Wednesday, September 3, 2014

She calls is "Grammy Medicine"

I have a dear friend named Korhenna, and her Grammy Sue was a dear and close friend of mine, a sister. A Sister.
Earlier this summer, Korhenna and I got together to make some Grammy Medicine, as she calls it, which is basically Sue's version of my own Grandma's Magic Healing Salve. Sue would often make oil extracts of individual herbs such as Lemon Balm, and especially Poplar Bud, and then combine them to make the salve we had all come to know and love.
One of the differences between her traditional salve recipe and mine is that she includes a good deal of the Poplar Bud oil in the mix, and it gives is a pretty reddish-brown color, earthy and beautiful like Sue.


Korhenna and I took a walkabout on my place, picking all sorts of herbs and flowers, including plantain, comfrey, yarrow, St. John's wort, and self-heal. We put the leaves and flowers in a large bowl (our popcorn bowl!) and cut them up with scissors until the pieces were much smaller. We didn't want to make a mash out of it, just allow for more surface area for the oil to penetrate.

I didn't think to photograph the whole process, but we put the herbs in a slow cooker with plenty of olive oil to cover. Then we set the heat to the lowest setting and left the lid off. That part of the work (which was more like play) was done, the only thing to do then was play a few games of Sorry!, eat lunch, go swimming, visit our circle sister Bobbi, have ice cream, then my friend had to go home. Korhenna left the oil extract with me to tend, and when it was time, I gently heated the Poplar Bud oil before adding it to the green oil.

Strained the oily mass to measure how much oil I had to know how much beeswax to use, approximately. The photo below shows all the green color gone from the leaves.

After the oil is strained, and the beeswax melted into the oil, I use the "jelly technique" to test for waxy hardness: have a little dish waiting in the fridge, and when you want to test, put a small spoonful on the plate, let cool, and test for your preferred viscosity. I like it somewhat firm, but still easy to dip into, about 2 cups oil to about 2 ounces wax... but each batch is different, so you really do have to experiment.

We got a full case of 12 quarter/pint jars (4 ounces) plus several one ounce jars. Naturally, there is a bit of technique to getting the warm oil into the jars without making a mess. Paper towels help wipe the outside of the jars, but finding the right size scoop or measuring cup can work wonders in making it easier!

We are very happy with how the salve turned out. It may not be exactly like Grammy Sue's medicine, but it was made by a gramma, and a granddaughter, and we were blessed by the Mother to have such a memorable and dear time together. Now that's medicine!