed shaped, two lipped and irregular flowers with united sepals and petals. These grow in solitary terminal heads/clusters. M. fistulosa has hairier leaves and flower parts and a stronger volatile oil/scent.

Historically monarda has been used to treat, gas, colic, nausea, vomiting, fever, colds, flu, headache, parasites, menstrual cramps, candida, inflammation, sepsis, and stress. Externally it has been used for rashes, burns, wounds, bleeding and rheumatism. As a gargle for sore throats, gum disease, and bad breath. As a steam it loosens phlegm when there is congestion or respiratory infection.

Latin name: Monarda didyma (rose or light purple flowers). Monarda fistulosa (scarlet flowers)

Common names: Oswego tea, bee balm, mountain mint, wild bergamot

Parts used: leaves and flowers

Energetics: cool, astringent

Contraindications: due to the volatile oils do not use in pregnancy.

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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