We know that keeping track of cool superfoods can feel daunting, but, the truth is, there is no rush. -these “superfoods” aren’t passing trends – – they’re vital parts of our natural world, and they’re here to stay. Medical experts have studied herbalism for eons, so don’t get overwhelmed! That’s just what features like our superfood spotlight are for – learning about one herb, veggie, or superfruit at a time.
Guido Mase, an herbalist at Urban Moonshine (one of our favorite brands for herbal remedies like tonics and bitters), is introducing us to a medicinal plant that’s brand new to us: angelica. Why you should give this unique, spicy, mineral-rich root a try…
What it is: You can tell this plant has been well-respected, even adored, across the world: Its name hearkens back to the archangels who guard and protect the human race. European angelica (Angelica archangelica) is a root that is warm, spicy and slightly bitter, helping to enliven digestion and circulation. Though it is more stimulating than its Chinese cousin (Angelica sinensis, known as dong quai), it also has a deeply nourishing quality too. It is a member of the parsley family and its flavor profile reflects the salty, celery-like quality of these herbs. The plant grows huge in its second year, putting out a softball-sized globe of flowers that is truly impressive.
Why use it: Angelica root is a medicine chest all on its own, possessing bitter, aromatic and tonic qualities. It is first and foremost a digestive bitter, helping to relieve indigestion, gas, and bloating after meals. But its warm spice makes it uniquely suited for long-term use, acting to improve circulation, relax arteries and move blood to peripheral tissues (the volatile oils and coumarins it contains are thought to be responsible for these effects). Finally, the root is packed with B vitamins, including B12, and lots of minerals – from calcium to a good supply of highly bio-available iron. This is probably why the root is still given to those suffering from anemia, where it proves to be a gentle but effective tonic. One note of caution: The spicy, stimulating quality of angelica makes it inappropriate for use during pregnancy.
How to use it: The traditional preparation of angelica root — preserved, crystalized cubes – is delicious to share as a unique aperitif or digestif. If you don’t have time for the recipe below, you can approximate the traditional cubes by adding 5 drops of angelica tincture to a cube of raw sugar. But to really highlight angelica’s unique flavor, mix it with floral and citrus notes in a delicious, slightly warming bitter cordial.
Traditional Angelica Root Sugar Cubes
fresh angelica root (harvested in the fall of their first year of growth)
Chop angelica root into 1-inch cubes. Place cubes in jar. Cover cubes with sugar. Let sit for two weeks.
Angelica Bitter Cordial
For the tea:
2 oz hot water
1 tsp rose petals
1 tsp orange peel
For the bitter cordial:
1 oz angelica tincture
2 oz tea
1 – 2 tsp raw honey, to taste
Steep and strain the tea. Add angelica tincture to tea and finish it off with raw honey to taste. Serve one teaspoon per person.