Monday, June 27, 2022

Black Currant Jam

One of the fruits in our perennial food yard is Black Currants.  All the berries are coming in all at once here, and it gets pretty intimidating. 

Fortunately, my friend Becky informed me that if you wait until they're all ripe, you can cut the branches that hold the currants, because they grow on new growth next year.  That way, I can cut the whole thing and harvest it all at once.  Comfortably, instead of doing what I call "Berry Yoga" which involves stretching and squatting in the hot, hot sun.
That gets one of the berries out of the way in one fell swoop.  The gooseberries, blueberries, and raspberries are all out there right this minute, giving me a guilt complex.

I decided to make jam with the currants this year.  I've got lots of cordials and tincture, and gave some away, but it was time to use them for food.  Next year will be hard candy.

I looked up a lot of different recipes, combined them all, and came up with this:

1 quart of currants (conveniently exactly what I had)
1.5 C water
3.5 C sugar
2 T lemon juice
~Heat the berries and water to a boil in a 3 quart saucepan.  Allow them to simmer for several minutes to get the currants soft and get the juices running. 
~Once they've softened, add the sugar and lemon juice, and stir well to be sure the sugar is dissolved.
~Continue heating at a good simmer until the mixture reaches 220 degrees.

Note:  A friend stopped by while I was in the final simmer stage, so mine simmered a good 20 minutes - longer than necessary - but it turned out great.


This makes 5.5 to 6 cups of jam.  I made a mistake and didn't have the right jars on hand.  That means I froze 4 small 1/2 cup containers.

I didn't process the jam because we'll be using it within a few months and it will keep well in the fridge.  If you want to, this has a high acid content, so it will do well in a water bath.

Now to make some scones. 
The currant jam is a delicious, distinctive, and somewhat strongly flavored spread.  I'm imagining the small portions in the freezer will be used for recipes (both sweet and savory) over the coming year.

Friday, June 24, 2022

how about some lavender syrup?

Isn't this an interesting color?
I had a request for some lavender syrup. It is made much like any of the others we've talked about here on the blog in the past. The herb is steeped for a period of time in hot water, strained, made into a simple syrup, and then a small amount of lemon juice added for flavor.
Lavender adds flavor but doesn't really impart much color.  I pondered and pondered, not really wanting to add anything artificial to the blend. Finally my eyes lit upon a handful of blueberries left from a pint I'd gotten at market. Adding about ONE berry for every 2 ounces of liquid, this is the smashing color that came of it. The lemon juice probably helped a lot. Oh - it tastes wonderful too!

2022:  Now I would add a couple butterfly pea flowers that would turn the liquid blue, changing into a nice purple when the lemon juice hit it.

People often ask me what you can use these syrups for. Some use them to make exotic cocktails. I don't drink much alcohol, so there are many other ways we use them here. They can be used as a sweetener any place that a little bit of an herb-y or floral flavor would be good.
Sweetening tea
Lightly drizzled over fruit and sprinkled with edible blossoms
Over ice cream
Belgian waffles and cream...
See? They are good everywhere!

Monday, June 20, 2022

July August 2022 Issue - The Essential Herbal



, Tina Sams

Crossword Puzzle
We made it all about the content in this issue!

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
I always think things seem boring around here, but it’s all about perspective.

Herbal Happy Hour, Alicia Allen
Several refreshing, herbalicious cocktails with delightful noshes to go along with them.

Harvesting Your Herbs, Kathy Musser
Learn how to trim back and harvest without injuring your plants.

The Versatility of Yarrow, Kristine Brown RH(AGH)
Beloved Yarrow, a favorite of many herbalists, is profiled here. 

Book Review - The Intimate Herbal
New, unique, and full of good information!

Lavender Sachets, Marci Tsohonis
Several really cool ways to create sachets – pattern included for the patchwork.

Tincturing with Glycerin, Susanna Reppert Brill
We often talk about alcohol tinctures, but there’s another great way to create tinctures for those who prefer not to use alcohol.

Training Table Pasta, Marci Tsohonis
Garlic, olives, feta, sun-dried tomatoes… sign me up!

Cooling Beverages from Summer’s Bounty, Marcy Lautanen Raleigh
“Summer Weed Tea” anyone?  One of several ideas offered for brewing.

Herb Salt Blends for Health & Wellness, Jessicka Nebesni
Cut back on sodium while adding flavor and healthful ingredients.

Botanical Summertime Skin Care, Kristine Clay
Some super-helpful skin care ingredients that you might want to incorporate into your creations.  

Arnica Salve, Marci Tsohonis 
Arnica is one of those salves we really need to have around the house for aches, pains, and sprains.

Botanical Printing on Paper, Tina Sams
Printmaking 101, a very simple explanation of several methods to get a nice print from plants.

Meet Our Contributors
Our wonderful, generous writers.


Monday, June 13, 2022

Extra! Have you heard?

 When we went digital, we added an "in between" treat, to send out to subscribers only during the months we don't send a magazine.  Let me show you...
After the first year or so, we decided to make covers like the others.

We have had occasional videos.
There's almost always a puzzle.
We try to have at least 3 items unless we do one big thing - like a class.
Usually one medicinal, one culinary, and one craft.
It's a nice little EXTRA! perk! 

But only subscribers get the Extras.  Don't miss out.

Subscribe today!