Garlic (Allium sativum), the pungent kitchen herb, known for its ability to ward off vampires and the like, is a staple in most people’s diets. Not only is garlic a main feature in our culinary world it demands presence in our medicinal home apothecary for its ability to produce numerous health benefits. Combine all these wonderful components and you get a super-food that can be grown and sourced locally and stored for long periods of time with ease.
Garlic, a member of the Lily family, cousin to onions, leeks and chives is arranged in a head, called a “bulb.” Averaging about 2 inches in height and diameter and consisting of numerous small separate cloves, Garlic comes beautifully wrapped by nature in paper-like sheathes that can be white, off-white, or have a pink/purple hue. The taste of garlic is like no other—it hits the palate with a hot pungency that is shadowed by subtle background sweetness.
Native to central Asia, Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Ancient Egyptians were the first to cultivate this plant that played an important role in their culture. Garlic was not only bestowed with sacred qualities and placed in the tomb of Pharaohs, but it was given to the slaves that built the Pyramids to enhance their endurance and strength.
Garlic was introduced into various regions throughout the globe by migrating cultural tribes and explorers. By the 6th century BC, Garlic was known in both China and India, the latter country using it for therapeutic purposes.
Garlic provides numerous health benefits including:
- Heart health support
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antibacterial and antiviral benefits
- Anti-cancer support
Garlic can be used both as a preventative medicine to ward off potential viral and bacterial invasions or to keep your cholesterol levels in check as well as an acute medicine to tackle these conditions in their immediate concern.
A fantastic addition to the culinary or apothecary cabinet is to create an acetum of Garlic. An acetum is a herbalist’s word for a vinegar extract of herbs. Follow the recipe to create a simple, cost effective way to make a medicine that has countless uses.
WITCHES’ BREW aka FIRE CIDER
A favourite with the Herb Club at Emery Herbals, Witches’ Brew (or Warlocks’ Brew as the case may be) combines easy to access kitchen herbs to create a delicious way to keep the vampires at bay.
Organic, raw, apple cider vinegar
3 parts Garlic, peeled and chopped
2 parts Onion, peeled and chopped
1 part Ginger, fresh or dried, shredded
1 part brown and yellow mustard seed
½ part hot peppers of your liking (optional)
½ part black peppercorns
½ part horseradish root peeled and shredded
½ part combined optional herbs such as cinnamon, turmeric, and rosemary
Combine all the ingredients to loosely fill a mason jar. Pour the Apple Cider Vinegar over the contents to cover. Cap, label and shake daily for 3 – 6 weeks, storing in a cool, dark place. Strain through layers of cheesecloth or fine mesh fabric, filtering out all herb matter. Pour into amber bottles and label for storage.
Use as a salad dressing ingredient, combine with oil for a topping on rice and other grains, and take 1 teaspoon in a glass of water as an invigorating tonic. Shelf life is about 6 – 8 months.
Want to make an even more delicious medicine? Try combining one part of your Witches’ Brew with one part raw honey, slowing heat to melt together. This unbelievably delicious combination is called an Oxymel in the herb world.
It is recommended to check in with your local health practitioner for guidance if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have any outstanding health concerns prior to introducing new supplements or herbs to your routine.
Save the Date! On Saturday, September 26th from 10 – 1, Colleen Emery will be teaching Natural Strategies to Boost the Immune System, hosted by Slocan Recreation. This workshop is a comprehensive, strategy based discussion on many of the techniques to incorporate that build and maintain a healthy immune system function. Everything from common childhood illness, vaccine awareness to food sensitivities and gut health will be covered.
Colleen Emery is the owner and Master Herbalist of Emery Herbals Dispensary, Healing Suites and Teaching Centre in the heart of Winlaw, BC. Colleen is passionate about empowering individuals and families to take charge of their wellness through fostering traditional skills and connection to the natural world.