By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1983-2012
Issue: May, 1983
In summer, red and white roses trailed up the side and onto the wooden shingled roof. It was beautiful. Inside stone crocks and cans were set in the water, filled with butter, sweet milk and buttermilk. There were two big wooden barrels and she filled them with “salt pickles” and kraut. In springtime Grannie always made a “springtime tonic” from wild cherry tree bark. She called it “Wild Cherry Bitters.” I loved it and would slip into the springhouse and drink from the can. Grannie would wonder what happened that the can wasn’t full.
The springhouse is gone now but I have a vivid picture in my mind and lots of memories.
Wild Cherry Bitters
Here is the way my Grannie Hylton made “Wild Cherry Bitters.”
Peel bark from wild cherry tree in small strips. Cover with water and boil. When cool, pour into glass jar, water, bark and all. Sip on for a springtime tonic. Keep in a cool place. When the mixture gets “too biter,” boil more water and pour over the bark. To make more powerful, some of the mountain men liked to add a little whiskey.