Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Wellness In A Jar Class at City Folk's Farm Shop

Last week I took a class at City Folk's Farm Shop in Clintonville. City Folk's Farm Shop is a store which sells tools and materials for growing and making your own food and other products. City Folk's also offers urban homesteading classes year round to teach Central Ohioans how to live off the land.

The class I took was Winter Wellness In A Jar and focused on making products to help keep you healthy, or to help you feel better when you're sick. Our wonderful instructor was trained herbalist and founder of Boline Apothecary, Lily Shahar Kunning. The other seven participants and myself joined Lily around a large wooden table in the storefront of City Folk's Farm Shop. We all had different backgrounds and work in different fields, but everyone shared an interest in learning to create natural products while finding out more information about herbs.

Lily started the class by teaching us how to make throat lozenges out of slippery elm bark powder, cinnamon and honey. Slippery elm bark is great for cough drops because its mucilaginous and coats the throat and stomach. We took turns adding ingredients and stirring a sticky dough, which reminded me of the applesauce and cinnamon ornaments I used to make as a kid - the dough smelled delicious! Once the dough was well mixed, we divided it equally among the class participants. We each rolled out twenty small cough drops, which we dehydrated in an electric dehydrator for the remainder of the class. They looked a little like miniature candy buckeyes!

Next we started making elderberry elixir, the product I was most excited about. Remember the elderberries I procured this summer and made into muffins? I wanted to find out more ways to use this delicious berry after trying it this summer. The elderberry elixir can boost one's immunity and help kill viruses and bacteria. Lily used dried elderberries and ginger root, steeping them in simmering hot water. It smelled wonderful!

The last two products we made were a skin salve and a lip balm. For the lip balm we mixed together olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax in a large mason jar. For the hand salve we mixed olive oil, shea butter and beeswax into a separate mason jar. Both jars went into a hot water bath, melting the butters and beeswax and mixing all of the ingredients. Once the balms were melted, we added some cardamom and cinnamon extract to the lip balm and lavender extract to the hand salve and poured them into half ounce tins. The pouring was challenging, none of us wanted to spill the balms! Lily assured us it was ok to spill, and we helped each other out, holding the tin closer to the jar to reduce spilling. It was cool to watch the balms cool and solidify in their tins!

The last step for the evening was to collect our lozenges and pour our individual bottles of elderberry elixir. Due to some technical difficulties with the dehydrator, our lozenges weren't quite finished, but Lily gave us instruction on how to finish drying them at home in the oven (which made my kitchen smell great!). I put them in an old altoid tin to keep a few handy in my purse.

Throughout the evening Lily kept the conversation going by telling us about her background in herbalism and giving us tips and advice for making our own herbal products at home. The classroom setting was very informal and comfortable, it was easy to ask questions and get more information.

I didn't expect to get to try out all of my new products quickly, but a winter cold was making its rounds at work and I found myself trying out the lozenges and elderberry elixir a few days after the class. I have seasonal indoor and outdoor allergies and usually catch whatever virus is floating around at work, so I'm pretty used to the wide variety of cough drops available. The slippery elm lozenges do not taste like a traditional cough drop, the texture is different and the taste is much more subtle. The effects though, are longer lasting. For me, a conventional cough drop is only helpful in reducing coughing or a sore throat when you're sucking on it; the slippery elm lozenge coats your throat with its mucilaginous-ness and lasts a lot longer than a conventional cough drop. They've been a life saver these past few days as my cough has worsened!

The elderberry elixir is delicious! I'm sure it's helping me get better faster, but I'd drink it even if it didn't. It's similar to grape juice, but waaay better. I probably drank more of it each day than I should have, and it's all gone now! The balms are both great and smell amazing - my favorite is the lavender skin salve, I love lavender!

Check our Lily's apothocary shop online at you can also like Boline Apothocary on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @bolineherbals. You can purchase products from Lily online, at local farmers' markets and at City Folk's Farm Shop... or, you could take Winter Wellness in a Jar which is being taught again next month on February 25th!