One day a guy tried to sell me a supplement made from the red colour that is naturally occurring in raspberries. At the time, I laughed and laughed. Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits, why would I start taking them in a capsules and miss out on the full experience of tasting them?
Many people take supplements of particular parts of plants. Research has helped state the benefits of these plant constituents in a precise manner and people can supplement with high doses of these constituents. And in the case of raspberries, research tells us that the colour in raspberries are anthocyanin pigments. Found in blue-red fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, grapes, hawthorn, cherries, and raspberries, anthocyanin pigments are one of the 5 families of flavonoids. Flavonoids function as plant pigments in colourful fruits and flowers and they are abundant in plants. They are known for anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-carcinogenic and antiviral properties. Anthocyanidins are also important anti-inflammatories that aid in wound healing by reinforcing the natural cross link of collagen that forms the matrix of connective tissue. And as I type this, I wish I was enjoying these little blue-red bundles of beneficial constituents.
In some cases, it makes sense to supplement the diet with therapeutic doses of particular plant constituents. For the most part, I prefer to get these beneficial plant constituents from the plants themselves. I enjoy eating and drinking; it is as simple as that. I also see a spiritual aspect to it all.
Water is a universal solvent. We get this because most of us at some point have witnessed someone making tea and coffee. Alcohol is a fine preservative and solvent. Sugar is another fine preservative. What do you get when you put the three together and add a few botanicals? A stable liquid that can taste good and it can even be good for you.
Delice de Sureau Image by TheDeliciousLife
If you enter the liquor store you will see many bottles that were originally tonics. In fact, many of our modern sodas were once used as tonics. These fermented beverages were important because they were stable drinks that people could rely upon. Not only in terms of safety, but also as a product that would strengthen and sustain. The people making drinks knew the benefits of the botanicals they were using and made drinks to nourish others. These days though, I feel that beverages are often a mere shell of what they once were. We don’t know what is in the bottle, it is often much too sweet and it is sweetened with highly controversial sweeteners such as GMO high-fructose corn syrup. It might be coloured with a dye that is not nutritional in any way (there go my anthocyanins!) The flavours are to mimic tastes in particular ways. It may be generally regarded as safe, but it has nothing to do with nutrition! It is the experience, the flavour sensation that is important. It is assumed that you are not looking to these drinks for any benefit other than pleasure. From this herbalist’s perspective, there is room for growth in our understanding of what we are ingesting. Rather than being pleased by a flavour that imitates something good, I would rather look for foods and drinks that taste good, because they are good for me. (And, this is not to be confused with the trend in functional foods. Good food is functional, pointe finale.)
I don’t want a world where all the pleasures of eating and drinking are gone. I am not going to start a drab way of living that involves taking supplements as a means of sustenance. At the same time, it can be tricky as I shop for food and drink because I so often fall for something that looks good, but has little benefit to me, other than a taste experience!
So, this is how I do it: I make things I might want to enjoy in the months ahead. These are two simple examples. There are many ways to keep the fun in functional.
Making a stable liqueur is easy. Use quality ingredients that are clean and mould free. Use clean vessels. Ensure that at least 25% of the volume weight is either sugar or pure alcohol or a combination of the two.
300 grams raspberries (fresh or frozen)
200 grams sugar
700 ml vodka, cognac or brandy
And for a little more inspiration: add some other flavourings: vanilla bean, organic orange peel (avoiding the white pith) and honey.
Pour the above ingredients into a mason jar. Agitate a little bit daily and let it sit for two weeks in a dark corner of your countertop. Using a cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the raspberries from the liquid. Decant the liquid into a nice (clean) bottle with a good (and clean) stopper. Use your creativity to make a charming label with the name of your product, ingredients and date that it was made. Serve as you wish, perhaps with sparkling water and a twist of lemon.
*after you are finished with the fruit, you can add it to a trifle pudding or you can bake it in a cake.
**Don’t use honey, unless you include a large amount of alcohol. Honey and water will ferment turning your product into mead. This is not a bad thing, but it does require a little more knowledge and care.
200 g raspberries
800 ml vodka (40%)
This is the exact same method as the above recipe. Pour the above ingredients into a mason jar. Agitate a little bit daily and let it sit for two weeks in a dark corner of your countertop. Using a cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the raspberries from the liquid. Decant the liquid into a nice (clean) bottle with a good (and clean) stopper. Use your creativity to make a charming label with the name of your product, ingredients and date that it was made.
Studies prove that consuming excessive amounts of sugar and alcohol is detrimental to the body. Moderation is key in fully enjoying the benefits of these beverages.
By: Tammy Schmidt, Montreal