NZ Woman's Weekly

Retro remedies

In the olden times, no cookbook was complete without remedies for indigestion, constipation and coughs and colds. You treated minor ailments at home and only visited the doctor if things got very serious indeed. Over the years I’ve collected many old recipes and tried them out with great success. So next time someone’s a bit crook at your house, why not whip up some of Nana’s magic? They’ll be better in no time.

Fruit Salts
These used to be sold as Andrews Liver Salts, or you can still get a version under the name of Eno. They are used to treat indigestion and I recommend always having a jar on hand.

  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp citric acid
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

1. Place the ingredients in a jar and give it a good shake to combine the various powders.

2. Use 2 teaspoons per large glass of cold water or 1 teaspoon per small glass. Drink it while it’s still fizzing if you can (be prepared for a few loud burps).

Turnip Cough Syrup
I was on a road trip promoting my book last year and came down with a terrible cough. So I whipped into a grocery store, grabbed a turnip and combined it with the sugar sachets at the motel.

  • 1/2 turnip
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or more if needed)

1. Peel the turnip, then slice thinly.

2. Sprinkle some sugar in the bottom of a small jar, then add a slice of turnip. Sprinkle with sugar, then add another slice.

3. Continue layering until the jar is half full, then put on the lid and leave it for 12 hours or overnight. The sugar extracts the healing properties from the turnip. Take a spoonful as needed.

Cough Medicine
This recipe uses glycerine, which you can buy at your local pharmacy.

1. Take equal quantities of glycerine, honey, brandy, lemon juice and vinegar (I use cider vinegar) and mix together well. Take as necessary.

Raisin Tea
This tea is famous as a cure for morning sickness and also makes a highly nutritious beverage for those who are unable to drink milk but need building up after an illness. This recipe only makes about a cup’s worth but it tastes very strong, so if you’re going to try it, have just a small cup to start with. You can also make this with prunes as a cure for constipation.

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups water

1. Wash the raisins well, then cover with water and soak overnight or for a few hours.

2. Put the mixture in a pot and simmer for about 30 minutes before straining off the raisins. Add a slice of lemon to the tea if you like, and drink warm or keep in the fridge.

Do you have a Nana recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at: or write to Nana’s Pantry, NZWW, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

Issue 1541

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