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Archive for the ‘Wild Foods’ Category

DSCN2107It was a rainy morning yesterday so I decided to stay inside and make a batch of lacto fermented vegie kraut. I’ve been wanting to make pickled purslane for a while now so I ventured down to the backyard and picked a few handfuls of this juicy, crunchy, fleshy, wild vegetable from the undergrowth of my vegetable garden. Inspired by my sister’s kimchi lesson, I decided to deviate from a traditional cabbage kraut and create something with a variety of textures and complimentary flavours.

First we chopped up cabbage, green onion, garlic scapes and salad turnips.

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Not all turnips made it.

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Then we set up an apparatus to separate some whey from our fresh batch of milk kefir in order to inoculate the kraut.

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Once the whey was dripping into our jar we wandered outside to the garden to pick purslane and have a play break in the rain.

Purslane in the undergrowth of the vegetable garden ecosystem.

Purslane in the undergrowth of the vegetable garden ecosystem.

A broccoli attack occurred…

DSCN2101DSCN2102But we still managed to pick enough purslane for the kraut.

DSCN2105We washed the soil off of our harvest and prepared to layer our kraut ingredients into our fermenting crock.

I picked up this crock at the local flea market for about $40. Way cheaper than buying a new fancy crock online.

I picked up this crock at the local flea market for about $40. Way cheaper than buying a new fancy crock online.

We layered the vegetables, sprinkling pickling salt between the layers.

DSCN2108It filled the crock at first…

DSCN2109But then we poured the whey on and began the pounding to create a brine.

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We pounded this kraut gently so as not to destroy the purslane.

And after the pounding there was not so much in the crock.

DSCN2112Then I placed a small plate on top of the kraut to ensure the vegetables stay under the brine and placed the lid on top to keep out unwanted intrusions.

DSCN2117And my lovely assistant got a starfish strawberry kefir popsicle.

DSCN2113The kraut is happily fermenting in its crock on the kitchen bench and will remain there for about 5 days until it is suitably pickled. Then I will transfer it into a jar and store it in the fridge.

Purslane is popping up now in the Okanagan in gardens and farmers fields. It is very tasty, quite mild in flavour with a pleasing texture and is a great intro to wild vegetables. Purslane boasts nourishing amounts of essential fatty acid omega 3, vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin C, and riboflavin as well as vital magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

We look forward to enjoying our nutrient rich purslane in many meals from now until the end of it’s growing season and hope to make some jars of garlic dill pickled purslane to enjoy in the cooler months as well.

I hope you try your hand at traditional lacto fermentation, it really is easy, yummy, and so good for you.

And don’t forget to eat your weeds.

Danika.

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It’s Stinging Nettle season in the Okanagan.

I get pretty excited leading up to this part of the year and start to dream up stinging nettle recipes weeks before the nettles are ready to pick. I also have an irrational tendency to panic over not having enough nettles to last me a year even if I have jars and jars of dried nettle leaf and plenty steamed, chopped nettles in the freezer. And why wouldn’t I?

Nettles make you feel good…

Nettles, as a food, deeply nourishes and restores arguably better than any other. It’s absolutely delicious as a green vegetable, mineral dense and slightly salty, so rich in broths and green smoothies.  It dries easily and blends well with many other herbs for nourishing infusions, and a pinch added to tisane blends adds depth of flavour and colour.

I like to blend nettle tea with red clover and peppermint for an enjoyable, full flavoured tisane that not only tastes great it supports the adrenals, balances hormones, boosts fertility, settles the stomach, and helps prevent cancer; all while being rich in vitamins, minerals and life giving vibrancy.

I’m not going to go in depth as to why nettles are awesome, today. Instead I am going to share a recipe. I’ll probably make a nice monograph for nettles another time.

I’m in the mood to make, taste and experience good food made from nettles, so when I got home with the first of my harvest I made a batch of this delicious and nourishing soup. It is a creamy soup but not your traditional stodgy, thickened with flour, cream of chicken soup. It is light yet rich, made with fresh spring cream and scratch made chicken broth . A simple seasonal dish that is easy to make and very delicious, if not a little French rustic.

Creamy Nettle & Chicken Soup

nettle soup

Ingredients:

8 cups of freshly picked nettles

1 whole chicken, rinsed well (Pasture raised, organic, is best but work with what you’ve got.)

2T olive oil

1T butter

2 onions, fine diced

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

1T apple cider vinegar

Bay leaf

1 cup fresh cream (Again, the best is from pastured, organic cows, and watch out for funky additives.)

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Chopped spring chives and chive blossoms to garnish

In a stock pot that will accommodate a whole bird, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil and butter until they soften and become deeper in flavour, releasing their aromatics. This will be your flavour base for the soup. Don’t over colour your onions and carrots, this soup is on the delicate side of flavour profiles. You want to enjoy the subtle flavours of nettles, broth, cream and chives and a more fresh and purifying sense in the mouth, unlike the colder months rich, slow cooked, winter soups.

Throw in the chopped garlic and bay leaf and sauté until there is a release of aroma. Add the vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan. Drop your bird into the pot then cover with fresh, cold, filtered water. Add a good tablespoon of salt and some cracked pepper to the pot and turn up the heat. Bring the broth to a boil then immediately turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.

After about 10 minutes a little bit of scum will surface. Grab your ladle and skim it off. Now you can use the pot’s lid to partially cover the stock pot so that the steaming broth can baste the top of the bird, as it will tend to float a bit as it cooks.

Leave your broth to simmer for an hour. While the broth simmers you can very lightly steam the nettles in a pot, just until they turn a gorgeous, bright green. Strain them, reserving the green liquid to add to the broth. Once they cool enough to handle roughly chop them up and set aside for serving.

After the broth has simmered for about an hour, test the doneness of the chicken. The meat should slip easily off the bone. Remove the cooked bird, strain the juices that run off but pour them back into the pot. Keep the broth simmering uncovered to reduce and concentrate the flavour while you deal to the chicken meat.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle pull the meat off the bones and chop half of it for the nettle soup. Save the rest of the meat for another dish tomorrow, it will have a lovely flavour and should be anything but dry.

Once the broth has reduced enough to your liking, take your ladle once again and skim off any undesired fat. There will be a layer floating on top. You may wish to keep it all, it is good fats after all. Or, like me, you may prefer a less oily soup and leave only enough to make yummy looking pools of goodness around the edges of the bowl. Now add the chicken meat back to the pot, add the cream and check the seasoning….

Is it good? No? Try more salt. Scratch made broth needs a good amount of salt in it. Not too much though, the nettles are a bit salty as they are mineral dense, but you won’t notice so much as not need extra salt once served.

Let everything warm back up together.

When ready to serve, portion the nettles into each bowl then ladle the hot soup on top of the greens.

Garnish with chopped spring chives and chive blossoms. Season if desired.

Serve with a salad of wild spring greens and slices of baguette spread with fresh butter.

Enjoy your yummy, creamy, nettle goodness.

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I have some more nettle greens recipes to share and I might do some tutorials on preparing nettles for the freezer, in vinegars for nutrient dense vinaigrettes,  and drying them for teas and infusions.

Or I might not. I have a strange perspective on blogging right now, currently feeling it’s a bit vain and self promoting, because, well it kind of is, hah! But on the other hand there are some great benefits, like getting to nerd out and write a monograph that has to be good because it will be scrutinised.

And I like that I have decided to share recipes. I have a skill and a passion for food, and now that I am not working in the culinary arts I no longer have to treat food (crap quality, so-called food that is) as a profit margin.

I love that I am falling in love with my culture of food and dining all over again. It’s like re-immersing myself into my true beliefs towards preparing and sharing nourishment that also tastes amazing. It’s about home grown and hand gathered, about slowing down, taking time, sharing with the ones I love and hanging out in bliss over a dish with a good glass of wine. Remembering my own food culture actually helps me deal with my homesickness. Now that’s got to be healthy.

It’s just too good not to share. We shall see what happens next…

Until next time, eat your weeds!

Danika.

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A Spring outing with my son to gather Arrowleaf Balsam Root leaves.

Well there goes May, and with it Spring leaves me as early Summer rolls on in. My month of May was impeded by a chest infection but I still managed to get out to my Herb School classes and spend time wildcrafting and medicine making. I have welcomed into my life the act of prayer. In the past I had always associated prayer with religion and so avoided it. But as I grow older and connect deeper with Nature through my studies and passion for herbal folk medicine, my perception of life expands and opens, and my heart asks me to be more still, more quiet, so I can listen to the voices of the forest, of wild water and animal chatter, and if I am lucky perhaps for a moment I will hear the song of their Spirit. Prayer gives me a way to offer my intentions to all of creation here on Earth, be it of healing given or needed, love shared and received, joy and sorrow. It opens the door to communion with loving, healing, spiraling consciousness. And maybe it does far more… For me it is also a way to give offerings of love and to announce my intentions when working with the plant world.

Belly to the Earth, intoxicated by the scent of Oregon grape inflorescence.

Arrowleaf Balsam Root (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Leaving the magical Nettle forest…

May brought fresh Nettles once again, something that makes me very, very happy. I have a weird fear of not having enough Nettles! I can’t live without them. On Mothers Day, I drove out to a friends farm with my son and husband and we spent the day picking beautiful, vibrant green Nettles. I dried about 10lbs, steamed off some for the freezer, made nettle infused oil for an under eye cream I am working on for Herb & Petal, my herbal skin care line, and cooked with nettles to my hearts content. I made a very yummy rustic nettle and goat cheese pie with whole grain sage pastry. I wasn’t completely happy with the result, next time I will add more creamy goodness to it like cultured cream cheese and mix the filling well with it, rather than leaving the cheese in chunks, to make for a richer, moister pie. When I have perfected my recipe I will share it with you…

Drying Nettles on an old screen.

Chopping Nettles for oil infusion.

Making Nettle oil infusion for skin care.

Cooked Nettles.

Making Rustic Nettle and Goat Cheese Pie with Sage Pastry.

Nettle and Goat Cheese Pie.

May also brought a ‘Super Moon’, which was very beautiful, although by the time the Moon rose over the mountains behind my house I had  missed the effect of it’s largeness. It was still an energy charged night and I was determined to have a fire outside to enjoy it. I searched around for a second hand brazier to enable backyard campfires but there was no way I was going to pay much for one. So I got my spade out and dug a lovely fire pit for free. 10 minutes later I had an awesome, rock lined fire pit and we have been loving it! Besides, I can cook on my backyard fire pit. Braziers are for….

The full Moon as it drifted over my side of the mountain.

I also had the opportunity to go to Summerhill Organic Winery for the Fertility Festival and interviewed local folk punk band The Dirty Earth. Lots of fun, yummy food and wine, artists, artisans, music and beautiful, shining people everywhere. I’ll post the interview in a separate blog entry soon!

The Dirty Earth played in the Kekuli at Summerhill’s Fertility Festival this May.

Well, I had more to say but I am fading in my enthusiasm presently. It’s been a long week, motherhood has been trying for me lately with low energy levels and the lingering infection in my lungs. Finding time to do all I must and rest to recover is almost impossible. I haven’t even set up shop at my farmers market yet this season, something that bothers me to no end. I must persevere and hope that I am filled with boundless energy soon!

Thanks for stopping by, see you again real soon!

Danika.

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Lush little gully full of life at James Lake, BC.

I have not written in while now and have much to catch up on so I can continue in some sort of seasonal flow here with the plants I discover and learn to use in my area. So I will start with my late spring/early summer wanderings and hopefully next time I can focus more on one plant at a time with each subsequent posting.

We had a strangely cool and wet Spring here in the Okanagan and the Summer is unfolding much warmer but the rain has yet to fully burn off for the season. Just this afternoon we had an impressive thunderstorm that flooded my garden and driveway for a little while. This is great for our water supply and the wild plants and cultivated fields are looking lush for now. The spring rain came every few days and although light and misty it made the harvest of wild herbs rather difficult to plan around at times considering other commitments must be fulfilled and I had to wait till late afternoon for the plants and flowers to dry off some days.

Like recently, I had planned a trip to gather some arnica while they bloomed as I am nearly out of arnica balm, a medicine kit staple. I arrived to find what arnica had flowered was spent and the majority of the arnica fields had not reached inflorescence anyways. So I wandered off  in search of other good things growing in the woods and wild fields.

Wild rose. It doesn't get any better for me.

As it turned out the wild rose was blooming and looking vibrant and lush so I gathered some petals, a handful of unopened buds to blend into my favourite tisanes and a few leaves as well. I made the petals and leaves into my first rose tincture. I want to get to know the Wild Rose much more intimately this year along with Elderberry and also Choke Cherry as I have never met a wild cherry tree before now nor have I tasted it’s fruit or bark. As it happens there is a stand of choke cherry trees near the wild rose I visit.

Pikitau with James Lake in the background.

On the weekend of Fathers day we went on a camping trip up to James Lake. It’s a lake in the hills behind my house, it takes about an hour to drive up there from where we are. What’s kind of cool is it’s so close yet a completely different ecology. The Okanagan is awesome like that, so much diversity in such a small area.  I couldn’t  believe my luck, there were so many herbs and mushrooms up there to get to know. Some I have seen before like violets although the James Lake violets are the yellow flowered stream violet. Others I had noticed previously while reading my local field guide for leisure like the dork I am. Like Cow Parsnip. You can eat the young stems, peeled and sauted in butter and garlic would be superb camp fire fare. We nibbled them raw just to have a taste and become familiar but left the rest undisturbed. A word of warning about cow parsnip, it is from the carrot family and lives in similar habitat as the highly toxic water hemlocks and poison-hemlock. Even small amounts of these poisonous plants can be fatal. I cannot stress positive identification enough! If your are not 100% sure of a carrot family plant, or any for that matter, leave it alone! I bear no responsibility for others foolishness, if you cannot ID a plant and choose to ingest it that is your business but don’t say I didn’t warn you… I write these articles for your general interest only. Take care of your own health, please. That said, cow parsnip is quite distinguishable from other carrot family plants, if you know what you are looking for. A good field guide and/or real live human guide is not optional.

Cow Parsnip - heracleum lanatum. AKA Indian celery and Indian rhubarb. Note the big dried out flower stalk from last years inflorescence.

Viola Glabella or Stream Violet. Abundant around James Lake, BC.

Mountain Sweet Cicely - Osmorhiza chilensis. Anise flavoured leaves and roots reminisent of baby carrots.

Mountain Sweet Cicely root. Please be very mindful when harvesting a plant for it's roots, you are taking the whole plant and it will not grow back. Use your common sense and do not harvest if there is lack of abundance of the plant you wish to take. If you do take it, use it all. Don't let the plants life be in vain.

Naturally there were Nettles, my favourite! I finally found a healthy abundant patch of nettles and I was stoked. I gathered the tops carefully and thankfully and still have a little steamed and frozen for my autumn soups. I actually came across gold while I was enjoying some time alone fishing. Morel mushrooms!  They have to be, in my opinion, the best tasting mushrooms ever. It was really cool to be able to pick some wild morels and serve them sauteed with garlic and dandelions on top of campfire steaks.

Need I introduce you?

Camp fire cooking is the best kind of cooking.

Basket o' nettles...

Morels!

A little friend hopped over to say hi.

Can I kiss you little prince?

My boy loves the natural world. I caught him kissing a plants leaves once!

Who doesn't love a camp fire?

I also found wild angelica, fields of wild strawberries and heart leaf arnica and many varieties of horsetail. There were gooseberry bushes everywhere! I hope to get up there when they are fruiting. I would love some to play around with in syrups and maybe an elixir. Does anyone reading this make a wild gooseberry elixir? Is it done? It sounds good to me, perhaps when I get to know it’s energetics better I will know if this is appropriate.

As the summer has progressed and all kinds of plants send out their flowers to worship the sun I have been able to positively identify all these new plants with greater ease and certainty that I am beholding the plant I think I am. Very important. I am very happy about all the sweet clover that lives around my semi-rural neighbourhood, I couldn’t be completely sure the young plants were sweet clover or alfalfa as I had seen neither before in real life and they looked similar to me when they were emerging. Apparently, sweet clover makes awesome pesto and I really love using wild greens in my cooking to boost nutritional value of our meals but also because they bring fresh, new, vibrant flavours to our palates and my palate happens to be very tired of commercial vegetables. Of course I shop at my farmers market and grow a small garden but wild greens are primal, they thrive without requiring human interference and they are free. Nobody’s going to complain about you taking so called weeds like sweet clover, lambs quarters and dandelions so why not go out and get them…

Ahh it feels good to have a catch up and get out what has been in my head. I’d like to get much more in depth with individual plants however I realize this summer will be all about discovering new plant allies, what they look like, where they grow, the basics of how they help people. Only once I have become acquainted can I begin to walk deeper into each plants mysteries and hopefully emerge with wisdom that can be shared with fellow herb seekers. I hope your Summer (or Winter as the case may be) is going wonderfully for you.

See you next time!

Danika.

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That's Shadow, my wee little 'bobcat' (manx..) slinking in from the left to inhale the sweet herbal aroma of my tea.

It’s a crisp fresh and sunny spring morning outside today in the Okanagan. My boy’s are at the park and I am getting ready to dye eggs for my son and nephew to hunt later today. My herb garden is taking off with a rush of energy and I feel the frisky spring vibe all around.

I have been trying in vain to find a patch of wild nettles close to my home but so far I have found only a lone plant on the path of one of my favorite trails at Mill Creek, an abundant place of beauty where I often gather herbs here and there. I never harvest from my friend the lone nettle but I do go visit it from time to time. I’ll gather her seeds this fall so I can grow her offspring in my garden next year.

Needless to say I was feeling a little bummed out about the lack of fresh nettles in my life right now! Well yesterday morning we went off to the farmers market and I was so stoked to find one of the farmers selling bags of beautiful nettles. I bought them and asked if she had nettle seed, the farmer replied with a confused expression “They ARE weeds you know? If you plant them you will never be rid of them”  to which I replied with my hand on my heart “And I am perfectly o.k with that!” I’m sure she found this Kiwi girls antics to be quite amusing. What can I say? I love nettles.

In the evening I was wondering how I would enjoy my bag of precious nettles and given I have never made an infusion from fresh nettles I decided that was just what I would do with some of them. So I got some water boiling in the kettle and fetched my jar of marshmallow root. Nettles are a little drying so I always add a pinch or two of marshmallow root to my nettle infusions as I tend to be constitutionally dry and I live in a semi arid climate. It has a slightly sweet aroma and flavour and it’s mucilage is soothing on the mouth, stomach and mucous membranes. I find this really balances the astringency of nettles.

In my excitement I simply tore the leaves, added the marshmallow and filled my quart sized jar with just boiled water. The aroma hit me immediately, so fresh, herbaceous yet somewhat sweet and fruity from the mallow. I was in love, dried nettle infusions never smell this good!  Then I stepped back to admire the leaves floating around in the brew. Wait a minute. All those intact cell walls are inhibiting the water from extracting all the good stuff from my nettles. Oops. So I strained my brew, placed the nettles on my wooden chopping board and chopped away. Then it all went back into the jar. I really should know better than to skip steps. Tsk tsk. I set aside my infusion to brew overnight so I could enjoy it in the morning.

All was well again and I retired to the living room to hang out with my man and our friend that had stopped by for an evening visit. Barely an hour went by before I was back in the kitchen smelling the nettle and mallow brew. I just couldn’t wait all night to taste my first fresh nettle infusion so I went right ahead and poured myself a cup, stirred in half a teaspoon of local wild flower honey and sipped away. Amazing. Delicious. Slightly sweet and fruit like from the mallow and honey then perfectly rounded, full and slightly salty from the nettles. And the feeling, I felt that nettle buzz like never before! Fresh herb preparations truly are bursting with life and vitality that you just can’t get with dried herb. What a feeling.

My search for wild nettles continues and brings with it discoveries of catnip, marshmallow and cattails that I will go back for soon. But in the meantime I will have to keep visiting my farmers market for my next hit of fresh nettle infusion.

Glorious Green Spring Blessings to you!

Danika.

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Elderflower

Hello there! I’m back, finally! It’s been a month since I began composing this article and then life took me on a whirlwind tour of the unexpected and uncontrollable. I’ve been riding a roller coaster of emotion, both good and bad, pain and relief and it’s all been such an overwhelming distraction. I find myself feeling soothed to be sitting here writing about my heartfelt purpose, the goodness of learning and working with plants for medicine, food and beauty. As I write this I can smell my pot of elderberries and spices simmering gently into a tasty and healthful decoction that I will soon blend into a syrup. And that is the theme of today’s long awaited article… The Elderberry.

I love the elder tree. I love the way it looks, I love its dreamy, creamy blossom clusters and I adore the dark blue elderberries it so freely gives to those that know of its generous bounty. What could be more satisfying than seeking to find and work with such a giving plant that is steeped in a rich history of centuries old folklore, legend and medicine making ?

Back home in New Zealand, a few years back, I watched an interview on the local news about a girl who was going around the old Southland farms and sheep stations asking permission to harvest the blossoms and berries which she then crafted into elderflower and elderberry cordials. I had to try them for myself as I was so intrigued and what a delight they turned out to be. On a hot summers day nothing beats a tall glass of cold elderflower cordial blended with sparkling spring water.

The species of Elder that is native to my region: sambucus cerulea

Since then my relationship with the elder tree has deepened and grown as I learn more about this remarkable plant. I’ve recently learned of a species of elder that is native to the Montane Cordillera eco-zone I live in: Sambucus nigra ssp cerulea. I’ve heard it grows in the southern Okanagan so you can imagine my excitement! I’m eagerly awaiting the spring when I will go searching for its tell-tale blossom clusters in hopes of harvesting the flowers and later in the summer the berries as well, to dry and blend into remedies for my kitchen apothecary.

While I wait for winter to finish doing her thing I am happy to work with my stash of dried elderberries I purchased from Silk Road Tea and Herb Company. I also have a little packet of dried elderberries that came with my herbal medicine making kit from Learning Herbs so hey, let’s make a simple elderberry syrup! I’ve decided to make the recipe that came in my herbal medicine making kit, from Learning Herbs.com as it includes other herbs such as ginger and cinnamon, excellent allies in times of illness caused by cold and flu viruses.

Now as if you need a convincing reason to make and enjoy an elderberry syrup! But this is a somewhat educational blog for me and for you and writing about medicinal uses of plant helps me learn faster, so now, a little about the healing powers, myths and other uses of the wonderful elder…

The elderberry is traditionally used in the treatment of the flu virus. A common folk remedy blends elderberries with yarrow and peppermint and is used as a diaphoretic, that is to induce a sweat, at bedtime to help break a fever. This is a great example of herbs working with your body’s healing process to return to a balanced and whole state of being rather than the allopathic tradition of suppressing symptoms, a practice that I am at odds with as symptoms of illness are the body hard at work in healing mode. Not that I don’t wish to relieve the discomfort of illness when my son or husband or even my self gets sick, I just go about it in a way that supports healing function and a return to balanced health sooner. Anyways… Back to elderberries!  Traditional Herbalist Kiva Rose speaks highly of her experiences working with elder. She blends it into an elixir tonic not only as a remedy for influenza but also she has “found it useful in a variety of situations, especially chronic hyper or hypo immunity, extended illness and other depletion syndromes”. I should also note it has a tonic effect on the mucous membranes. Oh yes,  it tastes great too, what a bonus! That’s not always true of many medicinal herbs.

The branches of the elderberry have a soft core and are easily turned into whistles but be warned, the bark contains alkaloids one may find nauseating. No nibbling on elder whistles! The elder is also thought to be connected to the fairy world and according to Doreen Shababy, author of The Wild and Weedy Apothecary, there are several legends that tell of an Elder Mother inhabiting the tree and she rightly reminds her readers to be thankful for the bounty they harvest from her branches.

Have I peaked your interest yet? Want to learn how to make that elderberry syrup? Then read on my friend for its ready and cooling on my counter top and it could be in your kitchen apothecary too with a few ingredients and a little instruction so here we go!

How to make Elderberry Syrup:

Gathering the ingredients to make an elderberry syrup

You will need to gather your ingredients and equipment before you get started. For this recipe we will use:

1/2 cup of dried or 1 cup fresh blue elderberries, 5 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon roughly grated or chopped ginger, 2 cups fresh filtered water and 1 cup unpasteurized wild flower honey.

Next pour the water into a medium size pot that has a lid. Add the elderberries…

Dried elderberries going in the pot

Then the cloves, cinnamon and ginger….

Adding the spices to the brew

Then cover the pot and bring to a boil.

Cover up for less energy waste!

Once it’s boiling reduce the heat and let your decoction simmer for about 20 minutes. You want it to reduce in volume by half.

Now it's boiling reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes

While it’s simmering let’s talk about honey… I feel the best honey to use for its medicinal qualities comes from bees that forage wild area’s away from monoculture, genetically modified crops and pollution. Actually I feel the best medicinal honey in the world is Manuka honey. It is the most potent honey out there for treating all kinds of ailments but in the interest of using what is available to you locally, go and support your local bee keeper. And make sure you buy unpasteurized honey. It is powerful yet delicate stuff and loses much of its useful qualities when heated. I’m using organic wild flower honey from Armstrong, right here in the Okanagan. It’s cold today so you will notice my honey is a little grainy but that’s alright, it will dissolve into the decoction just fine.

Wild flower honey from the Okanagan

Now the decoction is reduced by half so I strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl…And use a spoon to press all the juice out of the berries.Now it’s time to add the honey…

Mmmm... honey!

And stir until the honey has completely dissolved.Now it’s ready to be poured into a sterile glass storage vessel. I’m using a re-purposed Grolsch beer bottle as they have rubber stoppers on top. I actually buy them just so I can have the bottles for home-made syrups and sauces but it’s kind of fun emptying them of their original contents with my hubby…

Use a funnel if your going to pour your syrup into a bottle for storage, it helps prevent wasting your precious syrup by spilling.

Now just let it cool down before you seal it. You could make a cool label while you wait.

That’s it! You just learned how to make elderberry syrup at home for a fraction of the cost of a bottle of store bought elder extract pills that probably don’t do much anyways. Make sure you store your syrup in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of weeks. Give a tablespoonful a day to your family during the cold and flu season as a preventative measure. I’ll probably be serving mine over vanilla bean ice cream and yoghurt too. You’ll see. It’s tastes awesome.

I hope you try this for yourself, it really is worth it. For more elderberry recipes check out Putting Up With The Turnbulls blog site for their Elderberry Maple Syrup. You can also make jams and jellies with the fresh berries but that will be an article for another day when I have a glut of them in my kitchen to be dealt with. I really hope the wait was worth it and I look forward to sharing more of my herbal adventures with you all as Spring is about to arrive and with her all the good green herbs I have been so impatiently waiting for. 🙂

Happy herbal adventures,

Danika.

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