The good folks at poppyswap.com recently asked for an interview on the intersection between fermentation and herbalism. I was only too happy to oblige. I really enjoyed doing this interview and I think it came out well. Head on over to check it out:
In modern herbalism, making tinctures with, say, 80 proof vodka is common, but we often forget that distilled alcohol has only been widely available for 400 or 500 years. Prior to this, herbalists had to make their own alcohol. Before distillation techniques became widely available, we had a â€œceilingâ€ in terms of alcohol content of about 18 to 20%, or about 40 proof. This is the percentage of alcohol we can get before there is too much alcohol present for the yeast to survive, which brings up an interesting point/metaphor â€” can you think of another organism besides yeast that gradually toxifies its environment with its waste products, until it can no longer survive?
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I view mead as the highest alchemical expression of a given ecosystem. Honey is nearly ubiquitous to the planet, you have to go to the extreme latitudes before you can no longer find honey. I view honey as the lifeblood of an ecosystem, and when we use this precious substance as the sugar for fermentation we are creating beverages on the highest order of what the ecosystem has to offer.
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If you havenâ€™t yet tried mead, I suggest you get some as soon as you can and share it with friends, preferably under the stars and around a fire, with a song or a poem. While there have been some very exciting developments in commercial meaderies over the past decade (meadmaking is undergoing a similar renaissance to what microbrewed beers underwent 2 decades ago), all of the best meads Iâ€™ve tried have been homebrewed, either by me or my tribe. Try to find a meadmaker near you, chances are they will be thrilled to share their mead and their enthusiasm with you.
The above are just three excerpts from the interview. I’m so excited to have been introduced to this very cool community of herbalists!