Wild Food Soup Stock Preserved in Salt
One of my projects last weekend. We have tons of nice wild edible greens right now such as chickweed, nettle, miner's lettuce and much more which can make some wonderful soup stock. So I hijacked some old European methods of making vegetable soup stock and preserving it with salt. In the old days, it was a way of preserving the harvest for the winter. Never done it with wild food before. In a fridge or a cold basement, this will preserve a very long time, like 2-3 years. The ratio of salt varies from recipes to recipes, my ratio was 5 parts wild greens to one part salt to make it safe.
Check out how I made it in the Wild Food Lab section.
Making Nettle Beer - A Wonderful Tonic!
Nettles are one of my favorite foraged finds. I'm not
alone, you can see these at some fancy restaurants
seasonally - attached to a fancy price. For me, they are
a staple in our home because they are not only
abundant throughout most of the year where I live, but
also delicious and versatile.
Most interestingly, however, they have some remarkable
medicinal properties and I have been experimenting
with medicinal beers. I came across a recipe for nettle
beer and was skeptical - the concoction did not smell
pleasant going into the bottle, but after 10 days, I tried it
and was more than surprised! It's delicious and has a
flavor not unlike a beer made with hops. It's refreshing
and from my research, has some natural curative
proerties as an aid for kidney stones, arthritis
and lowering cholesterol.
Picnic and Acorn Burgers
We didn't want to miss acorn season this year. As Pascal always says, "The plants and trees don't follow our made up calendar, they produce when they need to." We didn't quite gather enough acorns last year, so we had the idea to gather some friends and family together and have a little acorn feast picnic and take advantage of their gathering skills.
We went on a short acorn hunt - not too hard, they've all fallen to the ground and then treated ourselves to some butter seared acorn burgers made with the acorns as a base, eggplant, oat bran, white wine and some other spices and seasonings. Very meaty and satisfying and a crowd favorite - even for those who are not into veggie burgers. Our seven year old guest approved.
Sticky Acorn Buns
The very first thing I thought of as we harvested acorns this year was sticky buns. I think the acorns have a natural buttery, butterscotch flavor to themonce leached and roasted. You can't get more wintry that piping hot, gooey, sticky, nutty, fluffy acorn sticky buns. We rolled acorns in the buns and also made a honey toffee with the roasted acorns for the top.
This is very much going to be a hallmark of our fall/winter kitchen as it brings back fond childhood memories coupled with the sheer joy of being in the forest and taking part in our new New Year's tradition, acorn hunting.
The acorns pickling I made last year was so popular that I had to redo it. I kept the same recipe (If it ain't broke don't fix it) and here is a reminder on how to do it:
1. Leach acorn and place them in a strong brine for 3 days. I used a ratio of around 1/3 cup of salt for 4 cups water. After 3 days let them dry for a day.
I had a bit more than 2 cups of acorns
1 cup water + 2 cups red wine vinegar+ 3 oz basalmic vinegar
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon peppercorn, 1 teaspoon dry garlic (can use 2 cloves fresh)
1 teaspoon Italian or French spices.
I also added 1/2 California Bay leave in each jar.
In a large pot bring to a boil the ingredients and then add the acorns. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Spoon the acorns into sterile jars and fill with the liquid to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal with lids and rings. Process in a hot water bath for at least 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and store in a cool dark place.
Last year we went acorn hunting on New Year's Day
for the first time together. We just knew we had to
repeat that this year. On our first foraging forray,
we found little to nothing as it was after the big winds.
But we tried another location and hit the acorn jackpot!
On a beautiful day last weekend, we managed to collect
nearly 30 lbs of sweet, White Oak acorns. Almost like
winning the lotto. We can't wait to experiment with them as
not only a self-reliant food source, but also as the delicious
delicacy they are.
I make traditionally preserved acorns in a sweet and sour
brine - akin to an old English recipe I came accross. We
will also make some acorn veggie burgers and sausages,
acorn butter, acorn brittle...and I'm sure much more...
When life gives me lemons, I don't make lemonade. I preserve them Moroccan style with a little bit of salt. This is an ingenious way preserve lemons because of its simplicity and because lemons and citrus are a staple in my kitchen. Best of all, it's a way to not let garden lemons go to waste. We'll be able to use these Meyer lemons all year long.
Here's what I did:
Experimenting with Toyon Berries
Pascal's a veteran when it comes to processing and
preserving toyon berries. I must admit, I'm quite new to it.
It's exciting for me to experiment in our test kitchen because this berry is unlike anything I've worked with. It's
not even similar to anything I have used. The texture is challenging and coaxing out the cherry flavor and the berries' sugars takes some time and practice. Plus, the books and articles I've read explain cooking methods of yore that I've tried and, well...let's just say that some are urban legend.
Still, I am going to try to use them as a flour and also utilize the skins for some intersting infusions. Stay tuned...who knows what will happen.
Foraging Toyon Berries
We have tons of nice wild edible greens right now such as chickweed, nettle, miner's lettuce and toyon berries. The weather patterns this year have been interesting to say the least, but that's part of the fun of being self reliant...always being aware of your environment.
Those of you who have attended our class have told me similar things and like me, your eyes are always wandering to the landscape to see what you'll spot! Wild Food Hunter's united, LOL.
In any case, this is a great time of year to think about preserving foraged finds. You never know what the weather will throw at you. I'm preserving nettles (powdered form) and may be making some more soup cubes with the other greens. For the toyon berries, I think I'll try another batch of brandy soaked toyon. That brandy was absolutely delicious.
Making Beer With Wild Plants Class
The beer making classes are always popular. It's fantastic that so many of you have experience brewing your own! Iearn so much, too.
Some of the unique things about making beer with wild plants is that they have very few ingredients, the recipes date back to the middle ages and have a rich history. Even better, many have medicinal qualities and even if not take "medicinally," the effects of these brews are mild (if you don't drink too much). Because of the way they are made and the ingredients, they are very different from commercial brews - they don't affect the body as a "downer." A plus!
So far, we've had successful brews using mugwort, white sage, nettles and I"m looking forward to using horehound. All distinct flavors that change drastically after fermentation.
Mugwort Beer Jerky
I still have a bunch of mugwort beer and I wanted to do something interesting for the upcoming class. So why not one of my favorite things - jerky!
It's right up my alley as it's an invaluable traditionaL preservation technique and I can use TWO preserved products at once.
Besides all that, this mugwort jerky had a very complex flavor that seems to open up after each chew. It was fascinating! I think I like it!