Spicebush, or Lindera benzoin, is my favorite plant. I literally have no idea why. It's not especially beautiful, or magically potent in medicine, but its unique, delicious fragrance, flavor and brilliant, abundant berries makes it my favorite none the less. You can see my post from last year to learn more about the specifics and history of this lovely native plant, but quickly I'll highlight its magic.
Spicebush is in the laurel family, alongside another amazing native plant rich with lore and medicine, sassafras. Spicebush is dioecious, meaning it has male and female flowers on separate plants. It's unique, papery thin leaves ensure this understory plant can maximize its sunlight absorption.
Two nights ago, I learned that a person who was special in my life some years ago has left this Earth. It was a strange and hollow feeling. We had lost touch for a variety of reasons, and details aside, I was feeling very dark and introspective yesterday. As I've mentioned in the past, foraging and woods wandering is always my go-to when I feel darkness surround me. I used to share sweetness and foraging with this person. So when I saw the Spicebush berries hanging in huge abundance from the bushes in the forest near my home, I immediately knew what to do. This person and I used to live together, you see, at my old property, which we had all named Lindera after the robust spicebush population on our land.
I make Spicebush honey for many reasons, one being its great medicine for colds and flu, and heck, it tastes awesome. Somewhat spicy, orangey almost. You can use this honey to add to other medicinal teas, drizzle on hot cornbread, or just straight up eat by the spoonful when your feeling the need for a bit of warming fire.
First off. Place spicebush berries in a clean, dry jar. I add enough good vodka to the berries to lightly coat them when swirling the jar around before I add the honey. See above.
I like to rough the berries up a bit with a spoon. I smoosh 'em around to let that alcohol and honey soak on into the fragrant fruits.
Then I just plop that honey right on top. I use a local Haw Creek Honey because our bees need all they have to make it through the winter.
I stir it up to mix the alcohol and honey. I like to add a bit of alcohol when I use fresh herbs in honey, as there is always a risk of things going off if they have water content. I'll let this sit for about 3-5 days and then gently heat the jar in a water bath and strain out the berries. I like to use the left over, honey-covered berries in a short decoction to make spicebush chai tea. Recipe coming. Soon.
When I enjoy this honey in a few weeks. I will do so while thinking of my lost friend. I make this in honor of them. And I hope that they are in a place of peace and comfort after a long struggle. My struggle here is short and fleeting in comparison to what they went through, but these small comforts help warm my heart until it feels strong again. Hold your loved ones close, and let the plants and their magic hold you as well.
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