Mint Lassi Master Recipe

Mint Lassi Master Recipe

Makes 16 oz

Enjoy a traditional East Indian drink that is refreshing, cooling, tart, and slightly salty. It’s also full of hydrating electrolytes. On hot summer days when I work in the gardens and sweat profusely, nothing feels more replenishing.

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Elderberry Syrup: An Immune Booster

Elderberry Syrup Master Recipe Makes about 20 oz

Flavorful and sweet, elderberry syrup can be added to smoothies, herbal teas, mixed drinks, and fermented sodas, or diluted into hot water or cold sparkling water. For a visually appealing and tasty treat, drizzle this dark magenta syrup onto yogurt, ice cream, custard or cheesecake. It also tastes great spread on pancakes and waffles, or used as cookie fillings. 

Elderberry syrup can also be taken straight by the tablespoonful for nutritional and therapeutic support. Elderberries are rich in iron and bioflavonoids, and are an immune system tonic. They are helpful in preventing infections such as colds and flus; however, if already infected, they help us move through the illness.

To help with proper identification and harvest, please see our illustration below.

 Elderberry identification page from our Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book link:  http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q

Elderberry identification page from our Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fully ripe elderberries, stems removed (weighs about 23 oz). When fresh elderberries are not available, I use frozen ones.

  • 1½ cups maple syrup or honey (I prefer maple syrup as I usually don’t cook honey.)

Optional ingredients:

  • Add one or a combination of the following freshly ground, dried spices: 1 teaspoon aniseed, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, or 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1 lime, zest and juice

  Elderberries and maple syrup simmering on the stove.

Elderberries and maple syrup simmering on the stove.

  1. Mix elderberry, sweetener and optional ingredients in a nonreactive 2–3 quart pot, cover, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove lid from pot and gently simmer mixture for 5 more minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and purée mixture with a hand-held immersion blender or food processor.

  4. If you would like the syrup to be smooth and seed-free (which I recommended), strain it through a fine-mesh sieve.

  5. Use right away. Or, to store, pour hot syrup into very clean glass jars, cap with tight fitting lids, label, leave out at room temperature to cool, then store in the refrigerator where they should keep for at least three months. For longer storage, freeze the syrup or seal in a hot-water bath.

  Elderberry syrup in jars.

Elderberry syrup in jars.

Recipe excerpt from our Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by (me) Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q


 


Fall Bitters: Make your own for the holidays — Promotes Digestion & Liver Health

Bitters speak to these upcoming days of feasting. They help us digest our food, especially when eating large quantities of rich fare. Bitters also tone and support liver function which makes many things work well in our lives (the liver is responsible for over 500 metabolic functions). As a flavor enhancer, drops are often added to mixed drinks. When poured into an attractive glass bottle featuring a homemade label, these make great gifts. Why not create your own? I am excited to share my Therapeutic Spirits Master Recipe and Variations that will empower you to do so. Many of the weedy wild plants that are bitter and/ or aromatic can be used for making this therapeutic elixir. At this time of year the roots are particularly potent and great for making bitters. Think: roots of dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, and sweet cicely. Happy bitter-making!

 From the Beverage Chapter of   Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook   by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

From the Beverage Chapter of Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

  One of the Burdock pages from    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook    by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

One of the Burdock pages from Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

The best time to dig burdock root is when it is in basal rosette stage, as illustrated above. 

 A student making bitters (aka digestive tonic) during summer herb class.

A student making bitters (aka digestive tonic) during summer herb class.

Dandelion: A Constant Companion

Wondering which wild edible to eat right now? = Dandelion. She seems to always be available, offering superior nourishment throughout the growing season. In this mid-fall moment, I like to gather her leaves and add them to salads, adding just enough; too much and the salad becomes too bitter. I also make sure to mince the leaves up, dispersing them well into the milder-tasting greens. This perennial of the Asteraceae, originally from Eurasia, is one of our most common weeds that boasts profound nutrient density: high in beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium and iron. The bitterness, while often not enjoyable to many palates, is quite healthful as a digestive aid and liver tonic. Remember when we support our digestion and our liver — many, many, good things happen. 

To help with identification, harvest and use please, look below at the Dandelion Plant Map from my book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

 From the book   Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and wild Food Cookbook   by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) of the Apiacae Family

The aromatic sweet seeds of Myrrhis odorata can be used in place of aniseed or fennel seed for flavoring beverages and dishes. Note the seeds are most flavorful when fully formed but still green; see image below. Now in early fall, the seeds of sweet cicely are dark brown and lack flavor. At this point the seeds are good for planting — sweet cicely seeds need to be planted soon after the plant produces them as older seeds won't germinate. 

Sweet Cicely-Myrrhis odorata.jpg

Comfrey: a very useful yet controversial friend.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) of the Boraginaceae family offers many gifts, ranging from food and medicine for us humans (if we dare, please see cautionary note below); as fodder for animals; and as a soil enricher referred to in permaculture as a dynamic accumulator. Right now this perennial plant flourishes, lush, vibrant and green in the landscape, making it a perfect time to gather its nutrient dense leaves for food and medicine. Dry the leaves for a mineral rich, soothing tea or use to make a topical healing oil. The smaller, younger leaves can be eaten as a cooked vegetable aka potherb: tasty in soup, quiche, frittata, etc. Or feed the leaves to your compost pile; brew them into a green manure tea for feeding plants; or if you have goats, feed some to them— they will love it.

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    .

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender .

Click for more on pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Nettle Seed = Super Food

The time of year has arrived for harvesting nettle seeds (Urtica dioica). The seeds of this perennial are considered a super food with adaptogenic properties. This means they help the body handle stress... all kinds of stress, by supporting adrenal function. Dosage: 1/2–1 teaspoon of fresh or dried seeds sprinkled into salads, soups, stews, etc. The seeds taste mild with a crunchy texture and can be easily added to dishes. Amazingly, some herbalist are finding the seeds help heal damaged kidneys — wow! Here is to a wild, invasive, highly useful medicinal food. FYI, may be very stimulating/energizing to some folks, so best to eat earlier in the day. Enjoy! Image from our book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook. Check this link for more info on nettle seed.

  One of the two nettle pages from the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    .

One of the two nettle pages from the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender .

Black Walnut

Now is the time for harvesting and processing black walnut (Juglans nigra of the Juglandaceae family). The green hull will go into organic cold pressed olive for a therapeutic anti-fungal oil-come-salve and the musky-flavored nut meat will go into our mouths. Prized for its wood in furniture-making, this large, native Eastern North American tree can be found growing in USDA zones 4-9. Now is the time for gathering these fallen fruits. Free Food & Free Medicine!

 A basket of black walnuts gathered last week from the ground under the tree.

A basket of black walnuts gathered last week from the ground under the tree.

 Processing black walnuts: the crime scene.

Processing black walnuts: the crime scene.

 The green hull removed from the nut shell with a simple paring knife. This part will be used for making medicine. BTW, the green hull begins to brown as soon as it is cut open and comes into contact with the air.

The green hull removed from the nut shell with a simple paring knife. This part will be used for making medicine. BTW, the green hull begins to brown as soon as it is cut open and comes into contact with the air.

 The black walnuts after their green hulls have been removed. At this point they can be spread out and left to dry to be eaten in the future or they can be eaten right away...... 

The black walnuts after their green hulls have been removed. At this point they can be spread out and left to dry to be eaten in the future or they can be eaten right away...... 

 Technique: cracking the nut open with a stone. If you want to get fancy, friends of mine who love eating black walnuts own the  Hunt's Black Walnut Nut Cracker , available from Northern Nut Growers Association. FYI, even with this tool, shelling the nuts is a slow, meditative affair. An even fancier option is the  World's   Best Nut Cracker   — heavier duty, more expensive, and faster output.

Technique: cracking the nut open with a stone. If you want to get fancy, friends of mine who love eating black walnuts own the Hunt's Black Walnut Nut Cracker, available from Northern Nut Growers Association. FYI, even with this tool, shelling the nuts is a slow, meditative affair. An even fancier option is the World's Best Nut Cracker  — heavier duty, more expensive, and faster output.

 A close up of a cracked black walnut: the white flesh is the edible part and needs to be removed from the shell.

A close up of a cracked black walnut: the white flesh is the edible part and needs to be removed from the shell.

 Stone for cracking; nut shell remnants (to compost); and nut meat to eat.

Stone for cracking; nut shell remnants (to compost); and nut meat to eat.

 The yellowish-white black walnut meat ready to eat. Can be used instead of other nuts in cooking.

The yellowish-white black walnut meat ready to eat. Can be used instead of other nuts in cooking.

 Don't forget to wear gloves when working with black walnuts as they have a strong dye that will stain your hands; the staining lasts up to three weeks.

Don't forget to wear gloves when working with black walnuts as they have a strong dye that will stain your hands; the staining lasts up to three weeks.

Wild Bergamot in Bloom

#WildBergamot blooming beautifully= food for the #Pollinators and for us. Right now it's time to indulge in those lovely, light lavender #EdibleFlowers full of spicy sweetness. Sprinkle them onto salads; blend them into softened butter; use them as a flavorful garnish throughout. This wild American native, aka #Mondarda fistulosa, is a perennial of the Lamiaceae family. Look for it in meadows, clearings, prairies, thickets and gardens. Harvest the flowering tops to brew into a strong flavorful tea with a spicy, pungent, oregano-like flavor; has cleansing and digestive promoting qualities.

 Wild Bergamot Plant Identification page from the book  Foraging & Feasting

Wild Bergamot Plant Identification page from the book Foraging & Feasting

Red Clover

#RED CLOVER (Trifolium pratense) graces the landscape — time to gather the blossoms for food and medicine = medicinal food. Break up the flower heads and sprinkle the individual blossoms into salads, onto cakes, and as a garnish to beautify any dish. Dry the blossoms for a health-promoting tea; often used for supporting skin and lung health. Flavor is mild with a sweet pea-like taste.

Violet

Looking forward to righteous #violet (Viola sororia) arriving back in the landscape. Eat the mild leaves & flowers raw; super high in #vitaminC — flower surprisingly more than leaf. Decorate dishes, even cakes with the blossoms. Toss leaves into soup at the end of the cooking process, blend into pesto with more pungent greens or in Wild Green Goddess Dressing. Violet's soothing, cooling qualities help with inflammation in the gut and respiratory systems, as well as topically on the skin. Some say that these wild, free, and abundant violets are #antineoplastic, read anticancer!!!

Violet-Viola sororia.jpg