How to Make Herbal Oxymels

Oxymel Recipes

 

Our post on Sipping Vinegars was so popular that we thought a detailed how-to on a traditional medicinal vinegar preparation would be helpful too…

Oxymels!

I had no idea what this word meant when I first heard it, but after a little bit of research, I realized this age old recipe is much more familiar than I thought.  Oxymel – from the Latin oxymeli meaning “acid and honey” has been made and used in many ways throughout the ages and it’s a recipe that can be adapted to suit your health and herbal needs.

Traditionally, an Oxymel recipe would be used to administer herbs that might not be so pleasant to take on their own.  Additionally, some of the more pleasant herbs can become even more delightful after a bath in honey and vinegar!  After you try your hand at making an Oxymel,  you might find that it will go nicely in some bubbly water on a warm day, on top of freshly-made pancakes, on  a bed of fresh greens from your garden, by itself, or with some warm water to help keep your spirits and throat happy during times of stress. You can change the combination of herbs to aid you in whichever way you like.

Who doesn’t love apple cider vinegar and honey? Apple cider vinegar and honey alone are a soothing treat to an exhausted throat, but throw in some of your favorite herbs for supporting a healthy functioning immune system and we have a medicinal friend: Oxymel! (Somewhere along the path of herbal history, Rosemary Gladstar whipped up a version using classic ingredients like ginger, garlic, cayenne, and horseradish and called it fire cider.)

I hope this guide helps you find a version that suits you!

 

What you will need:

Notes:

Raw apple cider vinegar is a great way to make an alcohol free extract.

Local Honey – I like wildflower honey. I can’t help but get excited about the thought of all of the hard working bees blending together the pollen of hundreds of flowers.  I appreciate the different taste nuances I get depending on valley and season.  If you want something more consistent and neutral, try a clover honey.

 

Oxymel Ingredients

 

Organic herb possibilities for a throat soothing immune boost:

(These are just a few examples of herbs, but the possibilities are endless!)

 

Directions:

There are a few ways you can prepare an Oxymel: I’ve outlined the two ways I’ve used and one additional option, which, I have not tried, but certainly will in the future.

Generally speaking, you want a ratio of 1:3 – 1:4 .   That is to say 1 part dried herb to 3 or 4 parts vinegar and honey. You can easily measure by filling a pint jar less than 1/4 of the way with herbs and then topping with equal parts honey and equal parts vinegar. I’ve noticed the older techniques prefer more honey, up to 5 parts honey to 1 parts vinegar, and the newer recipes call for more apple cider vinegar, as much as 3 parts vinegar to one part honey.  I prefer half and half.  You can find a ratio that suits you! For storage, I prefer a glass jar with a cork top, like the ones found here.

Method 1: Stir, Shake, and Sit

Good method for a variety of herbs!

Place desired herbs into pint jar (1/4 – 1/5 of the way full), cover with apple cider vinegar and honey.  You can stir before sealing the jar, or seal the jar and shake until well mixed. Now let your jar sit somewhere cool and dark and shake a couple of times a week. After two weeks, strain and pour into a glass jar for storage.

Method 2: Vinegar Reduction

Great for non-delicate herbs and hearty roots!

If you’re in a pinch and need an Oxymel  quickly, you can always experiment with a vinegar reduction.  I would not use this method for especially aromatic or floral herbs, as it may be too harsh of an extraction process with heat causing the aromatics to dissipate.  In my recipe, it worked well, bringing out the aroma of all herbs perfectly evenly! Apple cider vinegar steam can be very intense, so be careful not to put your face and eyes over the pot while it is simmering (it will not feel good if you do!)  You will want to use twice as much vinegar as you need in the end, since this is a reduction and you will loose half of it in the process to evaporation. Reduce for 30-40 minutes on low heat.  Once you are done, let cool and strain,  mix herbal decocted vinegar with equal parts honey until well mixed and store in an airtight bottle.

Method 3: Infusing Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar Seperately

Nice option for especially delicate herbs.

This is a very easy way to make an Oxymel if you already have infused honey and infused apple cider vinegar, or one or the other. If you have previously infused apple cider vinegar or honey you simply get to mix them together using a ratio that suits you and enjoy! If you regularly cook with herbal infused honeys and vinegars and have some of your favorites sitting around, this can be a great way to turn your culinary spice into a soothing treat!

 

See this post to learn about Herbal Infused Honey.

Click here to learn more about how to make Medicinal Vinegar Infusions.

Rosemary

 

 

18 Responses to “How to Make Herbal Oxymels”

  1. avatar lindsey says:

    “you want a ratio of 1:5 – 1:4 – 1″

    Can you clarify this? I am not sure how to read that notation.

    1/5 to 1/4 to 1 ?

    • avatar Alieta says:

      Hi Lindsey, thank you so much for enjoying the post! What this means is that you will want 1/5 to 1/4 of your jar filled with herbs. For me, using a pint jar, this equaled out to just less than 1/2 of a cup total of herbs and the rest, roughly 1 1/2 – 2 cups of honey/vinegar combination. I hope this helps! Thank you! -Alieta

  2. avatar Angelique says:

    What dosage do you recommend for an elderberry oxymel?

    • avatar Alieta says:

      Hi Angelique, Thank you so much for enjoying the post. I recommend no more than 1/4 of your jar for dried herbs. When I used dried elderberries I used a little less than 1/2 cup of dried elderberries in a pint jar and had a very strong (and delicious) Oxymel, if this is the only herb you are using that would be a fine measurement! If you were wondering about how much to take, at regular health a spoonful a day would be supportive. If you are in middle of a cough you could take a spoonful as often as every hour for soothing support! I hope this helped :) – Alieta

  3. avatar Valinda says:

    Would calendula be beneficial?

    • avatar Alieta says:

      Hi Valinda,
      Thank you so much for the question. Because we are an herbal supplier, we are unfortunately unable to provide medical advice or recommendations by law. My best suggestion would be to seek the guidance of a licensed health practitioner who will be able to point you in the right direction. We also have a wonderful collection of herbal books if you’d like to do some additional research. You can read more about them here: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/books/books.html I have personally never used calendula internally, although I love it in my skincare products! If Calendula is something you are used to ingesting then it just might be beneficial for you! You can learn more about Calendula here: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/calendula-flowers/profile I hope this helps! – Alieta

  4. avatar Gabby says:

    Thanks for this awesome post! I’m going to make this with yellow doc. I’m curious how it needs to be stored and about how long it keeps?

    • avatar Alieta says:

      Hi Gabby! Thank you so much for enjoying the post! Your Oxymel should last a long while, definitely through a season! You can prolong it’s life by keeping it in the fridge, I do this just to be on the safe side. I hope this helps, thank you again for reading. – Alieta

  5. avatar j says:

    Wow Aletia!
    Thanks for bringing a superb medium and recipe back into our contemporary use! I am truely inspired. X

  6. avatar Angelique says:

    Thank you for your response about elderberries. =) Are there any spring (allergies) or summer oxymels that you can recommend? Also, should the lemons be dried or fresh?

    • avatar Alieta says:

      Hi there Angelique,

      If you are going to attempt to treat any specific ailment I would suggest you consult with a professional health care practitioner, you might also be interested in reading some books on herbal medicine to get some ideas on herbs to experiment with during this season: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/books/herbmed.php

      Local honey all by itself is a great aid in getting through the spring season. I’ve heard of people really enjoying the traditional Fire Cider version for getting through this specific season, taking a little bit every day. You can find that recipe here: http://mountainroseblog.com/fire-cider/

      As far as the lemons go — you could use dried or fresh. When using fresh fruits or plants in a syrup or vinegar I always take a little extra caution to store it in the fridge, since there is more water content than there would be with a dried product. I think fresh lemon would be especially pleasant in this recipe.

      I can’t wait to hear how yours goes — Thanks again for enjoying the blog.

      - Alieta

  7. avatar Chris says:

    Thank you so much! This is easier than my recipe for a syrup!
    Going to try it right now with dried elderberries!

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    How to Make Herbal Oxymels « The Mountain Rose Blog

  9. avatar Anna says:

    I’m curious if this would work as a bee balm (wild bergamot) and elder berry infusion? I just planted some bee balm and looking forward to using it for sick children this coming fall. :) thank you for the wonderful article.

    • avatar Kori says:

      Hi Anna~That sounds like a wonderful combination! Thanks so much for reading the blog and you’ll have to let us know how it turns out. Good luck! ~Kori

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