I woke up this morning with the beginning of bronchitis. I have been busy, busy, busy because we are getting ready to sell our house. (Just what I need in addition to Christmas preparations.) So I am now coughing and feeling quite run down.
Some lovely friends of ours dropped by with a surprise: homegrown lemons! They are huge and so juicy. Just the Vitamin C ticket for me. I have already sliced the first one to put in some water. I swear that just drinking it is making me feel better!
The other thing I am doing is taking one of my herbal preparations (or as some of the family calls it: Witches’ Brew). This particular one stars Elder and Schizandra berries. Along with mullen, it is good for the lungs, and supports the immune system.
My Bronchitis Brew
1 Quart filtered water
2 Tablespoons dried Elder Berries
2 Tablespoons Dried Schizandra Berries
1 3″ Cinnamon stick
1 Tablespoon Crushed dried lemon balm leaves
2 Tablespoons Crushed dried mullen leaves
Sweetener to taste
Place water, Elder and Schizandra berries, and the cinnamon stick in a non-reactive saucepan. Heat just to a simmer. Do not boil. Lower heat and barely simmer for about 30-45 minutes, or until you think all of the goodness has been extracted from the bark and berries. The water will be reduced by half or so. Remove from heat and add the mullen and lemon balm leaves. Let steep until the water cools to room temperature. Strain the liquid through an extremely fine strainer or a piece of muslin. This step is very important because mullen leaves have very fine hairs that I would not recommend for drinking. Add honey, sugar or any sweetener to taste. Elderberries are rather tart, and are often used for making a syrup. I chose just to make a slightly sweetened decoction for myself. I take a shot glass (about 2 ounces) every 2 hours or so.
To make a syrup, simmer the juice before adding the mullen and lemon balm until it is reduced by two thirds, then steep the leaves and strain. Measure and add an equal amount of sugar or honey. This syrup is much stronger than the decoction and should be taken as 1-2 tablespoons every 2-3 hours.
An option for preserving either the syrup or the decoction is to add a few tablespoons of whiskey or rum. I refrigerate this brew anyway.