Vinegar cuts through grease and mucous giving things a good clean out. Sage does the same at the back of your throat by clearing the mucous which the nasties causing your sore throat live and thrive in.
Using pastilles and other sore throat lozenges are usually full of sugar and whilst that feels soothing and lovely, it provides lots of juicy food for those bugs to thrive in.
So, using a vinegar to cut through the mucous, with the reputed anti microbial properties of sage is a double winner. Add into that the traditional use of rowan berries for sore throats and tonsillitis and we have a trio of triumph in your throat!
To make this joyful medicinal vinegar, alive with complex flavours, I cooked the berries and sage in vinegar before steeping it for a few weeks. Cooking the berries renders the toxic components harmless. After straining, I bottled ready for use.
Use in conjunction with the soothing sage and rowan syrup I have also made and keep your tonsils singing with joy.
As far as I know, this medicine is entirely unique to me. The joy of creativity and experiments. Join my journey of discovery.
Foraging for making has become a prfound new joy of mine. I had had some lurking doubts about the pillaging of nature and whether I had the right to do this. But, they are now gone and I am loving that connection, the creativity of making things and the new recipes to trial.
What’s on the go right now?
I’ve made rowan berry and sage syrups and vinegars.
Research showed me that raw berries are really not a good plan due to potentially toxic components. So, I stewed a few berries with some sage in water. Then I let it sit for a few weeks (the hot liquid sealed the jar keeping it good) before straining and re-heating, dissolving sugar into it, turning it into a syrup.
And, what does it taste like?
The flavour is frankly AWESOME! I haven’t ever tasted anything else like it. It’s sharp, it’s sweet and fruity but there’s something else which I am yet to put a word to.
Well, the traditional medicine from rowan berries is for sore throats and tonsillitis. Sage also has a great reputation for healing throats because it has the power to cut through the mucousy substrate keeping all the gremlins alive causing your symptoms. So, it seemed like a match made in heaven.
Fancy a go?
Do you get recurrent sore throats and/or tonsillitis? If you do, you might like to give these beauties a go.
2. LITERARY: an exceptional or wonderful person or thing
Thinking about the rowan’s auspicious and protective properties, I decided to make a decoration for my consultation room. As I stuck the needle through them, finding that the seeds are soft, and that the juice is both sharp and sweet, it got me thinking.
Sharp and sweet. Hmmmm, sharp and sweet? Is that a contradiction? Not really, in fact, it’s much like the journey of healing.
The pain of the issue, emotional or physical, which keeps us stuck usually has a sharpness to it else we wouldn’t seek out help.
And the sweetness? Well, to me that reflects how we feel as we emerge out the other side, newly emerged and fully fledged.
Rowan berry decoration fun
What do you think of my little creation? They’re all plump and juicy here but they’ll wither as they dry out.
Metamorphosis of healing
But what struck me the most – even more than the wonderful colour combinations – is the idea of combining protection with metamorphosis. These two simple things represent what happens in this space, my consultation room. My sacred space of healing and transformation.
You come to me with problems to solve, entrusting yourself to me and between us, we find our way to your metamorphosis, your emerging from the coccoon of safe stuckness into the spreading of your newly painted, fablous wings which enable you to move forward in your best image.
Buy the little wooden butterfly buttons here on eBay
Those glorious clusters of richly orangey-red berries light up the gloomy skies and this year I am mightily drawn to them! This tree with its attractive berries carry folklore from many countries particularly as a protective plant. They are most effective against all forms of witchcraft. Carrying twigs in your pocket, using canes and making ships from the wood and many, many more notions will ward off the evil.
Sometimes, it is possible to find a root of the phantastical in something which science has uncovered to be surprisingly valid such as with elder and its potentially toxic constituents but with Rowan it is hard to see why it should be considered quite so auspicious. The hawthorn with a similar reputation is more obvious – it’s a heart drug of fine order and its protection of your house as well as your body? Well, that just makes sense.
The Rowan? For now, I cannot find the answer and the medicine appears not to be especially radical either. Peter Conway in his Tree Medicine book mentions sore throats and tonsillitis for the berries, leucorrhoea douches and sore throats for the bark. The fruits are reputedly nutritive as well as astringent and the bark simply astringent. Are we missing something here?
Culpeper makes no mention (unless I have failed to find the name by which he called it!) and Mrs Grieve suggests that the berries make great jellies for cold game or wild fowl but that their medicine is for haemorrhoids – the astringency – and as gargles for ailments of the throat.
A favourite resource, the PFAF website reminds us that the seeds of the rowan contain cyanogenic glycosides and that these become prussic acid (cyanide) when in contact with water. Hence Mrs Grieve’s suggestion of jelly not a jam. Strain out the seeds should you decide to make anything with them.
Perhaps the secret to these berries lies in the now-lost Welsh recipe for rowan-berry Ale?
To sate my curiosity, I shall dry a few berries and keep them for the fluey season and when the telltale warning of a prickly throat comes my way, as surely it will, I can brew them up and gargle away and find out whether that’s where their magic lies.
It’s a wonder that I haven’t driven off the road as I pass by some glorious herbs craning my neck to have a good look!
This summer I have been particularly drawn to the forming rowan berries. Perhaps naming my daughter is what’s done it, or an inkling of their importance in Folklore…
Either way, I am saddened that this year our tree has 3 paltry bunches of berries. Not deterred, I find that the tree just down the road is LADEN! Absolutely heaving with luscious looking berries in huge clusters. So, I took my mini Rowan for a little forage… she might as well get used to it (in fact, a friend once told Rowan-the-pre-verbal-baby that she would need to get used to mummy popping into the bushes, camera in hand, for a closer look at some herb or other!)
We picked about 8 bunches and I have filled a bowl. We will be making some house decorations and a necklace for Rowan to wear. Rowan is reputed to be the very best of antidotes to witchcraft, fairies and other ill-doings. Carrying a twig will keep you safe from witches’ curses. Eating from the tree will sate you for nine meals and the wood used on the chimney breast will prevent witches from their favourite entry point – down the chimney.
I hope that the adornment of Rowan with a rowan-necklace won’t prevent mummy-witch from giving her daughter a kiss whilst she’s still young enough to accept them from me!
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