Saturday, January 26, 2013

Myrtle and Mirto Making

Alongside our home lies a rather long stretch of myrtle shrubbery. I've always wondered if there was any use for this plant. Just by touch it's extremely aromatic!

So, one day I posted a picture of the shrub to see if I could get an ID. Of course, within a few moments, one of my herbalist pals correctly identified this plant and sent me a great link that I will share with you later in this blog.

Myrtle Hedge
But first, lets talk a little about the background of this ancient plant. It is native to North Africa and the Mediterranean region. 

In the Mediterranean, myrtle is a symbol of immortality and love. The Mediterranean culture considers myrtle an essential plant.

Myrtle was sacred to various love and land goddesses. 

The use of myrtle dates back to Northern Africa where it is used for sore throats, coughs, and topically to treat muscle pains. 

The berries of myrtle have been used to make a liqueur called Mirto that is unique to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. We'll chat more about Mirto below. 

Learning about the traditional uses of myrtle guided me to research this plant's medicinal properties. 

Harvested just enough for a test run.
There are so many ways myrtle can be applied, internally and topically.

Here's a list of areas that myrtle can aide in besides the ones already stated (always take caution if you are using any prescription drugs):

Respiratory infections
Strengthens veins
Urinary tract disorders
Prevents wound infections
Speeds up the healing process
Balances digestion
Lower GI circulation
Can decrease blood sugar
and much more I'm sure!

Now to the Mirto making!

Here is our Mirto in the making. 

Used Ketel One vodka. 
Just an hour later. Look at that gorgeous color!
After letting it sit for about over a month, a little longer than suggested. We decided to taste the Mirto on my partner's birthday. 

Before straining it I added some local raw honey to add some sweetness as suggested by Hank Shaw's blog. 

I really cannot emphasize how great the taste was. I felt instantly connected to the history of this plant after my first sip. Very herby and kind of as close as I can get in description because the flavor is new to my palate. Simply divine. 

Next year for the holidays some family and friends just might get a bottle of home-harvested and crafted Mirto. 

About a month and a half later we have ourselves Mirto! 
Remember Mirto is a liqueur that is best used as an after-dinner drink and should be sipped to thoroughly enjoy its flavor.

Oh, the things you learn along the garden pathway!

Sources: Aleksic V, Knezevic P.  Microbiological Research 169(2014): 240-254.
Alipour G, Dashti S, Hosseinzadeh H.  Review of pharmacological effects of Myrtus communis L. and its active constituents.  Phytother Res. 2014 Aug;28(8):1125-36


  1. <3 it looks and sounds so beautiful!!! Totally gonna find some myrtle and make this year :) :).

    1. Thank you Rebecca! We have a rather long hedge of it. I'll send ya some next season ; )