Elderberry Syrup!

005A few years ago I planted two elderberry bushes in my garden; they have done very well. In the last 3 years the bushes have produced several gallons of elderberries.  So what to do with all the elderberries? From fresh berries I have made pies but my family doesn’t really like elderberry pie very much, so I froze most of the berries. I now have about two gallons in the freezer. Being inspired by Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for elderberry syrup in her wonderful book Medicinal Herbs, I decided to make elderberry syrup!

What fun, how tasty and above all, very healthy for the immune system. So, yesterday I got out the needed ingredients: 4 cups frozen elderberries, local raw honey, fresh ginger root, and 1 tsp ground cloves

018

There are any number of recipes for elderberry syrup to be found. You can omit ginger and cloves or you can add cinnamon. With my first batch I put in cinnamon and cloves. I love ginger and with my second batch I omitted the cinnamon but added more ginger as I really like the peppery flavor. It is very soothing to a sore throat.

In making elderberry syrup you can use fresh, frozen or dried berries. It all works out the same for a healthy concoction to boost your immune system. I like to take a tablespoon a day but others in my family only use it when getting sick. It also makes a nice pancake syrup, added flavor for tea, to sweeten and flavor a nice warm bowl of oatmeal.

Here is what I did:

  1. Placed the berries in a large stainless steel pot and added 1/8 cup of water. Simmered the berries for 30 minutes until nice and soft. Then poured the berries and leftover liquid into a large mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Mashed the berries for a few minutes to get out all the dark purple juice. Discarded the mashed berries into my compost collector.
  2.  Poured the juice back into the cooking pot and added 1 tsp. ground cloves and a 2 inch”finger”of grated fresh ginger. Simmered this mixture about 30 minutes until the liquid was about half of the amount I had poured in.
  3.  Poured the simmered mixture through a small mesh tea strainer to remove any stringy ginger into a glass measuring cup. This turned out to be 3/4 cup. Recipes tell you to add the same amount of honey to the final juice product, so I stirred in 3/4 cup and put the pot back on the unit to heat enough to combine the honey and juice.
  4.  Tried a spoonful and it was delicious, so poured the syrup into an amber-colored jar and placed it in the refrigerator.
  5.  Done! ……………….Except to clean up the mess! 😀

032

Fresh Food, a Garden Joy

One of the joys of gardening is bringing in fresh food!  You know where and how it was grown.  Because I never use pesticides or herbicides in my garden, I know the food I have is safe to eat.  So what did I harvest today?

Potatoes! The first potatoes I dug up are Rose Gold, a variety I had never planted until this spring.  They look lovely and I expect they will taste good too.  Bought the Rose Gold seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm.  The nice thing about potatoes is you can leave them in the ground until ready to eat them.  Where I live in the northwest corner of Arkansas they will do fine left in the ground over winter, although I do dig up most of them and store in the refrigerator.

002A basket of garlic! Our family loves the flavor garlic gives to many different foods, plus all the health benefits from garlic.  This year I grew three small beds of garlic and here is the first harvest.  More to come.  The variety below is Red Toch, a soft neck garlic with a spicy fragrance.  It originates from the Republic of Georgia, near Tochliavri.

015 004Lettuce and young kale.  What a super good salad this makes.  Our family never gets tired of a fresh salad.  Sure, it is more work to have to go outside to pick the greens and then carefully wash it all, but for me this is actually a pleasure.

001For the love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but always grows and grows to an enduring and ever-increasing source of happiness.

~Gertrude Jekyll

Feasting on Dandelions!

Eating dandelions has become quite a fascination with me this spring.

007I have always loved the bright yellow dandelion and occasionally pick its leaves to put in our salads, but in all my 68 years have never thought about eating any other part of the plant until I recently read this article about making dandelion jelly.  Dandelion jelly?!  My Slovenian grandfather used to make dandelion wine and from what I remember it tasted quite good.  Dandelion wine, dandelion jelly and dandelion greens in salads.  What next?

Yes, dandelion fritters!  Although I haven’t tried canning any dandelion jelly yet,  I do want to try dandelion fritters!  Deep Roots at Home blog has a recipe for this tasty sounding dish.

I told my daughter I needed to find a cookbook for dandelions.  It wasn’t hard to find one and I plan to buy this book The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook by Kristina Seleshanko.  Kristina has a wealth of information regarding the healthful benefits and culinary uses of dandelions on her blog.

Happy dandelion feasting!

dandelions