Archive for the ‘Canning’ Category

016The leaves have changed. 

My land is covered in a veil of fallen leaves, remnants of summers prime.  We are entering the darker time, the static withdrawal, the pause before the re-fruiting.  This is the transition time.  The apple trees still have a few ripe fruit clinging to their branches even though the leaves have turned yellow and orange.  Random hawthorn trees are yet covered in bunches of blood red haws.  And in the underbrush, rosehips hang from leafless  bushes like so many cherries.


Crataegus phaenopyrum- Washington Hawthorn


Rosa nootka - Nootka Rose

These last remaining fruit beg to be used.  Harvest and dry them.  Mix into tea blends and savor on the cold mornings to come.  Cover them with brandy to flavor and add medicine, mix the infused spirit with hot water and honey and enjoy on fire warmed nights.  Or simmer into sweet preserves that can be enjoyed on the winter days ahead.

Here is my recipe for a fruit butter using this trifecta of fall. Begin with apples and add rosehips, hawthorn berries and a touch of cinnamon, the result is a heart healthy preserve that tastes vaguely of citrus.  Enjoy it through the winter.

022Rosehip, Hawthorn, Apple Butter

4 lbs Apples

2 cups Rosehips- seeds removed

1 1/2 cup Hawthorn Berries

1 cup Cider Vinegar

2 cups Water

2 cups Sugar

Juice of one lemon and rind

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut apples into pieces leaving seeds and skin.  Add all fruit to a large pot along with cider and water, bring to a boil and simmer for twenty minutes or until all  the fruit is soft.  Put all the fruit through a food mill and discard the skins and seeds.  Return to pot and add remaining ingredients.  Simmer on low heat stirring often until the mixture has significantly thickened.  You can tell when it ready because a spoonful put onto a room temperature plate will thicken and gel.  No pectin is needed as these fruit all have large amounts of pectin.  Pour into half pint jars and can in a water bath for ten minutes.019

Brief Notes On The Heart Healing Properties Of  Each Fruit

Hawthorn- Among other things, the berries or Haws of the the hawthorn tree have been used for centuries as a medicine for the heart and cardiovascular system.   It prevents heart disease, strengthens the  cardiac muscles and promotes circulation.

Rose Hips- Are higher in vitamin C than citrus fruit, however the vitamin C is said to be destroyed with heat, so do not hope to get your daily dose of C from the above preparation. However, rosehips are known to be a beneficial tonic for the heart and other organ systems.

Apples-  Apples are a natural source of iron.  Ingesting apples or fresh apple juice daily has been effective in blood building and treatment of anemia.

Cinnamon- Cinnamon  prevents clotting of the blood.  It therefore acts essentially as a blood thinner, reducing the effects of hardened arteries and decreasing blood pressure.


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Fall Preserves

Fall Preserves

It was sunny in the grove of cedars that surrounds Ellen’s magical home as we arrived last Friday.  We came bearing baskets full of peaches, plums and pears, dried figs, cherries and rose hips, jars of Oregon grape juice, bundles of sage and rosemary and handfuls of ripe salal berries.  This months gathering was to be about canning.  I brought my supplies to provide a basic overview but expected a lot of experimentation and was excited to see what amazing creations would come from the day.


Ellen, who eats only raw food, created  both delicious and interesting  “preserves.”  She used a few different raw food tricks that I’m sure she would be better explaining than me but included in the list was a peach and salal berry sorbet and an Oregon grape, pear and lemon zest leather made in the dehydrator.  She then experimented using Irish moss seaweed as a thickener to make a jam out of Oregon Grapes, Pears and a touch of lime.  But the most amazing preserves she made came at the end of the day when she paired garden sage with peaches and made  a sauce simply by blending the two items together and another puree of peaches in which she added rosehips and vanilla to the mix.  The combination of the sage and peaches was more than delicious.   Please try it!

Mira arrived with mounds of peaches she had gathered from a neighbor’s tree and began blanching, peeling and quartering them.  She filled several quart jars with the peaches and covered them in a simple syrup made with agave, these were to be canned and eaten as is.  She then began simmering some peaches and rosehips on the stovetop before she had to go.  I finished off the jam by adding agave to sweeten, a touch of cinnamon and a bit of the sage at Ellen’s suggestion and finished the jam in jars.   I think that it was definitely one of the better cooked jams ever made.

Megan created a masterpeice with the jam she made by adding dried figs and  fresh apples to a pot and simmered them until they were a uniform consistency. She then added rosemary and lemon juice and poured a lovely glistening earth colored preserve into her jars.  She also blended salal berries that she picked directly off the bush in Ellen’s yard, with Oregon grape juice, blueberries and cherries to make into a fruit leather.  The resulting mix of berries was heavenly.

I arrived with two baskets of red plums and asian pears from the trees on my land and a bundle of sage from my garden.  I first made a simple preserve by blending some of the pears and plums together and cooked them down.  I then made a jam that included only the plums as well as sage from my garden and a 1/4 tsp or so of cinnamon.   I haven’t tasted them yet as I came home with a jar of the peach , rosehip and sage jam and that was what I eagerly opened to  serve with breakfast on Saturday morning.

After so much time in the kitchen I watched as Megan and Ellen made some moxa out of mugwort they had gathered and dried.  Megan lit some and calmness overcame the room, outside the weather began to change and clouds rolled in.  We talked of dreams, plants, burning man, relationships and Saturn’s return. 

August has ended and though the summer is not over it reminds me that it is on it way out and the seasons of drawing within are upon us.  Though this meeting we did not harvest any herbs we indulged in the abundance of the pacific northwest.  Blessed with wild fruits and cultivated fruits that grow with ease in our yards and feral on the roadsides ,we harvested the abundance from summer and brought it within and preserved them to be used throughout the darker months.  I am grateful with for the time of communion in a kitchen with beautiful women celebrating the summer and welcoming the fall.

Ellen’s Creations

Peach and Sage Sauce – Peach, Sage, Rosehip and Vanilla Puree – Peach and Salal Berry Sorbet – Oregon Grape, Pear and Lemon Zest Leather – Oregon Grape, Pear and Lime Jelly

Mira’s Creations

Peaches in Agave Nectar – Peach and Rosehip Jam

Megan’s Creations

Fig, Apple and Rosemary Preserves – Salal Berry, Oregon Grape, Blueberry and Cherry Leather

Kate’s Creations

Asian Pear and Red Plum Jam – Red Plum, Garden Sage and Cinnamon Preserves

Joint Creation

Peach, Rosehip, Sage and Cinnamon Jam


Next month: Hawthorn, devil’s club and other things to be decided.

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