Preserving Herbs: Thyme Vinegar

The mild fall weather is so welcome! Yard work is pleasant and I have found some fall raspberries to savor while I work.

Preserving Herbs

Wilting vines
And a layer of leaves
Yard clean-up
Sweetened by fall raspberries

My calendula is still blooming and my rosemary and thyme are still growing.

Thyme Vinegar
Lemon Thyme

I plan to bring the rosemary and thyme inside for the winter. Last year they survived in a south bay window. But I have been also         preserving the thyme in vinegar.

The thyme vinegar is good for salad dressings. I also add one or two  tablespoons to vegetables and bones for broth that I prepare in my crockpot. The vinegar helps to leach out minerals from bones with the    additional benefit of thyme.

I found this recipe for thyme vinegar in Early American Herb Recipes*.

A very delicious flavour of thyme may be obtained, by gathering it while in full perfection; it must be picked from the stalks, a large handful of it put into a jar, and a quart of vinegar or brandy poured on it; cover it very close—next day, take all the thyme out, put in as much more; do this a third time; then strain it, bottle it and seal it securely. This is greatly preferable to the dried thyme commonly used, during the season when it cannot be obtained in a fresh state.*

I followed the recipe. I put 3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves in a pint of white wine vinegar. The next day I strained it and added fresh thyme. The following day I repeated the straining and added more fresh thyme. While I was adding thyme leaves and straining the vinegar I used canning jars. Then I strained it a final time, returned it to the original bottle and capped it.

thyme vinegar

*Alice Cooke Brown, Early American Herb Recipes, Japan: The Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1966. p. 114.

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Apple-Sage-Cheddar Muffins

The sage in my garden is thriving. This summer it flowered.

Sage in Flower

The beautiful weather this fall has extended our growing season. I have plenty of sage. The texture of the leaves has an artistic appearance, lovely to the touch.

 

Sage leaves

Sage in the Sun_edited-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to use it in some in apple-sage-cheddar muffins. The muffins can be gluten  free  by       using brown rice flour instead of unbleached white flour.

1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ cup plain yogurt

Heat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease a muffin tin with twelve muffin cups. (I like to preheat the muffin pan by putting it in the oven 5 minutes before I am going to put the batter in the pan.)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sage and salt in a large bowl. Add the grated apple and grated cheese, mixing them with the dry ingredients.

In a medium size bowl combine the eggs, honey, melted butter and milk with lemon juice. Add the egg mixture to the flour & apple mixture. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the tin to cool and then turn out and enjoy!!

sage & tulip_3090

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Pasties with Kale: A Meal

The pasty came to the Keweenaw Peninsula of northern Michigan with Cornish miners. The Finns caught on to the hearty meal that was portable. Meat and vegetables wrapped in pastry made a filling lunch during the long hours in the mine.

My grandfathers were miners, and pasties were served for family   dinners. It is a meal that invites group participation for preparation. This year I have had a steady supply of kale and thyme in my garden—and I added them to my pasties.

Kale & Thyme

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove of garlic finely minced
1 cup chopped and steamed kale leaves
1 cup rutabaga, chopped
½ cup finely chopped onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 + ½ tsp. salt

Combine olive oil, vinegar, thyme and minced garlic. Mix into the chopped meat. Allow the meat marinate in the refrigerator while preparing the pastry and the vegetables.

Pastry:

3 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 egg yolk
½ cup + 2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar

Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs. Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar. Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix just until it holds together. If needed added additional water a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle. Set aside.

Cut the kale into pieces and steam it for about 3 minutes.

Kale
steamed kale

Chop the rutabaga and potatoes into about 1” pieces. Chop the onion finely. Add the vegetables and salt to the meat mixture. Mix well.

Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle. Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges. Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Pasty

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Potato Salad with Apple

L of L

The apples are ripening. So many good recipes include apples, but have you ever added apples to potato salad? A Finnish chef shared a recipe for potato salad with an apple at a conference I attended. Here is my version of the recipe:

6 medium size yukon gold potatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 apple (I like pink lady for this recipe)

1 large dill pickle

2 Tablespoons of chopped chives

1 garlic clove, peeled and diced (optional)

1/3 cup whole milk yogurt

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Steam the potatoes until tender. Immediately peel them—the skin will slip off with a little effort. (I use a fork to stabilize the potato and a knife to gently remove the skin.) Chop the hot potatoes coarsely. Mix the olive oil and vinegar and add it to the potatoes. Mix. Then add the mayonnaise. Mix. A southern chef taught me this process of working with the potatoes while they are still hot to preserve the creamy quality of the potatoes.

Then refrigerate the potatoes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Peel and chop the apple, dice the dill pickle and garlic clove. Add the apple, pickle, garlic and chives to the potatoes and mix.

Make sure the potatoes have cooled down before adding the yogurt. When it is cool add the yogurt, salt and pepper.

If you make the salad a day ahead the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Potato Salad with Apple

Potatoes have these nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin B-1, Niacin, Potassium and Iron.

The Michigan Potato Industry Commission has these tips for storing potatoes:

  • Handle gently. Bumps and bruises can lead to rot.
  • Store at a temperature between 40 to 50 degrees. Storing in the refrigerator may be too cool, causing the potato starch to turn to sugar. (I don’t really have room in my refrigerator for a bag of potatoes.)
  • Store in a dark, dry place. It is a little challenging to store potatoes in the summer! How do you store your potatoes?

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Canning Elderberry Juice

Harvested Elderberries
Harvested Elderberries

A number of recipes for elderberry syrup are posted on the internet. I have collected ideas for making the best use of my elderberries. I want to preserve the health benefits for this fall and winter.

I have a good harvest of berries this year. Instead of making a syrup to keep in the refrigerator, I am going to can elderberry juice. Then during flu season, I can bring out the preserved juice and add some raw honey.  Raw honey has helpful enzymes, but the health benefit diminishes if it is heated.

Don’t have a source for elderberries? Dried elderberries are available from the Bulk Herb Store. Click here.

The recipe for elderberry juice: place 1 cup of water for each cup of berries in a stainless steel pot. (If you are using dried berries you will need 2 cups of water for each cup of berries.) Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Crush the berries with a potato masher and add ¼ teaspoon ceylon cinnamon for each cup of berries, a slice of organic ginger root and a couple slices of an organic lemon.

Elderberries_4774

Simmer for 20 minutes more without a cover. Strain the berries in a strainer that has been lined with a double layer of cheesecloth.

Elderberries_4776

Allow it to drain, pressing on the berries periodically with a wooden spoon. Add ¼ cup honey to each cup of strained juice and mix thoroughly. Heat the juice to a simmer over medium heat before pouring into sterilized jars.

According to instructions for berry juice in Stocking Up* the juice can be canned in a hot water bath. Place the prepared lids on the jars. Tighten the lids and then give a quarter turn back. Place in the prepared boiling water–making sure that the jars are submerged, water above the lids.  Instructions for pint or quart jars give a 30 minute processing time. I plan to use 8 ounce jars. For 8 oz. jars the time might be a little less, but to be safe I will process for 30 minutes. (If you make a small amount of juice there is no need to can it. Allow the juice to cool. Add 1/2 cup of raw honey to a cup of juice and refrigerate. It will keep for a couple months.)

Elderberries_4777

When the jar of juice is opened for use it can be poured into a larger jar and raw honey added. And then it should be kept in the refrigerator. A child can be given a teaspoon at a time. An adult can take a tablespoon at a time. The dose can be repeated every couple hours when fighting a cold or the flu.

An alternative way to use the juice–place a teaspoon (or a tablespoon) of juice in  water or cooled tea. Add a teaspoon of raw honey.

NOTE: This remedy is not for children under one year of age; they should not be given honey.

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Stocking Up edited by Carol H. Stoner, Rodale Press: Emmaus, PA 1977.

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