herbanoos letter #2 (april)

7 minute soup, fire cider and garden foraging at Kia’s cottage home in Ormond, made for a cosy autumn, Sunday herbanoon. For some reason, I always have very little sleep the night before our herbanoons. I arrive feeling weary and tired, but I leave with a sparkle inside and energy abounding. I stepped in to Kia’s garden bungalow, cushions made a circle around tea, a candles and beautifully coloured pencils- a jar of earth toned and one of rainbow/parrot tinged colours. We planned to draw our plant friends for the afternoon, for fun, creative expression and to give us new eyes with which to meet the plants. I watched Niki creating some rosehips on her paper, but I got only as far as choosing my piece of paper before my attention was drawn fully into conversation. It seems like there is never enough time to talk about all that we have to share, let alone the crafting and exploring that we squeeze in too. However, we do what we can. And on this grey day, five of us gathered. We drank tea. Kirra showed us her herb box, full of interesting remedies. We collected herbs from the gardens for fire cider and salad. We sang to mallow who shared her mucilage with our mouths. We ate soup, seven minute soup (recipe below). With bellies warm and our baskets overflowing with garden abundance, we set to work preparing our fire cider.

Kias herbanoon

Fire Cider is a name given by American herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar in the ’70s, to an infusion of hot, stimulating, spicy herbs and honey in apple cider vinegar. Yum! Fire cider helps to clear congestion and stimulates and assists our immune system to protect us from lurgies. And it will warm you up; top, tummy, toes. There’s been a fair bit of attention towards this old remedy recently. I think it began with an American company who decided to trademark the name “fire cider” and sent out threatening letters to all the small businesses and home crafters who were making and selling their own. The herbal community began a campaign to stop the craziness of trademarking what has now become a generic name. One thing led to another, and before you know it, there are articles all over facebook claiming fire cider kill everything including the plague (I can’t find these articles to substantiate what I say, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing). Well, maybe it is that powerful, for now I’m happy for it just to keep the colds away. The legal battle continues and now many more people are making fire cider in one form or another across the world.

image from freefirecider.com
image from freefirecider.com

The basic recipe is made with ginger, chilli, horseraddish, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar and honey. But like any recipe, it’s malleable and can have any number of herbs added or omitted. In our brews we included all of those ingredients (except I forgot to bring the horseraddish. It will be added later) plus personal combinations which included turmeric, orange zest, olive leaf, rosemary, hibiscus, mallow, violets, basil, eucalyptus and possibly more (mostly obtained from Kia’s garden). We grated, peeled and chopped everything up as finely as we felt necessary.

SAMSUNG
Kirra’s fire cider could be used as aftershave (vineger is a good toner), but I think might be a bit spicy for Macaulay’s liking

We used Kiva Rose’s recipe (see in links below) as a guide, but we all made our own variations based on what we had available, our personal tastes/needs and intuition. Kiva’s recipe, while incorporating all the spicy, heating herbs, also uses some gentler digestive and immune boosting herbs (like orange zest and basil) for people who are sensitive to too much spiciness.  Our herbs went into jars and we then covered them with apple cider vinegar and capped with plastic lids (vinegar is very corrosive on metal). We’ll steep our brews for 4-6 weeks, giving our jar a turn/shake whenever we think to, and then we’ll then strain the herbs out, add honey and blow ourselves away!

The internet is loaded with wonderful variations of fire cider. Here are a few links that I like the look of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU8U0bDmXks Rosmary Gladstar making fire cider

http://mountainroseblog.com/fire-cider/

http://www.cauldronsandcrockpots.com/2012/12/fire-cider-and-other-stories/

http://blog.chestnutherbs.com/roselle-hibiscus-pomegranate-fire-cider-and-the-medicine-and-cultivation-of-hibiscus

http://bearmedicineherbals.com/gila-harvest-cider.html

For more information about the trademark debacle, look here: http://freefirecider.com/

img from lunarshaktihealing.com
img from lunarshaktihealing.com

Kia’s sweet and earthy 7 minute Soup.

This was prepared in seven minutes and then left to blub while we talked herb:

  1. Take some pumpkin, beetroot, potato, onion, garlic, rosemary sprig, wild rice, little brown lentils, a dash of apple cider vinegar, vegie stock powder to taste.
  2. Chop it all up and put in a pot
  3. Fill the pot with water up to an inch or so above the contents
  4. Stir, simmer, then boil until mooshy
  5. Smoosh with a smoosher [aka potato masher]

Eat, slurp, delight!

Upcoming herbanoons:

Saturday 23rd to Sunday 24th of May Yarra Junction Camping trip!

Come and join us for two days of camping in the lush river lands of Yarra Junction with people who love plants. Some things we might do are; plant walks, herb crafts, botanising, medicine making, herbal beauty time, reading, story telling, and definitely sharing wonderful food, fire and company!

The land is a vacant, 15 acre block, just out of town with a small patch of “wilderness” in the middle and a (sometimes) misty mountain background. We have running water and some small solar panels for lights and a tiny fridge, but the rest is pretty basic, so you might like to bring:

camping and sleeping gear, torch, notebook, gumboots, craft supplies, plant books, camera, towel, food to share, warm snuggly thing, a fully charged phone, and anything else that sustains and delights you.

It takes about 1.5 hours to get to Yarra Junction (when traffic is heavy) by car, or a bit longer by train and bus (Lilydale line). If you can’t get a ride out, we can probably organise a pick up from Lilydale train station.

If you’d like to come, or for more information about the camp trip or anything about our herbanoon group, contact either Rosie at starshine.rider@gmail.com or Kirra on 0456 387577

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