Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Any rose can be used for cooking. They are all edible, but the rugosa roses are so easy to grow. You can grow rows of them just from cuttings or seed and they will reseed themselves if left alone. I prefer to grow things from seed, rather than cuttings if possible, because of the genetic diversity but if I am in a hurry for more, I will use cuttings. When you plant a handfull of rose seeds, you could get any kind of rose from those seeds, throwbacks from ancesters of that rose or a genetic rarity. You just never know what you are going to get. Not all roses grow well from seed but rugosa roses do and they produce a lot of tasty hips too!
Rose hips are very high in vitamin C (approximately 1,700 mg of C in 100 gm of dried rosehip). That's higher than oranges and grapefruits! Rose hips have become a popular natural treatment for arthritis due to their anti inflammatory and anitoxident effects. Rose hips also contain carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lycopene, beta-chryptoxanthin, rubixanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein.
If you just thought roses were for the flowerbed, you were wrong! Plant them in your herb garden!
I plant to plant rows and rows of them this year from seed and cuttings. I already have a beautiful violet one (pictured above) and pink ones. Who knows what I will get from open pollinated seed! I love surprise gardening!
I have open pollinated rugosa rose seeds for sale in my seed store now. They are stratified, being collected this week from the roses outdoors, so should be ready to germinate.
I made wine from the rose petals last year (see post "Making Flower Wines"). It has been ready for a few weeks now and is my favourite so far! The rose bouquet fills my nose when I drink it. It's like summer in a bottle!
Add rose petals to salads and sandwiches!
Below are some simple rose recipes:
Basic Rose Hip Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 heaping teaspoons of chopped rose hips. You can use rose hips with or without their seeds. Steep the herbal tea, covered, for 15 minutes and strain.
Pose Petal Jelly (See post on "Making Flower Jellies"
2 cups flower petals (or fresh young herb leaves)
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
600 oz liquid pectin (2 pckges) or equivalent powder (You may find that the liquid works better for this purpose than the powder)
4 cups sugar
Rose Hip Jam Take two cups Rosa rugosa hips. Wash thoroughly and cut out the black calyx. Cook hips in two cups water until tender. Mash fruit while cooking. Push pulp through a fine sieve and to each cup of pulp add one cup of water. Then cook until the pulp thickens to the consistency of other jams.
1 and 3/4 cups cleaned rose hips
2 and 1/2 cups water
Cook rose hips in the water about 15 minutes and occasionally crush them. When they are tender, pour into jelly bag and strain off juice. This quantity yields about 7/8 cup of juice to which add enough water to make a cupful then add one tsp. lemon juice, 3/4 cup sugar and cook rapidly until juice jellies on a silver spoon. This will thin to a honey consistency when cold. It is delicious served on waffles, pancakes, over desserts or in cakes and frostings.
Candied Rose Petals
Rose petals must be dry and clean. Dip both sides in slightly whipped egg whites, then coat both sides of the petals immediately with granulated sugar and lay carefully on waxed paper. Allow to dry thoroughly before packing in boxes. To speed drying, turn the petals once. Keep dry and cool.
Rose Petal Syrup(See previous pose on dandelion syrup)
4 cups rose petals
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Boil rose petals in water for an hour. Remove petals with a sieve and add sugar. Boil until thick and syrupy.
Rose Petal Butter
1 Cup fresh Rose Petals, chopped
3/4 Cup softened unsalted Butter
Mix together well and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to let the rose flavor meld into the butter. Keep refrigerated up to 2 weeks or frozen for several months.
Rose Petal Pesto
Two Cups Fresh Basil
One Cup Rose Petals
4 Large Garlic Cloves
1 Cup of Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Rosewater
1 Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup of Freshly Grated Romano Cheese
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Rinse Rose Petals and Basil thoroughly and pat dry. Cup up Rose Petals with sharp scissors. Peel and chop garlic. Combine the basil, garlic and Pine nuts, chop in either a food processor or blender. While still processing add olive oil and rose water slowly. Add the Parmesan and Romano, salt and pepper, blend lightly.
Green Tea and Rose Petal Popsicles
3 cups water
1-1/2 tbsp green tea leaves (about 3 tea bags)
1/4 cup assorted organic small rose petals.
Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat. Pour over tea in a ceramic teapot. Fill popsicle molds loosely with rose petals. Steep tea for 5 minutes and strain into popsicle holders. Freeze in the freezer for 30 minutes, then place the wooden sticks in the center of the popsicle holders. (This is a good time to spread the petals throughout the mold evenly.) Freeze until solid and serve immediately.
Rose Petal Ice Cream Makes approx. 3 cups.
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups loosely packed, very fragrant old rose petals, washed and dry.
Follow directions for your individual ice cresm freezer.
I have open pollinated rugosa rose seeds for sale in my seed store now. They are stratified, being collected this week from the roses outdoors, so should be ready to germinate.
Here is my recipe (sort of) for dandelion syrup: Collect as many chemical free dandelions as possible. Put just the washed heads into a pot and barely cover with water. Boil for some time, about 20-30 mins. Remove those heads with a sieve and add another pot full of flower heads to the water and boil these for 20-30 mins. The more dandelions you boil in the water, the stronger the flavour will be.
When you have boiled all the flowers you plan to boil, remove flowers with a sieve and strain liquid. Add sugar, 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Let boil until thick and syrupy.
It taste slightly nutty with a hint of vanilla all by itself! Eat over waffles or ice cream or make a drink with it, glaze meat with it. You can even heat it up and serve hot over desserts!
Bring it on, Spring! I'm ready!!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Yesterday was a cold, windy and wet day, so I stayed inside and worked in the kitchen and started a gallon of banana wine!
I bought a lot of bananas marked down at the grocery store. I was thrilled to find them, as ripe bananas are hard to locate these days in the store. Bananas at the store are always so green and I didn't want to use green bananas for wine. I bought two bags of them, all that they had! Bananas, peeled and sliced, will freeze well for baking so I buy any marked down bananas that I find. We love banana muffins!
I used them all to make a gallon of wine. I know there are many banana wine recipes out there, but I made it like I make them all, with my own basic tried and true recipe. I think I will stick to that, now that I know it works well and just use it for everything. Some things will need more or less sugar, depending on how much they contain within themselves, but that will be the only thing that changes.
I start by sterilizing everything.
E V E R Y . L I T T L E . T H I N G!
All buckets, cups, spoons, tubing, strainers, pots, measuring spoons, every single little thing has to be sterile. This is a lot easier than it sounds. I keep a bucket of sulphite made up and just dip all the stuff into it and rinse the larger things with it. This sterilizes them. They then have to be well rinsed to make sure there is no sulphite going into the wine at this stage or it will kill the yeast.
I make sulphite free organic wine, but even if I did put sulphite in it eventually, I would never put it in at the beginning. I know some recipes say to do that, then leave the must sitting until the sulphite has quit working before putting the yeast in. I don't trust that process not to kill, at least, some of the yeast and slow down the wine making considerably. Maybe this is one reason mine were ready so quickly... don't know.
BTW, I was wrong about the lilac being ready. It's ok and drinkable but I would prefer that it age a bit longer and become more mellow. It has a higher alcohol content (more sugar added) and perhaps that's why.
I am only making one gallon of banana wine so a one gallon plastic ice cream bucket makes a perfect primary fermentor.
I use the one gallon bucket to measure the amount of fruit. I like to have at least 3/4 of a bucket full of chopped fruit. I had exactly that after all the bananas were all chopped! Perfect!
Because I am not using sulphite, I boil the water and add the chopped base to it. I then bring it back to a boil, remove from heat and allow to sit overnight, stirring occasionally. This will kill any wild yeast in it and extract most of the good juices and flavour. Sometimes I mash the fruit before adding it to the pot or even run it through the juicer or grind in the food processor. That usually depends on how dry it is.
I don't use an exact amount of water. I usually fill the sterilzed bucket about 3/4 full of water, then put that into the pot to boil. I have to leave room for all that sugar and I will top up the jug after the must goes into it anyway, so being a little short of water is ok at this point. I would rather add water later than lose some of that good liquid to make room for the sugar.
I sit the pot out of the way overnight and stir with a STERILE spoon occasionally. I always put a note on the pot so others know not to mess with it, although I think they know better anyway :-)
The next day, which was this morning, I strained the water from the pot with a STERILE strainer - or I meant to. I accidentally strained one strainer full before realizing that I had not sterilized it! Oh no! I sterilized it and continued, hoping it will work out anyway. It will probably be ok as the strainer was clean and in a drawer where other yeasts would not be likely to find it. I have not been using any baker's yeast or live vinegar in the kitchen in weeks. Here's hoping it's ok! Time will tell...
It's not like I bought a kit for $50+. My homemade wines only cost pennies a glass to make so if it doesn't work out, I'm just dissappointed and not out any actual cash.
That'll teach me to make wine first thing in the morning, even before coffee!!
After the banana pieces have been strained and the liquid put into the sterile bucket, it's time to add the yeast and other friendly, organic additives. I sterilized a glass measuring cup, inside and out, rinsed it well, then dipped about a cup of banana liquid from the bucket to warm up. Into the micorwave it went, but only for 20 secs, just enough time to warm it to room temp. I sprinkled about 1/4 of the yeast packet in this warmed water and set it aside to "proof" the yeast. (The yeast packet is enough to make 5 gallons.) Starting it in warm water gets it going quickly. My house is COLD most of the time, especially at night, so the must was cold after sitting all night in the kitchen.
I also sterilized a small glass, inside and out, rinsed it well and added hot tap water (from our well) to it. Into this I put 1 teaspoon of pectic enzyme and 2 teaspoons of acid blend. This is commercial acid blend that I use. It's a blend of malic, citrus and tartaric acids, purely organic and natural. It's much easier to use and a more specific measurment than using lemons or oranges and doesn't impart any of the citrus fruit flavour.
Through experimentation I know that I like this amount of acid in the wine, so this is what I add every time. If I decide to make a grapefruit or orange wine, I probably won't add any acid to it. I will have to research that one.
The pectic enzyme is an organic natural enzyme that will eat up the pectin in the juice. Wine will not finish well with pectin in it. Not all bases contain pectin but you never know and I sometimes like to add white grape juice to wine to give it some body, if I think it will need it. I add this to most flower petal wines, usually about 1 tablespoon of white grape juice concentrate. I added pectic enzyme, of course, to the apple wine last week. Apples contain a lot of their own pectin and I added it to the banana today. Really, I add it to all wines, just to be sure. It's completely tasteless, harmless, organic and cheap. It's just a safety precaution that doesn't cost me anything and makes for a good finished wine. There is no guarantee, of course. I added it to the dandelion wine and still had to clear it at the end.
When these were added to the bucket and stirred I added the yeast and stirred it again. After stirring well, I then added 2 pounds, or 4 cups, of sugar. I do have a hydrometer and I use it at this point, most of the time, but the wines I make with 4 cups of sugar usually have a reasonable alcohol level, around 12%. I added an extra cup to the lilac wine and it has a higher alcohol level, so I know there is some room to move. If I were using a fruit with a lot of it's own sugar, I would use the hydrometer and add the sugar a cup at a time, continually testing it, just to make sure there would not be any sugar left in the must when the yeast had used all it could take in. I want dry wines.
When I had everything in the bucket and it was well stirred, I set the lid on it gently, not closing completely, and set it out of the way to work for a day or so. Ordinarily the yeast is working so hard for the first day that too much carbon dioxide it produced to put it into the secondary fermentor (glass jug) with an air lock. It will pop the air lock out. I will rack it into the secondary tomorrow afternoon, probably.
This is what is left after making the wine. I never know what to do with the leftover fruit. A lot of the goodness has been leached out of it but it seems a shame to compost it. I will be glad when we go back to chicken keeping this fall, then left overs won't be a problem!
My goal is to have a large wine cellar, stocked with a few bottles of every kind of wine possible to make in this area! I doubt that I will get that far, but just having wine to drink that doesn't give me headaches or Hubby a rash is great!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
This is my new painting "Autumn Blues". It's 12" x 16".
I am still painting, waiting for spring to show itself. Actually, a lot of the snow is gone but it's still cold and very wet. I think this will be a wet spring which means I won't be out working in the garden this month :-(
I am still enjoying painting still life very much!
This is how Abby and Shadow spend a cold, wet day.
Cats really know how to enjoy life!
Friday, March 18, 2011
The picture above is a photo of my garden in 2009. These are our 'Portugal' tomatoes growing. That was a bumper year for tomatoes.
I inherited a pile of 6' metal fence posts that have been handy in the garden. I usually stretch wire between them on which to grow things, like tomatoes, cukes, peas.
This year I am considering another option. I also have some fencing that is really a large roll of reinforcing wire. I want to make a few of these for the tomatoes, one set for each of the tomato varieties that I want to plant this year:
The wire will be in two pieces, two "L"s, which I will remove from the post in the fall and store separately.
These are indeterminate tomatoes, meaning they grow continually larger until the frost takes them. Determinate tomatoes have a preprogrammed, default setting causing them to stop growing when they reach maturity which makes them better for short seasons. I grow these indeterminate ones anyway. I'm always pushing the growing season. These are HUGE plants and have to be controlled by pruning.
I prune most of the suckers off all summer and cut the tops off of my indeterminate tomato plants around mid August. They do keep trying to grow after the top has been cut off, putting out even more suckers and more tops. I just keep trimming it back, forcing it to put as much growth as possible into the tomatoes. This makes for very large tomatoes.
We still get green tomatoes at the end of the season. To help the plant ripen what is there, I cut the roots about halfway around the plant when it gets about two weeks before our first frost date. This does help, although we still get green tomatoes.
Some tomatoes will keep all winter in our cold cellar wrapped separately in newspaper. Each tomato individually wrapped and not touching others, set on wood to keep dry. Sometimes they will stay green enough and good until mid winter, when they can be taken out and put into the kitchen to finish ripening. Not all tomatoes will do this, but a few will. If you find a good keeper tomato, you can have garden tomatoes at Christmas!
I have some seeds I got in a trade for some good "keeper" tomatoes that I am going to plant this year on a trial basis.
Some green tomatoes are welcome! We like Fried Green Tomatoes!
I have considered growing them upside down from a hole in the bottom of a bucket, as well, but have just not bothered. I have a lot of space for a garden and I don't have a secure place to hang them. Acquiring the buckets would be no problem but I would have to build a strong system from which to hang them that will support their weight.
Do you have another tomato support system that works well for you?
The first pictured tomato support system came from: Wyogrow.com
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I made a squash pie this morning! I forgot the sugar.
It looks wonderful! Probably doesn't taste that good...
So, any suggestions as to what I can do with a sugarless squash pie?
As to how I do these things, well, you can take your pick: senior's moment, too many things on my mind, need for sustenance, busy chatting. I think I knew, subconsciously, that we were out of sugar :-)
Oh well, we can't all be perfect, or graceful, or even sometimes mentally present at all...
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Over the years we have grown a large variety of tomatoes, more recently sticking with heirloom or organic types. We don't want to grow or eat anything that has been genetically modified.
Although we have tried all shapes, sizes and colors, we prefer the normal, round, red tomatoes. Of all the tomatoes that we have tried, our favorite tomato is grown from seed that I got in a trade years ago, from a fellow gardener who's ancestors brought the seed from Porgugal. We just call them our "Portugal" tomatoes. We never did know the actual variety, if there is one. These may have been handed down through the family for generations. We just don't know.
I have had them too long for them to be GM seeds and I know they are not hybrids, as they breed true year after year.
These tomatoes are MASSIVE! Some as big as my hand. They are meaty, sweet and a great size for sandwiches. One slice is all you need!
These are a large beef heart style tomato, which is hard to find. There are a few more out there but I don't know how they compare to mine.
We love this tomato and nearly lost it last year! The tomatoes did so poorly and had so much blossom end rot, I feared that we would not get any ripe enough for seed. Fortunately, I did have some seed saved from the year before. (The smart gardener never plants all the seed.) I also managed to salvage a few of the ripe "Portugal" tomatoes and collected the seed from those, but not a lot. I do have some, now, on my seed site for sale. This year we will do better :-)
Another favorite tomato is the 'San Marzano'. It's our only paste tomato and is touted to be the best in the world. It's from Italy. We grow these every year and they do make great sauce!
They have a thick wall and very little water, which is why they make such good paste.
We also grow: Matt's Wild Cherry, 'Ailsa Craig' and the 'Manitoba' tomato, recently developed to grow big in the short Manitoba prairie season. It is not a GM seed nor a hybrid, so I am growing it for a few years on a trial basis.
I have just today put the seed for our 'Portugal' tomatoes for sale on my seed site, after determining that I do have a few left that I can spare, but not a lot. So many people have asked for it. I felt like I had let folks down by not selling any of this rare seed. Fortunately, there are now some available, after doing some germination tests. I would like to spread it around so that it does not get lost in a bad year. Anything can happen and I would hate to lose this one completely from our heirloom seed pool! Save those heirloom seeds!
The 'San Marzano' seed has always been there, as they did well enough last year for me to collect some seed. Not well enough, unfortunatley, for me to make tomato sauce or paste. I do not have the other three seed for sale due to such poor conditions last year. I am planting only these five this year and hope to have some seeds for sale this fall.
Let's hope for a great tomato growing season this year!
Nothing beats a juicy, ripe tomato fresh from the garden!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
All four of my organic wines have finished making and are ready to bottle. Not only are they all four ready to bottle, they are ready to drink! I tasted them at the last racking and they were all delicious, even the dandelion and it is only about 10 months old! I can only attribute this to the new turbo yeast. It's the Lalvin E-1118 and it is the only yeast I will be using henceforth (from now on)! Amazing results!
I have been drinking the pea pod wine and it has not been giving me headaches. No headaches so far!! This is great news to me! I thought I was going to be forced to give up drinking wine altogether :-(
Not so! The pea pod wine is very good. It's not a strong pea flavour but it is there. It's a white wine, subtle and delicate.
The rose is a red wine with a heady, strong rose bouquet and flavour. It has a lovely dark red colour, as well!
The lilac is also a white wine, delicious and more subtle bouquet and flavour. It is (surprisingly) not at all purple. It's more of a peachy colour. Odd that. I had considered putting in a little purple food colouring, but decided against it. I want to keep these wines organic with nothing in them to give me, or anyone else, allergy problems and headaches.
The dandelion, of course, is a golden shade. It is still a bit cloudy, although delicious, so I need to clear it before I can bottle it. Even though I have an electric wine filter, for just one little gallon I am not going to use it. It's a big hassle to set it up and it will waste a set of pads for very little output. I bought a package of clarifier (called fining) and put it in the jug. It will sit for about a week and clear. There are a few different finings on the market and they change all the time. Islinglass finings use to be the norm but now they use something better, called Chitosan, made from sea shells. It will slowly sink to the bottom and take all the particles with it. I have done no research on this new stuff, but I will.
Winemaking is contantly in flux as people find better ways of doing things. I guess that can be said of anything, really. Life is in flux. Nothing ever stays the same for more than about 6 months.
This year I will be making a LOT of wine from all kinds of things! I have big plans (I just need the time. We'll see how it goes...) Making my own wine will also save me a lot of money. I need to keep that in mind when setting my priorities. Big money savers go at the top of the list. I plan to start five litres of apple wine in the next couple of weeks. I'll be shopping around for the best prices. I figure that last year's apples will be getting cheap about now, also riper and sweeter than they are in the fall, which is a good thing.
I am also going to start my big spring indoor planting during this time too, and finishing a few more paintings. I'll be very busy!
The biggest job in the entire wine making process is the washing, sterilizing and de-labelling of the bottles, or so I think. This is a personal opinion, of course. Other winemakers might have a different opinion about the various parts of the process. Of course, you don't need to use all 750 ml bottles. You can put it in magnums (1.5 ltr) bottles too and have less prep work to do. I did it this way, this time, because this size makes a good gift.
The apple wine will be put into larger bottles with just a few 750's for gifts.
I don't have a tree for washing the bottles. I should probably look at getting one of those at some point.
I think my organic winemaking for this year was a great success! No failed batches! I have a long list of things to make wine from this year. This is a list of the things I plan to make into wine this year:
rhubarb - 5 gallons
strawberry - 5 gallons
blackberry, if I can collect a gallon
mint and maybe lemon mint and chco mint
rose petal, red - again
apple - blend of types - 'Royal Gala' is my favourite apple
pumpkin (squash) and possibly pumpkin pie (with the subtle spices), maybe
gooseberry, if my bushes produce a gallon of berries
dandelion - again
lilac - again
red bee balm blossom
wild daylily petals (pictured)
wild rose petal, white - maybe
rose hip - maybe
You know...I bet grapes would make a good wine. Maybe I should grow some grapes just for that purpose. Wouldn't that be different and unique! :-)
You can download my free ebook entitled: "Making Your Own Wine At Home" from the link in the left column.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Last summer I made four different kinds of organic wine in one gallon jugs. You can read about this process in the posts made at the time: Lilac Wine and Dandelion Wine.
Well, I racked all four jugs of wine this morning (that's moving them off the dead yeast in the bottom, into clean jugs.) I had a little sip of each and they are all four WONDERFUL and finished, even the cloudy dandelion. My only explanation for that is the new turbo yeast I have been using, so one year seems to be sufficient for even the longest homemade wine, not even a year. I believe the dandelion was made last April.
The bouquet is marvelous, especially the rose! The scent of roses filled my nose when I opened it.
My favourite: the sugar snap pea pod! It's light, just the goodness of the sweet pea pods, not the heavy earthiness. It's WONDERFUL! I attribute this to the fact that I made it from raw pods, not boiled ones, as most recipes say to do. I don't make any wines from cooked veggies or fruit, only raw. I think you get the true taste of the base that way. Boiling the base just ruins it.
I wasn't planning on planting many peas this year but I think I'm going to be planting a lot of sugar snap peas and making 5 gallons of rhubarb wine and strawberry wine and all done without sulphite or sorbate.
I had it all done by 6:30 am! Shadow has started waking me up at 4:00 am every morning for the past couple of weeks. I'm not sure why. We burned all of our split wood and have been using oil heat about that long, which we turn off at night. Maybe he is getting cold about that time when the house cools down. The house didn't cool down with the wood stove going. I don't know what to do about it. I don't want them to be cold. (I DON'T WANT HIM WAKING ME UP AT 4:00 EITHER! ) He won't take "no" for an answer.
It's hard to believe that he has been here almost a year now. He is a real gentle sweetheart! He and Abby are very close friends.
So I had lots of time this morning to rack the wine. I even had time to make an apple pie before starting this project. It baked while I racked.
Imagine what I could get done if I cut my sleep back to just two hours a night! (NOT!)
You can read my free ebook entitled: "Making Organic Wine At Home" available on our farm site.