Posts Tagged ‘wild food recipes’

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.


Not all turnips made it.


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


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.


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.



Read Full Post »


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,


Read Full Post »