And here are the links I mentioned during the show….
Stalking the Wild Asparagus – Euell Gibbons – Field Guide Edition
Herbs start to come in as early as April I’ve already thinned out and harvested the mugwort.
There are some herbs that you want to wait til they blossom before you harvest them, some can be harvested before they blossom and some can be harvested at any time. You’ll have to do some research on that because there is no way I can cover all the herbs ………..
A few rules of thumb for harvesting:
Harvest in the morning when the dew has dried off the leaves and there is no moisture clinging to the plant. The volatile oils will be at their best this time of day.The ideal time of season to harvest most herbs is just when the flower buds are forming, but just before they open.
You can harvest up to 50% of most annual herb plants. Harvest only 1/3 of perennial plants.
Rules Of Thumb For Drying
Pull off dead or diseased leaves bundle in groups of 5 or 6 stems tie them up with string and allow to dry in a cool, dry place out of direct sun.
If you’re drying an herb that has seeds that you want to save, cover the bundle with a paper bag that has holes punched in it. the bag will catch the seeds and still allow the herb to dry.
If you’re drying roots you should use a dehydrator or low oven.
How To Make An Herbal Infusion
Infusions are easy to make. Use dried herbs because the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are concentrated in dried herbs. Place the dried herb in a quart sized mason jar (or any other jar) and cover with boiling water. Let cool, cap and allow to sit undisturbed for 4-10 hours.
In general, here is how long you should infuse herbs:
Roots/barks -8 hours minimum
Leaves – 4 hours minimum
Flowers – 2 hours minimum
Seeds/berries – 30 minutes minimum
Tinctures are alcohol-based plant medicines. Alcohol extracts and concentrates many properties from plants, including their poisons. Alcohol does not extract significant amounts of nutrients, so tinctures are used when we want to stimulate, sedate or make use of a a poison such as herbs used to treat intestinal worms. The concentrated nature of tinctures allows them to act quickly.
To make a tincture from dried roots:
Put one ounce of root in a pint jar.
The dried root should fill the jar about a third full. If not, use a smaller jar.
Fill the jar to the top with the alcohol. Cap tightly and label.
Almost any alcohol can be used to make a tincture. My preference is 100 proof vodka. Lower proofs don’t extract as many of the medicinal components of the plant as a higher proof. Higher than 100 proof can damage the liver and kidneys.
The tincture is ready in six weeks, but gets stronger the longer it sits. Double and Triple Tinctures are made by soaking new leaves or roots in the same alcohol several times, perhaps 7 or 8 times. This makes a very strong tincture and should be used accordingly.
Making Fresh Root Tinctures
Making a tincture with a fresh root is similar to making one with a dried root.
Dig up its root.
Rinse mud away.
Chop root into small pieces and fill a jar to the top with the chopped root.
Fill jar to the top with alcohol. Cap tightly. Label.
Fresh root tinctures are ready to use in six weeks.
1 Tbsp fresh or dried nettles and mint to each cup boiling water OR ½ cup nettles-mint mixture to each quart boiling water. This tastes best when made 24 hours ahead of time. Sweeten as desired.
1 cup tomato juice
½ cup Nettles broth or tonic infusion
1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice (try using your herbal vinegar or red clover vinegar)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice (or vinegar)
1 tsp honey
2 cups fresh Chickweed greens
¼ tsp salt
1 garlic clove
dash of pepper
½ cup yogurt
Combine all ingredients, except yogurt, in a blender and blend til smooth. Add yogurt and blend a little more, til very creamy. Taste and correct seasonings. Serve over Spring Time Salad.
Spring Time Salad
This recipe is adaptable to whatever you find growing in your yard or on your walks through the woods.
3 cups Chickweed
3 cups grated carrots
Then add any of the following and toss:
Chopped wild leeks (ramps)
Wild Violet flowers
Wild Violet leaves, shredded
Serve with Chickweed Dressing
2 cups Violet leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 carrot, grated
1 cup Mint leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 cup dried fruit
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup Violet blossoms
Toss everything together and top with your favorite dressing. I like a light basalmic viniagrette with this salad.
Cream of Dandelion Soup
4 cups chopped dandelion leaves
2 cups dandelion flower petals
2 cups dandelion buds
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 cup chopped wild leeks (or green onions)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
2 cups half-n-half or heavy cream
2 tsp salt
1. Gently boil dandelion leaves in 6 cups water, pour off the bitter water. Add fresh water and boil gently a second time, pour off the water again.
2. In a heavy-bottomed kettle or pot, sauté wild leeks or onions and garlic in butter or olive oil until tender.
3. Add 4 cups water.
4. Add dandelion leaves, flower petals and buds. Taste and add salt to taste.
5. Simmer gently 45 minutes or so.
6. Add cream and simmer a few minutes more.
Dandelion Blossom Syrup
This can be used as a substitute for honey in recipes and on biscuits!
1 quart dandelion flowers
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cups sugar
½ lemon or orange, minced, peel, pulp and all
1. Put blossoms and water in a pot.
2. Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight.
3. The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.
4. Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again. Let slowly simmer for several hours until it is thick and honey-like. A Crockpot is a good way to cook down this syrup if you can’t stand over the pot.
5. Water bath in half-pint or 1 pint jars to seal.
Dandelion greens and sausage
1 gallon fresh, green dandelion leaves
1 lb. smoked sausage cut up
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. rice
4 Tbsp. vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 qt. water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Wash and cut 1 gallon dandelion greens into bite sized pieces.
Place cut up sausage in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot and cook til browned.
Place dandelion leaves in a large heavy-bottomed pot.
Put more dandelion greens on top of sausage.
Place potatoes on top.
Add rice, pepper and salt.
Cover with water. Extra water can be added if needed during cooking.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes or until everything is tender and done.
Add 4 tablespoons of vinegar before serving.
Questions from Readers:
Can you make your own essential oils?
I have only made rose oil so I know it can be done. Its probably more difficult with other flowers and plants that don’t have as much oil in them as roses seem to have.
Rose Essential Oil
Pick enough rose petals to fill a 1 quart mason jar. Use only fresh rose petals that are free from insects or chemicals. Pick first thing in the morning while they still have dew on them if possible.
Crush the rose petals gently with a wooden spoon to help release their natural oils and scent.
Pour water over the rose petals just to cover.
Cover the jar with a lid or a piece of muslin cloth and let sit for 24 hours. I like to put mine out in the sun.
Remove the rose petals from the oil after 24 hours and squeeze the petals to remove excess oil back into the water in the jar. Discard petals. Add more fresh petals and repeat.
You will see the rose oil collect on top of the water. To capture the essential oil, use a clean cotton ball to soak up the oil from the surface of the water. Squeeze the captured oil into a small bottle.
If you had rather make a rose scented oil, just do all the steps using olive oil or other light oil instead of water. You won’t have to capture the rose oil from the olive oil, just allow it to mingle and then you’ll have scented oil. You can use more and more fresh rose petals until you have the scent you desire.
How do you prepare acorns for food?
That is a question best left for another post. It isn’t difficult to do but it does take a lot of steps so I will make another post this week and explain how to do that!