Winter is coming and with it the season for celebrations and an exciting change in local foods. Unfortunately, terrible weather also prevails, as does an increased susceptibility to colds and flus. However, do not imagine yourself holed up in bed with a box of tissues, cringing as you force down some bitter-tasting tea. Comfort, healing and taste need not be mutually exclusive.
Ingredients sourced locally and combined with artisanal brews honor a more holistic approach to soothing symptoms, and they taste as delightful as any drink with non-medicinal qualities. The noted drinks columnist Rosie Schaap tells me, “A rosehip infusion goes well with any white liquor,” adding that the recent craze for shrub bears this out. Gin is made with juniper berries. Naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, a seventh-century version of gin was used to fight the plague. A local gin like Deepwells Botanical is perfectly delicious paired with rosehips.
Wilderness educator Chandra Elmendorf, makes collecting rosehips part of her fall routine. As per her instructions, I pluck a variety of the bright-red bulbous fruits left when petals fall off the flower. A combination of the very large beach rosehips and the very tiny wild bramble rosehips gives an infusion a complex taste with a broader range of vitamin C and antioxidants. In addition to rosehips, I keep an ample supply of whole echinacea flowers and mint from my garden and pick hearty thyme sprigs up until the first big snow to make a fragrant tea.
In December, one can begin collecting the bark, needles and sap of Eastern white pine trees. Last winter, my mother-in-law imparted a delicious family recipe for pine tree syrup used in a cheering and complex-tasting cocktail that managed to kick a painful chest cough nearly overnight.
No winter kitchen should be without fresh ginger root, lemons, cinnamon stick and a local raw honey like Bee’s Needs, found year-round at Marder’s Nursery in Bridgehampton. These four simple ingredients can be used in just about any combination of hot or room-temperature drinks and can help heal everything from a sore throat to a wonky tummy. With such a diverse culinary arsenal, one need not worry about cold and flu season but instead look forward to a steaming mug of something delicious to chase away the chills.
DRINK Check out Erica-Lynn’s recipes here.