Archive for the ‘Recipes & Preserving’ Category

Here is the second recipe in my list of recipes using Dandelion Flowers, the rest of the plant is edible and I am now considering this plant to be a very important plant in Permaculture or any sustainable lifestyle environment. We are at the time of year when in various parts of the Northern Hemisphere, these plants are currently, have or will still come into flower (Here in the outskirts of London, we are currently seeing the last flowers appear and many have already become seed heads).

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In the last installment, I wrote on a very delicious Dandelion Flower Jam recipe which I highly recommend – it’s probably the best jam recipe I have ever used so far!

Before we get into the wine recipe, I must make it clear that this is the first time I am using this recipe or making the wine for that matter, I am currently halfway through my wine fermentation period and will not be able to give any taste results to my readers. This recipe comes to me from a reputable source and when I enquired with a contact of mine, it sounds very similar to the most commonly used Dandelion Flower Wine recipes out there, I am sharing this only because this is the time of year that the flowers are here, and we only have about a three week period before we don’t see them again for another year! Try it out, what have you got to lose?

Things you will most likely need to obtain / buy before hand:

  1. Fermenting container / Demi-john (1 Gal / 4.5 – 5 Ltr),
  2. Obtain container bottles for the final product (plastic is recommended over glass in case of continued fermentation gasses),
  3. Yeast sachet x1,
  4. Bubbler and Cork / Stopper,
  5. 4 Ltrs of Water (1 Gal USA) ,
  6. 2x Oranges,
  7. 2x Lemons,
  8. 1kg of Sugar (2lb 3oz),

Method:

  1. Put all of the Dendelion Flowers into a large pan / pot and pour over a full kettle (normally 1Ltr) of boiling water and leave for 24 hours,
  2. Strain the liquid out and don’t forget to compost the used flower heads,
  3. Add the juice of the lemons and oranges, the sugar and remaining water and stir until all mixed in sufficiently – place into your brewing container (not your final Demi-john – I used a 5Ltr plastic bottle),
  4. Add your yeast, cover with a cloth and leave in this container for a further 24 hours,
  5. Pour into your Demi-john and place the bubbler (Airlock), leave in a dark cool cupboard / basement etc. for a minimum of one month,
  6. Pour into our storage bottles – consume chilled

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere then some of you may still either be waiting for Dandelions to flower or may be seeing the last flowers become seed heads, for those lucky enough, you still have time to collect the flowers for the following Recipes.

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Once you start to see the flowers appearing, a good rule-of-thumb is to keep in mind that on average, you only have a 3 week window to pick and use for your recipes, so that means multiple trips if you want to follow more than one recipe.

This was the first time I have used Dandelion for culinary purposes and started first with the Jam Recipe:

What’s Needed:

  1. A grocery store shopping bag Half Full of Dandelion flowers,
  2. 3 x cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped,
  3. 3x squeezed lemons,
  4. 600ml boiling water,
  5. 725gm jam sugar.

Method:

  1. Put the Chopped apples and around 3/4ths of the flower heads into a pan with the hot water and simmer for 10 minutes,
  2. After 10 minutes, strain the remaining results through a sieve or similar and push as much pulp through as possible using a spoon,
  3. Add the strained liquid back into your pan together with the lemon juice and sugar,
  4. Dissolve the sugar by cooking on low heat and stirring regularly, add the rest of the dandelion heads (petals only, cut off the green parts with scissors),
  5. Boil on high heat until you reach the setting point (Click here to find out how to find your setting point in jam making),
  6. Ladle into your prepared jars, this recipe made me 3 standard honey jars and 2 smaller speciality hex jars I bought online.

I really, really like the end product! This jam is delish and makes the harvesting well worth it in my opinion, this is a plant that should not be killed off and considered a weed, every part of this plant is edible and it is a perennial!
– Jeff Permie

In the coming days, I will post a Dandelion Wine Recipe, I am currently fermenting my first ever batch of this wine and so cannot give you full information right through to the taste of the end product, I am halfway through the fermenting period and will be bottling the product up in another two weeks. I feel like sharing this recipe because of the fact that some readers may still be able to harvest the flower heads, this is a proven and common recipe and I feel that it will definitely be worth it …

Recently I added a recipe on making your own plum Compote, here is the very simple recipe on serving the compote with Natural Yogurt and some other bits …
This recipe can be made in a Vegan / dairy Free way by using Soya based Yogurts

Ingredients:

  1. Home made Compote,
  2. Natural non flavoured Organic Yogurt,
  3. Honey,
  4. Banana,
  5. mixed Crushed Nuts.

Method:

 

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Step 1: Place about 2-3 Tablespoons of your Compote into the bottom of a globe glass such as a wine glass etc. Top the latter with a few Tablespoons of Natural Yogurt then finally top with a tablespoon or so of more Compote.

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Step 2: Top the second layer of Compote with a layer of Banana Slices

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Step 3: Top the Banana Slices with the final layer of Natural Yogurt, then you can pour a little amount of honey followed by the Crushed Mixed Nuts

Step 4: Eat !

Click Here for the article on how to Make Your Own Plum Compote

One trending recipe that I have come across online quite a lot recently is the Sweet Potato toast recipe, here is my own personal toppings recipe and I also have some very important safety advice based on some personal experience – lets just say, luckily I was in the kitchen at that time!

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Jeff’s Sweet Potato Toast Toppings Recipe

The general method to make the toast:

  1. Check the inside of your toaster, get any bread crumbs out from the bottom (not only the tray, try get as much out as possible),
  2. Peel your Potato (If organic, skip this part),
  3. Slice the potato lengthwise to the thickness of around 8mm to a maximum of 10mm,
  4. Place the slices in the toaster and set the toaster to half the maximum time (be careful the first time you do this!) the potato toast takes longer than bread to make toast and each toaster is different, you really need to do this a few times to be able to get to know your toaster to be able to re-create this recipe over and over with confidence,
  5. Once the toast pops out, use tongs to check, it is likely that it will need to be given another round in the toaster, the toast should become flexible and the skin should start forming ”bubbles” which also start going brown / black – then you know it is ready

NOTE: Regarding step 1, any old collated bread crumbs inside your toaster Can Set On Fire! This happened to me! The reason why is because when making Sweet Potato Toast, we are keeping the toaster on for such a longer time than Bread Toast, which can cause the crumbs to finally get hot enough to catch on fire.
I was in the kitchen and noticed it right away, the fire was strong enough to have actually made the toaster itself catch fire then subsequently the chipboard counter top and pretty much most of the kitchen!! Be Careful

Jeff’s Unique Sweet Potato Toast Topping:

Ingredients:

  1. Hoummous,
  2. Fresh Green Olives,
  3. Red Pesto,

Method:

  1. Spread the Red Pesto on the slice,
  2. Top this with 3-4 dollops of Hoummous using a teaspoon,
  3. Place a few half sliced Green Olives between the Hoummous Dollops,
  4. Eat !

There are quite a few topping recipes online, most of them are Avocado based which I didn’t have any at the time of experimenting with Sweet Potato Toast – I am really quite chuffed with that otherwise I would not have stumbled upon this really nice combination.

I also tried Hoummous only with Green Olives, this does suffice but is definitely not as tasty as with the Pesto.

If you come up with your own recipe, please do come here and comment / share (Remember, you Do Not need a wordpress account to comment on my blog, guests can comment too)

Compote is a French Delicacy and according to a French friend, it really depends on your own tastes in which you prefer to make it a sweet or more sharp / tartish taste. I made mine with a little honey, enough to make it so that guests are not given a dish which already is too sweet for some – this allows them to be able to add more if wanted…

For this recipe, you need about three plums per serving, I was using smaller plums I got for free from a neighbour, they have had this tree for over 10 years and they admit that they let them fall to the floor every year -they are organically grown (no chemicals are sprayed or artificial fertilisers used) and the variety are smaller than some Plums bought in-store, so I would advise perhaps 4-5 plums per recipe if your ones are smaller like these (I believe they may be Plum Victoria)

Ingredients:

  1. 3-5 Plums per serving,
  2. Cloves,
  3. Cinnamon powder or sticks,
  4. Vanilla Seeds or Essence,
  5. Orange, Lemon or Lime,
  6. Honey or any healthy sweetener

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Step 1: Cut your Plums into Quarters

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Step 2: Pour the Quartered Plums into a pre-warmed pot / pan,

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Step 3: Stir so that the Plums start breaking down and juicing a bit,

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Step 4: Pour in your Orange, Lemon or Lime Juice – ( I used Orange )

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Step 5: I used Cloves as well as Cinnamon Sticks, I needed Vanilla essence or Vanilla seeds which weren’t available at that time

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Step 6: Mash the Plums and squash from time to time with your spoon or stirring instrument

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Step 7: Grate in some Lemon Zest and cook until thcik enough where you can draw a spoon across the bottom of the pot, if drawing your spoon across and a line shows, then it is ready for putting aside for cooling or jarring

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Step 8: Let cool and add in your Honey to taste, I used 2 Tablespoons in order to sweeten it up enough to be tarty enough for those who prefer a tart taste, people with a sweet tooth will very likely add more Honey / Sweetener or even Banana slices into the actual served compote etc.

This recipe can be made and preserved, use the same preserving techniques as with preserving Jams ( Click here for one example ) I made enough to have in one jar which went straight into the fridge so I didn’t have to make the effort in sterilising the jar/s for dry storage.

 

So here it is, as stated in a recent post, I missed last year’s Blackberry picking season due to being very busy with projects in my free time and the sad realisation that I had also missed Sweet Chestnut season TWO YEARS in a row!!

There really is not much of an excuse for not foraging for Blackberries considering they are so widespread in the UK and the fact that you can freeze them until needed (this may not be suitable for some recipes however.)

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2 kg’s of Blackberries in a Large Saladmaster Pot

 

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • 2 kg ( ) Blackberries, freshly picked or from frozen
  • 1.450 kg ( ) Granulated Sugar
  • Juice of 1.5 Lemons
  • Large Pot
  • Cleaned Re-useable Jam / Honey or other Jars with Lids
  • Tongs if possible
  • Small Pot or Pan
  • Oven Gloves
  • Wooden Spoon and a Ladle
  • NOTE: this same recipe can be followed in a smaller amount ie: 1 kg of Blackberries with Juice of 1 Lemon and 750g of Granulated Sugar

Method:

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Step 1: Place your freshly washed and rinsed jars inside your oven and leave there until later

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Step 2: Place the jar lids inside a small pan or pot, covered in water ready to being to the boil (this is where you use the tongs, to take them out of the water one by one when needed)

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Step 3: Slowly heat the Blackberries until they give off some of the juice liquid, you can help them along by semi squashing with a spatula or potato masher, this should take maybe 5 minutes (expect more if your blackberries were frozen)
Note: If you want your jam to be lumpy thick, minimise how much you stir and squash the blackberries)

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Step 4: Now add in the Lemon Juice as well as the Sugar, mix well then bring it all to the boil, once boiling, simmer gently until it thickens and reaches 105 Degrees Celsius

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Step 5: When there is an obvious change in the density of the liquid (becomes runny / watery) you can start boiling the water in the small pot / pan and switch your oven on to a high temperature (150 Degrees Celsius) to start sanitizing your jars and their lids.
After your Jam-to-be has boiled nicely for around 30minutes to an hour since adding in the other ingredients, you are looking to have a temperature of around 105 Degrees Celsius before you switch off the heat and start filling your jars, there is a Simple Method to check if it is the right temperature without needing to obtain a Candy Thermometer, just do the Cold Plate Test.

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Step 6: Once happy with the thickness after testing on a plate, start ladling the Jam into the jars one by one (I keep the other jars in the oven and only take out one at a time)
As soon as a jar is fill, use a damp cloth or tissue to remove any bits on the rim of the jar then place a lid and give a good firm twist, place the jar on a cloth or tissues away from the reach of kids etc.and let sit until morning or a few hours later.
Note: Oven gloves and tongs will be needed at this stage

I managed to fill 6x small / medium, 2x medium to large and 1x Large Jar which was quite impressive, note that the jars are mostly different, I do re-use any jars that I can from my grocery shopping, it does work and jams / chutneys I preserved last year are still fine today – there is absolutely No Need to go out and buy expensive specialist ”preserving jars” in fact, the one time I had a failure is in a dedicated larny Kilner Preserving Jar!

Date and label them if you wish, then store in a pantry or cupboard which is not too close to your cooking station.

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As promised, since it is Blackberry season (at least here in the UK it is), here is my simple Blackberry Pie recipe with fresh pictures and berries from Today’s pie I made for the family.

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Remember, there are many uses for Blackberries (they can be frozen until needed for Smoothies, Jam etc.) freezing may be unsuitable for making pies though so this recipe has been added first so you can use freshly picked berries. Personally after having tried at least 5 cultivated berries from different locations for home growing (thornless Blackberries), I can say that all of them did not come close in taste and deliciousness to their Native Wild counterparts!

They may have been much larger in size and appearance, but it’s the taste that counts and Wild Blackberries are far better – I suspect that flavour was lost when selectively breeding a thornless blackberry variety, I could be wrong though.

Ingredients for a 20cm diameter pie dish:

  • 200 g ( 7 oz ) blackberries
  • 450 g (1 lb ) cooking apples
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 500 g ( 1lb ) shortcrust pastry
  • 75 g (2.5 oz) brown sugar (white can be a substitute here)
  • half teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • one quarter teaspoon ground ginger

Recipe Instructions:

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Step 1: Core, peel and slice the Apples into wedge pieces, melt the butter In a pan, then add the Ginger Powder, Cinnamon, Apples and Sugar.
Mix in well and let sit on low heat for about 10 minutes.

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Step 2: Whilst waiting for that to cook through, lightly grease the pie dish and add the pie pastry on the bottom, be careful not to leave gaps by pressing in on the sides.

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Step 3: Slice the excess dough with any knife, my new favourite is a basic cutlery knife rather than a sharp cutting knife as usually recommended

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Step 4: Pour in the apples and their juice (Save some for tomorrow?) and pack gently

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Step 5: Pour the Blackberries over the apples

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Step 6: Place the remaining pie pastry over the top, slice the edges again with a knife then with a fork, crimp the edges as you would do on any pie recipe – finally, brush coat the top with the beaten egg.

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Step 7: Place in pre-heated oven at 220 Degrees Celsius for 10 minutes, then reduce to 180 Degrees Celsius for another 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven, place on a wire rack (I use my stove tops at the back) to cool down, if you like a warm / hot pie then serve after 10 minutes, if cold, place in your fridge so it can served after a couple of hours.

This was a fun recipe this time, I’m glad to have successfully tried it out today and will definitely always try to make a few of these when the season is right, the taste was a sweet tart mix.

I usually have quite a lot of left over pie pastry, you can always keep aside some apple pieces and blackberries to make mini hand molded Cornish Pasty shaped mini pies to ensure nothing goes to waste …

In the coming days, I will post the Blackberry Jam recipe so please do visit back soon