Kids can be pretty picky about taking herbal medicines. If it tastes bitter or strange, they don’t want anything to do with it. Some herbs can be tough for adults to ingest, too.
Before reading this article, your options may have been limited to: 1) choke it down, or 2) stay sick. (I guess there is a third option: Add Kool-Aid mix to your nasty herb tea and pray it doesn’t become nasty Kool-Aid.)
But today, I’m going to show you a fourth option, and it’s much better than any of the other three.
Today, I’m going to show you how to make electuaries.
An electuary is a mixture of powdered herbs with a sweet binder. You can use honey, maple syrup, or any other sticky substance. My favorite is peanut butter.
For an herb with a pleasant or neutral taste, I typically use equal parts herb and peanut butter. However, the proportions are very flexible and can be altered depending on the taste of the herb and the finickiness of the eater.
One of the reasons I like peanut butter is that it gives you more flexibility with proportions. Add too much honey or syrup, and an electuary will turn into a runny mess. But peanut butter is thick enough to stay in place, no matter what proportion you choose.
Spoon your herb powder and peanut butter into a bowl and stir them up with a spoon. Then roll them into balls and store them in an airtight container. (Wet your hands first before rolling them, or they’ll stick to you.)
Refrigeration is not strictly necessary, unless using maple syrup, but it will extend their shelf life. Electuaries should last a couple of weeks in the fridge. I say “should,” because ours always disappear long before then. They’re like herbal cookies—too delicious!
You can also store them in the freezer. This extends the shelf life into months. Also, I think the frozen ones just taste better. If you prefer honey or syrup, the freezer also helps to firm them up. You might even spoon them into molds, like these gummy bear molds I bought off Amazon.
I recommend finely ground herb powders for electuaries. Coarser-ground herbs affect the texture and are too noticeable while eating.
Dosing electuaries is easier than you may think, because you don’t have to worry about factoring in the binder. Just measure your initial amount of powdered herb, and divide up your finished product to match.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you’re starting out with 4 tablespoons of powdered herb. Add your peanut butter (or other binder) and stir it all up. It doesn’t matter how much peanut butter you add. If your desired dosage is 1 tablespoon, divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Each part now contains 1 tablespoon of herbs.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s move on to some fun variations.
Sometimes you really need to hide those herbs. Maybe it’s an extra picky child or an extra nasty herb. In either case, a little extra sweetness can go a long way. My favorite option is to add some raw honey to the mix. This doesn’t make the mix too terribly sticky, and the honey adds many medicinal benefits.
Alternately, you could make a peanut-butter-and-jelly electuary. These can be a bit messier, depending on your jelly, but who doesn’t love a good PB&J?
Finally, you could always fall back on sugar. I know it’s not healthy. But desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.
Here is my minimal-sugar suggestion: Don’t add sugar directly to your electuary mixture. Instead, form the electuary into a ball as normal. Then sprinkle sugar onto a plate and roll the electuary around on it. This way you only sweeten the outside, minimizing the sugar content while retaining a burst of sweetness. Plus, this option lets you make some with sugar and some without.
What’s better than biting into a yummy electuary? Finding a treat inside. To make these sneaky snacks, form your electuaries around the tasty edible of your choice. My suggestions are chocolate chips, nuts, cherries, raisins, or dried cranberries.
Make a few of each and put them all in the same container. Now every bite will be a surprise!
Now let’s really turn up the “wow” factor. It’s time to impress your friends and coworkers, and get your family to cheer. These electuary options will make you the talk of your herbal community.
Herbs and Spices
Raid your spice cabinet to add some zing to your electuaries. Try adding a dash of nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon to the mix. Or stir in cocoa powder to craft a truly decadent treat.
Feeling really bold? Add some cayenne pepper. Yum!
I said earlier that electuaries were like herbal cookies. Well, these actually are herbal cookies. Note that cooking the herbs is pretty hard on their medicinal components. The cooking time is fairly short in this recipe, but you would still be best off choosing a hardy herb. Something that could handle decoction1)Decoction: A preparation in herbal medicine in which the medicinal components of a plant are extracted through boiling or simmering in water for an extended time. This method is often used on tougher plant parts, such as roots, twigs, or bark. A decoction is similar to an infusion, but uses more heat over a longer period of time. would be ideal.
Also, this recipe uses a lot of sugar. I’d say we’re on the very outer fringes of herbal medicine at this point. You’ve been warned.
Mix 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg, and your desired herbs in a bowl. Oil a cookie sheet and spoon the mixture out as desired. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 10 minutes. Then take them out and let them cool. Optionally, you can add a Hershey’s kiss to the center while they’re cooling. Now you’ve got a delicious desert that’s at least a little bit healthier than a normal cookie.
No-bake electuaries involve some heat, but this recipe is much easier on the herbs than the previous one. Combine 1-3/4 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in a saucepan. Bring it all to a boil, and let it cook for about a minute and a half. Now remove it from the stovetop and stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter, 3 cups of quick cooking oats, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and your desired quantity of herbs. Distribute spoonfuls onto wax paper and let them cool.
Dosing is easy to figure out. Take your total quantity of herbs and divide it by the number of cookies you ended with. That’s your dose per cookie.
The heading pretty much says it all. Make an electuary as normal, then dip it in melted chocolate. Now pop in into the freezer to harden and you have another gourmet delight. You could do the same thing with any other coating medium. Try caramel-covered or yogurt-covered electuaries.
To be perfectly honest, a lot of these last options are not the healthiest, which might partially defeat the purpose of an electuary. However, these can be a fun project to make with the kids, and can be a really good way to introduce herbal medicine to a public who thinks we’re out here chewing on sticks and roots all day.
Now you have everything you need to craft delicious herbal medicines. Mix and match any of these techniques to become an electuary master, and never have your family members turn their noses up at an herbal medicine again.
Have you made electuaries before? Do any of these ideas sound tempting? Do you have any other ideas for spices, fillings, or other variations? Let me know in the comments.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Decoction: A preparation in herbal medicine in which the medicinal components of a plant are extracted through boiling or simmering in water for an extended time. This method is often used on tougher plant parts, such as roots, twigs, or bark. A decoction is similar to an infusion, but uses more heat over a longer period of time.|
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