Posted on | February 9, 2011 | 3 Comments
A couple years ago, we had an expat meet-up at Starbucks and I took my husband along. While the expats were all ordering their iced mochas and decaf cappuccinos, my husband half jokingly asked if they served emoliente. In fact, it was less than half-jokingly – a few minutes later he walked over to Parque Kennedy and bought one.
So, what is emoliente?
Basically, it’s a brew made by steeping or boiling a variety of seeds and herbs. While their are many variations, toasted barley and linseed are near universal as ingredients. Often, a little Peruvian limon juice will be added – because you know it’s not Peruvian if there’s no limon!
Emoliente is thought to have diuretic properties, and for that reason is often used to help with renal problems and bloating. At one time, it was sold in small shops as a health product. However, the 20th century it became more of a mainstream drink and now you can find vendors selling it on street corners and in parks. It’s particularly popular during the colder months, when it is served hot. It’s the perfect drink to warm the body and restore strength.
If you’d like to make your own emoliente, most stores and markets sell a ready to go mix of herbs. If you look in the tea section of the supermarket, you can even find it ready in tea bags for single servings. If you’d prefer to make it from scratch, here’s a recipe to get you started. Feel free to experiment!
- 1-1/2 liters (or quarts) of water
- 100 grams of toasted barley (cebada tostada)
- 1 cup of horsetail herb (hierba cola de caballo)
- 50 grams of linseed (linaza)
- 20 grams of boldo leaves (this is the same in English and Spanish, but in English is sometimes called baldina)
- 100 grams of sugar (use rubio if you have it, it adds more flavor)
- the juice of two limones.
- Put the water on the stove to boil.
- While you wait for the water to boil, wash and rinse all the herbs and seeds.
- Add the ingredients to the boiling water, and let boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, and add 100 grams of sugar and the limon juice.
Just for fun, here are the claimed benefits of the herbal ingredients:
- Barley – may help with digestion, may help to reduce cholesterol, barley tea can help relieve cold symptoms
- Horsetail – traditionally used as a diuretic, studies suggest that it might be helpful with osteoporosis.
- Linseed (also known as flax) – high in fiber and Omega-3 oils. Studies suggest it may help to lower cholesterol and reduce certain cancers.
- Boldo – a native plant, helps with the digestive system and reduces gas. Also a diuretic, and may help prevent gallstones and gallbladder inflammation.
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