Add a healthy boost to your cocktails with this homemade syrup packed with antioxidants. Clove, lemon balm, pine shoots, and elderflowers are antioxidant-rich herbs that together with lemon, lime and raw honey boost your health and give your drinks a unique taste.
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In this article we will cover:
What are antioxidants and why we need them
Ingredients in the rejuvenating syrup and their benefits for our health
How to make antioxidant-rich syrup
Why do we need antioxidants?
As their name suggests, they are substances that protect our bodies from oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction where atoms or molecules gain or lose electrons. We want to avoid such a reaction in the body, because when the body “oxidizes” it is getting older. So the older the body, the more oxygen it has - it oxidizes and ages. However, antioxidants prevent and slow oxidation. Antioxidants are neutralizing free radicals by giving them electrons. Antioxidants protect us from free radicals, thus slowing aging and contributing to the prevention of the formation of diseases.
What generates free radicals?
- unhealthy diets - foods rich in refined sugars and carbohydrates, processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami, red meat, alcohol
- a poor lifestyle
- polluted environments
- medicines, etc.
These free radicals cause illnesses if the body cannot defend itself from them. The body produces antioxidants but only in a certain amount.
The most natural source of antioxidants that we can offer our body is through a healthy, well-balanced diet. Antioxidants are naturally found in foods of both plant and animal origin, especially vegetables, fruits and beverages like coffee and tea.
What to eat then?
- raw fruits
- green tea or coffee
However, one group of foods with their antioxidant capabilities has overtaken common foods. These are spices and herbs that have the highest antioxidant power!
Cinnamon and Clove together with Oregano are the top 3 spices with the highest antioxidant activities of them all. A comprehensive list of food items with their Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) is attached (1)
There are many different types of antioxidants in a diet, including vitamins C and E, as well as flavonoids. Interestingly these antioxidant abilities are not mentioned on food packaging because they have only been scientifically confirmed in “in vitro experiments” so far.
One of the great sources of antioxidants are green walnuts, you can preserve them in raw honey and use them all year long
Syrup's Ingredients and their benefits for our health
Ingredients in our homemade antioxidant-rich syrup are all powerful antioxidants and together have the ability to rejuvenate and keep us free of illnesses.
Pine shoots have been used for centuries as a source of food and nutrients. They contain antioxidants and are rich in vitamin C - an immune system booster that helps fight illnesses and infections.
This study (3) proves their high antioxidative and immunological activity. Another (4) study supports pine needles' nutritional qualities, healing powers, and antitumor effects and points to their potential usefulness in cancer prevention.
While older shoots have double the content of vitamin C compared to new ones, they are also much stronger in their taste. Younger green sprouts have a milder taste that is perfect for our syrup. They are great in pine tea.
(officially known as Melissa officinalis), referred to as a common balm or balm mint.
Lemon scented herb, lemon balm comes from the mint family. Traditionally used for its calming effect and mood and sleep improvement, its potential benefits don't stop there. Lemon balm is also efficient in fighting free radicals and is a very powerful antioxidant. According to dr. Axe, lemon balm affects oxidative stress: ”lemon balm had remarkable results, including a significant improvement in blood levels of other antioxidant cells. A study that looked at supplementing the diet of medical professionals consistently exposed to low levels of radiation with lemon balm showed that it may be an effective way to protect them against unhealthy levels of oxidative stress” (5)
Clove has a strong, pleasant aroma and a sweet, slightly pungent taste. So one must be careful not to overdo it. It comes from the Asian tropical tree Syzygium aromaticum or also Eugenia Caryophyllata - it is a dried flower bud. It contains beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin E, group B vitamins, potassium minerals, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, and iron. Clove together with cinnamon and oregano are among the best sources of antioxidants.
Elderflowers are the top antiviral plants on the planet. Packed with Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron, they help boost the immune system and fight colds and other viruses.
We like to use Elderflowers in various dishes as they have a typical floral taste that just makes any dish unique. Elderflower ice cream or marshmallow fluff are our popular desserts. But elderflowers are also delicious in salty dishes such as elderflower fritters.
How to make antioxidant-rich syrup
To make a syrup that lasts you need to use sugar and citric acid. If you want to make a syrup that lasts only a few days you can skip those two ingredients.
Step 1: Boil raw sugar with water in a 1: 1 ratio. Add cloves.
Step 2: add pine into the lukewarm liquid.
When the shoot is damaged - trodden on by people or animals, the fascicle below will generate a new bud that will replace the lost one. So no need to worry:)
Step 3: Carefully add the elderflowers and mix gently. The floral taste of Elderflowers comes mainly from their pollen so don't wash them. Just gently remove bugs if there are any.
Step 4: Pour the lemon juice into the mixture and stir in the honey. Raw honey is the best choice for its nutrients and antioxidants.
Step 5: Pour citric acid powder and lime slices into the mixture. Lime zest offers a distinct citrus flavor without bitterness. Just make sure you wash them properly before using them.
Step 6: Tear off a bundle of lemon balm and place it in the mixture.
Step 7: Cover the mixture with a cloth and leave it to macerate for 4-5 days in a cool environment, but not in the refrigerator.
Step 8: Mix once a day. Finally, strain through a sieve and squeeze the mixture. Pour into a sealable bottle and store it in a refrigerator.
How long does this homemade syrup last?
Citric acid and raw sugar are important preservatives. When the syrup is properly prepared and stored in sterilised bottles it should last up to 3 months.
Does it need to be stored in the refrigerator?
This syrup should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent it from developing mold.