What is an Herbal Oxymel?
Oxymels are liquid infused herbal medicine with a vinegar and honey base. This is old fashioned medicine which is well suited for the modern age. There are many different ways to make an oxymel but this method combines the extraction potency of infused vinegars with the flavor of honey.
Vinegars should be infused ahead of time for maximum efficacy. I strongly advice using apple cider vinegar although other vinegars can be used. Stick with organic products. This is medicine. For patients that cannot tolerate alcohol tinctures, herbal vinegar is a good option.
Honey is a fine preservative but does not extract as well. The moisture from plant matter shortens the shelf life of honey based syrups. The combination is infused vinegar and honey blend into constituent rich brew.
I like to add a little extra zing to my oxymels. I put in aromatic barks or roots or resinous plant parts that are tricky to extract in vinegar at the end of the oxymel process. Starchy herbs can turn an herbal vinegar cloudy after infusing for a long time. Some aromatic herbs are so flavorful that they will overpower a vinegar after sitting for only a few days or get musky in the vinegar. It bothers some people so I save this for the last part of the process. See the list below for later process oxymel herb ideas.
Oxymel Making Tutorial
This is a basic procedure, not a recipe. I haven’t included specific measurements but have instead described the process and what to look for as you’re working. For specific recipes using this technique, see The Practical Herbalist Recipes.
Equipment you’ll need to make an oxymel:
- Bottle with a tightly-fitting lid (or a similar jar made from a non-reactive material)
- Measuring cups
- Rubber scraper or spatula
- Label for your finished product
Ingredients for making an oxymel:
- Herbally infused vinegar
- Dry herbs from list above (optional)
- Strainer if optional dry herbs are used
Procedure for making an oxymel:
- Measure your ingredients using these approximate ratios: 1 part infused vinegar to 1 part or 1 1/2 parts honey. Some infused vinegars are surprisingly sweet. They don’t need as much honey to make them palatable.
- Heat the infused vinegar to steaming, not boiling.
- Add the honey.
- If you would like to add a dry herb, do so now.
- Cover the saucepan with the lid.
- Cook on low for 10 minutes.
- Remove the finished product from the stove and let sit for another 10 minutes with lid in place.
- Place the funnel in the bottle.
- If dry herbs were used, place the strainer in the funnel to remove herbs.
- Pour cooled liquid into the bottle.
- Label and enjoy.
Storage and Shelf Life
Store your finished oxymel in the refrigerator for 6 months to a year.