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Christopher Hedley Tribute

Nettle Syrup Bottles

by Henriette Kress

” Christopher Hedley Tribute “

When I first started to use the internet in 1992 or 1993, I joined the herbal discussion groups and found herbalists. One of them was Christopher Hedley.

At the time, I was working for a large multinational company, and was sent abroad every now and then. When they sent me to London I asked would anybody know of herbal things to do, and Christopher answered that he’d show me around. It was lots of fun.

After that, I’d send him an email every time I’d come to London. We’d go to Kew Gardens, to Chelsea Physic Garden or to Hampstead Heath.

In 1996, Christopher and Non published “Herbal Remedies”, a practical guide to using kitchen herbs. I promptly bought it, and was also given it by another herb nerd. In it, Chris and Non had a syrup recipe that actually worked! I’d been going the “and then you simmer it on low  heat while stirring all the time so it doesn’t burn” and the “until it’s syrup consistency” or “until the syrup test works” method until then. The syrup test is, you let a dollop of your liquid drop onto a stainless steel surface (or something similarly cold) and pull the wide side of a spoon across it. If the syrup stays apart, it’s done. If not, it’s not. This test doesn’t really work, because spoons are variously wide at their broad tip, and dollops are various amounts as well.

Chris and Non’s recipe is this: you make a strong tea (these days, I usually put a handful or three of the herbs I want to use into half a litre of water), strain off 200 ml, and add 425 g sugar to that. Let sit on low  heat while stirring to make the sugar dissolve.

I’ve amended it to use only 400-410 g sugar, because the original recipe, made in a wide pot, results in sugar crystals in the jars within weeks. But it’s such a fabulous recipe! With it, syrups are done in half an hour, give or take 10 minutes, instead of taking hours and hours to make.

Lovely that.

In 1998, I went to Arizona to attend Michael Moore’s herb school. After I came back from that, I’d call either Christopher or Michael whenever a client had particularly vexing problem. The advice of either was to the point and worked.

When I applied for AHG membership in 2003, I needed three letters of recommendation from established herbalists. Chris supplied one of them. Later that same year, when Chris applied for AHG membership, he asked me for a letter of recommendation. Such a lovely man.

In 2005, Christopher sent me his Humoral Research Project. It clarifies the patterns of various humours in people. I put it online in 2012.

With his permission, I included it in my distance course (in Finnish and Swedish), as this particular European tradition needs revitalising. Chris was a dear friend. He’d email me out of the blue, I’d call or email him out of the blue, and every now and then he’d send a note from Non. I am glad that I got to know them.

Henriette has been interested in herbs all her life.

In 1998 she became a practicing herbalist and has been working full-time with herbs since. She runs Henriette’s herbal, one of the largest herbal websites on the net. She’s known for her practical and grounded approach to herbalism.

In addition to a Christopher Hedley Tribute, she’s written several herb books, the latest of which (Practical Herb Cards) has been described as “very clever”.You can visit the “bark side” at Henriette’s Herbal Homepage.

You can reach Henriette here:

(It sends an email that reaches only her, there are no twins, elves or even interns helping out.)

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