Foraging, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Homemade Cordials

We had a wonderful weekend with friends picking blackberries and enjoying delicious food. Foraging is certainly more fun with friends and the bounty at the end of the day is far greater. We hauled two big buckets and saw lots of other pickers out and about too which was a pleasant surprise.

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Most of the berries from this haul I have frozen but I reserved 3kg for making BlackBerry cordial and I will include the recipe for this after my ramblings!

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This time I decided to can in the vacola jars using the pressure canner. Usually I just pop into sterilized bottles as we go through it so quickly but this means we drink 5 litres of one flavour which can get a bit boring so instead I want to be able to shuffle the flavors around depending on what we feel like.

Homemade cordials are really easy and inexpensive to make and contain none of the nasty artificial flavours , colours or preservatives.I must confess I’ve never been a huge water drinker. I go through phases where I drink it and I try to drink it more in front of the children but sometimes I really cringe when I drink it! Awful I know. I used to make lots of cold sugarless herbal teas which I’d have on hand in the fridge but I haven’t been doing it this summer.
The flavour in homemade cordial is so strong that you really only need the tiniest amount in a large glass of water. You can make cordials out of any fruit, herbs and edible flowers even out of pineapple skins which being frugal as I am is one of my favorites.
My last batch was pineapple and lime and there’s nothing more refreshing than a tropical flavour hit on a hot summer day!

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Recently I was reading a recipe for nasturtium cordials I’m certainly keen to try it but this is one I am skeptical on but we have had some delicious experiments with cherry plums and lilac flowers.

BlackBerry Cordial syrup

Ingredients
3kg blackberry
Sugar
Tartaric acid
Water

In a large pot simmer blackberries in water for 20 mins

Strain berriers and measure liquid by cups

For every cup of liquid add 1 cup of sugar

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 2 mins

Add 2tsp Tartaric acid simmer 20 more seconds. Take off heat and pour into warm sterilized bottles or can using your preffered method.

This will keep in the fridge for 3 months or you can store in a cool dark place.
Canned it should last a year.

Enjoy!

Foraging, Preserving, Uncategorized

Busy Busy

It has been another busy week here. The freezer is absolutely chockers and I had no room to fit in the plums we got last weekend. Over a few days (and in between kid and animal wrangling)  we managed to bottle some whole, make a few different varieties of Jam and sauces, replenish the Worcestershire stocks and try our hand at fruit leather.

I think I have found a new addiction in fruit leather as it’s simple to make and really delicious ( If you are Australian you might know the processed version of fruit leather known as roll ups) . We first tried it in Tasmania where it is widely available at market stalls and I had been researching different ways to make it.

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The first lot we made by simply pureeing the fresh plums adding a little sugar and popping in the dehydrator. I found the puree wasn’t consistent so I tried a different method of baking the plum halves with a sprinkling of sugar on top before pureeing in the food processor. This made a much smoother consistency and resulted in a delicious leather.

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In between all this we managed another family forage for Elderberries. Miss N was kept busy taking photos of us and we filled 3 5 litre buckets and will go for more later when the tree in our other spot is ripe. We tried a few different methods of de-stalking the berries. This is a very painstaking and tedious task and we can see why the berries are not available commercially. The first de-stalking method involved  was freezing the berries on the stalk and then breaking them off this works well in the beginning but as the berries start to defrost its not really that effective.

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The most effective and fastest method for us was using a fork and using it to pull the berries off the stalk. This saved our fingers going purple and got us through the mountains of berries. Elderberries are a antioxidant, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory and is high in vitamin A,B and C

I’ve made up two versions of syrup which is a health tonic to get us through the winter and keep cold and flu at bay. My first version is Raw honey based one it doesn’t taste as good but has the added benefits of raw honey. I’ve decided not to hot process it as I was worried about damaging the benefits of the honey so this one is stored in the fridge. I’ve made enough for our supplies and enough to sell some jars.

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Version number two was sugar based this tastes a lot better and I pressure canned it so I can store it in the pantry.

Both versions contain the benefits of the berries so I really don’t know which is better and I think it comes down to personal choice.

We have also bottled up batches of Elderberry Kombucha and the last job will be making Elderberry fruit leather. Through all this chaos I’m still passionate (and obsessed) with preserving but I really do NOT want to deal with another plum until next year that’s for sure!

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Now we are off to get ready for the Tarana Farmers Markets tomorrow. We love our market days because it’s a chance to share our passion for good food and local produce but it’s also a great way to meet people in the community and we have made many friends since starting markets. If your new to a small rural community and feeling a little lost and alone get out and chat to the stall holders chances are they are looking for new friend too.

Until next post keep gathering!

Foraging, Homesteading, Preserving, Uncategorized

Plum Cordial

It has been another busy week and we are finding ourselves crumbling into exhausted heaps all over the place. I wish we could tap into the kids energy supplies. They are bouncing around and we find ourselves playing with them over doing our chores as it’s more fun.

We have been social butterflys this week catching up with many friends before they go away. We were gifted yet another two huge boxes of Plums so more and more preserving and experimentation is waiting on the kitchen counter.

We also went foraging and got a huge bunch of Elderberries.

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We will be heading out for more tomorrow afternoon after our interview for community radio. This was a very unexpected request from a customer who bought some vinegar from us at the last market and is talking to different home bakers and cooks in the area. I will be sharing with her the same recipe I will share today for plum cordial.

This cordial truly is the essence of the saying “a season in a bottle”. The plum flavour is divine and the colour is vivid. While making it I thought it would make a wonderful natural dye and if I ever manage to find time to add learning the art of natural dye I will be experimenting with some plums (and Elderberries!).

Please read the entire recipe though particularly if you are like me and go for it then realize half way through you’ve done something wrong and have to back track!

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Plum Cordial

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Ingredients

1kg Plums

3 Litres of water

Sugar

Tartaric acid

Method

Place plums and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 mins

Scoop out plums with a slotted spoon then strain liquid though a sieve or muslin cloth measuring as you go

For Every cup of liquid add 1 C of sugar bring to boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Reduce heat and simmer for 2 mins then add tartaric acid

Pour into warm sterilized bottles and seal.

If you like you can cook longer to reduce the liquid and make a thicker syrup suitable for Ice cream. You can also use it to flavour cakes, cookies , icing , fillings or in cocktails. Experiment and have some fun!

Fermenting, Herbal Medicine, Homesteading, Preserving, Uncategorized

Fire Cider

Last year I started to take more of a interest in Herbal Medicine. I hope to study it one day when time permits but in the meantime I am doing a lot of self education and investigation. I first came across fire cider in one of my Pinterest trawls and I was intrigued. I read up a lot on it and it has been on my to do list ever since.

Fire Cider is a traditional remedy which had deep roots in Folk medicine.  Generally it is made with Horseradish, garlic, onion, vinegar and whatever appropriate herbs that are growing when you make it. For generations Fire cider has a simple and effective remedy to relieve sinus congestion, ward off colds and flu, aid digestion, and increase circulation it can be taken on it’s own or added to juice which is what I will do for the kids.

I changed the recipe a bit and used a combination of Apple cider vinegar I had made from foraged apples last year and JUN (pronounced JOON I think)  a fermented green tea and honey drink. As this is folk medicine you will come across many variations of the recipe in google searches and I will share mine with you today.

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Hunter gatherer Fire Cider 

2 Large Onions

4 cloves Garlic

1 Orange cut up

4C JUN or Kombucha

1C Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbs Fresh ginger

2 Tbs Raw honey

1 Tbs Turmeric

2 Tbs Horseradish

Handful Parsley, Thyme and Rosemary

2 Hot chillies

Cut up onion and garlic and divide these plus the rest of the ingredients between the two jars or pop into one big jar depending on your vessel.

Add Liquid , Seal Jars and shake daily let sit for 6 weeks (Or longer if you want) Then strain the liquid and bottle.

You can add extra honey at bottling if you want it sweeter.

Now you can either refrigerate it or have it to continue to ferment and turn more vinegary. This is what I plan to do as I believe it will give further health benefits but I think it’s down to individual preference.

Here’s to a winter of quick cold cures!!

Fermenting, gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving, Uncategorized

Here we go round the Raspberry Bush!

We have been busy here harvesting and preserving our raspberries. Our predictions of a bumper crop this year are ringing true as we Harvest around a 1kg a day. We pick in the early morning and late afternoon to avoid the hot parts of the day. I love our time picking as we go out as a whole family. The novelty has worn off for miss N but she sits in the shade of the bush playing with our cat Whiskie (Who spends her day in the bush) and sings us songs. Banjo still needs to be carried in the baby carrier on my back as the other young plants in the patch will not survive his brute strength!

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As the weather warms and we are harvesting and preserving more I’m finding less and less time for posting but if you would like to keep up to date with our antics I have recently started a facebook page. This is mainly to keep people up to date and advertise products for the market stall but I also like to post nice events and things happening in and around the homestead so please Like the page https://www.facebook.com/Hunter-Gatherer-416223725239665/

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This last week there has been lots of experimentation of raspberry based products. Today at the end of the post (After I finish my ramblings) I will share my recipe for Sparkling Raspberry Wine this is a new one for me and a adaptation of the Raspberry soda I made last year. I am yet to see the results as I want to wait a few months for extra fermentation but I will share with you anyway.

My Other Raspberry pursuits have included Raspberry Jam , Raspberry Chilli Jam, Peach and Raspberry Jam (YUM YUM), Raspberry cordial, Raspberry sauce and a raspberry BBQ sauce which I’m very excited about as this is one of the first recipes I have developed all by myself ( with Danes imput of course) It feels wonderful to have reached this point in my journey with food. I have always “altered” recipes to suit me but I’ve only just started writing things down so they become MY recipe and I can do it exactly the same next time.

In other Garden adventures I have FINALLY manged to grow the perfect carrot! I’ve always felt a bit of a failure when it came to carrots they were either to much top and no carrot or weird unpeelable mutants and usually ended up as snack food for our jersey. This time Nyah and I loaded up the soil with lots of buckets of Sand and it made a huge difference lovely straight perfect delicious carrots!! I love the joy Nyah gets from her carrot garden these are her favorites to grow and pull up and I always make sure we plant the new seeds together.

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Anyway onto the recipe

Raspberry Sparkling Wine

Ingredients

  • 300g Fresh or frozen Raspberries
  • 1 packet sparkling wine or cider yeast
  • 5 litres of water
  • 4 Cups sugar
  • 1 lemon cut up

Method

In a 5 litre bucket/Container dump in all ingredients except yeast and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Pour in Yeast and give it another stir. Cover in cloth with rubber band and leave to ferment for 3 days stirring daily to avoid mold

Strain off fruit and pour liquid into bottles leave to ferment for as little (at least one week)or as long as you want for example we will enjoy a bottle at Christmas after a 2 week ferment but will try another after 2 months and another in a year.

Enjoy 🙂

Fermenting, Foraging, gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Weekend Work and Foraging Fun

We had a wonderful day at our stall at our local Oberon Farmers market we nearly sold out of Kombucha and met so many lovely people who were new to the area and had lots of great chats about foraging and preserving. One of these chats revealed the whereabouts of a wild elder flower tree not far from our place.

This morning after our regular chores of watering the garden, chickens and animals I spent some time bottling Tepache which is a mexican beer recipe made by fermenting pineapple skins, brown sugar and spices. I will leave one bottle to do a second and maybe another to do a third ferment to be alcoholic and I can’t wait to try it at Christmas time!

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After the Tepache is was time to bottle more Kombucha I decided this time to try out a new flavor of Hibiscus, Honey and Jasmine. It will be a real struggle to wait another week to try this one as it smells heavenly.

While I kept bottling Dane went out to collect the seeds from our Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale. We have huge amount of seeds much more than we will need but I hope we can use them to Barter with other growers to get some more varieties of seeds later on.

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Kombucha bottled we discussed our plans for the day and decided we would go on a adventure to try and find this elder tree to forage some more flowers for cordials. I didn’t have high hopes as generally when we go on adventures to try and find things we don’t have the greatest success but this tree was exactly where we were told it was the only problem was all the best flowers we would need a cherry picker to get too!!

We collected enough to make 7 litres of cordial and 5 litres of Sparkling wine

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I had already been making fermented soft drinks last year and I discovered the process is very similar to country wine so the only thing I did differently is add the wine yeast IMG_4846

I will let everything sit for a few days in the container stirring it everyday and then I will bottle it and give it a few months where I will open a bottle in winter to enjoy the tastes of summer.

it is now getting cool enough outside that we can venture back out and collect some raspberries. I haven’t managed to get enough for my products yet as the kids keep hoovering them up as soon as they come off the bush!

Until next post enjoy the rest of your weekend

Homesteading, Preserving, Uncategorized

Canning Pineapple Cordial and Chicken stock

With all my Market stock prepped and not much to do for a few weeks until it’s fruit picking time I’ve found myself with some free time to get back into some homestead canning. Our deep freeze was bulging with “to dos” so I set to work making Apple cider vinegar, Chicken Stock and Pineapple Cordial.

I loath throwing things away and waste. Years of working in the hospitality industry made me feel disgusted at the amount of food thrown away and wasted, often full meals only picked at before they are thrown away. All of the things I made yesterday were made from “Rubbish” or “Scraps” that I had scrounged away and frozen until I had enough to make something new and nutritious.

The Pineapple cordial I saved the skins and the core I feel good about this as so much seems wasted once you cut to get to the flesh.

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The chicken stock was the carcasses of 4 chickens after each meal we freeze the bones we also save our carrot, onion, celery and other suitable vegetable scraps.

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The Apple Cider vinegar is started from all the apples my toddler starts eating and never finishes plus the cores from apples Dane and I eat.

You’ll be amazed what you can make out of “waste” materials I’ve even made pies from the left overs of making stonefruit cordials but that’s a post for another day.

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Pineapple Cordial 

Ingredients

Skins and core from two pineapples

1litre of water (This can be more or less depending on the size of your pan)

Sugar

2 tsp Tartaric acid

Method

Add pineapple and water to the pan and bring to boil

Turn off and strain liquid

for each cup of liquid add one cup on sugar

Stir to dissolve and bring back to boil

Once boiling for 10 minutes add tartaric acid

Boil for a further 2 minutes then pop into sterilized bottles

Water bath Canned these will keep for a year on a dark shelf or opened and in the fridge drink within a month.

Fermenting, Homesteading, Preserving, Uncategorized

Fermented Watermelon Soda

Last year before I started making Kombucha I started experimenting with fermented soft drinks. I loved making them but the recipes I used I found overly sweet as they called for about 10 cups of sugar! After some experimenting I mastered the recipe for Fermented Watermelon soda you can Lacto-ferment it if you want but I prefer using my Kombucha to get it started you could use cider vinegar or something else with the MOTHER.

I used a 5litre food grade bucket to make my batch as I make very large amounts at once but you could use a fermenting jar or whatever you have handy. I have given the recipe for the smaller quantity below.

The flavor of this yummy and healthy soda is sour and sweet at the same time and a beautiful pink colour that your kids will go mad for!

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Fermented Watermelon Soda 

4 Cups Watermelon pureed

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/4 C Kombucha , Keffir, Whey, Apple cider vinegar,or ginger bug

1 Litre of warm water

  1. Place sugar and water in your vessel and stir to dissolve
  2. Add pureed watermelon
  3. Add the Kombucha (or starter of choice) and stir
  4. Cover with a cheesecloth and let it sit on the counter for 2 to 10 days I did 4 days as it is hot and summer here in Australia but it will depend of your climate and taste buds. The longer you let it ferment the less sugar there will be as the bacteria will consume and convert the sugar during fermentation.  Swish the soda around once a day to prevent mold from forming on the surface.
  5. Strain the puree out and bottle leaving some head space for a second ferment to increase carbonation for a few days to a week and then pop in the  fridge.

Enjoy Ice cold 🙂

Fermenting, gardening, Preserving, Uncategorized

Fermented Horseradish Mustard

I am always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to preserve what we have growing in the garden and we had been talking a while about making mustard. Combine this with our new love of fermenting and voila we have Fermented Horseradish Mustard.

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This mustard is absolutely delicious! On it’s own it’s hot and healthy clearing those sinuses and loaded with all those gut helping probiotics not to mention all the great health benefits of the mustard and turmeric as well! When you put this on meat or in a salad dressing (Or even pasta sauce) you get a lovely little kick and it’s no longer overpowering.

Fermented Horseradish Mustard
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1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup shredded horseradish root
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup filtered water
2 Tbs Kombucha, Keffir or extra apple cider vinegar with the mother
1/2 Tbs sea salt
2 tsp turmeric powder
Pulse mustard seeds in blender or food processor until roughly ground. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Feel free to adjust texture if you like a thicker, grainy-er mustard.
Pour into glass jar and cover. Let sit at room temperature 3-4 days to ferment.
Refrigerate until ready to use this will keep in the fridge for around 4 months but I think you will use it up VERY quickly!
*Tip use a small or mini processor as the bigger ones don’t pulse up the seeds as well and your mustard ends up more watery.
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gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Elder Flower cordial

It’s been too long since I’ve posted and I do apologize. My only excuse is that we have been spending lots and lots of time outside and my inside free time is dedicated to making preserves and getting ready for the market tomorrow.

Lots of beautiful things coming up in the garden and I’m stating to get excited about summer produce!

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We had a very sad event a few weeks ago with the loss of the quails we were quite devastated as they had just started laying and I love the gorgeous spotted eggs. Originally we thought a fox had got into the cages they were flipped and holes dug but now we think it was more likely a dog. We will be looking into getting a dog next year for protection of the flock. We may get quails again one day but not for a while. The last eggs I have blown out for keepsakes.

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Last week we visited a friend on their stunning property and spent some time touring the garden and right at the end was the biggest Elder tree I have ever seen. We talked about the berries and I asked if she had ever made cordial from the flowers. We mentioned we had tried the cordial at BOOMTOWN festival when we were in the UK sold to us by a troupe of children pulling a cart. It was the most beautiful thing I had tasted and I have been wanting to make it ever since but alas before I got the chance our chickens devoured our free and I had been mourning the chance until now. We were gifted a nice big bag of flowers and I got to work.

This is my recipe for elderflower cordial I have made it up from my experience experimenting making lots of cordial syrups recently and this is the best method I have found that works for me.

ElderFlower Cordial Syrup

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  1. Wash your elderflowers to remove bugs and then pop in your bowl ( I use a 5 Litre food grade bucket but I like to make HUGE amounts) pour boiling water over the flowers and leave overnight.
  2. Using a muslin cloth over a colander strain the liquid to remove the flowers plus any bugs you might have missed washing.
  3. Measure the Liquid and place in a saucepan for very cup of liquid add a cup of sugar.
  4. Over medium heat stir to dissolve sugar and bring to boil
  5. Once boiling add 1 teaspoon Tantaric acid and boil for another 2 minutes.
  6. Bottle in sterilized bottles and can with preferred method or store in the fridge.

Easy!!

You can follow these instructions for basically any herb syrup so get out in the garden and get experimenting!!!