Most of the buds had already bloomed into fuzzy tails, signifying the early start of spring. With the two cottonwood trees cut down for fire wood, this was our chance to collect the buds that had not yet flowered for making Balm of Gilead.
Rain beginning to sprinkle we collected as many as we could before nightfall, smelling the newly cut trees the moose would be in to eat the fresh buds left behind. In warmer weather, the resin in the buds would stick to our skin. But with the chill of the spring they hadn’t yet expelled their sticky resin.
The buds would serve us well.
Balm of Gilead is nothing that you can find sold anywhere, thus we must make our own and keep it stocked in our medicine cabinet. It’s a necessary for burns, cuts, and wounds which are a constant in this house.
I make sure that the children come with me when I go picking, so that they may learn the way of the bark, smell and look of a cottonwood.
I stumbled on this balm through the Old Testament named for the place of origin, Gilead. It is made by infusing the buds with oil, I used olive oil. I did not wash the buds, but simply put them in a small sauce pan and covered the buds with the olive oil. The oil pan with buds was placed on the coolest part of the wood stove to infuse for two hours, or could be put on low heat on a kitchen range. I made sure to cover the pan as the oil heated to make sure that the precious resin saturated oil did not escape. I have now poured the oil and buds into a covered mason jar to continue infusing for two months. I am anxiously waiting till I can use it in salves and balms!