What a perfect day!
I finally found time this morning to have a leisurely wander through the woods of Frankendael, seeking out the most pleasantly scented Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) trees.
I was not disappointed! The flowers and leaves of this heart toning tree always taste good to me. Munched on a late spring walk, not much else lifts my spirits and makes me stand tall as does Hawthorn “bread and cheese”. But the flowers (the cheese) do vary in their tastiness, so if you want to capture their essence, it’s worth taking time to seek out the ones which really appeal to you.
Some of the flowers smell rather unpleasant, like cat pee, others are unscented because their insect-attracting job is done. Just a couple smelled sweetly, really sweetly, like vanilla rice pudding. Those smelled and tasted jaw-droppingly good! So guess which ones ended up in my tincture jar?
Equipt with a small bottle of vodka and a little glass jar, I made my tincture at the tree. To do it yourself, simply fill a jar well with carefully picked Hawthorn flower clusters and a few Hawthorn leaves (the bread). Then fill the jar again with vodka, brandy or whatever strong spirit you choose. Check that you fill all the way to the brim. Flowers exposed to any air will quickly spoil, they need to be completely submerged in the spirit. Check for bubbles of air and top up if needed.
I’ll leave my tincture like this, labelled, in a cupboard until the autumn, when I’ll strain the flowers and pour the liquid over a fresh jar of Hawthorn berries. Then after a further six weeks of infusing, my double Hawthorn tincture will be ready for use. It will be infused with the properties of Hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries.
If a regular few drops of that doesn’t warm, tone and open my heart through the depths of winter, then not much will!
I could use the simple flower tincture after six weeks infusion time but I have enough Hawthorn elixir in stock, to see me through summer and autumn so I shall wait. And we all know that the best things come to those who wait 🙂
Hawthorn is an age old preventaive and remedy for many types of heart disease. It is a heart tonic, offering as it were, food specific to the heart. It is used by many, alongside allopathic (conventional drug based) medicine such as betablockers but of course you should always consult a qualified medical herbalist if considering using it as a remedy for heart disease.
If you’d like to join me for a walk in the park, to learn about tasty and useful plants of Amsterdam, and to set up you’re poem tincture, why not sign up for tomorrow’s lunchtime forage?