I’ve been fighting off a cold for about a week now, and woke up to realise that I’d lost. I’m aware that there is no cure for this insidious virus, so I entertained myself for half an hour on the internet looking up home remedies. My goodness there’s some nonsense out there. One site actually listed a whole lot of studies that showed that echinacea was no better than a placebo for the cold, then went into preparation and dosages of the stuff. The Mayo Clinic suggest plenty of fluids, a saline rinse of the sinuses, and a nice garlicky chicken soup are the only things actually shown to reduce symptoms. I’m the only one in the house capable of producing the latter, but I may have mentioned that I have a cold. Also am lacking in chicken bones at the moment. The middle option sounds rather disgusting, and I’m not that clogged up yet. I’m going with the first. I’m a little bored by water and notice that some of the wackier sites suggest various forms of tea, so that’s what I’m going with.
I like ginger tea, and there are an infinite number of recipes for it. I’ve been making syrups for soft drink for a while, you’ll have to wait for another blog for that, and have done a ginger syrup. But I want it for tea, not for soda, so it won’t need to be as sweet. I also find that the ginger syrup I make gives you a soft drink that tastes exactly like Saxby’s ginger beer, a result I find strangely unsatisying. I’m going to make it a little more spicy.
I chopped up a cup of ginger. Small dice, you want a large surface area, but not so small that you need to mess around with muslin when you strain it. One cinnamon stick. One superannuated vanilla pod that has spent the last year of its life inside a now extinct bottle of homemade vanilla essence. Three cups of water. Put the lot in a saucepan with the lid on and brought it to a low boil. Then I checked my emails, scratched the dogs, put on a wash, had a shower, then came into a kitchen that smelled really quite delightful. I think I got the spice mix right first time. If you’re making a syrup that has chunks that need to be sieved out, I like to put the sugar in a bowl and sieve the hot liquid over it, then stir like mad to dissolve it before it cools down. If you have the sugar in the saucepan, you risk turning the syrup into toffee if you lose concentration, and everything gets a lot stickier. I’m averse to sticky.
The sugar you use in a syrup makes a difference too. For soda syrups I generally go with caster sugar. For this one I used half a cup of brown sugar and a third of a cup of honey. That’s all I had left, and it was rock solid. The Moose gave up eating honey when I told him he had to unsticky everything after he spread it on his toast, and no one else eats it. That wasn’t enough sugar for a soda syrup, not for a kid friendly one, anyway, but great for tea.
Quarter of a cup of syrup in my large Elmo coffee cup, top with boiling water and I really like it a lot. It’s a very unappealing looking syrup, resembling the Murrumbidgee River more than anything else, but hopefully that will stop the kids drinking it.