Hypocras Potion

While lost in leisure somewhere in the Loire Valley, my Frenchman and I attempted to make this storied spiced wine for the turning of the year, armed with nothing but an old rudimentary recipe.

Set an Herbal Table This Holiday Season

'Tis a simple and lovely thing to magnify the joys of your holiday table with herbs, especially at this time of seasonal scents and gift-giving.

Basic Bath Salt Recipe


1 tbsp. dendrictic salt

1 1/4 cup medium to course salt

about 30 drops essential oil


Mix essential oil into dendrictic salt. This is not an absolutely necessary step, but it is good for getting an even distribution of your essential oils. Mix thoroughly (if you use a more resinous oil such as vetiver you will need to use a mortar and pestle). Combine with all other ingredients. Store in air-tight jar.

Lavender and Goats' Milk Bath Salts


1 tbsp. dendrictic salt

1 1/4 cup medium to course salt

about 30 drops lavender essential oil

2 tbsp. goat's milk powder

1 tbsp. powdered honey optional

1/4 cup lavender

Follow instructions for Basic Bath Salts.

Aphrodite's Dream Salts


1 cup of medium to course sea salts

3 tsp. dendritic salt

1-2 tsp. liquid glycerin

1/8 tsp. jojoba

10 drops rose essential oil

15 drops ylang ylang oil

(This is a very safe essential oil combo. If you like a base note, add sandalwood or patchouli. If you like something a little more daring, try jasmine and galangal or rose and cardamom.)


Mix the essential oils into the dendritic salt. Add the sea salt to the dendritic salts. Then mix in the jojoba and the glycerin. You may want to mix this with your hands to really disperse the oil and glycerin into the salt. The oil and glycerin give these bath salts a silky smooth feel. Store in an air tight jar.

Medicinal Strength Herbal Tea

Healing teas are made by infusion, decoction, or a combination of the two.

Infusion, steeping in boiled water. This is for leaves, flowers, and soft berries or roots (like goldenseal).

Decoction, boil both the tea and the water for 20 minutes. This is used for hard berries and roots.

If the preparation time is under 20 minutes, you have not achieved medicinal strength! To get the strongest medicinal extraction from a tea, infuse or decoct for a minimum of 20 minutes then allow the tea to come to room temperature, and, finally, put the tea in the refrigerator overnight. It can be reheated (simmered, not boiled) or drunk cold. The tea can also be mixed with juice, put in a smoothie, or made into a popsicle (great for kids!). You can make two days' worth of tea at a time and store it in the refrigerator.

Herbal Vinegar

If using fresh plant material, completely fill a quart (liter) jar with herbs. If you use dried plants, fill your jar three quarters of the way. Pour vinegar over the herbs until the jar is full. Cover with a lid and let sit for four to six weeks.

Which herbs/vinegars should I use?

If you are making a vinegar for culinary purposes choose your herbs and your vinegar for taste. If you are making it for medicinal purposes, I recommend using Apple Cider vinegar. Vinegar is used to draw minerals from herbs. The wild weeds (dandelion, plantain, clover, etc.) all have high mineral content. I like keeping a vinegar made from high calcium herbs on my kitchen counter where I will (hopefully!) remember to take it!

Ginger Syrup

Ginger syrup is great right off the spoon. If you want to make ginger ale add it to carbonated water. This is a “cheat” because you don't go through the fermentation process (which is fun if you want a bigger project!).


1 c. sugar

juice of one lemon, lime, or orange

4 ounces fresh ginger root (or any other herb you feel like syruping!)


Chop the ginger root. Simmer the ginger root in 1 ½ quarts of water for 30 minutes (the more ginger and the longer the simmer, the stronger the brew). Keep a lid on the pot! Strain out the ginger pieces and measure the amount of liquid remaining. Add water so that you again have 1 ½ quarts of liquid. Add sugar and juice to this. Simmer 60 miuntes (the longer the simmer the thicker the syrup). This will create ginger syrup.

Folk Method for Making Herbal Oil

  1. Start with a clean, dry jar. Fill a glass jar halfway with dried herbs.*
  2. Add olive oil, filling to the rim. Stir out the air bubbles with a chop-stick.
  3. Put on the lid.
  4. Place the jar in a sunny window for 3-10 days (the longer the stronger!).
  5. You want the oil to heat slightly. In the winter, I put my oils on top of the radiator.
  6. Strain herbs from oil using a strainer, cheese-cloth, or square of muslin. Discard herbs.

In the kitchen, you can use herbal oils for both their flavor and health benefits. Use the oil you have infused for cooking, dipping, or as a salad dressing. For the kitchen, you'll want to use herbs such as rosemary, thyme, turmeric, or oregano.

You can also infuse oils for using externally on the body. An infusion of comfrey or arnica is great for making muscle rubs, ginger and cayenne are warming (I love to rub a warming oil on my cold toes in the winter time) and lavender or plantain will cool a bump or bite. I often add an infused oil of rose or calendula to my face creams because of their long standing reputation as skin balms.

Finally, infused oils make wonderful ingredients in other recipes such as salves, lip balms, or massage oils.

*Why dried herbs? Remember the saying “water and oil don't mix?” Fresh plants have a lot of water in them. The water can cause mold to grow in your oil. If you want to use herbs from your garden, rinse them, then lay or hang them to dry for a few days before making your oil.

Folk Method for Making an Herbal Extract

What you will need:

  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • A glass jar with lid
  • Vodka
  • Chop stick
  • Masking tape and marker
  • Straining cloth (100% cotton), cheese cloth, or strainer
  • Funnel
  • Bowl
  • Colored glass bottle to store tincture in


  1. Put herb in glass jar. If you are using fresh herbs, fill the jar. If you are using dried herbs, fill the jar three quarters of the way.
  2. Pour the vodka over the herbs. Fill the jar to the rim.
  3. Stir out air bubbles (a chop stick is good for this!).
  4. Close lid tightly.
  5. Label with the name of the herb and the date.

After 28 days or more…

  1. Strain the vodka out of herbs using a strainer, cheese-cloth, or square of muslin. Discard ballast (that's the fancy name for the used up herbs).
  2. Pour your tincture through funnel into glass bottle.
  3. Label with the name of the tincture.

Salt Scrub Recipe


1 cup salt (sea salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Epsom salt)

1/3 cup oil (olive oil, jojoba or almond)

1/8 cup honey

10 drops essential oil


Mix honey, oil and essential oil together. Pour the mixture over the sea salt.