This morning was an Oak Apprenticeship meeting and this afternoon, a walking-cooking magazine interview. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) was a welcome participant at both gatherings. This common urban herb offers a plethora of uses and is currently flowering here in Amsterdam.
Mugwort has a strong aromatic taste and is not the easiest herb to eat raw. The leaves are full of a strong fibre which is almost impossible to chew through when eaten raw. These fibres are used to prepare the Moxa of Chinese Traditional Medicine. In summary Mugwort is a warming herb, a women’s ally, encouraging menstruation, may ease period pains and is a warm soother or muscle tension and pain. It makes a simple and useful infused muscle rub oil and even simpler, a foot soak, when infused in water. The tea is unusual to some but is tasty and not unpalatable. It can be used to deter insects. A protective herb. This is the abundant urban herb of dreams, scrying and prophecy. Seek it out in flower, to enjoy the peak of it’s spiritual powers. In bud and in flower, it is also easier to prepare for cooking (although this is not the best time to harvest for cooking). You can simply push the little flowers from the stems and sprinkle them into cooking.
Mugwort is in the Asteraceae family. It is sister to Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum), Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) and Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) to name but a few. Mugwort is thought to unsafe during pregnancy and should only be used in small culinary quantities, watching for sensitivities, by others. Here’s a link regarding some known side effects and drug interactions.
Today I harvested plenty flowering tops of Mugwort and used them to make tea and a simple savoury dish. I then hung some on my willow rack to dry for out of season use and made the rest into this delicious elixir…
Mugwort and Rose petal Elixir
1. Harvest a few flowering tops of Mugwort, gather about the same amount of clean, unsprayed Rose petals (I used dried purple petals today, from Jacob Hooy). Lay out any fresh herbs for a while to allow resident bugs to crawl safely away.
2. Chop the Mugwort and if necessary, separate the rose petals from their flowers (if using fresh roses).
3. Place the prepared herbs in a suitable clean glass jar, where they will take up approximately half the space.
4. Cover the herbs with runny honey.
5. Use a chopstick to distribute the honey more evenly over the herbs.
6. Now fill the remainder of the jar with Brandy (or another strong spirit of your choice).
7. Cover the jar with a well-fitting lid, label and leave the contents to infuse for four to six weeks or more.
8. Strain, bottle and label the resulting Elixir.
9. Use in very small quantities, as an occasional alcoholic, heart and spirit warming elixir.
You will have a chance to taste this Elixir at the second of my Friday Nights at the Van Gogh Museum, on 30th August. The honey for making the preparations at these events, was generously donated by deTraay and the dried herbs by Jacob Hooy. If you have Facebook or not, check out this link to see Van Gogh Museum photos from the event on Friday 2nd August – it was a lot of fun! More information about the plants and where they will go here.