Archives for posts with tag: elderberry

a participant during Nuit Blanche in Griffintown trys out Snow Painting

This past weekend during the Montreal High Lights Festival, we participated in Nuit Blanche in the Griffintown Cultural Corridor. It was a great deal of fun to put our recent experiments in Herbal Snow Painting to the test.

Despite the cold, we had many keen public participants join us in creating some snow paintings!

the first image was a tree with robins on a hill

We began the day with a large canvas; on this we painted a tree and birds using alkanet and plantain, cabbage, nettles, blueberry, turmeric, coffee, beets, and hibiscus. We moved the activity along the expanse of our large snow-hill, stenciling some simple leaf-shapes in amongst the poles and pilons that poked up through the snow. This intervention would hopefully give people pause on their daily walks.

The Community Participation area was a lot of fun to fill with boldly painted graphic designs.

a participant paints a snowy garden

There was a little shed at the end of this (regularly a parking lot) space, and it housed a fibre arts installation. The fibre artists in this shed were a little frustrated that people were not making their way to their exhibit, so we went about remedying that problem.

leaves amongst the poles

Patterned, stenciled leaves, boldly painted arrows, and beautiful colours glowing in the snow enticed people to enter this parking-lot space. They could see that it wasn’t just barren and empty; it was alive and vibrant with activity, colour, and interesting smells!

Tammy used a delicate touch to pour elderberries, then sprayed hibiscus... a dash of Love

We encouraged people to try out snow painting for themselves, and we had many takers. Some very beautiful temporary paintings were made that day, and we took great joy in documenting the activity.

an herbal graffitist...

We will be continuing with our Snow Paintings. We will paint around the city, and host some workshops on the subject in the very near future (before the snow melts!)

One concern we have with sharing the work in public, is that unsuspecting people might assume that the work was made with toxic spraypaints. To deal with this, in the future we will tag our creations with a stenciled “fleurbain” signature, and the words “herbal pigments”.

Hopefully over time people will recognise this means that the pigments we use are not only non-toxic and natural, but are even downright edible.

dribbled heart

Keep your eyes open, Montreal, for renegade Snow Paintings… and keep your eyes on our Workshops Page for upcoming events!

To see the full album of photos from this day, go to our facebook page.

spiral and leaves

universal herbalism

pilon button

the impermanence of plant pigments on snow contrast well with the bright lights of an electric city

tasting the paint... normally you can't do this with paint.

Natasha Henderson and Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

elderberries, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves & elderflowers, yarrow, peppermint

Elderberry syrups are everywhere these days.

I love the fact that these products are available but I often wince at the price tag.  It is like anything though, you are paying for the convenience and the availability… and maybe a touch of hype?  I know how to make elderberry syrup, and I can tell you that it is not very expensive to make.   It’s no wonder that this syrup is in demand: elderberries are anti-inflammatory, relaxingly diaphoretic, antiviral against many viruses and a wee bit laxative in regular doses.  These little berries are helpful in cases of colds, sore throats and flus.

I like to keep elderberries on-hand. One of the advantages in doing so is that I do not have always make a syrup.  I can make a decoction of the berries, and then add little honey. Sometimes I forego the honey, since  it’s important to avoid sugar; too much sugar gives my immune system a lot to deal with. This will ultimately set me back.  On the other hand, there is a disadvantage to avoiding sugars in herbal preparations. In this case, an elderberry decoction has a much shorter shelf life – like between 24 and 72 hours – if kept in the fridge.  I add honey and make an elder berry syrup in cases where I want a longer shelf life, if I am dealing with people who are new to herbal remedies, or who have sensitive palates.

Elderberry Syrup

The most basic syrup is elderberries simmered for a long while in water, then squished, strained and composted. Add honey to the final decoction.  As always, I can add all sorts of tasty and useful ingredients to make it my own lil’ creation.

First Step

1/2 cup dried elderberries (50 grams)

3 cups of water

In a sauce pan, bring cold water and berries to a boil, then slowly simmer until it is reduced to 1/2 the amount, between one cup and one and a half cups.

Second Step: Squish the berries to release the juice, Strain with a strainer lined with cheese cloth.  Compost the berries.

Third Step: Mix 1 cup of raw honey into the hot decoction.  Sometimes I add tinctures, like 50 ml of echinacea.

Fourth Step: Put the syrup into a suitable container with a tight fitting lid, making sure that there is not a lot of head space.  Label clearly, note ingredients, suggested uses and the date it was made. Use within 2-3 months (before the end of the winter).

How I use the syrup: I take a teaspoon of the syrup several times a day if I am fighting a cold or flu because it will generally decrease the severity and duration of the illness.  It is nice to stir it into a tea… perhaps the elderflower, mint and yarrow tea?

The decoction: Take 1 tablespoon of the berries and put in a sauce pan with 2 cups of cold water.  Add fresh ginger or cinnamon if you would like.  Slowly simmer this until it is reduced by half or for a half an hour.  Remove from the heat.  If you want, add a teaspoon or two of dried leaves and flowers to this (yarrow, mint, elderflower) and steep for 10 minutes before straining everything.  This might seem like a strong brew, so I take a 1/4 cup every couple hours.  I drink other tea and water in addition to this because I know that I want to get a lot of fluids into my system when I am fighting something.

THE DIY elderberry syrup kit!

Take the ingredients of your choosing and put them in a little muslin bag.  Or put them in a cute jar that could hold the syrup after it is ready made.  Attach clear instructions on how to make, use and store this syrup.  Add a little container of ye olde traditional blend of peppermint, elderflower and yarrow. Decorate as desired.  The ready made syrup is a nice gift too.  I like the dried berries and such because it is easier to transport and people have the choice of making a decoction without sweetener or a syrup.

optional additions:

1 stick of cinnamon , 5 cloves, 3 crushed cardamom pods, 1 tablespoon echinacea root, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, a few slices of raw ginger

*glycerites of elderberry are also wonderful.

** the elderberries I am referring to are Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis.  Be sure to know what berries you are working with.  The red berry elders are toxic.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

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