Experimenting with herbal remedies

Last week we had a busy Thursday evening at Cordwainers Garden cooking up recipes for our homegrown herbal first aid kit. We picked mucilage-rich herbs (comfrey root, marshmallow and plantain) from which we made a decoction, the base for our cough syrup and lozenges. These herbs act to soothe inflamed membranes and so make a perfect base to create throat soothing concoctions. We also had a go at making poultices with comfrey and yarrow and tried these out on some willing volunteers who had some (slightly) injured limbs.

On the menu today
On the menu today
Full house at Cordwainers Garden
Full house at Cordwainers Garden
Wrapping up a injured arm with a fresh comfrey poultice
Wrapping up an injured arm with a fresh comfrey poultice
Throat lozenges in all shapes and sizes
Throat lozenges in all shapes and sizes
Comfrey, also known as knit-bone
Comfrey, also known as knit-bone

For those of you who missed it, here are the recipes:

Cough syrup

  • 50g of herb leaves eg. hyssop, sage, thyme
  • 50g of  mucilage* herb roots
  • 1 litre of water
  • about a 1kg sugar
  1. Place the herb roots into a saucepan and cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes – this is a decoction
  2. Turn off the heat and add the herb leaves to the pan and infuse for 15 minutes
  3. Strain the mixture into a measuring jug
  4. Add the same amount of sugar as their is liquid (tip: if you have 850ml of water, add 850 g of sugar)
  5. Heat the mixture continually until the sugar has dissolved
  6. Allow to cool and then pour into sterilised bottles

Dosage: 1 tablespoon up to 6 times a day

Herbal poultice

You can make a poultice with either fresh or dried herbs. Cut up the herbs and mix them with a little hot water to make a paste. Spread the herb mix onto gauze and apply to the skin. Cover with a cotton cloth and leave on until it goes cool. Repeat as necessary.

Herbal lozenges

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water (herb decoction of mucilage* herbs)
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  1. Make a herb decoction by boiling up a mucilage rich herbs, strain out the herbs and measure out 1/2 cup of water
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the strained liquid
  3. Return to the heat, boil and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool
  5. Spoon out drops of the mixture onto a tray lined with baking parchment
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to stop them from sticking and then store in an airtight tin

*Mucilage rich herbs eg. Althea officinalis (Marshmallow), Verbascum thapsus (Mullein), Ulmus fulvus (Slippery elm), Plantago lanceolata (plantain), Symphytum officinalis (Comfrey)

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Brewing up business

If you are a Jellied Eel fan, you may have spotted us in their latest magazine edition featuring growing enterprises in London. If you’d like to taste some of our home-growns head over to Tiosk on Broadway (not Borough) Market, now stocking a blend made with herbs grown exclusively at sites in Hackney. The proceeds of this will go towards our next series of herbal well-being workshops in partnership with the Centre for Better Health.

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Save the date! Wednesday 16th September, 6-9pm
As part of Urban Food Fortnight we will be running a special herbal evening event at Hackney City Farm. More details and booking information here.