Meet forager, plant folklorist and Appalachian folk herbalist Becky Beyer of Blood and Spicebush School of Old Craft in this episode of Wander, Forage, & Wildcraft. My partner in Sassafras School of Appalachian Plantcraft and dear friend. We'll explore our favorite plants and more, with a heavy emphasis on her favorite plant, Spicebush.
Becky's Bio: Rebecca (Becky) Beyer is a farmer, forager, herbalist, woodcarver, and witch from Asheville, NC. She holds a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont and has been learning and teaching in the Primitive Skills community for the last 6 years. She teaches foraging professionally at Appalachian State University where she completed her Masters in Appalachian Studies in 2018. Her passions include botanical illustration, the folklore of Appalachian plants and writing her blog: Blood and Spicebush. She is currently stewarding land at the Hawk & Hawthorne, a community of magical people growing food and teaching classes on foraging and esoteric arts in Western North Carolina.
Becky's Spicebush Honey Recipe:
From Becky: I make Spicebush honey for many reasons, one being its great medicine for colds and flu, and heck, it tastes awesome. Somewhat spicy, orangey almost. You can use this honey to add to other medicinal teas, drizzle on hot cornbread, or just straight up eat by the spoonful when your feeling the need for a bit of warming fire.
First off. Place spicebush berries in a clean, dry jar. I add enough good vodka to the berries to lightly coat them when swirling the jar around before I add the honey. See above. I like to rough the berries up a bit with a spoon. I smoosh 'em around to let that alcohol and honey soak on into the fragrant fruits.
Then I just plop that honey right on top. I use a local Haw Creek Honey because our bees need all they have to make it through the winter. I stir it up to mix the alcohol and honey. I like to add a bit of alcohol when I use fresh herbs in honey, as there is always a risk of things going off if they have water content. I'll let this sit for about 3-5 days and then gently heat the jar in a water bath and strain out the berries. I like to use the left over, honey-covered berries in a short decoction to make spicebush chai tea. Just gently simmer the left over berries and add milk!
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Founder of the WANDER (Wild Artemisia Nature Discovery, Empowerment, and Reconnection) School, Botanist, Herbalist, & Professional Forager, Abby Artemisia, lives in rural Appalachian North Carolina. She learned about plants playing in the Midwestern woods of Ohio, working on organic farms, an herbal apprenticeship, a bachelor's degree in Botany from Miami University, and running her own tea business. She teaches about plant identification, native plants, and working with plants for food and medicine throughout the country. Her mission is offering nature and herbal education to create healing through connection with the natural world and each other. She is the author of The Forager's Wild Edible and Herbal Plant Cards and The Herbal Handbook for Homesteaders. She is the host of the podcast Wander, Forage, and Wildcract, founder of The WANDER School, and co-founder of The Sassafras School of Appalachian Plantcraft.