Posted by|18 November 2013
How to flavor your kombucha!
Start here if you missed Part 1! The combinations of herbs, spices, fruits, and juices that can add flavor to your kombucha are almost endless. Here are some of my favorite blends, but feel free to be creative and add whatever flavors you enjoy!
Elderberry, Rosehip, & Cinnamon
A standby, this is the blend that I make most often. Sometimes, I’ll add Hibiscus flowers or use Ginger root instead of Cinnamon. Feel free to experiment and make this recipe your own!
1/3 cup organic dried elderberries
1/4 cup organic dried rosehips
1 tsp organic cinnamon chips
Sparkling Ginger Pear
This recipe is simple, yet delicious. Is it light, refreshing, and reminiscent of champagne. Use whichever fruit is in season: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, and peaches are all tasty substitutes for pears.
1 Asian apple or regular pear
1 TBSP dried or fresh organic ginger root
Refreshing Herbal Medley
A perfect blend for the summertime! This medley is cooling, refreshing, and the addition of Yerba Mate offers a little energy boost.
2 TBSP dried organic holy basil (Tulsi)
2 TBSP dried organic peppermint
1 TBSP dried organic ginger root
1 TBSP dried organic Yerba Mate
Posted by|11 November 2013
If you’ve never tried kombucha, then you’re in for a treat! This delightful fermented beverage is revered for its probiotic qualities and many purported health benefits. With a unique flavor, it is fizzy and tingly like no other beverage in existence.
Fermenting foods and beverages at home was a common necessity for centuries. Thankfully, we’re now seeing a return to these roots! Healthful traditional foods and fermented preparations are making a comeback and have become somewhat trendy in recent years. Kombucha can now be easily purchased in health food markets nationwide, but most of it is pasteurized and the cost is often restrictive. Fortunately, it’s easy, inexpensive, and fun to make at home! Plus, you can adjust the flavor and sourness to your liking.
Like other traditionally fermented and live-cultured preparations, kombucha has been enjoyed for thousands of years by cultures around the world. The history of kombucha tea is long and somewhat controversial, with Russia, Japan, China, and Korea all credited with its origin. The Chinese origin states that the beverage appeared in 221 BCE, and was believed to be an elixir of immortality called ‘The Godly Tsche.’ Another story reports that the beverage was introduced to Japan in 441 AD by a Korean doctor named Kombu. Kombu used the revered tea to help soothe the emperor’s digestive problems, and it grew in popularity over the centuries.
Kombucha is a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria, a living culture containing beneficial microorganisms and nutrients. Studies tout that kombucha binds to toxins and removes them from the body, cleanses the liver and other organs, improves digestion, energy levels, and the immune system. Although the exact origin of kombucha and its benefits are unproven and disputed, there’s no denying that kombucha is a delicious and wholesome drink!
Basic Kombucha Recipe
Makes 1 gallon (scale recipe up or down depending on the size of your vessel)
- Kombucha SCOBY
- Starter liquid (brewed kombucha reserved from a previously brewed batch)
- Glass or lead-free ceramic container
- Organic Black or Green loose-leaf tea (Camellia sinensis). Use unflavored tea, as essential oils and flavorings can adversely affect the culture. Favorites for black tea varieties include English Breakfast, Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, and Ancient Forest. Excellent green options include Green Sencha, White Peony, Silver Needles, and Oolong.
- Organic cane sugar
- Distilled, spring, or well water. Chlorinated or treated water can harm the kombucha culture.
- A clean piece of cloth, towel, or a handkerchief and a rubber band to cover the container
- Bring ¾ of a gallon of water to a boil, then turn off the heat and immediately add 4 TBSP of loose-leaf tea and 1 cup of organic sugar. Cover pot with a lid, and cool to room temperature.
- Strain out the tea leaves, and pour the liquid into your glass or ceramic container.
- Add your scoby and 1-2 cups of kombucha starter liquid.
- Cover the container with a clean cloth, kitchen towel, or handkerchief and a rubber band. Place it in a dark area out of direct sunlight, where it won’t be disturbed or moved. Make sure that the cloth or towel is breathable, yet that the weave is tight enough to keep fruit flies, gnats, and other undesirables and contaminants out.
- Your scoby may sink or float on the top, both are okay. In 2-3 days, you may see a translucent jelly-like mass floating on the top of your tea. This is a new scoby beginning to form. Leave it undisturbed so that the baby can grow properly.
- Taste your kombucha periodically, depending on the temperature of your home and how sweet or sour you’d like it to be. Most batches will be ready in 7-14 days. Ideally, the kombucha should have a slightly sharp and acidic bite.
- When your kombucha is ready, carefully remove the scoby, then pour the liquid through a filter and into bottles. Remember to reserve 1-2 cups for the starter liquid for your next batch.
- Separate the new baby scoby from your original one (now a mother), and keep whichever one looks healthier. You can give the new baby to a friend or start a “kombucha hotel” in a separate glass jar. Simply include some kombucha starter liquid to cover the scobies. Each time that you brew a batch of kombucha, a new baby will grow to join your kombucha family.
- Place the scoby and 1-2 cups of starter tea back into your container, brew a new batch of tea, and start all over again!
- You may leave the kombucha unflavored or include any number of tasty additions. Experiment with fresh or dried fruit, berries, herbs, and spices for whatever flavor suits your mood.
- Kombucha will naturally have a slight fizziness. To increase the carbonation and level of tartness, leave the bottled kombucha on a countertop for several days after bottling. Keep bottles stored in a refrigerator once finished fermenting.
- Always clean your hands, utensils, and anything that might touch your kombucha with hot water and distilled vinegar. Do not use soap, (especially antibacterial soap) as it may harm or kill the kombucha culture. Your kombucha is alive! Make sure to handle it with care.
- Only use lead-free glass and ceramic for fermenting. Kombucha will absorb toxins out of the container that it’s brewed in (much like how it pulls toxins out of our bodies).
- Kombucha scobies have an unusual appearance, scent, and feel, but don’t let this discourage you! You’ll quickly grow accustomed to their odd appearance and will get used to handling them.
- Store your kombucha away from your stove and other cooking appliances. The aroma, smoke, and flavor can all impart into your culture. Bacon kombucha? No thanks!
- The easiest place to get a scoby is from a friend or co-worker with extra babies. Most kombucha brewers have several scobies waiting for a new home. If you can’t find a scoby locally, you can purchase one online or grow a scoby from a bottle of store-bought kombucha.
- If the kombucha scoby grows mold, throw the liquid and scoby into the compost and begin with fresh materials.
- Have fun and experiment! Kombucha is an acquired taste, and everyone likes it a little different. There are hundreds of recipes available, each one with its own ingredients and techniques.
Part 2 Coming Soon…
Flavoring Your Kombucha
Posted by|07 October 2013
Selecting the best products and ingredients for skincare can be daunting, and baby’s skin is even more delicate and sensitive than our own. The lists of ingredients on baby care products are often a mile-long and contain hard-to-read and unrecognizable ingredient names. Many commercial baby care products even include toxic ingredients that have been linked to allergies, cancer, developmental problems, and organ dysfunction, in addition to many other harmful side effects. No thanks!
This soothing and gentle massage oil is perfect for nurturing mama’s and baby’s sensitive skin. Apply after bathing for massages, cradle cap, or anytime that skin feels dry. You can also pour a small amount into bathwater for a luxurious pampering bath.
- Organic Sunflower or Sweet Almond Oil
- 2 parts Organic Lavender flowers
- 2 parts Organic Calendula flowers
- 1 part Organic Rose petals or buds
- 1 part Organic Chamomile flowers
- 1 part Organic Comfrey leaf
- Vitamin E Oil
Fill a glass jar ¼ – ½ full with herbs, then fill to the top with Sunflower or Sweet Almond oil. Screw a tight-fitting lid onto the jar, shake well, and place in a warm windowsill to infuse. Shake the jar daily or as often as you remember. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth or muslin. Add Vitamin E Oil to the infusion, then pour into glass jars.
Posted by|21 August 2013
These are some of my very favorite tried-and-true recipes for the summertime. Essentials for the home medicine chest, these simple remedies come in so handy during the warm summer months.
Herbal Relief Oil
This botanical-infused goodness soothes and helps aching muscles, sprains, bruises, and areas that are inflamed or swollen.
- 2 oz Calendula flower herbal oil
- 1 oz St. John’s Wort herbal oil
- 1 oz Arnica herbal oil
- 10-15 drops organic Lavender essential oil (optional)
Pour all ingredients into a 4 oz glass bottle and roll between palms to distribute the oils evenly. Massage into sore and tender muscles as needed.
If you’d like to make your own herbal infused oils, you can learn how to make them in this blog post: http://mountainroseblog.com/diy-herbal-salves/
Herbal Cooling Mist
Apply this mist on sunburns or whenever in need of a little cooling off. Aloe Vera and Lavender offer immediate relief to sunburns and other skin discomforts, shorten healing times, and are soothing, Peppermint is cooling and refreshing, and Green Tea helps reduce inflammation, redness, and the adverse effects of UV radiation exposure.
- 4 oz distilled water
- 2 oz organic Aloe Vera Gel
- 2 oz organic Lavender or Calendula Hydrosol
- 2 TBSP dried organic Peppermint leaf
- 1 tsp organic Green Tea leaves
- 5-10 drops organic Lavender essential oil
- 1-2 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
Pour boiling water over the Peppermint and Green Tea leaves, and infuse until cool. Strain out the leaves, and mix the strained infusion with Aloe Vera Gel and hydrosol. Pour into a spray bottle, then add the essential oils. Shake to combine all ingredients. Use within 1-2 days or store in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Shake before each use as ingredients will naturally separate.
All Purpose Healing Salve
This is a very gentle, soothing salve. Perfect for minor wounds, cuts, rashes, bug bites, chapped lips, bruises, or other skin conditions and irritations.
- 2 parts organic Calendula flowers
- 2 parts organic Lavender flowers
- 2 parts organic Comfrey leaf
- 2 parts organic Plantain leaf
- 1 part organic Comfrey root
- 1 part organic Chickweed
- 1 part organic Yarrow flowers
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Beeswax (1 oz per 8 oz infused oil): more may be added during the warm, summer months
- Vitamin E Oil (optional)
- Essential oils of organic Lavender or Tea Tree (optional)
- Tins or jars
Place dried botanicals into a dry glass jar, and cover with Olive oil, leaving at least 1-2” of oil above the herbs to allow the herbs to swell. Place jar in a sunny window and shake once or twice per day. Allow the oil to infuse for at least 4-6 weeks, or until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Once that the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth. Place the infused oil and Beeswax in a double boiler, and gently warm over low heat until the Beeswax melts. Remove from heat and add Vitamin E Oil (if using). Tea Tree or Lavender essential oil may also be added during this time. Quickly pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely. Store in a cool location where they will last for 1-3 years.
Lavender, Calendula, and Shea Butter Lip Balm
This nourishing lip balm is made from healing ingredients which soothe dry and chapped lips.
- 1 Tablespoon organic Shea Butter
- 3 Tablespoons Calendula herbal oil
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Beeswax
- 10-15 drops organic Lavender essential oil
- A few drops of Vitamin E Oil
Coarsely chop the beeswax or use beeswax pastilles. Place beeswax, butter, and oil in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax and butters have melted. Once melted, remove from the stovetop and stir in the essential oil and Vitamin E Oil. Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm tubes or small containers.
Simple to make, liniments have been made for hundreds of years to offer instant relief for pain, inflamed muscles, bruises, and sprains. Depending on which botanicals are included, liniments may benefit a variety of conditions including sore and inflamed muscles, joints, circulation problems, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, strains, and bruises. Adding a dab to insect bites (especially with the addition on menthol), really helps to reduce the itching and inflammation.
- organic Witch Hazel Extract, Vodka, Rubbing Alcohol, or Vinegar
- Fresh or dried herbs. Combine any of the following: Arnica, Calendula flowers, Cayenne, Chamomile flowers, Comfrey, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Lavender flowers, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, or Yarrow.
- Optional additions: organic Menthol crystals and/or essential oil(s) of choice.
Chop herbs finely and place in a clean glass jar. Cover thoroughly with menstruum of choice, and cap with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a warm area and shake daily or as often as possible. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth. If desired, add Menthol crystals (they will dissolve overnight) and/or essential oil(s). Pour the liniment into dark glass bottles. Make sure to label the liniment for “External Use Only”.
These are just a smidgeon of all of the wonderful summer recipes on our blog! Here are links to some of our other favorite recipes from our blog:
Posted by|03 July 2013
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the opportunity to share recipes with others. Making herbal medicine and natural products can be overwhelming at first, and I love showing people just how easy it can be!
Measuring in parts is a perfect example of how simple and forgiving herbal recipes are. Often referred to as the “simpler’s method”, the beauty of measuring in parts is that the formula can be easily scaled up or down, and you can use almost any utensil as a measuring device. In addition to measuring cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons, you can improvise with shot glasses, Mason jars, yogurt containers, your favorite tea mug… you get the idea! The most important thing is being consistent with your measurements and proportions.
The exception to this is when making low-dose formulas with potent and potentially dangerous herbs. However, for the most part, measuring in parts is perfect for formulating herbal remedies and concoctions.
Here are two examples of how different recipes can be measured in parts:
Refreshing Herbal Tea Blend
This tea blend is delightful for warm summer weather, especially when prepared as a sun or an iced tea. The Nettle leaf and Yerba Mate are naturally energizing, Lemon Verbena adds a subtle lemony flavor, and Peppermint and Chrysanthemum are cooling.
You can measure the formula in teaspoons to make a small batch for 1-2 cups of tea:
Or, make a large batch:
Gentle Face Wash Recipe
This gentle face wash recipe is so simple to make, and can be adjusted for different skin types. Add extra Castille or Witch Hazel extract for oily skin. Decrease the amount of Castille for dry and mature skin, plus add a small amount of vegetable glycerin or a carrier oil. Be sure to shake the face wash before using, as the ingredients will naturally separate.
• 2 parts organic Liquid Castille Soap
• 2 parts Hydrosol (Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Rose, or Rosemary are great options), or distilled water
• 1/2 part organic Witch Hazel Extract
• Optional additions: herbal extracts, essential oils, organic vegetable glycerin, or a carrier oil
Small batch with Tablespoons:
• 2 TBSP organic Liquid Castille Soap
• 2 TBSP Hydrosol (Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Rose, or Rosemary are great options), or distilled water
• 1/2 TBSP organic Witch Hazel Extract
• Optional additions: herbal extracts, essential oils, organic vegetable glycerin, or a carrier oil
Large batch using cups:
• 2 cups organic Liquid Castille Soap
• 2 cups Hydrosol (Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Rose, or Rosemary are great options), or distilled water
• 1 cup organic Witch Hazel Extract
• Optional additions: herbal extracts, essential oils, organic vegetable glycerin, or a carrier oil
Posted by|13 May 2013
This recipe is such a convenient preparation which either can be used alone or incorporated into cosmetic and medicinal recipes. And, it couldn’t be simpler to make!
Witch Hazel extract is produced from the leaves and bark of the North American shrub Witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana. It has astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anesthetic properties, making it an invaluable ingredient for many different medicinal and cosmetic preparations.
I especially love using herbal infused witch hazel as a facial toner, often incorporate it into facial wash recipes, and a small dab works great on blemishes. Beneficial for all skin types from oily to dry and mature skin, Witch Hazel is often used as an aftershave, to cleanse oils from the skin, remove make-up, decrease bags under eyes and skin puffiness, reduce pore size, and to minimize varicose veins. Medicinally, Witch Hazel extract is often applied as a compress or added to bath water to assist with minor injuries, skin irritations, insect bites, hemorrhoids, rashes from poison ivy or oak, localized inflammations, and other conditions. Athletes sometimes rub Witch Hazel extract onto their arms or legs prior to workouts to help prevent muscle strain, or after a workout to help relieve soreness.
What you’ll need:
• Witch Hazel extract
It’s best to use a high quality organic Witch Hazel extract. Commercial Witch Hazel extracts usually contain more alcohol than actual Witch Hazel, and have only been distilled once. However, true Witch Hazel extracts (like the one offered by Mountain Rose Herbs) has been double distilled, and contains 86% Witch Hazel extract and only 14% alcohol. This makes it more soothing than the versions found in stores, and it lacks the alcohol sting and scent.
• Herb(s) of choice
Here some favorites, but feel free to be creative! You can make infuse just one or can make a blend: Basil, Calendula, Chamomile, Elder flowers, Green Sencha Leaf tea, Lavender flowers, Lemon Balm, Lemon peel, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Nettle leaf, Orange Peel, Peppermint, Rose petals, Rosemary, Sage, Red Clover flowers, Vanilla beans.
1. Place the dried herbs in a glass mason jar, and cover completely with the Witch Hazel extract. Make sure that the Witch Hazel extract covers the herbs by at least 1-2” to account for swelling once that the herbs become hydrated. If the herbs swell and rise above the Witch Hazel extract, simply add more Witch Hazel extract until they are fully submerged.
2. Cap tightly and place in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or closet.
3. Allow to infuse for at least 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily or as often as you remember. You will notice that the Witch Hazel will quickly take on the scent and color of the herbs.
4. Once finished, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth or a fine cloth. Pour into a clean bottle, label, and enjoy!
The FDA has approved Witch Hazel distillate as safe for external use in skin care products. Avoid using Witch Hazel extract close to the mucus membranes or in the eyes, as it contains a small amount of alcohol. It is best to use on this product on unbroken skin. External use of Witch Hazel extract could result in minor skin irritation for some people. Do not use on serious burns, cuts, or other wounds.
Posted by|29 April 2013
Dandelion Flower Fritters
Spring is such a magical time! Plants which lay dormant throughout the winter become alive again with fresh and vigorous energy, actively emerging up through the earth, pushing out fresh new shoots, proudly displaying vibrant tender tips, and bursting into colorful blossoms.
Dandelion flowers are one of my favorite springtime herbals. Not only are fritters a perfect way to use Dandelions before they burst into seed, but their mild and slightly bitter flavor is dangerously addictive!
- Dandelion flower tops (Taraxacum officinale)
- 1 organic and free-range egg
- 1 cup organic milk
- 1 cup organic flour (Brown Rice flour can be used for a gluten-free alternative)
- Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Gather Dandelion tops during the day, when the sunshine has opened up the bright and cheerful flowers.
- Rinse in cool water to remove any critters or debris, and allow to dry while preparing the batter.
- To make the batter, combine egg, milk, and flour in a bowl and mix until all lumps are gone. If you prefer sweeter fritters, add a little maple syrup, honey, Cinnamon, or a dash of Vanilla extract. To make more savory fritters, try adding Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Chives, Sage, Thyme, Tarragon, ground Peppercorns, salt, or even a little parmesan cheese.
- Prepare a skillet on the stove with olive oil over medium heat.
- Take one of the flowers, hold it by the greens at the base, dip into the batter, and twirl until the flower is covered in batter.
- Drop it into the skillet, flower side down. Continue dipping and dropping until the skillet is full. A second method is to remove the “petals” (each yellow petal of the dandelion is actually an individual flower with a single petal and reproductive parts), sprinkle them directly into the batter, then cook just like pancakes.
- When the fritters are lightly browned, flip them over, and brown on the other side. When finished, remove from the pan and plate.
- For a sweet treat, drizzle with maple syrup, honey, jam, plum sauce, or powdered sugar. For a savory snack, dip into aioli or a sauce made with tahini, mustard, curry, hot chili peppers, or anything else you wish!
Posted by|09 April 2013
Spring is the classic time for deep-cleaning your home, but it is also a perfect time to cleanse and nurture the body. These herbals gently cleanse, nourish, and are perfect for providing energy and warmth after the cold, winter months and before the busy summer months begin.
These nourishing herbs provide essential vitamins and minerals, are so nourishing, taste delicious, and give a nice caffeine-free energy boost. Perfect as an afternoon “pick-me-up” or when the body feels run down or in need of nourishment.
Use one of the above herbs, or a combination. Simply place a handful of dried herbs in a glass quart jar, pour boiling water over them, cap the jar, and then let the mixture sit overnight. In the morning, strain the mixture, and then drink throughout the day. Yum!
The bitter taste of these roots stimulates the flow of saliva and digestion. Bitters are beneficial for poor and sluggish digestion, gas, bloating, and constipation, they help our bodies process nutrients, stimulate the metabolism, and increase appetite. Simply take a few drops before a meal to get the digestive juices going.
- 1 part organic Burdock root
- 1 part organic Dandelion root
- ¼-1/2 part organic Ginger root (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 100 proof vodka or other alcohol of choice, or use a 50:50 mixture of Everclear to water
Place all herbs into a glass mason jar, cover with alcohol. Make sure that the herbs are covered by at least 1-2” of alcohol. Add more alcohol as needed if the herbs swell above the alcohol. Place the jar in a dark area, and shake at least once per day (or as often as you remember). After 4-8 weeks, strain through cheesecloth, reserving the liquid and composting the spent herbs. Pour the bitters formula into glass bottles, and store in a dark, cool area. Review our Guide to Making Tinctures for more instructions specific to using dried or fresh roots in this recipe.
A twist on the classic lemon juice and cayenne “master cleanse” drink, this beverage incorporates Ginger and Turmeric. This spicy and healthful beverage is especially beneficial first thing in the morning to help cleanse and flush the body.
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- pinch of organic Cayenne powder
- pinch of fresh or dried powdered Ginger root
- a pinch of dried powdered Turmeric root
- Honey, maple syrup, or molasses (optional) to taste
Mix all ingredients into a cup of hot water, and enjoy!
Posted by|05 November 2012
I was first introduced to the magical ways of mead when Tobias Schock, a good friend and artisan of fermented delights, invited me to a brewing lesson. He showed me how to combine plums he had picked that very morning with raw local honey and yeast for what would slowly develop into a delicious alcoholic beverage. I was enchanted! Within weeks, happily fermenting concoctions were bubbling away in my kitchen: Peach and Ginger Mead made with luscious peaches purchased from a small local farm and raw local wildflower honey, Cyser from freshly pressed apple cider and raw local Maple blossom honey. Over the winter when fresh fruit was unavailable locally, I experimented with dried Bilberries, Elder flowers, Meadowsweet, and Vanilla beans.
It has now been several years since my first experiments in mead making, and I’ve since fermented many more batches of alcoholic delights with a variety of fresh and dried herbs including Nettle, Hibiscus flowers, Mugwort, Lemon Verbena, Yarrow, Roses, Sweet Woodruff, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Spruce tips, Pineapple Sage, and I even made a mead infused with eleven different types of flowers. Mead does take patience; it often requires at least a full year to age properly and it only becomes better with time. However, this only makes sharing a bottle of perfectly aged homemade mead with friends even more extraordinary.
Affectionately called “Nectar of the Gods” or “Honey Wine”, brewing mead is not a new practice. There is archaeological evidence of mead being produced as early as 7000 BC and written records date from 1700 BC! Although it was called by different names, fermented honey beverages were enjoyed worldwide by native cultures throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, North, and the Americas.
Not only is mead delicious and simple to create, it is also fairly inexpensive. A 5 gallon batch will usually cost $40-60 utilizing raw honey and organic fruit all purchased through local farms and beekeepers. That’s around $2 or less per bottle! If you keep bees, then you can make a batch of mead for little more than the cost of the yeast.
Below is a recipe for mead made from apple cider and honey, it was based on Ken Shramm’s recipe for “Fall’s Bounty Cyser” which is available in his book, “The Compleat Meadmaker”. Before beginning, I recommend getting acquainted with your local homebrew store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve popped into our local shop, Falling Sky Fermentation Supply Shop, for reassurance or to ask questions when a fermentation doesn’t go quite as expected. I also suggest the book “The Compleat Meadmaker” by Ken Shramm, and of course, there is much information available online including some wonderfully helpful homebrewing forums.
Spiced Apple Cyser
Cyser is the name given to mead made from cider and honey. The addition of spices makes this the perfect warming and comforting beverage to sip during the autumn and winter months. If you create this mead now, it will be perfectly aged to enjoy during next year’s holiday season! It can even be gently warmed to temperatures below 170 degrees and served with a Cinnamon stick or a couple of Cloves or Cardamom pods.
- 8 lbs raw local honey (I used raw Maple flower honey from a local beekeeper)
- 4 gallons freshly pressed apple cider (best when pressed from a variety of apples)
- 1 package yeast (there are a variety of liquid and dry yeasts available, make sure to use one that can withstand the high alcohol content of mead)
- 1 lb organic brown sugar
- ½ lb organic dates, chopped
- 2 tsp yeast energizer
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient
- Water to 5 gallons (if needed)
- Organic spices (optional): 1 Cinnamon stick, 1 tsp whole Allspice, 1 tsp whole Cardamom pods, 3 whole Cloves, 5 whole Black Peppercorns, 1 whole Nutmeg. This will make a heavily spiced mead which will taste similar to mulled cider. You can change the blend or omit the spices altogether.
- Equipment: Thermometer, plastic food-grade bucket, 5 or 6 gallon glass carboy, fermentation lock and rubber stopper, siphon house and racking cane, and sanitizer.
1. First, sanitize everything that will come in contact with your mead. You can use Star San, One Step Cleanser, or another sanitizer available from a homebrew shop.
2. Mix the cider, honey, brown sugar, and dates in a food-grade bucket, making sure to blend them thoroughly. Add water if needed to reach a total volume of 5 gallons. Some recipes call for boiling the honey, but this causes the honey to lose its natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties as well as some of the delicious flavor and aromatics. I prefer to leave the honey raw, but if you are concerned about sanitation, then heat the cider and honey mixture to a temperature of 150 degrees and hold it there for 10 minutes.
3. Add yeast energizer, yeast nutrient, and yeast to the honey and cider blend according to the directions on the packages. Mix vigorously to add oxygen and aerate the must. Yeast needs plenty of oxygen in order to reproduce and create a healthy fermentation.
5. For the primary fermentation, you can use the food-grade plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid or a glass carboy. With either vessel, you will need to attach an airlock and rubber stopper. Check your yeast strain to see what temperatures are preferred, but most mead is best fermented in an area that is 60 to 75 degrees. Now the magic will begin! Within 24-48 hours you should see activity coming from your airlock.
6. The bubbles will be vigorous in the beginning, decreasing in activity over the next couple of weeks. Once they have subsided to one bubble every 60 seconds or longer and you notice that the yeast has settled into a layer at the bottom of the bucket, it is time to transfer your mead. It is useful to taste the beverage and take a hydrometer reading at this point to ensure that the fermentation is complete. The mead should no longer taste sweet and the final gravity should be between 0.990 – 1.015.
7. Gravity is needed for this next step, so place the fermenting bucket/carboy on a chair or stool and allow the yeast to settle to the bottom again (I usually let it sit overnight). Using a siphon and racking cane, rack the liquid off of the yeast into a glass carboy with an airlock and rubber stopper. Store the filled carboy in a cool area such as a basement, which is the ideal place if you have one.
8. You can add spices anytime during the fermentation process, but I like to wait until the mead has mellowed a bit so that I can taste the spices in the mead. First, place the spices in a muslin bag and boil in a little water to sanitize. Next, allow the spice filled bag and remaining liquid to cool completely. Add the spiced liquid and suspend the bag of herbs in the mead. Spices can easily overwhelm other flavors in the mead, so taste your mead frequently after adding them. You can also add oak chips during the fermentation to infuse notes of vanilla, oak, and to help soften the mead’s overall flavor. Treat oak chips first by boiling in water and then allow them to sit for a few hours before adding.
9. Once the signs of fermentation have subsided and the mead has cleared and is no longer cloudy, it is ready to bottle! You may have to transfer the mead a couple of times before this happens to eliminate sediment at the bottom. Use clean and sanitized wine or beer bottles and new corks or caps (bottles may be reused, but do not reuse closures). 5 gallons of mead will fill approximately twenty-five 750ml wine bottles or fifty-three 12oz beer bottles.
Don’t worry if your mead tastes hot and alcoholic, those harsh flavors will subside with aging. Most important, remember to always sanitize anything that ever comes in contact with your mead to preserve and enjoy this special beverage.
Posted by|09 October 2012
I recently made these no-bake cookies for a camping and canoeing trip, and have been hooked ever since! I really love how healthful, simple, and pure the ingredients are, and just how adaptable the recipe is. You can completely customize it and add whichever nut butter, dried fruit, or other ingredients you have on hand. These delicious nuggets are a perfect snack whether adventuring in the outdoors, gardening, bicycling around town, or working in the office. They’ll satisfy your sweet cravings and children love them too. I enjoy crumbling a few over organic yogurt with fresh fruit in the morning or atop sliced peaches with a light drizzle of organic maple syrup or herbal infused honey for dessert.
- 1 cup organic old-fashioned Oats
- 2/3 cup organic Coconut flakes – either raw or toasted*
- ½ cup organic Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Peanut Butter, Filbert Butter, or other nut butter of choice (preferably raw)
- ½ cup organic Flax Meal or whole Flax seeds**
- 1/3 cup organic raw local Honey (substitute Agave Nectar for a vegan option)
- 1-2 TBSP organic Barberries
- 1 TBSP organic Cacao Nibs
- 1-2 TBSP organic Hemp Seeds
- 1-2 tsp organic Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp organic Vanilla Extract (make your own! See recipe from this link)
- Dash of organic Cinnamon powder
- Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until completely mixed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for approximately 30 minutes. Once chilled, scoop the batter out and press into balls. The size is up to you, mine were approximately an inch in diameter which made 16 cookies. If the dough is too crumbly to stick together, simply add a little extra honey or nut butter. If desired, the balls may be rolled in Coconut flakes or Cacao powder to coat them. Keep your herbal cookie nuggets stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for approximately one week.
Other additions: organic Maca powder, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Vanilla Bean powder, Lycii/Goji berries, Carob powder, Cacao powder, Astragalus root powder, Spirulina powder, Chlorella powder, Bee pollen, Red Alaea Salt, powdered Ginger root, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, cashews, or anything else you wish to add.
*Toasting Coconut: Toasting coconut enhances the flavor, and I’ve also found that it makes these no-bake cookies less oily. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread Coconut flakes in a thin layer on a baking sheet, and toast for approximately 5-10 minutes. Watch closely and stir frequently so the Coconut flakes are toasted evenly and do not burn. Remove from the oven as soon as they are golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and then incorporate into the recipe.
**Prepare whole Flax seeds by grinding in a coffee grinder, Vita-mix blender, or other grinder until coarsely powdered.
Posted by|04 October 2012
Posted by|19 September 2012
Simple to make, herbal liniments are a great element for any home medicine cabinet! They offer instant relief for pain, inflamed muscles, bruises, and sprains.
Depending on which botanicals are included, liniments can be used to disinfect cuts and wounds, and may benefit a variety of conditions including sore and inflamed muscles, joints, circulation problems, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, strains, and bruises.
Liniments may also be formulated to warm or cool. Warming herbs like Black Pepper, Cayenne, or Ginger can be added to stimulate blood circulation and assist with arthritis, pain, stiffness, and conditions aggravated by exertion or cold weather. Cooling herbs like Peppermint or Menthol crystals are useful for swelling, inflammation, and areas that are hot due to sprains, bruises, and other injuries.
Basic Herbal Liniment
This recipe provides the basic guidelines for making herbal liniments and is completely customizable.
• Rubbing Alcohol or other menstruum of choice. *See note below.
• Fresh or dried herbs. Popular choices are: Arnica, Black Pepper, Calendula, Cayenne, Chamomile, Comfrey, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Goldenseal, Lavender, Myrrh, Oregano, Oregon Grape root, Peppermint, Rosemary, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, and Yarrow.
1. Place herbs in a clean glass jar. If using fresh herbs, chop them first. Cover thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or other menstruum of choice, and cap with a tight-fitting lid. Place the jar in a warm area and shake daily or as often as possible.
2. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out using cheesecloth. If desired, add Menthol crystals (they will dissolve in alcohol) and/or essential oil(s). Pour the liniment into dark glass bottles. Make sure to label the liniment for “External Use Only”.
3. When properly stored in a cool dark place, the liniment will keep almost indefinitely. To use: gently rub onto skin and allow to evaporate. Be careful not to rub too hard or vigorously as this can cause irritation.
*Note: Rubbing alcohol is typically used to make liniments because it extracts the therapeutic herbal constituents, rapidly penetrates and evaporates from the skin, and is an all-purpose antiseptic and disinfectant. You could also use Vodka, Witch Hazel Extract, or Vinegar as a solvent. Basically, you’ll need a menstruum to extract the properties of the herbs which will absorb quickly and deeply to penetrate skin. If alcohol alone is too harsh or drying on your skin, try mixing it with Witch Hazel Extract or Vinegar until you find a medium that works for you.
Available in Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide, this very old and strong recipe was first published by the famous herbalist Dr. Jethro Kloss in his classic book Back to Eden in 1939. Kloss’s liniment is useful for reducing inflammation of the muscles, cleansing wounds, and soothing insect bites. Instead of Goldenseal, you can also substitute Chaparral or Oregon Grape Root. According to Rosemary Gladstar, who has been using this recipe for over 30 years, this is one of the finest disinfectant remedies available. In her own words: “Quite truthfully, you shouldn’t be without it.”
• 1 ounce Echinacea powder
• 1 ounce Myrrh powder
• ¼ ounce Cayenne powder
• 1 pint Rubbing Alcohol
1. Place the powder in a jar and cover with rubbing alcohol (a food-grade alcohol can be used, but rubbing alcohol seems to work best), leaving a good 2-inch margin above the herbs. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place the mixture in a warm location and let it sit for 4 weeks.
2. Strain and rebottle. Label the bottle clearly for “External Use Only”.
3. To use, apply directly on wounds or moisten a cotton ball with liniment and swab the infected area. Repeat as often as needed until the infection goes away.
For more information, watch our video on making herbal liniments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDVzYK96l4Y
Step by step recipe and instructions for making Kloss’s Liniment from LearningHerbs.com: http://www.learningherbs.com/news_issue_13.html