Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spam, wind and rosehips . . .

Well, this was not what I intended to write about this morning, but here goes: I have been spammed--by some bot--with comment spam on every post I have I ever written! So, though it is a pain, I have instituted a "comment verification" requirement. You know, those annoying distorted letters and numbers that you have to try several times to get right. I apologize profusely for this, but I needed to do it for my sanity. It is taking me hours to remove the spam manually, and if there's a faster way, I don't know it. I toyed with disallowing anonymous comments, but I have had a history of positive comments from people who are not yet signed up in some way that Blogger recognizes and I don't want to shut these people out. If the experienced bloggers among you have any suggestions, I will most gratefully check them out.

On a more positive note, as it moves into winter we are learning how snug and lovely our little floating cabin is. Of course, we have taken some measures to make it thus, from the warm and inviting furnishings and colors, to the new heaters, canvas and other weatherizing tricks that keep us literally warm. Fighting condensation is an ongoing battle, but we are learning and putting cures into place, albeit slowly. I do know that the worst is yet to come, but we have had temperatures in the low 30's, pouring rain, and--as of the other night night--gusts of wind up to 62mph (depending on where--that was at the marina. Power is still out in areas of the county . . .) There will be snow, more rain, slightly colder temps, but I think we are finding that we will be able to weather it all pretty well. Check back with me on all of this in March!

And the nicest experience of the last few days day: I found a bounty of rose hips! I have been noting places with hips (or haws, as some call them) all summer long, tasting as I went along. I think that it must have been amusing to watch me learn, because it has taken me these many months to find out when they are perfectly ripe. Various online sources told me to wait till they were black, or till they were kissed by frost, or when they were a certain color . . .but yesterday I just knew the ones I found were ripe by looking at them. They had a certain milky look, verging on translucency, and they squished between my fingers if I pulled too hard. My fingers got numb from the cold, which was a good thing as there were abundant thorns. Nevertheless, I happily picked about a quart. I will go back when there have been more frosts, as the hips most exposed to the sun were not ready yet.

Rose hips are a wonderful fall and winter food to forage--high in vitamin C and full of tart-sweet flavor, they are a perfect balance to the dense and rich foods we have started to eat as fortification against the nippy and damp weather. They help keep our immune systems in top form as we go into cold and flu season. And they are just lovely to look at.

This afternoon I processed the hips into an uncooked jam sweetened with honey. I used a recipe in Keeping Food Fresh as a jumping off point, tweaking it for my tastes. I ended up using half the honey and adding flavor several ways. To a pint of the strained pulp, I added one cup of honey, a few tablespoons of bourbon, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a few drops of organic lemon flavoring (which is simply lemon oil).

Here you can see the hips being sorted after rinsing. Since I was using a food mill I decided not to be fussy about the stems and sepals--they are all strained out by the mill. But that job was more than the "tedious" I has read in various places. Turning the mill was hard work at first--it is a thick mass--and it took quite a while to get a decent amount of pulp. But it got easier, and I think I might have gotten as much yield as can be expected.

This is the pulp and the seeds after separating. I think I will try to simmer the seeds with a bit of water and see if I can get some more when I strain it through a sieve. I see that Becca over at Swamp Yankees From Outer Space tried this successfully.

And this is the finished product, so thick because of the natural pectin in rosehips. I think it actually got thicker as I stirred, and I could have used cider as part of the sweetener to loosen it up some (thanks Joy, for that idea!) I'll have to try it with the next batch.

Funny thing, all of that backlighting in the last shot, because it has been raining (and grey, of course) for days. No matter, now that I know what to do with these little rubies, I am eagerly anticipating more frosty mornings, more grey days. And more time in the galley creating yummy treats that happen to be incredibly nutrient dense . . . . I have yet to live through a full year here, but I can already tell you that the seasonal changes are sustaining--when the current weather or vegetable or lack of light gets to be too much, all we need is a reminder of the next short-lived pleasure to keep going. Rose hips can give us a glimmer of the flowers to come next Spring, while they get us out into the nippy Autumn air. A perfect combination of exercise, sustenance, and the rhythm of the season. All real, no Spam. Maybe a bit of wind. Thank goodness for small pleasures . . .


Pink said...

Sorry about the spam. I have comment verification on all my blogs and it does discourage people from commenting, unfortunately, but it cuts way down on the spam.

Anyway, I wonder if you have any ideas for me. We have a tree that grows something like a super sour tangerine. Lots of them, all through Dec/Jan/Feb. Any idea on how to store these and capture the vitamins fromm them? Juicing is hopeless; the amount of sweetener needed is too cost prohibitive to enjoy. Eating them is not great; by the third day I can feel the enamel on my teeth hurting. It's like eating lemons. I was thinking of canning them and using some for stuffing in roasted chickens but I really don't know how to make the best use of this abundance. I will try to trade/give away more this year so they don't go to waste. I spent hours last year zesting and that was well worth it as I still have zest so I'll definitely do that again.

Justine Raphael said...

Oh yes! I would make marmalade! You could even do a raw/fermented one that would save the vitamin C content (which I why I didn't make a cooked rosehips jam) as vitamin C is quite fugitive and sensitive to heat and air exposure. There is a recipe for just such a marmalade in Nourishing Traditions, and you would only have to substitute the tangerines for the oranges it calls for. Or, you could treat them like preserved lemons--the flavor would be wonderful. If you do the preserved "lemons," don't use Sally Fallon's recipe, because whey really isn't necessary and could make them mushy.

Pink said...

Cool! I see it calls for whey in the marmelade recipe. Do I need it? Is there a shortcut to getting it? I had my fingers on four pages trying to figure out what the heck it actually is! And is there any way to do actual canning that you are aware of? I spent quite a bit of time on this last year but didn't get anywhere. They say to move to cold storage but we don't have that in Florida. No freezer. No cold cellar. I'm liking that preserved lemon approach over the marmelade because the sugar costs really add up. I could do 50 jars quite easily!

Justine Raphael said...

I usually do use the whey when fermenting fruits, though if this is so sour, it might not need it. You can drip whey from a good yoghurt that has live cultures (line a colander or sieve with a cloth napkin or tea towel--not terrycloth, put the yoghurt in and suspend over a bowl overnight. What drips out is whey and the rest is a kind of soft cheese that you can cook with or flavor to use as a spread.

No reason why you can't can in FL. Just store in a cool dark place (a cabinet, etc) Or you could juice the fruit, freeze the juice and dry or prezerve the peels for later use.

Justine Raphael said...

From an old friend who now live in the Netherlands:

Great post, Justine. I loved the photos! When I lived in Seattle, I used to buy the solid extract of rosehips and also crateagus oxyacantha (hawthorn berries) They were absolutely yummy by themselves by the spoonful, unsweetened. Hawthorn is also in the rose family. Do you have a recipe for hawthorn jam? I bet you could make it just like the rosehips but using less honey because they are sweeter. Have you found Hawthorne there yet? You have to make sure that you have the correct species as there are quite a few and some are toxic. I'm not sure when they harvest it, but it would be another cool project and super nutritive to your heart! Thanks again for the updates on your Pacific Northwest adventure!

Pink said...

Sorry I wasn't clear. I can can (as in jar) in Florida. I meant for non-heated things in jars; fermented, I guess. Those are supposed to go into cold storage or be used up rather quickly.

mangocheeks said...

Wow, what a lovely blog you have here. Its my first visit and I am overwhelmed.

I started growing my own fruit and veg three years ago on my allotment plot in Scotland, but foraging is still new to me. Your blog will certainly set me on this path.

Justine Raphael said...


When we lived in Florida I often left ferments on the counter for weeks. I tried to make them as I needed them, so that I wouldn't have to refrigerate a huge batch, say, of sauerkraut. So, it's not the long term storage of a root cellar, but you certainly can get away with room temp (or is that a/c temp?) for a while. I never refrigerated my kombucha, as I don't like cold drinks much.


Enjoy looking around! Thanks for the sweet compliment--I aspire to writing more and organizing more, so the blog won't be overwhelming. In the New Year, perhaps?

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