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Herbalism for Beginners: Oxymels

Oxymels are sweet & tangy folk medicine with an impressive shelf-life. Oxymels are often forgotten about when discussing herbal extracts, but this is a wonderful preparation to have under your belt. Vinegar based extracts make great replacements for traditional alcohol-based tinctures. Oxymels are shelf stable for 6 months, child-friendly, and still make for a potent batch of kitchen medicine. 

How to Make an Oxymel:

Materials Needed:

Dried plant material of choice

Raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother)

Raw honey

Clean Mason Jar

Wax paper or plastic lid for jar

Kitchen strainer

Cheesecloth (optional for a finer strain)

Note: this is a folk medicine reparation, so the size of your jar will determine how much honey and vinegar you need. Play with it until it feels right!

Step One:

Select a dried herb of your choice. It is suggested that you use dried herbs for this preparation, as fresh herbs still contain water and may cause early spoilage as your oxymel macerates. 

Step Two:

Fill a clean mason jar ¼ full with your herb of choice. 

Step Three:

In a separate container, mix equal parts vinegar and honey together and stir until combined. Use as much as you need to cover your herbs and fill your jar to the top, but try to be mindful to use equal amounts of honey and vinegar. 

Step 4:

Pour the honey and vinegar mixture over your herbs and fill your jar to the top. 

Step 5:

Give it a stir to make sure everything is combined, and then put a lid on it! 

If your mason jar has a metal lid, I suggest placing a piece of wax paper between the jar and lid to avoid any metal corrosion making its way into your extract. Store in a dark, cool place, and shake daily for two weeks. 

Step Six: 

After two weeks, strain your mixture into a clean jar and enjoy! 

Tip: Honey and vinegar are a soothing, warming combination. I enjoy preparing traditional elderberry syrup ingredients as an oxymel during the winter months to keep the immune response strong. Want to try it out for yourself? You can find my elderberry syrup kit here

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