As we have all spent more time at home last year, I found myself in the kitchen dreaming up new recipes and experiments using as many local ingredients as possible. My recipes span beyond skincare, as do most of our products, into the realm of health, plant medicine and personal expression. Each product we make has an elemental, physical and energetic aspect and our approach to food is no different.
Our mission at GARA has always been to create formulations featuring as many organic, local ingredients as possible. Our environmental impact is of the highest priority and we take it upon ourselves personally to ensure that all of our plants are grown in a regenerative, sustainable manner. We care not only for the soil and the environment that the plants come from, but also in the relations that the farmers have with the plants themselves. We honor the laws of nature, asking for permission, taking only what is needed and always giving something back. This reciprocal relationship is the most valuable part of our process. It is in maintaining our relations with organic farmers and gardeners, that we can learn to incorporate the laws of nature into our business model. In return, the farmers love the plants they grow and we gratefully accept their harvests for the next phase of the plant’s life = formulation.
It is in these plant explorations in the kitchen that I have been inspired to share some of my discoveries with you! Our products are incredibly versatile and many of them can be used topically or internally. My goal in this bi-monthly feature is to give you more information about our products themselves, but also to implore you to do some experimenting with GARA at home. The first product we are going to explore is Hydrosols. They are a perfect antidote to the summer heat and have many uses. Hydrosols, much like plants, are energetic and vibrant. Use your intuition, which hydrosol are you drawn too? This has been my approach to all of these recipes and routines. Enjoy!
The easiest and most powerful way to use a hydrosol is to take one internally. A hydrosol or hydrolat is made by the process of distillation which is defined as the purification of a liquid by heating and cooling. Many commercial hydrosols are by-products of the essential oil industry and often contain preservatives. A true, undiluted hydrosol is much different. We distill in a traditional copper alembic still specifically for the hydrosol. We distill at a low temperature and we always use fresh material within a few hours of being harvested. Our source water comes directly from the earth before passing through an Orphora filtration and structuring station. When you start with high quality, organic plant materials and clean, structured water, the result is an incredibly pure and vibrant hydrosol.
Each plant is harvested by hand with the utmost care for the plant itself and the garden it inhabits. We use only organic, local materials and begin each harvest with an offering. Our approach to distillation encompasses both physical and energetic aspects and we do our best to pay respect to each plant that gives its earthly life to live on as a hydrosol.
Though hydrosols are gentle by nature, they are still incredibly powerful. Because we distill with fresh plant material, the hydrosol often contains cellular water from the plant. This vibrant, living water contains the energetic imprint and life-force of the plant itself. The power of a true hydrosol should not be underestimated when experimenting with hydrosols in the kitchen. Many of them can be up to 30x stronger than tea and each one should be used in moderation.
SUMMER SALVATION: Hydrosol Ice Cubes
Whoa, it’s hot outside! No matter how you slice it, summer is here in full force in the Northern Hemisphere and we’re feeling the power of the sun’s rays. My favorite way to cool off is a trip to my secret river spot. When that’s not easy, I have to find to a pool, man made as it be. Any cold body of water will do on a long, hot day. And then there are days when even the pool won’t cool me off.
So I’ve had to get creative with my time here at home. Among air conditioning and plumbing, I think one of the best human inventions is the refrigerator. Behold, the ice box. The perfect place to start with a DIY cooling system.
You can store your hydrosol in the refrigerator for a cooling mist. You can take it a step further and add a few teaspoons of hydrosol to your ice cube tray for an extra cooling topical or edible treat. You can incorporate hydrosol ice cubes into your daily hydration routine by adding a few cubes to a glass of water. Treat a friend to a delicious spritzer with a hydrosol ice cube or enjoy daily as a healing ritual. You can use hydrosol ice cubes in any iced beverage as a tonic or as a natural flavor component. Spice it up even more and add fresh, edible flowers to the cubes before freezing. Its an experience on every level — the beauty, the taste and the full body effect.
HOW TO MAKE:
Fill a clean ice cube tray with filtered or spring water. Clean, living water is the keystone of optimal health. We invested in an Ophora water filtration system last year and I truly believe, this is the purest water on the planet.
Add a 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of hydrosol to each cube. There are so many delicious options, here are a few of my current favorites:
Lemon Verbena, a sweet, lemony note
Rose Geranium, a bold rose
Lemon Balm, a classic citrusy delight
Tulsi, sweet holy basil
Elderflower, sweet and floral, almost cacao
Spearmint, a cooling summer mint
Helichrysum, a balance burnt honey, immortelle
Clary Sage, a bold bergamot sage
Dress it up with an edible flower on aromatic leaf. You can use herbs from the garden or pick up an edible bouquet at your local farmers market. I purchased this beautiful selection from our local Night Heron Farms.
Freeze and enjoy! The options are endless when it comes to mixing and tasting. Start exploring hydrosols in the kitchen by making hydrosol ice cubes. It is also a fun activity for children of all ages, and they can enjoy an ice cube as well!
First thing in the morning, I like use a hydrosol ice cube on my face and neck. Not only is this a great pick me up, but it also helps to reduce inflammation and puffiness. The cold therapy combined with the hydrosol is the ultimate healing combo for both skin and mind. This ritual has replaced my morning coffee! I continue using the hydrosol ice cubes throughout the day, standing outside in the sunshine, watching the beads of water roll down my skin as the ice melts away. I am adamant about getting 20-30 minutes of sunshine on my skin each day (hello vitamin D) and adding the hydrosol ice cube to this routine has been a real treat.
However you chose to incorporate hydrosol ice cubes into your summer rituals, your skin and body will thank you. And your friends too!
I love this idea and the imagery is beautiful! I’m interested in learning more about ingesting hydrosols internally as herbal medicine. Great work, Emilee! Always an inspiration. -Kristen