Autumn is the time of year where we shift our focus to what is growing below the ground and for herb harvesters, this means digging up some roots. It’s also the time of year when the shift in seasons can bring us all down with irritating colds. Thankfully, there are a number of herbs at their prime right now and we can rely upon these to provide an antidote to the sorest of throats.
Common marshmallow – Althaea officinalis – is one of these herbs and is the key ingredient in our herbal cough syrup. The root contains high quantities of mucilage, a gelatinous substance that helps to sooth inflammation – and also the substance that they first made marshmallow sweets out of. To extract this we make a maceration from the freshly harvested roots (you can also used dried root) by soaking it in cold water for 8 hours or overnight.
Herbal Cough Syrup Recipe
25g of herb leaves eg. sage, thyme
25g marshmallow root
25g ginger root
1 litre of water
about a 1kg sugar
Place the marshmallow roots in cold water and leave to infuse for 7 hours or overnight.
Cut up the ginger and place into a saucepan and cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes - this is a decoction
Turn off the heat and add the herb leaves to the pan and infuse for 15 minutes
Strain the mixture into a measuring jug. Strain the marshmallow and combine both infusions.
Add the same amount of sugar as their is liquid (tip: if you have 850ml of water, add 850 g of sugar)
Heat the mixture continually until the sugar has dissolved
Allow to cool and then pour into sterilised bottles
Dosage: 1 tablespoon up to 6 times a day. Take on its own or dissolve a spoonful in a cup of hot water.