Category Archives: Preserving

Instant Gratification: Dried Tea Powders

The title of this article may be misleading, because there is really nothing quick about the procedure I am about to describe. It is however, a valuable way to quickly incorporate more herbs and foods into your diet, once you get through the process,  which I will explain below.

I first came across a recipe for dried tea extracts on Christopher Hobbs website and as I am always looking for  new projects, I decided to give it a whirl.   The first time I did this I did it with nettles looking for a tolerable way to choke them down.  I’ve messed with the recipe a bit after a lot of trial-and-error experimentation and having a chance to pick Thomas Easley’s brain about the process at TWHC.

6 cups of water: 3 cups of chopped fresh herbs

or

8 cups water: 2 cups ground dried herb

Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer it until the liquid has been reduced by 1/3 . This takes a long time-maybe give yourself a facial or start another project because you are going to need 2-4 hours depending on the day.  Strain the liquid and allow it to cool. Press the marc (I used my tincture press), then weigh it after pressing. Return 1/2 to 1/3 of the solids to the liquid. I blend the mixture with my immersion blender at this point. I  also add 1/4 cup of astragalus powder at this point.

dried tea extractBring this liquid to a boil and simmer some more. When the mixture has reduced by again 1/3 and become sort of a slurry, I dissolve one tablespoon of arrowroot powder in some cold water and blend it in. This step is optional, but helps to keep the slurry from running off the dehydrator’s fruit leather tray or sticking to it.

Dry this at 100ºF to 120ºF until the mixture becomes brittle and then break it in to pieces and grind them into a fine powder.  I used a coffee grinder and then sifted the powder.  If you don’t grind them, you can suck on these like hard candy. I am storing that in the back of my mind for future experimentation.

It is true that a single herb dried extract of nettles might be easier to choke down in this form (yes, I am a bad herbalist who doesn’t like nettle infusions) but why would I do this when I could just make have a nice nettle chai, or maybe a creamy nettle soup that I would actually enjoy? Keep in mind,  I think herbal preparations should actually taste good. Especially if you are trying to get them into children, or people whose taste buds have grown accustomed to the standard American diet.

Next,  I tried a hawthorn chai blend, but I found that the final product didn’t retain enough flavor even though I used a goodly amount of corrigent spices.   I decided that I don’t think I would recommend this method of herbal preparation for  aromatic herbs.  The length of cooking time seems to have evaporated away most volatile constituents.This probably explains why I’ve seen it recommended to add some peppermint extract or some other corrigent, right before putting the mixture on the dehydrator tray.  I think hawthorn is a good candidate though.  Just wait to add the flavor until later.

Raspberry Hibiscus Dried Tea ExtractSo the next time,  I moved away from aromatics and started with with a raspberry leaf/hibiscus blend that I enjoy to see how that handled reducing.  I also used the trick of adding some of my orange flavored honey and some cinnamon extract right before I dumped it on the dehydrator tray. That seemed to work a bit better.   The result is a pleasant little instant tea that I could happily have two cups of a day.   I mix one teaspoon of the powder with a cup of hot water. According to Dr. Hobbs, each teaspoon is the equivalent 6- 8 teaspoons of the herb.

Those who know me know that I am rarely content with following  directions and I started thinking of uses for the powder other than as a dosing strategy.

I started thinking about cooking and suddenly the light came on. I could use these powders to flavor food. I made  powdered kale “tea” to sneak into sauces,  dips, or smoothies and a mixed vegetable powder that I will use to  thicken stews.  Really the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

From a practical homesteading point of view, this makes good sense.  These powders take up less room and may even have a little bit longer shelf life than conventional dehydrated vegetables-lasting up to a year.     So experiment with the method and see what you come up with.  I haven’t even gotten to fruit yet, but a dried apple powder is next on my list.

Vanilla-Rose Sugar

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My roses are blooming like crazy right now and while many petals are destined for rose elixirs and rose vinegar, I like to put up a little vanilla-rose sugar every year to pull out when friends come over for tea. I know other people who like to sprinkle the sugar on grapefruit. You can use the sugar for baking, too. It makes wonderful shortbread.  If you are the type who thinks ahead, make  up a couple of pounds, so that you can include a small decorative jar in gift baskets.

This recipe is a variation of the very old practice of making conserve of roses.  There were as many different methods as their were receipt books but I like the following for its simplicity.

TO MAKE A CONSERVE OF RED ROSES

Let your roses be gather’d before they are quite blown, pound them in a stone mortar, and add them to twice their weight in double-refined sugar, and put them into a glass close stopt up, but do not fill it full. Let them stand three months before you use them, remembering to stir them once a day. ~ The Receipt Book of John Nott 1723

It’s really a simple task. First you want to harvest some organically grown rose petals. I like to enjoy my blooms. The center of the R.rugosa variety are bright yellow when they first open and then they turn brown. As soon as they turn, I harvest the petals. If I were working with a less potent variety, I would harvest them sooner.

After you’ve picked a good couple of cups of petals,  assemble your other ingredients; organic sugar and organic vanilla beans.  These vanilla beans are some that have already been used for making vanilla, but they are perfectly potent enough for this use.
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Now perhaps you’ve tried rose sugar before and not had much luck, but there is a trick to it. Like the recipe above advises, you need to bruise the petals before using them.  Just pound them up in a mortar and pestle or whatever you have on hand. You can grind them but I find if you just get them to the point where they are darker colored, they work fine and they are harder to sift out when ground.

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Now you want to put a layer of sugar about an inch deep in the bottom of a jar. I like to use Fido jars because they are airtight. Cover this sugar with an inch of rose petals and a few vanilla beans like this:

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I measured this once and it turns out that an inch of sugar weighs about twice as much as an inch of flowers. Keep layering like until you’ve made as much as you want but be sure to end with a sugar layer and be sure that all of your rose petals are covered in sugar. I also don’t fill the jar because Mr. Nott advises against it and who am I to argue with the experts?

I noticed that one to the left poking up after I took the picture and poked it down a little.

I noticed that one to the left poking up after I took the picture and poked it down a little.

Put this in a dark place for a minimum of 3-4 weeks-shaking it often. (It really is better if you let it sit for the whole three months.)  At that point , if you like, you can sift the rose petals and vanilla beans out. Store in a pretty jar and bring it out for special treat when serving tea.

 

Sweet! Pickled Jalapeños

10151090328586860First of all, credit goes to my friend Butter for the creative use of punctuation in the title of this entry.
We had so many Jalapeños that came on late that Steve went on a mission to find a recipe for these, because we had bought something similar at the craft shows last year.   Keeping in mind that this is way more sugar than I like, (don’t worry I saved plenty for a batch of salsa. ) here is the recipe.

Pack sterilized pint jars with:
Jalapeño Peppers (3 lbs made about 7 pints)
Thinly sliced onions (a few slices in each jar)
Peppercorns to taste about 1/4 teaspoon in each jar

 

Make Brine
6 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
6 cloves of garlic – crushed

Bring brine to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer it for five minutes.  Then bring it back to a rolling boil.

Pour brine over packed jars and top with sterilized lids and rings. Place jars in canner.  Process these in a hot water canner for five minutes,after the water comes to a boil.   Remove the jars from the canner and let them sit on a rack until they are cool.

Seems pretty cheap and easy, especially considering how much he spent on these things at the craft show last year.

Green Tomato Recipes

green relishSo I fibbed about the honey recipes,  I will get those up tomorrow, but I’ve had a couple of requests for this tomato recipe.

I will put these recipes up for all of you who are bringing in the last of your tomatoes to save them from freezing.   Green Tomato Pie and Fried Green Tomatoes are the more traditional method of using them up but here are a couple of others that I have found that we enjoy.

Green Tomato Relish

4 cups finely chopped onions
4 cups finely chopped green cabbage
4 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
4 cups finely chopped sweet peppers (combination of red and green)
1/2 cup salt
6 cups sugar
4 cups vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 teaspoon curry powder

Put onions, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and salt in a glass dish. Cover and let stand overnight.
The next day combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed and curry powder in a large kettle.
Add the drained vegetables.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Pack the mixture in jelly jars or pint jars and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.

Green Tomato Ketchup

6 pounds green tomatoes
3 pounds onions
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves (alternately you can bundle whole cloves in cheesecloth)
2 cups vinegar
1 cup honey
Chop green tomatoes and onions.
Put the chopped vegetables in a large kettle with the vinegar and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and put mixture through a food mill. Return to the kettle, add mustard powder, pepper and cloves and cook for about 3 and 1/2 hours longer.
Add honey, at this point you may want to blend the mixture for a smoother consistency. I have a stick blender which works well for this.
Pour the ketchup into sterilized pint jars or jelly jars.
Place lids and rings on jars then process in a boiling canner for five minutes.

Fried Green Tomatoes  –  Added for Jaime

Slice firm green tomatoes.
Scramble up a couple of eggs.
Season some bread crumbs to your liking.  I like basil, oregano, and rosemary.
Dip the slices in the egg and bread crumbs.
Fry the slices in olive oil in a shallow pan.