Elderflower and Ginger Kefir

Elderflower and Ginger Kefir

 

Supporting health and wellbeing is one of the reasons Bedstraw + Madder was born. Replacing toxic chemical dyes, with healing anti-inflammatory plant colour. 

It doesn’t stop there though. We love to share all the things we have learnt and continue to learn along the way about supporting our health. As when our bodies thrive, we can flourish.

We all have bacteria that live in our gut. The right foods can nourish our gut bacteria for the better and help them proliferate, we call these probiotics. Excess junk food, chemicals and sugar can cause the opposite and encourage fungal overgrowth like candida which impacts our ability to be able to fight of disease. Our good bacteria play an integral role in almost every aspect of our health and immunity, even our mental health.

The link between our gut and our brain was an unknown in the mainstream for years but recent studies show conclusive evidence between the health of our colon and the state of our mind as well as the health of our skin.

So how can we support the good bacteria in our gut to prosper?

One way the Bedstraw team enjoy is with water kefir, especially in the Summer months.

Dairy free, it is a beverage with benefits and one to try if you haven’t already.

Water kefir is a fermented carbonated drink made from water kefir grains. Unlike the milk kefir it is made by combining water, grains, sugar and dried fruit together for 48 hours in a kilner jar until fermentation occurs. (don’t worry the grains digest the sugar as part of the fermentation process)  

You can buy the grains easily online.

Of course, being passionate about plants and the power they hold for our health we bring them into all our recipes. Throughout the year there are different herbs or flowers that can be a powerful addition to bring anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits.

It is elderflower season so this combination uses elderflower and fresh ginger.

Elderflower has a host of benefits but has a particular affinity with the respiratory system and sinuses. Isn’t nature clever. Plants appear in the season when they are most needed. Elderflower appears during hay fever season and reduce the symptoms.

Just like every human being on earth, they each have a role to play, a raison d’etre.. 

Ginger increases blood circulation and our ability to sweat so is energising without the need for sugar or caffeine.

Give it a whirl…

 


Ingredients:

Place your water kefir grains in a 1 litre kilner jar

Add 3 spoonful’s of brown sugar

Add one piece of dried fruit ( fig, apricot, 6 raisins)

Fill the jar up with unchlorinated filtered tap water.

Leave in a sunny spot for 3 days and watch for it to get fizzy.

Drain the contents and place in a bottle in the fridge to stop the fermentation process and consume within 2-3 days.

 

The secret to a healthy body is a healthy gut…

The Art of Drying your own Herbs

The Art of Drying your own Herbs

Drying herbs to support yourself or your family throughout the year is one of the most rewarding things we can do for our health. Nature provides us with herbal solutions and supports for all our ailments, it’s just often we don’t know which ones are for what and how to use them.

As a naturopath I have always cultivated in my garden the herbs or "weeds" I find most healing. Drying is the easiest method of preserving herbs, allowing you to benefit from their magic throughout the year and store them in the years when they are less abundant.

(Although a fresh supply each year is ideal)

Gathering your herbs

It is best to gather your leaves, flowers and stems on a waxing moon. Due to the gravitational pull of the moon the plants vital energies and fluids are flowing upwards into the plant. Roots on the other hand are best gathered on a waning moon when the opposite is the case.

The best time of day to harvest most herbs for the drying process is in the morning after the dew has lifted as you want your herbs as dry as possible before the drying process starts to avoid mould. When choosing flowers, choose the ones that are in the bud stage just before opening.

Harvesting in line with the season it is good to follow the energy of the plant and note that:

Roots are best gathered in the Autumn when the tops of the plants are dying back and the energy of the plant returns to its roots as a store for winter.

Leaves are best picked in early spring before the plant flowers.

Flowers are best picked when they are in bud about to come into full flower and full energy.

How to dry your herbs successfully?

When drying herbs be careful not to bruise or crush the leaves or flowers. Plantain is a good example, if they bruise, they can ferment and turn black when dry. Don’t leave your picked herbs lying in the sun either as they can lose essential oils.

The parts of the plants we often dry are the flowering tops as this is where most of the energy is within the plant. The simplest way of drying is in hanging bundles. The trick is not to make your bundles too big to allow the moisture to escape and avoid them going mouldy. Using string or raffia tie your bundles at the stem and leave to hang upside down in a warm well-ventilated area. You could use a fan if you wanted to speed up the process. Drying can take between 3 - 7days.

 

You can also use a dehydrator although this uses energy. Set your dehydrator to 35-46 celsius and place the herbs in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Drying times can vary considerably so check regularly. Herbs are dry when they crumble, and stems break when bent.

Storing your herbs

Once dried use your hands to remove the leaves and flowers from any woody stalks depending on the herbs you are drying. It makes them more storable and allows them to be utilised more effectively in making teas, crumbling into food or just to fit into a jar when making tinctures and oxymels.

They are best stored in a tinted glass jar with a good fitting lid away from direct sunlight and heat.

Store herbs separately.

How to use your dried herbs?

The two main ways I use dried herbs is as a tincture or Oxymel (we will share some over the next few months) or simply as a tea infusion.

A lovely tea combination I make regularly is Elderflower, Nettle and peppermint. This can be a real anti-inflammatory support during the hay ever season and a general tonic and digestive support.

Combine equal amounts of dried elderflowers with crumbled nettle and peppermint leaves.

 Place a teaspoon full in a tea strainer and infuse for 15 minutes before drinking.

calendula oil vegan skincare recipe

Marigold and its Many Uses

Marigolds are blooming in gardens all over the UK at the moment. Pollinators like bees love them and they have so many uses so make a great addition to our lives.

 

As natural dye enthusiasts we naturally get drawn to growing our own dye stuffs. One of the easiest of these is marigold. They flower from Spring through to Autumn and can be used fresh or dried.

The best types for dyeing are French marigolds or Tagetes.

Natural Dyeing

Instructions:

Pick enough marigold flowers so they equal to or are double the weight of the fabric (WOF) you are dyeing.

Place in a plan and fill it with water, cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Then turn off and allow flowers to steep ideally overnight and extract their colour. 

Strain the flowers. Add your mordanted fabric and warm the water before leaving to sit until desired colour is achieved.

You can also use dried or fresh marigold petals for bundle dyeing.

We will be sharing our bundle dyeing experiments later in the summer.

Cooking

Marigolds add colour and powerful antioxidants to your salads and cooking so don’t be afraid to throw them into stews, rice, dahls etc. They are also very decorative for the top of biscuits and cakes.

 

A cup of marigold tea can be healing for the stomach lining.

Insecticide

French marigold also known as tagetes can be used to make a spray for keeping whitefly, aphids and spider mites at bay as well as some other less welcome visitors to your garden.

Planting them amongst your vegetables can act as a deterrent too! 

Instructions:

Combine 2 cups of water with 1 cup of marigold flowers, stems, leaves in a blender.

Leave to ferment for 2 days and bottle. Then spray on your affected plants.

 

Pets

You can also use the above marigold spray on treasured pets like dogs and horses to keep flies away.

Skincare

Marigold also known as Calendula is one of our greatest healers and was an important medicine in ancient Greece. With its natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties it prevents infections and heals injuries so is often used in skincare.

For a simple hydrating moisturiser. Fill a jam jar half full of dried calendula petals and pour over an organic base oil that works with your skin such as olive, almond or jojoba. Leave to infuse for 6 weeks to 3 months or until the oil turns a yellow hue. Strain and use.

When growing marigolds in your garden don’t forget to keep the cycle going its important to gather the seeds which are at the bottom of the  flower heads. Harvest the seeds when the petals are dry and the base of each bloom is turning brown. Remove each head from the stem and store in a dry place.

They bring a huge amount of joy and their colours are uplifting. I encourage you to try growing some varieties in your garden. Try dwarf, French or Pot as a starting point.

 

 

Oaty, Lemon Balm Biscuit Recipe

Oaty, Lemon Balm Biscuit Recipe


Every plant and herb has something to share with us or to support us with, whether that's on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.

There is an old saying that the plants that grow around you are often the ones that we most need for our own healing.

If we are curious and take time to connect we can learn what they are.

We try and incorporate healing herbs into our lives across the clothes that we wear, the food that we eat and the environment that we place ourselves in.

The lemon balm in my garden is abundant at the moment so I am welcoming its healing energy and benefits into my life. You can do the same.

Adding uplifting herbs like mint and lemon balm to a bouquet of flowers that we have in our home can be a real boost for our body, as just the smell of lemon balm for example can lift mood and improve brain function.⁠

Or why not include it in your cooking?

Here is a lovely simple recipe for incorporating lemon balm into a delicious afternoon snack!

Ingredients:

7g finely chopped lemon balm leaves ( choose the youngest freshest leaves)

1 tsp of lemon juice

225g butter

100g sugar or jaggery

200g white spelt flour

100g fine porrige oats

2 pinches of salt

Instructions:

1. Chop lemon balm in a nutribullet with the lemon juice until fine.

2. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl.

3.Beat the egg into the herb and lemon mixture and add to butter.

4. Add the flour, salt and porridge oats and bring together. It should form a dough. You can add a little flour if it needs.

5. Roll in ball and place in the fridge for an hour to cool.

6. Then roll out and cut with a pastry cutter.

6. Place on a baking sheet in the oven at 180c for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

I leave you with a quote about this magical herb from the great 17th Century Herbalist Culpepper..

"Lemon Balm causes the mind and heart to become merry"

X Prim

Natural Dyeing with Hawthorn

Natural Dyeing with Hawthorn

 

As you walk along country lanes and park hedgerows you will be greeted by the hawthorn blossom. It has finally sprung and it beckons for us to benefit from its feminine healing powers.

Hawthorn has its strongest affinity with the heart. Opening us to giving and receiving Love. It encourages self-love and self-acceptance strengthening our inner courage. In fact the word courage comes from the latin for "cor" which means "heart" suggesting that the vulnerability that comes with opening our heart is what it means to be courageous. We love to wear powerful herbs against our skin.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body, its thin dermal layers absorbing the physical and energetic qualities of the plants, our allies, that we have been connected to for generations.

We have been experimenting with it as a plant dye. Using the flowers and leaves combined it creates a beautiful coral pink. 

If you would like to try this at home here are some instructions: Fill a saucepan full with flowers and leaves. Cover with water at least 2cm above the top of the hawthorn. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour then leave in to cool .

Use a pan large enough to allow the fabric some room if you want an even colour.

Place your pan on the hob and bring to the boil before simmering gently for 1 hour.

Keep checking to see how the dye colour is looking and when you are happy strain out the skins and place your material in the dye bath.

 

Keep on a gentle heat and move fabric around freely. For deeper colours leave the fabric to sit in the dye overnight and cool. 

When doing natural dyeing you need to prepare the fabrics. You can do this with a metallic based mordant (instructions here) or alternatively a protein rich mordant like Soya, Cow or Goats milk. 

For this fabric we mordanted with goats milk and water in a 1:1 ratio

 

This involved soaking the silk (you can use cotton or linen too) in goats milk, then putting on a spin cycle to wring out excess milk without leaving streaks before placing on the line to dry. Repeat this process without rinsing 3 times minimum. Once dry leave another 24 hours - 1 week to help the milk adhere.

For this mottled effect I crunched it up the fabric as I moved it about in the dye bath. 

I also took it out after an initial soak, dried it then placed it back in the dye bath. 

With Love + Knickers...