Honey and unrefined sugar are effective preservatives and can be combined with infusions or decoctions to make syrups and cordials. They have the additional benefit of having a soothing action, and therefore make a perfect vehicle for cough mixtures as well as relieving sore throats. With their sweet taste, syrups can disguise the taste of unpalatable herbs and are therefore greatly appreciated by children.
A syrup is made with equal proportions of an herbal infusion or decoction and honey or unrefined sugar. When making an infusion or decoction for a syrup, it needs to be infused or simmered for the maximum time to optimize its medicinal action. Infusions should be infused for 15 minutes and decoctions should be simmered for 30 minutes.
Press the soaked herb through the strainer or sieve to remove as much liquid as possible. Small amounts of neat tincture can be added to the cooled syrup to increase its effectiveness.
Syrups Made with Tinctures
Syrups may also be made with tinctures instead of infusions or decoctions. Combine 500 g of honey or unrefined sugar with 1 cup (250 ml) of water. Gently heat until all the sugar or honey has dissolved and the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat. Once cool, stir 1 part of the tincture, or mixture of tinctures, into 3 parts of the syrup and bottle as directed opposite.
2 cups (500 ml) infusion or decoction, infused or heated for the maximum time (see left); 500 g honey or unrefined sugar
Take 1–2 tsp (5–10 ml) 3 times a day.
Store in dark glass bottles with cork tops in a cool place for up to 6 months.
How to Prepare
- Pour the infusion or decoction into a pan. Add the honey or sugar. Gently heat, stirring constantly until all the honey or sugar has dissolved and the mixture has a syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Pour the cooled syrup into sterilized glass jars using a funnel and store in a cool, dark place. Seal the jars with cork stoppers, because syrups are prone to ferment and may explode if kept in screw-topped bottles.