Posted by|11 August 2014
My childhood memories of the hot month of August are wrapped in the smells of vinegar and pickling spices. My mother and grandmothers would “put up” their own versions of jams, jellies, and all sorts of pickled delights. While it doesn’t seem to be as much the custom any more, every party, buffet, and holiday meal table held a relish dish of homemade pickled vegetables. Perhaps this is why pickled is still one of my favorite ways to eat vegetables like cauliflower and beets.
I carry on the tradition in my own way. I don’t put up nearly the quantity they did (my mother was known for her manic canning of more than a hundred quarts of home-grown green beans every summer), but I do have my specialties. I’m a bit more experimental with the pickling herbs and spices and tend to like things spicier now than I would have liked as a 10 year-old!
I normally make this from whatever vegetables happen to be overflowing in the garden and the measurements can be subject to some flexibility. I think it’s the spices that make for the relative consistency in the relish from year to year.
2-3 cups chopped zucchini or summer squash
1 cup chopped cucumber or 1 cup chopped cabbage (green or red) or a combination
1 cup chopped onion (yellow, red, or white)
1-2 cups chopped sweet pepper (green, red, yellow, or a combination)
2 cups organic sugar or 1 ½ cups honey
3 Tablespoons Himalayan Pink or Red Alea salt
1 – 1 ½ cups organic apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoons organic Celery seed
2 teaspoons organic Brown Mustard seed
1 teaspoon organic whole Allspice
1 teaspoon organic whole Cloves
1 Tablespoon organic Garlic granules or 1 whole bulb fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
Optional: 1 teaspoon organic ground Turmeric
Chop all the vegetables and combine well. Sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water. Let stand for about 2 hours and then drain. I rinse lightly but don’t try to remove all the salty juiciness. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar or honey, vinegar, and all the spices. Bring to a boil and then add the drained vegetables. Stir, turn heat down to medium high, and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Pack the hot relish into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving about ½ inch of head space at the top of the bottle. I run a knife through to release any air bubbles. Put lids and rings on and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Depending on how you adjust the vegetables, this will make 4-5 pints of relish. Allow to age for 6+ weeks.
Wash well 12 cups of beets. You do not need to peel them if you have tender, young beets, but if the skins are particularly tough or the beets are older, you do. If not peeling, you can slice, dice, or cut into rounds before cooking. Cover over with water and cook until slightly tender. Drain. If peeling, peel whole beets now and then slice, dice, or cut into rounds. Remember to remove the root and stem ends. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine:
2 cups organic sugar
2-3 sticks organic Cinnamon
1-2 Tablespoons organic whole Allspice
1-2 teaspoons Coarse Sea salt
1 teaspoon organic whole Peppercorns
1 teaspoon organic whole Cloves
3 ½ cups organic white or apple cider vinegar
1 ½ – 2 cups water
Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pack the beets into hot, sterilized jars and cover with pickling brine, leaving about ½ inch of room at the top of the jar. Use a knife to remove air bubbles. Put lids and rings on and process about 30 minutes in a hot water bath. This makes about 3-4 quarts or 6-8 pints of pickled beets. Allow to age 6+ weeks before eating.
2 large heads of cauliflower
1 ½ cups chopped or sliced onion (white, red or yellow)
¼ cup Coarse Sea salt, Red Alea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
1-2 cups organic sugar
2 Tablespoons organic Brown or Yellow Mustard Seed
1 Tablespoon organic Celery Seed
1 teaspoon organic Caraway Seed
1-3 dried organic whole Chilies or 1 Tablespoon organic dried Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon organic Garlic, minced
4 cups organic vinegar (apple cider, red wine or white)
Break cauliflower into little flowerettes and wash well. Combine the cauliflower, onion, and salt well. Cover with a combination of ice and water and let stand for 2-3 hours. Drain and lightly rinse. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to boil. Add the vegetables to the brine and bring back to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so before packing into hot, sterilized jars. Leave about ½ inch of room at the top of the jar. Put on lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to age for 6+ weeks before eating.
Dill Pickled Green Beans
I don’t have the patience or dedication to pressure can green beans like my mother did. Any extras from the heirloom varieties we grow in our garden either get blanched and frozen, or made into scrumptious pickled spears. These are wonderful for munching, adding to a salad, or as a delicious garnish for a Bloody Mary.
2 pounds or so of fresh green beans with the ends removed (but left whole).
1/3 cup Kiawe Smoked Sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
2 ½ cups organic vinegar (white or apple cider)
2 ½ cups water
4 cloves fresh organic garlic, peeled, but left whole or 4 teaspoons organic Garlic granules
4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons organic Dill Seed
1 teaspoon organic Chili Flakes
Wash trimmed green beans and drain. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. In each hot, sterilized pint jar, put one clove of garlic, 1 fresh dill head and a pinch of Chili Flakes or 1 teaspoon Garlic granules, 1 teaspoon Dill seed, and a pinch of Chili Flakes. Arrange the beans lengthwise in the jar (it’s fine if you just pack them in there too) and cover with the vinegar liquid. Leave about ½ inch room at the top of the jar. Put lids and rings on and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes. This makes approximately 4 pints. Allow 6+ weeks aging before eating.
Spicy Fruit Chutney
Like my relish recipe, I tend to adapt this to whatever extra fruits I have on hand. I do try to make it at least once every summer as it’s wonderful to have on hand for special holiday meals or to drizzle over cream cheese and crackers for a quick and easy appetizer.
4 quarts (14-16 cups) peeled, pitted, and chopped fruit such as pears, apples, plums, peaches, nectarines, etc. You can use all one type of fruit, or a combination.
1 cup organic raisins or dried cranberries, optional
2-3 cups organic brown sugar
1 cup chopped onion (white, yellow, red)
2 Tablespoons organic Brown or Yellow Mustard Seed
2 Tablespoons organic ground Ginger powder
1 Tablespoon organic Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
1 Tablespoon organic Garlic granules
1 Tablespoon organic Chili Flakes or 1 fresh hot chili pepper, chopped (seeds included—use latex gloves for cutting fresh chilies!)
3-4 cups organic apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients together in a large stock pot or sauce pan. Simmer on medium high heat until thick and well-combined. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars (I like to use a one cup, handled, glass Pyrex measuring cup for ladling into jars). Leave about ½ inch of head space and use a knife stirred through to remove any air bubbles. Put on lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath about 10 minutes. Makes about 7 pints of chutney.
Easy Dill Pickles
6 pounds of small to medium pickling cucumbers – sliced into spears or rounds (approximately 20 cucumbers)
4 cups organic vinegar, white or apple cider
4 cups water
4 Tablespoons organic Pickling Spice
2 Tablespoons organic Garlic, minced or fresh garlic cloves, peeled
4 Tablespoons organic Sea Salt
Fresh heads of dill or 3 Tablespoons organic Dill seed
In a large pan or pot, bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the Pickling Spice, Garlic, and Dill seed together in a bowl, if using the dried herbs. In each hot, sterilized jar, spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixed spices. If using fresh dill and garlic, put 1 clove of garlic and one dill head in each clean jar and add 1/2- 1 teaspoon Pickling Spice. Pack the cucumbers tightly into the jars and cover over with the hot vinegar liquid. Leave about 1/2 inch of head space. Put the lids and rings on and process in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes. Makes 8-10 pint jars of pickles.
Posted by|10 August 2014
Who says tea can’t be dramatic? Flowering teas are one of life’s sweet, sensual pleasures – the sight, the scent, and the gently floral taste all make for a wonderful experience. I admit, sometimes it’s about showing off a little and creating a tea ceremony that sings special! Because these “tea flowers” are meant for a whole pot, they can have a subtle, mellow flavor. If you like your tea a little more potent, like I do, feel free to add some additional flavors. I like to infuse another herb or herbs first, and then use the strained infusion as the tea bath for the blooming flower. Since our flowering teas are a combination of green tea leaves and organic flowers, some great herbal additions include:
For one pot of tea, heat 3-4 cups of water to boiling. Add 3-5 Tablespoons of chosen herb (or combination) in an infuser, tea bag, or ball and steep for 2-3 minutes. I use more herb and go for a quick steep so that the water will still be hot for pouring over the Flowering Tea. Place tea flower in a clear glass tea pot or glass pitcher. Quickly strain infusion and pour over flower, allowing to steep until the flower opens. Enjoy!
Posted by|08 August 2014
This little jar of cradle cap salve is one of the newest formulas from our friends at Wild Carrot Herbals. It contains wild pansy (violet leaf) for its saponins and mucilaginous properties, combined with the calming and soothing properties of calendula and chamomile flowers. Violet is also the color for the crown chakra, making this salve the perfect combination for your little one’s scalp.
Wild Carrot has adopted the American Pika as the face of their Baby Carrot line. They are donating a portion of the proceeds from their entire line of Baby Carrot products to help conserve and maintain the natural habitat of this smallest member of the rabbit family.
Posted by|07 August 2014
We’re packing up and heading to Portland for the 31st annual Bite of Oregon this weekend!
Visit our booth to try beautiful artisan salts and organic gourmet peppercorns. We’ll also be brewing up tea samples of organic Hibiscus High and Mint Chocolate Mate. Tickets are only $5 for the day or $15 for the whole event. Sweet deal!
Hope to see you there!
Posted by|05 August 2014
Our summer post from Kiva Rose Hardin is here! Her beautifully written articles marry the personal with the scientific, lore with experience, offering untamed and fresh insight. Herbalist, wildcrafter, artist, and storyteller, Kiva Rose lives in a canyon botanical sanctuary within the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. She is also the co-director of the HerbFolk Gathering, held each September in the mountain Southwest, coeditor of Plant Healer Magazine, and publisher of the historical novel, The Medicine Bear as well as The Plant Healer’s Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin, and maintains an herbal blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots.
When someone mentions Peach, it’s usually the sweet, juicy fruit of Georgia that comes to mind, not the medicinal properties of the leaf, bark, and flower. Despite that, Peach has a long and storied history of medicinal use the world over, including through portions of the United States. In North America, Appalachian herbalist Phyllis Light has helped to bring this wonderful remedy back to the broader herbal community through her teaching and writing. I grew up in the deep South and knew a little of its medicine as a young girl since it’s a traditional herb there, but learned a great deal more from Phyllis when I became a practicing herbalist.
Being a member of the Rose family, Peach shares many cooling, soothing properties with the Rose, including its gentle nature and sweetly aromatic taste. It’s safe even for children, the elderly, and pregnant women, and is incredibly good at what it does. Here I’ll be discussing the elixir in some details, but a wonderful tasting tea can be made with the dried leaves as well. If you have more than one Peach tree to choose from, it’s worthwhile to do a scratch and sniff test by gently scratching the bark of a small twig and sniffing. The tree that smells the strongest also tends to have the strongest medicine as far as relaxing and cooling properties
Peach is the perfect herb to explore during the long, hot days of Summer. It helps to soothe the irritability that often comes with extended periods of heat, as well as lessen the nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, and lack of appetite that can go with it. Here in New Mexico where summers can be exceedingly hot and dry, some people develop a dry, hack in response to the climate and I have found that the Peach Elixir works very well to soothe it. It works similarly on respiratory function aggravated by heat, and I always keep it on hand for my daughter who finds both it and our local Chokecherry, Prunus serotina, in easing her breathing issues during the hot months. The local Hispanics of my region think of Peach leaf as an overall summer tonic, and given how many heat induced ills it can alleviate, I’m inclined to agree with them.
Peach has another property worth noting, it can be applied topically as tincture, elixir, or poultice and taken internally when stung by a bee, wasp, or other venomous insect. Take half to one ml (that’s approximately half to one dropperful from a one ounce tincture bottle) of the elixir as soon as you’re stung or bitten and then again if the sting/bite gets worse or in fifteen minutes if there are any symptoms. This is not a replacement for an epi pen, but is great for the average person with a normal response to insect stings and bites. Some even find the action strong enough to help with reactions to seasonal pollen or pets as well. It doesn’t always work, but it’s certainly worth a try.
Sweet Peach Leaf Elixir
Ingredients & Tools
For your elixir, it’s helpful to have on hand:
A glass pint jar that seals well
Fresh Peach leaves and/or flowers and twigs (the more aromatic the better, and either feral or domestic varieties will work)
About a pint of high quality brandy (the better the brandy, the better your elixir will taste)
1/3 pint of raw honey (preferably local, and of a lighter wildflower type since darker honeys can muffle the Peach taste a bit)
A good stirring spoon
Step by Step Instructions
First, fill your jar all the way to the top with Peach leaves or flowers/twigs. You don’t have to pack them in, but push them down a bit to minimize the air space in the jar.
Now, pour the honey in slowly, stirring as necessary, until the plant matter is well coated.
Next, fill to the top with brandy, again stirring as necessary to remove air bubbles and fill the jar evenly.
Now cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake carefully to finish the mixing process.
Let macerate in a cool, dark place for four to six weeks or as long as you can stand to wait.
When straining, reserve liquid.
Bottle and store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight until needed.
Organic rose petals compliment the medicine of Peach and they taste amazing together!
Cinnamon warms and spices up Peach, making it more appropriate year round.
Apple bark combines well with Peach specifically for gastric upset accompanied by heartburn.
Chamomile flowers amplify the digestion soothing properties of Peach, and they taste lovely together.
Chokecherry, Prunus serotina works very well with Peach.
Ideas for Application
Internally for soothing irritability and occasional sleeplessness when the weather is hot or the tongue is bright red and the person feels overheated.
Internally for nausea, and vomiting from sun exposure, being overheated, and in any case where the tongue is red and the person feels excessively hot.
Internally for gut upset, including nausea and diarrhea, with signs of heat and tension.
Internally for occasional tension and irritability aggravated by the heat or resulting in feelings of overheatedness.
Internally for some types of gastric irritation.
Topically and internally for insect stings and bites.
I’ll have another article specifically on medicinal uses of Peach, including case studies, in the August issue of the free Plant Healer Newsletter that you can sign up for at http://planthealer.org.
Peach medicine can be hard to find, but is available online in elixir form from King’s Road Apothecary and my own shop, The Bramble & The Rose, and will also be sold at the Healer’s Market at this September’s HerbFolk Gathering conference near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Posted by|03 August 2014
While the older I get, the deeper my sense of contentment and peace, I also know that for all the happy, joyful days, there are also days of grief and heartache. Life hands us loss: break-ups, estrangements, and the dying of those we love. We struggle to make sense of things and reconfigure our lives after overwhelming change. We find ways to cope.
I have my favorite herbs for times of grief and sadness. Lingering over a cup or two of this soothing tea while letting my mind quiet and my heart heal is as cherished a part of the human experience as joyful celebrations…
Sad Day Tea
1 teaspoon organic Damiana leaf
1 teaspoon organic dried Rosehips
1/2 – 1 teaspoon organic Hawthorn Berries
Some days are diamonds, some days are stones
Sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone
Sometimes a cold wind blows a chill in my bones
Some days are diamonds, some days are stones
Check out our blog post on Herbs for Heartbreak for more healing choices.
Posted by|01 August 2014
We are excited to announce our first recipe in a series of summer sales!
Making your own mustard at home is so much fun and really inexpensive! Mustard is the perfect condiment for parties around the grill, cold salads, picnic sandwiches, and snack dips. It also makes a lovely gift for just about anyone in your world. Plus, it’s super easy to whip up and customize.
Posted by|31 July 2014
Six of our staff members made their way to a butterfly meadow in the Whilamut Natural Area (formerly part of Alton Baker Park) yesterday. We partnered with the Walama Restoration Project to work around some large sections of weed block tarps. For six hours we dug up invasive plants and re-staked. Pictured above is one of our Lab Technicians, Snake, getting ready to tackle some blackberry roots!
Look forward to a detailed blog post from Alyssa about this project in the very near future…
Posted by|30 July 2014
Danica Swenson is Oregon Wild’s summer Wildlife Intern. She’s also a student at Lewis and Clark Law School, studying Animal and Environmental law. When she’s not reading for school or work, she’s out adventuring or volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation center. She was exposed to the issues surrounding endangered species at an early age from growing up in Hawaii, which has one of the highest amounts of endangered native species listed federally. She’s passionate about educating others on animal and environmental issues, which is reflected in her work.
This June, Oregon Wild hosted its 5th Annual Wolf Rendezvous sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs! As Oregon Wild’s Wildlife Intern, I was lucky enough to tag along and help out. In light of recent news of OR-7 pups and a new pack on Mt. Emily, there was a lot of wolf buzz surrounding our trip. The purpose of this yearly trip is to educate the public on wolf recovery in Oregon, the positive impacts wolves can have on an ecosystem, and the big challenges wolves face in communities driven by ranching.
We started the weekend with a short hike led by Wally Sykes and a presentation by Jim Akenson, recent Executive Director of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, about the natural history of wolves and other predators. This gave the group a solid foundation of wolf knowledge that we built on later that night around the campfire with a more in-depth discussion of wolves. The hike with Wally only hinted at the beautiful landscapes we would see in the next few days.
Jim Akenson spent many years living in remote wilderness in Idaho studying native carnivores, so he was a treasure trove of information. He also brought a box full of amazing predator skulls and bones, which we all ogled at and guessed who was who!
First stop the next day was to meet with Russ Morgan, the Wolf Program Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He discussed the biology surrounding wolf recovery, the complications he sees first hand in the ranching community, and put his hand in a wolf trap as a demonstration. A huge issue in wolf recovery is predation on livestock and the most fascinating piece of information I learned is how he tells the difference between an animal killed by a bear, cougar, or wolf. (That’s important for ODFW to do because ranchers are compensated for predation by wolves!) His job is most likely one of the most difficult at ODFW, balancing the need for wolf conservation and the ranching communities’ interests.
After meeting with Russ Morgan, we went on a hike near wolf territory. No wolf sightings then, but we found a couple wolf tracks and scat! I had no idea how huge wolf tracks are. I grew up with a husky/malamute mix so I thought I knew what big paw prints look like, but these are giant! With Wally leading the way, we were careful to steer clear of where the wolves have denned in recent years. We were dismayed to see a large herd of cattle roaming through these public lands, not far from where wolves have been documented. It seemed odd to me that a rancher (who most likely had knowledge of the wolves’ prior habitat area) would place his free range herd so close to where wolves with potential pups could be living.
On Saturday, we had more to think about in the form of two different perspectives on the landscapes there. First we had an excursion into the Zumwalt prairie with Ralph Anderson, who worked for the Forest Service for many years. He showed us locations that the Nez Perce, the local Native American tribe, used to use for food scavenging. They would tap Ponderosa Pines for its pitch, which was used for medicinal purposes. We even tasted some of the wild onion and edible flowers that grow there!
Perhaps one of the highlights of the trip was the sighting of a potential wolf!! We were driving through the Zumwalt praire when we saw a herd of elk coming over a hill, running at full speed. We stopped the van and watched them jump over fences, cross the road, and head up the opposite hills. We weren’t sure what was chasing it until one of the attendees spotted some kind of canid. This big dog was just tracking the herd, not actively chasing it. Right now our group is split on whether it was a wolf or coyote, with the majority going for wolf. Based on the dog’s behaviors and it’s physical appearance (rounded ears, boxy face, dark fur, etc.) I’m going with wolf. Coyotes tend to be smaller with lighter fur and long, pointy noses. What do you think??
Later that day the group met with a rancher who has personally experienced livestock losses from wolf predation. Hearing this perspective of the wolf discussion was crucial to ensuring our participants understand the entire issue. It wouldn’t be fair if we held an entire weekend dedicated to wolves without hearing anything from the other side. While many of us disagreed with the rancher on multiple points, we were all very impressed with how much this rancher cares about his cows and their livelihood. It also deepened our understanding of what these ranchers deal with when it comes to wolves returning to their native landscape. It seemed that to most of the attendees, this was one of the most important narratives that we heard. Some felt that we didn’t ask hard enough questions, but I think it’s better that we start the dialogue slow. It’s crucial to have open lines of communication between the conservation side and the ranchers’ side, so it’s best to be respectful in these beginning stages of cooperation and exchanges.
I was so impressed with the insight and thoughtfulness that our attendees brought. Everyone came from different backgrounds and levels of wolf knowledge, but we all came together and had some great, thought provoking conversations about the dilemmas surrounding wolf recovery in Oregon. Almost all of the attendees voiced some kind of concern regarding the potential de-listing of wolves from the Endangered Species Act, which is a possibility in 2015 — a sentiment that Oregon Wild shares as well.
I would venture to say that the 2014 Wolf Rendezvous was a success. We heard voices from almost every perspective of the wolf recovery issue, saw a potential wolf, found tracks, and enjoyed the company of other wildlife advocates in one of the most beautiful spots in Oregon. I learned so much and I’m excited to share this experience with all of you through this post and my photos!
Please contact Oregon Wild if you have questions about the Rendezvous!
Posted by|28 July 2014
White Sage has been used for centuries as incense and in smudge pots for ceremonial use. This flowering perennial is native to the Southwest United States. Its tall woody stems and tiny white flowers love dry, arid slopes with lots of sun, and flourish in the rocky heights of the southwestern canyons.
These smaller bundles are the perfect size for home use and smaller ceremonies. They are approximately 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick at the burning end. They are bundled with the stems together, providing a handle for easy use, and come in a 4 pack.
We’re so excited to offer these convenient bundles!
Posted by|27 July 2014
While I love my morning cup of coffee, there are times when I really want to shake it up. Whether I’m craving something a bit less stimulating, or yearning for some different flavor combinations, green teas can be a wonderful choice. One of my favorites is our Jasmine Green Tea. It is relatively mild and reminds me a bit of the tea I drink at Lotus Garden, a vegan Chinese restaurant here in Eugene. For extra zip, I like to balance the floral flavors with a little fruity orange peel and spicy ginger…
Ginger Jasmine Green Tea
2 Tablespoons organic Jasmine Green Tea
1 teaspoon organic Orange Peel, dried
1 teaspoon organic Ginger Root, dried
Combine the tea with the orange and ginger in a nest strainer or infuser. Pour boiling water over and let steep for 3-4 minutes. This recipe makes enough for one cup of tea, but feel free to adjust for a pot or more. This is also good with dried lemon peel, a little honey for sweetness, or leave out the extra ingredients all together and just try the Jasmine Green Tea for an invigorating cup of tea!
Posted by|24 July 2014
We were filled with joy to support the annual Women’s Healing Conference. This year, we donated herbal goodies to the Pampering Oasis where attendees enjoyed showers of floral goodness with our organic hydrosols. The Women’s Healing Conference is a three day herb retreat held in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, combining celebration and healing!