Angelica is a special plant we have in the Lyttleton vegetable patch. It has many medicinal qualities and an incredibly beautiful umbelliferous flower which attracts lady beetles and bees. Being in the same family as celery, it has edible and medicinal stems and roots, although stems are not as palatable as celery, and are best candied (see below!).
In our garden, it plays another important role: it is a perfect slug trap. Slugs love to live in between its stems, and are easy to pick out and feed to ducks or chooks (if your chooks are not too fussy). I have a few slug and snail trap crops like that in our vegetable patch, which I check every morning. This allows us to keep track of the slug and snail population in a non invasive way.
Angelica’s European name, Angelica Archangelica, is dedicated to Archangel Raphael who appeared to a monk and revealed the herb could cure the plague. Medicinally the dried root is used and the stems eaten. Angelica is part of the Apiaceae family and related to the wonderful carrot and celery and the beautiful lovage, parsley and caraway. As a medicine Angelica has two primary systems it has an affinity for, the digestive and the respiratory systems.
Angelica is bitter so it stimulates the appetite and aids digestion. It is an aromatic carminative and relieves digestive upset like wind, bloating and cramps as well as relieving digestive weakness superbly. Like parsley it is a herb for nervous exhaustion, especially where someone has lost their appetite due to anxiety.
Angelica is used for inflammation and infection of the respiratory system and dry ticklish coughs. It helps to break a sweat where there is fever and is a circulatory stimulant also, used traditionally in baths for people with rheumatism and gout.
The whole plant can be used. The root was traditionally used medicinally and in Italy, Germany and Switzerland, the candied stem is eaten and enjoyed in cakes and desserts.
We've been experimenting with ways to candy the stalks using xylithol instead of processed sugar.
We have used xylitol for it’s merit as an anti-bacterial to the upper respiratory system. Xylitol is a sugar derived from birch tress and berries. It is especially beneficial for the ears, nose and throat and reduces upper respiratory infection as well as being protective to the mouth from bacterial infection and plaque (it is added to toothpastes and chewing for this reason). It is a processed food so should not be used regularly, though it couples well with Angelica in this remedy as a respiratory protective treat. Experimenting with a raw or manuka honey syrup would be a worthy endeavour too, keeping it raw for its medicinal enzymes. (Note: Xylitol is very harmful to dogs. Unlike our bodies, a dog’s mistakes xylitol for glucose when ingested and it causes hypoglycaemia, so keep it away from your pups!)
1 cup xylitol
3 cups water for the syrup
Water for boiling
4-5 cups of Angelica stems
In a pot place the water and xylitol. Bring them to a boil for approximately 4 minutes, stirring occasionally then remove the pot from the heat.
Chop the Angelica stems into the sizes you’d like. We found 3-4cm long was a great bite sized size, though you can also have them 10cm long for fun. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the angelica stems. Over medium-high heat, cook the stems for 6 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. This will differ depending on the size and maturity of your harvested Angelica. Drain the stems and rinse them in cold water. With any thicker stems peel off the thin stem strings, like peeling celery strings. A vegetable peeler can help.
Put your Angelica stems into a bowl and pour the xylitol syrup over them. Cover and weight them with a small plate or lid.
The next day, drain off the syrup into a saucepan. Boil it and then pour it back over the angelica. Repeat this process every day for three days. At this point the stems should look alittle translucent and your syrup should be reducing.
On the following day pour off the syrup again into a pot and boil it. Add the angelica stems and boil them together for 10 minutes. Drain the stems in a colander and place them on a rack or screen in a warm place until they are dry to the touch. In our colder months here a dehydrator or an oven set on a very low heat will do the drying. Eat when dried! And store them in an airtight container.