DIY

Tulsi Elderberry Syrup

By Alyssa P

CN buyer, herbalism student, beverage enthusiast

It’s that time of the year again when elderberries become the star of the bulk herbs show. Elderberries are known for their immune supporting properties as well as their delicious taste, especially in syrup form. Elderberry syrup is such a fun way to support your immune system and can be taken every day.

This elderberry syrup is inspired by Mountain Rose Herbs’ recipe, a company that supplies many of our bulk herbs and more. Also included is tulsi rama, aka holy basil. Tulsi can act as an immune supporter and is great for stress support as well. The inclusion of tulsi adds some spice and depth of flavor to the syrup and compliments the elderberries well.

Materials

  • Medium pot

  • Measuring tools

  • Strainer and/or cheesecloth

  • Sterilized glass jar

Ingredients

Directions

  • Add berries. herbs, and cold water to a pot and bring to a boil.

  • Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

  • Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour

  • Strain berries and herbs using a funnel overlaid with cheesecloth and squeeze out all the liquid. It may still be hot so use caution.

  • Let liquid cool to a bit warmer than room temperature and stir in honey. Make sure the amount of honey is at least half of the total liquid left (1/2 cup honey for 1 cup liquid). This will help to increase the shelf life. If using vodka or brandy, stir that in as well.

  • Store in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge. You should be left with about 1-1.5 cups of syrup or a bit more if you added an alcohol.

This syrup can be taken daily to support your immune system. It tastes amazing on its own or you could use it as a base for mixed beverages. I love adding a tablespoon or two of the syrup to a Ruby Hibiscus Sparkling Water- a delicious drink that’s only two ingredients!

P.S. Find the Mountain Rose Herbs Elderberry Syrup Recipe (and video!) here!




The information in this blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Libra Season Tea

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, Libra ascendant

Libra is ruled by the planet Venus and therefore all things romance, beauty, and partnerships. This tea embodies that energy with floral, tart, and berry flavors and deep purple color. Libra also rules the liver and kidneys, so this blend is formulated to bring some balance (Libra’s symbol is the scales) to those areas as well. This tea is high in antioxidants, which may be beneficial for promoting hair, skin, and nail health. Vanilla rooibos is the base of this tea, which is high in antioxidants. Next, this recipe includes chamomile and Gotu kola, which have been known to promote skin health via anti-inflammatory and calming properties. Schisandra berries have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help support heart, liver, and kidney health. Butterfly pea flowers, in addition to being another source of antioxidants, are potentially collagen promoting, which is an essential factor in skin hydration and elasticity. Butterfly pea flowers provide a sapphire blue color, which when mixed with the other ingredients transforms into a gorgeous deep purple. This recipe provides enough for two, so you can share with someone close in true Libra fashion.

Materials:

  • Teabag or strainer

  • Mug of choice

  • Hot water

Ingredients:

Process:

Add all herbs to a tea strainer or teabag. Pour about 20 oz of freshly boiled water over the herbs, cover, and let steep for at least 5 minutes. Strain out herbs and enjoy with a friend!





The information in this blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Sunday Sip - Hibiscus Cardamom Mocktail

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, and beverage connoisseur

Sit back and relax this Sunday with a cooling, bright, and slightly spicy hibiscus cardamom sparkling beverage. For this drink we are using Portland Syrup Co. Hibiscus Cardamom Syrup and Dram Cardamom and Black Tea sparkling water. Hibiscus can help us cool down from the summer sun and cardamom can aid digestion. Plus the sparkling water is very lightly caffeinated, making this beverage a perfect post-lunch pick me up.

To make: simply add an ounce of the syrup to a glass, pour in the Dram, add ice, and stir! Garnish with a slice of lime if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!

Spicy Chai Concentrate for at-home iced chai lattes!

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, and beverage connoisseur

This heat wave has me craving a beverage that will help me stay both cool and energized. Lately I’ve been turning to a homemade chai concentrate that is refreshing, spicy, and not overly caffeinated. Having a concentrate on hand makes my mornings easy since all you have to do is add a milk of choice and ice. Nothing complicated or heated once it’s prepped and it’s already cold from being kept in the fridge. Plus you can make it as sweet (or not sweet) as you would like! This recipe features assam black tea and chai masala spices from Boston Chai Party, a beloved local and Indian-owned brand whose mission is to empower people to make their own high quality and authentic chai at home. Happy chai making!

Materials:

Medium/large pot and lid
Strainer
Glass container for storage
Spoon for mixing
Your favorite glass
Measuring cup(s) 

Ingredients:

½ cup Boston Chai Party Chai Masala Spices
¼ cup Boston Chai Party Assam Black Tea Leaves
4 cups water
Honey, sugar, or another sweetener to taste 
Minor Figures Oat Milk
2-3 fresh ginger slices

Process: 

  • Add black tea, ginger slices, and water to a pot on high heat and stir. 

  • When the water starts boiling, turn the heat to low and stir in the chai spices. 

  • Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. 

  • Let cool for a few minutes and then strain into a glass container for storage. The mixture will be thick, so it’s helpful to stir as you strain.

  • If you would like to, add some honey, sugar, or maple syrup for some added sweetness. 

  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

  • When ready to use, pour about 4 oz into a cup and add around 8 oz of milk or a milk alternative- Minor Figures oat milk is my favorite. Add ice and enjoy your homemade iced chai latte!

Make Your Own Hydrosol for Summer!

By Dev Foster
CN Manager & Hydrosol Afficionado

Is there anything more refreshing than a sweet botanical hydrosol on a hot day? 

Floral and botanical hydrosols have always been popular in skincare routines, either post-cleanser or just any time for a quick and nourishing pick-me-up. Hydrosols are actually condensate waters produced during the steam distillation of essential oils, as a by-product. They retain the water soluble vitamin and mineral content of the plant matter, whereas essential oils retain the fat soluble plant content, with few-to-no vitamins or minerals. 

As such, depending on the plant used in the hydrosol, it can have beneficial properties for skin health, texture, and tone. Popular hydrosols used in skin care products include rose, lavender, chamomile, witch hazel, and frankincense, among many others.

It’s surprisingly easy to make your own custom hydrosol at home using simple distillation! Yes, without a still. You might have all the tools you need right now in your kitchen already. Today we’ll be making one with lavender, rose, and frankincense. 

Find many delightful dried herbs in our bulk section!

Materials:

  • Large cooking / stock / canning pot with lid

  • Heat-safe stand (canning racks are perfect if you have a canning pot, but you can use any heat-safe bowl or tin as a stand, or even a large enough rock with a flat surface.)

  • Heat-safe bowl (to collect hydrosol in.)

  • Around 3-5 cups of flowers, herbs, etc. Fresh is ideal, but dried is great as well. For this recipe, we’ll be using 2 cups of organic dried lavender flowers, 2 cups of organic dried rose petals, and a half cup of organic frankincense resin, all available in our bulk section. 

  • Distilled water 

  • Ice cubes

The process:

  • Wash all of your equipment to eliminate potential bacteria. 

  • Place your stand (rock, ramekin, rack, etc.) in the middle of the pot and place your heat-safe container on top of the stand. This container is where hydrosol will gather. 

  • Around the base of your stand, place your flowers / herbs / etc. Cover them with distilled water until they’re just submerged; there’s no approximate amount of water needed.

  • Turn the pot lid upside down and place it on top of the pot; place a pile of ice cubes in the inverted lid.

  • Turn on the heating element to low/medium heat beneath the pot, and simmer for as long as necessary; hydrosol can be produced in as little as 25-30 minutes or over the course of hours with replenished ice, water, and organic materials. It all depends on how much hydrosol you want to collect. 

The hydrosol itself, at the end of this process, should be translucent. After about an hour with the amount of dried lavender, rose, and frankincense resin used for this recipe, the end result was ~16 ounces of delicious smelling hydrosol. The water your flowers and herbs were soaking in can also be strained and also used as a refreshing botanical spray, or in other skincare products like lotion. Hydrosols keep best in the fridge, and typically last several months or more. Dispose of your hydrosol when it begins to smell off or 'bloom' with noticeable cloudy matter; for this reason, it's often better to keep them in clear bottles rather than tinted glass. Happy DIY-ing!

Earth Day is Every Day: Low-Waste Picks for Daily Sustainability

Small Steps, Big Impact!

by CN team member Courtney

Cambridge Naturals Camp Mug

This camp mug is coming with us everywhere this summer. It’s made by Miir, whose values are centered around lowering their impact on the environment, and giving back to the community. Our 12oz mugs are a breeze to carry and clean, and can easily hook onto a backpack thanks to the steel handle. 

Gladrags and Menstrual Cups

If you’re a menstruating person, these reusable menstrual care products might soon change your life! As many of us know, waste created by traditional menstrual care products is responsible for a portion of the globe’s plastic waste. Purchasing reusable menstrual care products not only reduce waste, but they save SO much money. Have you ever added up the cost of a monthly box of tampons or pads…? Aside from the plastic packaging, the price tag over a lifetime of menstruating is sky high. 

No Tox Life Vegan Dishwashing Block

These dishwashing blocks are made of simple ingredients that will get your dishes squeaky clean, sans harsh chemicals and plastic. The ingredients are biodegradable, septic safe and completely plant-based. We use these to scrub our dishes and sinks alike. 

Georganics Mouthwashing Tablets (and everything else they make!)

Mouthwash is no longer something that lives in a giant bottle under the sink (is anyone else’s dad still a loyal Listerine fan??). These sleek tablets are not only plastic free and highly portable, but they are made with ingredients you can pronounce and recognize: Sodium Bicarbonate, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Mentha Piperita Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Colourings, Menthol, Thymol, Limonene. Plus, Georganics estimates that their tablets will last you about 3x longer than the average bottle of mouthwash. 

Heart Grown Wild Intuition Face Steam

For anyone who loves skincare, but doesn’t love how it can negatively impact our planet’s waste (heavy packaging, long travel time, overharvesting of endangered medicinal plants), enter Heart Grown Wild. Santalena creates all of her products with love in her Vermont apothecary. She partners with a local forestry company when sourcing her wild plant ingredients, and takes great care in working with what’s seasonally available. Her packaging is simple and reusable and the ingredients are so natural, you can easily find them in many of our tea blends. 

 
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DIY Mask Refresher Spray!

Mask feeling a little funky from breathing your own breath? Perhaps it’s especially funky after a few handfuls of Organic Sea Salt + Onion Cashews? CN team member Emily J. has created a super simple recipe for a mask-refreshing spray that you can take anywhere! Let us know if you give it a try : )

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Imbibing, Naturally

By John, CN Grocery Buyer and The Naturalist Contributor

"What's that?" you may be asking. "How could the place where I purchase my vitamins and protein shakes help me get drunk?" Well, dear readers, although Cambridge Naturals will always be here for you when you're in need of a cleanse or detox, we're more than happy to help you creatively re-tox as well! Booze in careful moderation* may have some medicinal value, and its functions as a social lubricant and stress reliever have been documented since the poems of antiquity.

But antiquity is not what we're here to talk about. The world of the mixed drink has changed dramatically in the last decade, and Cambridge Naturals is stocked to the rafters with ingredients which can bring your next party to the vanguard of the craft cocktail revolution!

What follows are not a couple, not a few, but five different drinks showcasing a wide variety of items for sale in our store. It could have been a dozen! The possibilities really are limitless. Come find me in person at the store for the low-down on some of my extra-secret concoctions or to let me know what you've come up with.

THE HOT HONEY PALOMA

  • 4 oz Grapefruit flavor Spindrift sparkling water
  • 2 oz Organic Mezcal or Tequila*
  • 1 tablespoon Mike's Hot Honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Sprig of Mint

Stir the liquor, honey, and lime juice well, then pour in the Spindrift and enjoy!

THE SAPPY CHAMELEON

  • 1 oz Feronia Forests Mission Maple Syrup
  • 1 oz Overproof Rum*
  • 8 oz Chameleon Cold Brew

Combine and mix ingredients in a glass, stir, and serve!

THE CHAI ORANGE HONEY OLD FASHIONED

  • 3 tablespoons Boston Chai Party Homemade Chai Spices
  • 8 oz Organic Bourbon*
  • 8 tsp Puremiel Orange Blossom Honey
  • Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters
  • Mountain Valley Sparkling Water

(recipe makes 4 cocktails)

First, put the chai spices in a sachet and infuse the bourbon for a few hours. Then mix 2 oz of the infused bourbon, 2 teaspoons honey, and 3 dashes of the bitters with some ice in a shaker and shake it all up. Pour over an old fashioned glass with ice and top with a splash of sparkling water.

THE GINGER CACAO BOMB

  • 1 1/2 oz Repurposed Pod Cacao Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz Organic Gin*
  • 1/4 oz Old Friends Farm Ginger Syrup
  • a dash of Urban Moonshine Original Bitters
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice, shake, pour over ice, and bottoms up!

THE CAMBRIDGE NATURALS BLOODY MARY

  • 2 Tablespoons Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Hosta Hill hot sauce
  • 3oz Organic Vodka*
  • 6oz Mucho Gazpacho (Original)
  • Mix in a glass with ice and your choice of garnish, line the rim with Maldon's smoked sea salt!

That's all for now! Cheers! Slainte! Probst! Kampai! Salud! See you next time!

*Please drink responsibly. Any of these cocktails can be made without alcohol and enjoyed immensely!

DIY Natural Whitening Toothpaste by Jenn

This blog post was written by Jenn, who is a Customer Service Specialist at the store by day and an Industrial Design student by night! She also designs and handcrafts some beautiful wooden necklaces that we carry. She has a passion for herbs and DIY body care. Read her tips for making your own natural and effective toothpaste below!

Natural & Whitening?! What kind of witchcraft is this?! For most of us, when we think of a whitening toothpaste, our first thought isn’t necessarily "natural" - but with a little help from an unlikely source it can be! Like most of you, I am a huge proponent of all things natural, and if I can make it myself - well, that's even better!

Glazed Red Pepper-Fennel Almonds

This delicious recipe was passed along to us by Louise Rasmussen, the incredible cook at Wallowa Llamas in Eastern Oregon. Not only are these almonds incredibly addictive, but they provide a great, healthy energy boost whether you’re hiking the rocky slopes of Eastern Oregon or trekking through the snow to catch the T. We carry most of these ingredients at the store. If you’re avoiding sugar, you can substitute any great, local raw honey or maple sugar.