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6/6/2016

Hot sauce ingredients Photo by Carole Cancler 

This is my favorite homemade hot sauce recipe. Over the years I’ve used it with fresh and dried chile peppers (or a combination), in various blends of red and green mild, medium, and hot pepper varieties.

At a local farmer’s market, there is typically much more variety than at a grocery store. So in summer I make hot sauce from locally grown fresh chilies. I will also buy plenty of fresh local peppers to dry in a food dehydrator and make hot sauce throughout the year. I’ve also bought ripe red jalapenos, smoked them, and dried them for homemade chipotle to add to my hot sauce recipe. So there’s no limit to what you can do.

If you have a good Latin grocery where you live, then you can find a good variety of dried peppers. Or order online from a company such as Alamo Peppers, MexGrocer.com, or Firehouse Pantry. Try hot sauce on eggs for breakfast, add a dash to soups or stews, boost the flavor of mac-and-cheese or mayonnaise, or use hot sauce anywhere else you want to add an interesting accent.

Homemade hot sauce Photo by Carole Cancler 

Homemade Hot Sauce Recipe

Makes 1 ½ to 2 cups

Ingredients:

• 1 ounce dried chilies (mild to hot, e.g. ancho, chipotle, habanero) OR 6 ounces fresh chile peppers (e.g. poblano, jalapeno, habanero)
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 2 tbsp chopped nuts (such as almonds, pine nuts, or hazelnuts)
• 1 tbsp raw sugar, brown sugar, or honey
• 1 tsp dried oregano OR 1 tbsp fresh
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
• 1½ cups water
• 3/4 cup vinegar

Combining hot sauce ingredients Photo by Carole Cancler 

Directions:

1. Cut open chiles to remove and discard the seeds and ribs. You may wish to wear gloves while handling either fresh or dried chiles as their oils linger on the skin for several days, even with vigorous washing.

2. Coarsely chop the chiles. Place chiles and remaining ingredients in a small (1 to 2 quart) saucepan.

3. Bring to a simmer over high heat, reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer very quietly for 20 minutes.

4.Turn off heat, uncover, and allow to cool 10 minutes.

5. Pour the mixture into a blender jar or food processor and process for several minutes, or until very smooth. This should result in a pourable sauce. If needed, add water to thin sauce to desired consistency.

6. Transfer sauce to a sterilized glass jar. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 6 months. Hot sauce tends to improve in flavor for several weeks.

Other Hot Sauce Recipe Variations

If you prefer a thinner sauce, process until coarsely chopped and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or several layers of damp cheesecloth, discarding the solids. You may also increase the cooking water by 1 to 1½ cups to facilitate the straining process.

By experimenting with different types of fresh and dried peppers and preparation techniques, you can create an endless supply of interesting and delicious hot sauce to add piquancy to all your meals.

• To create a fruity sauce, use mild green chilies.
• To add depth of flavor, toast dry chilies in a hot skillet before chopping.
• To produce an earthy sauce, roast up to half of your fresh peppers.
• For a smoky sauce, roast all of your fresh peppers.

If your tolerance for heat is high, create an electrifying sauce by including mostly (or only) hot chile peppers.

Carole Cancler is the author of The Home Preserving Bible. She has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents to attend cooking schools and explore food markets. She studies the anthropology of food with a focus on how indigenous foods have traveled and been integrated into world cuisine. Read all of Carole's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/4/2016

Finished Bresaola 

There are plenty of methods for preserving meat. Whether you are bringing home a side of venison, harvesting your flock of chickens, or just making a trip home from the grocery store, being able to preserve your food is an age-old requirement.

These days, the refrigerator or freezer are the most common methods of food preservation. But another traditional method of preservation is dry curing. Dry curing involves salting and then drying of meats until they are safe to eat and shelf-stable, even at room temperatures.

If you've ever read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods and wondered how they put their food up for the year without a refrigerator, this is it. With a little bit of salt, some time, and the right conditions, you, too, can turn your leg of venison into prosciutto or your farmstead's pork belly into pancetta.

What Do You Need to Dry Cure Meat?

At its simplest, you will need a cut of meat and a quantity of salt. You may want to add a little bit of sugar, pepper, and some spices as well.

Pretty much any cut of meat can be used for dry curing. There are traditional cuts, of course, that are used: pork belly is used for pancetta, the leg is used for prosciutto, the pig jowl is used for guanciale.

But even if you don't use a specific cut of meat (or even if you swap venison or goat for the traditional pork), the process is the same, and the taste can still be amazing.

Curing MEat IN Zipper Bag 

The Cure

The first step of dry curing is to cover your meat with the salt and spices. For every 100 grams of meat that you have, you will want to add about 2.75 to 3.5 grams of salt to the cure.

This amount is important! With too much salt, your meat could end up inedibly salty. With too little, it may not be safe to eat. Be sure to weigh your ingredients to know how much to add.

After salting, place your meat in a zipper bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Turn it every day to distribute the cure. You will want to keep it in the fridge until it is uniformly firm (about 1 day for every 1000 grams of meat).

After curing, rinse off the excess salt with water. You can also rinse the meat with wine at this point for additional flavor. Allow to dry and tie up with butcher's twine. Be sure to weigh your meat!

The Drying

Now comes the waiting. You will need to hang up the meat to dry, but it's important to get the conditions right. Dry-cured meat will dry best at approximately 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit and 70-80 percent relative humidity.

You can easily maintain these conditions using a product like The Cave. Once the meat has lost 30 percent of its weight, it will be safe to slice and eat. Depending on the cut of meat you have used, this can take a couple weeks up to several months.

That's it! Preserving your meat through dry curing takes a couple more steps than just throwing it in the freezer, but it tastes infinitely better. Soon you will be on your way to eating dry-cured delicacies.

Finished Bresaola Cured Meat Hanging 

Karen Christian is a fermentation enthusiast and co-owner of Swiss Hill Ferments. She is a trained chemist who prefers to tinker with fermentation projects rather than chemicals these days. Learn more about Karen’s “The Cave” home fermentation control unit on Kickstarter.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


6/2/2016

 

The inspiration for my Apricot Preserves came from Patricia Wells’ lovely book,The Provence Cookbook. Alas, apricots bloom too early to grow successfully in Texas, so I have to buy them. When fresh apricots first appear in markets, I bring home a big bag of the prettiest ones I can find and make my preserves and the bonus recipes that follow.

Apricots are easy to work with, as they don’t need peeling and the pits are easily removed.

This jam has a much lower percentage of sugar than the usual. I’m not a professional nutritionist, but I can do math and it came up to about 25 calories per tablespoon, as opposed to the 40 to 50 calories for conventional recipes.

Apricot Preserves Recipe

Makes 8 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

• 4 pounds fresh, ripe apricots
• 2 ½ cups cane sugar

Directions – Day 1:

1. Wash and then cut the apricots in half, following the natural crease. Save out a dozen pits, discard the rest.

2. With a nut cracker, crack open the saved pits to reveal the almond-like nut in the center. *

3. In your jam pot, combine all the apricots, the sugar and the nuts from the pits. Stir to mix in the sugar, pressing or “chopping” with your spoon, then let it rest a few minutes until the juices start and the sugar begins to dissolve.

4. Put the pot on a burner over low-moderate heat. Continue to stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is soupy. Bring to a slow boil, just bubbling but not rising up or foaming. Cook, stirring frequently for an hour. Stir over the entire bottom of the pot to make sure it’s not sticking. I keep a timer with me and set for 10 minutes each time. You’ll see that the apricots are melting into a chunky puree. You can help them break up by pressing them against the side of the pot.

5. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool, then cover. If your jam pot doesn’t have a lid, cover with plastic. My jam pot is pretty big, so I just slip it, after it’s cool, into a plastic bag and tie it closed. Let the jam rest overnight to develop more flavor.

Directions – Day 2:

1. The next day, prepare your jars, lids, funnel and utensils by washing in very hot water or the dishwasher.  Fill your waterbath pot and begin heating the water. When the water comes to a boil, dip your clean jars, funnel and ladle in the waterbath to sterilize them. Set them upside down on a clean towel next to the stove.

2. Retrieve the nuts from the jam, counting to make sure you have 12. Put the jam pot back over moderate heat and, slowly stirring to make sure the jam doesn’t stick or scorch, bring the jam back to a low boil.

3. Ladle the jam into the jars, filling to ¼ inch from the top. Wipe the rims if necessary, then put on the lids to seal them. Process in boiling hot water bath for 7 minutes.

Jams keep in the pantry for a year or more, but in a year, you’ll notice that it’s darkening. Use it up, give some as gifts and make more next year.

*Note: On the controversy concerning apricot pits: Yes, they do contain a very small quantity of cyanide. Do not consider cracking them all and eating them as almonds — they taste very bitter and might be hazardous to eat in quantity.

And no, they do not cure cancer. However, a dozen steeped in a whole potful of jam would not be harmful, but does impart a natural almond-like flavor that enhances the apricots.

Bonus Recipe: Sweet and Hot Glaze

When I make a full batch of this preserve, I hold back about a third of it in the preserving pan to make this tangy glaze. It goes well on pork, shrimp and chicken.

Ingredients:

• 1 quart apricot jam, reserved in the jam pot
• ¼  tsp hot pepper powder such as chipotle, cayenne, or Piment d’Espelette, more in reserve
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1. To a quart of preserves, stir in the balsamic, then judiciously add hot pepper powder. I start with ¼ teaspoon. Be cautious — you can add more, but you can’t take it out. Add a little at a time, stir well, then taste.

2. Bring the jam back to a simmer and taste. Pepper gets hotter when you heat it, so a little can go a long way. When the preserve is spicy-hot enough for your taste, pour into jars and process in a water bath the same as the rest of the preserves. Be sure to mark the jars so you know which is which!

3. Brush the glaze on the meat when it’s nearly cooked through and grill, turning until the glaze is set. For shrimp, start with raw. Shrimp should be cooked through but not overcooked.

Bonus Recipe: Apricot Bread Pudding

Years ago, I had the good fortune to be in Provence, the South of France, during apricot season. I yearned for my jam pot, but frequently made this delectable bread pudding .

Ingredients:

• Half a day-old baguette, leftover country boule, or other crusty artisan-type bread
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter
• 2 eggs
• ¼  cup sugar
• 2 cups milk
• pinch of salt
• several grates of nutmeg
• 8-10 apricots, cut into quarters, pits removed
• 2-3 Tbsp coarse sugar, such as turbinado

Directions:

1. Generously butter a 9-inch square baking dish or deep pie plate.

2. Slice the bread about ½ inch thick and butter the slices. Then, cut the slices into cubes. You should have about 6 cups.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pinch of salt and grate a little nutmeg into the mix. Stir in the milk.

4. Put half the bread cubes into the baking pan and top with half the apricots. Add the rest of the bread on top.

5. Pour the milk mixture over, covering the bread. Push the cubes down into the milk until they’re evenly saturated.

6. Top with the remaining apricots, in a pretty pattern.

7. Sprinkle on the coarse sugar.

8. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle is clean.

You can top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream if you wish. It doesn’t really need it.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

 



6/1/2016

Quinoa salad

A great past time for me has always been learning how to make new and different types of food. Partially due to the fact that the food when I was growing up was very basic and bland even if it was well balanced and filling.

I do want to thank my mother for not knowing how to cook as that gave me an incentive to learn along with her. My mother was born in a Kibbutz in Israel where everything was communal and so for meals you could just go to the communal kitchen to eat, or take the food home.

Most people did not do much cooking in their tiny home kitchens except for special occasions, like my grandmother did with her cakes. I actually don’t think my grandmother started cooking regular home meals until she was in her 70s. By setting up this type of system the Kibbutz felt people could be more efficient in their work habits. This type of mentality has spread across all modern society that cooking is a waste of time.  

I as a teenager, and even now, can and love to spend hours “wasting” time in the kitchen in the search of a certain level of goodness in my food. And I get to eat all of my less than perfect “mistakes”!

I like to set aside Sunday mornings as no technology mornings and focus on cleaning the house and cooking food for the week. I tend to cook up big pots of basic things without putting much flavor in them like rice or beans or chicken so it is available during the week for me to whip up add-ons like stirfry or just heat up and season a serving size.

I also have been part of a freezer group where you find 7 or 8 people who cook food you can eat and you cook enough for all of them. Typically freeze a 4-serving bag or container or individual servings dependent on what it is and whether the people in your group families or individuals.

Then comes the fun part: you trade. You get to go home with 7 or 8 different new things while you only had to cook the one meal. Fun, simple, new food, and economical! But only works if you have a deep freeze.

As I wrote in a past article food sustains us physically but food is also medicine for the mind and spirit. This is what people call comfort food. Another way to have food comfort us is to have it be real food and have a history behind it. I love partnering with local farmers for my food as I get to learn about the love and hardship involved in growing the food. I get to interact with who makes my food and therefore it fulfills me beyond just the physical.

7 Ways to Source Food for Cheap

Let me break down some of the ways I get good quality food for a great price:

1. For local goodness shop in season. I can get bushels of tomatoes for next to nothing.

2. Partner up with local grocery stores that you will take all of their throwaways. These are usually veggies with one spot, packages of food that they can’t sell past the sell by date (a sell by date is arbitrarily made up and is not an eat by date), day old bread, overstock, or a change in inventory.

I once got 20+ new tubs of sour cream as the store was no longer going to sell that brand. If the store has a policy about giving it to you, ask them if you could get it for your chickens. I have had stores keep bushels of veggies in the cooler for me to pick up twice a week. I have worked out deals with store managers that  their companies had a no-giveaway policy as they were afraid of lawsuits, but they would have their employees bring it out to the “dumpster” when I was there to load my truck. People hate that they are throwing away 40% of the food in America.

3. Work/volunteer at a farm or a farm store or a co-op grocery in exchange for food. This way you can learn more about the food, help the people who need the labor, and get fed.

4. Although you can dumpster dive, taking food that is still sealed in the package directly out of the dumpster is becoming harder and harder to do with companies being afraid of lawsuits. Companies are now using trash compactors, employees are being required to rip open all packages and even to pour chemicals over the food to keep people from taking it. That is why I recommend the way I do it in #2.

5. Scrounging/wildcrafting. This is an important skill to acquire as we are completely surrounded by a literal smörgåsbord of wild food. How many people work diligently to try to kill off the dandelion in their lawn? Dandelion is good for so many things: tea (flower and root) and greens (salad or cooked). I never remember my mother coming back from the garden with just greens she grew. There would be dandelion, violets, dock, poke weed, sour cress, mint and sometimes even wild carrot.

6. Of course, the best way to have a good high-quality food source is to grow it yourself. Our family almost always had goats for milk, cheese and yogurt, and chickens for eggs.

I rarely, unless I am baking, am willing to buy a non-local egg. The taste and the color is so much different than factory raised “eggs."

eggs

Herbs are very expensive so keep pots of them growing in your kitchen. I will cover how to make soup stock using scraps (and how to can it) in my next article.

7. Buy in bulk. I have written a little about this already but it is very important to only buy lots of what you will actually eat. Don’t buy for the end of the world or for emergencies but rather what you will actually eat that year.

My dad tended to work outdoor jobs like construction or landscaping or horse trainer and that meant he didn’t have much work in the winter. We would stockpile food while it was in season and while he was working to make it through the winter. I knew it was going to be a good winter when he brought home a 5-gallon bucket of almond butter instead of the usual 5 gallon bucket of honey and peanut butter he usually brought home.

A regular winter snack was mom’s freshly baked bread (had to be fresh as we had no fridge) with either oil and roasted garlic powder (sometimes nutritional yeast, which has a cheesy, nutty flavor) on it or honey and nut butter on it. Note no butter or cheese as that is more expensive and requires refrigeration.

In the spring/early summer when we had plenty of milk from the goats we had fresh farmer’s cheese with the bread and later in the summer fresh tomatoes.

milking goat 

Mom’s Goat's Milk Farmstead Cheese Recipe

Farmer’s cheese (fancily called chevre blanq or queso blanco) is very easy to make with any leftover milk. In the spring/early summer we always have lots of extra milk. If you have milk that you are thinking of throwing away instead make this cheese. We have even made it usually powdered milk. I don’t remember if skim milk will work as the wholer the milk is the more curds you can get. 1 gallon of milk makes just under a pound of cheese.

Directions:

1. Heat milk to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Candy thermometer works perfect hanging on the side of the pot.

2. Add something acidic to curdle the milk. Typically we use vinegar or lemon juice. Pour this in very slowly while stirring. Don’t put too much in as then the cheese (as well as the whey) will be sour. The milk will all of a sudden curdle and separate from the whey.

3. Strain the curd out but save the whey. Put a cheesecloth inside a colander to strain.

4. While the cheese is hot, this is the time to add your flavors. My favorite is cinnamon with raisins but you can put any herbs and spices into the cheese and the flavors with get baked it.

5. The longer the cheese drips, the more solid it will get. If you want a soft, spreadable cheese, just put in a container and serve. If you want a harder cheese, either hang up the cheese-cloth above the sink for half an hour or put colander in the fridge on top of a bowl to let drip for as long as you want.

This cheese can be frozen for later usage.

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Projecta fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FMFind him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



5/31/2016

Long before I moved to the Mid-Atlantic, I was fond of mushrooms. What was missing is the fact I only knew of about three varieties of store-bought mushrooms. Shortly after we moved north of Baltimore we discovered Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the self-proclaimed Mushroom Capital of the World.

First up on the list during my path of discovery was trying each restaurant’s mushroom soup in the downtown Kennett Square area. Some used mushrooms I had never heard of like maitake, reishi, and Royal Trumpet.

Next up was finding a source to buy some fresh mushrooms to take home to experiment with. After a couple of years, on this path of discovery, I was asked to cook occasional mushroom themed classes and demonstrations at my favorite mushroom shop. It was through that work I began to learn about the many varieties of store-bought mushrooms and how to prepare them.
Royal Trumpet display at Phillip's Mushrooms

Royal Trumpet mushrooms in The Woodlands at Phillips mushroom display.

Exotic mushroom varieties are daunting to most consumers. They ought not be intimidated by these strange but tasty morsels. There are several sources for recipes including the Mushroom Council, my website, or by using search engines. Mushrooms deserve a place at your table due to taste, availability, and purported health benefits.

Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins and minerals, and are said to be the only food containing natural vitamin D. I learned at a mushroom talk if you take a shitake mushroom and place it in the sun, gill side up, the vitamin D content increases by hundreds percent or more depending on how long you leave it in the sun! City of Hope research scientists have found mushrooms to have cancer fighting properties making it more likely to end up on plates of savvy foodies.

Maitake and Pompom are leading the quest in health research to fight disease in a natural way. I look forward to hearing more as this exciting research uncovers health benefits of mushrooms.

Portland Or. farmer's market mushroom stand

A funny sign at a mushroom stand in Portland Oregon's farmer's market.

Mushroom blending is a trend that is growing rapidly where chopped mushrooms are mixed with ground meats like beef to make a delicious burger and possibly a much healthier one, too.

Use white mushrooms or crimini for a filler ingredient in your home-made burgers or meatloaf and I bet your fussy kids that hate to eat a mushroom wouldn’t know it was there. Mushrooms are cheaper than beef making it a great extender of your budget.

If you haven’t tried Shitake Bacon yet, this amazing treat is great on salads, burgers or just munching on their own. Shitake Bacon is thin-sliced Shitake mushrooms tossed in olive oil and salt then baked in a 325° oven for about 20 minutes until crispy. It tastes a lot like bacon.

Vegetarians and meat lovers alike love this cooked mushroom dish. It’s one of the most popular items I demonstrate at free mushroom cooking demonstrations when cooking for The Woodlands at Phillips Mushrooms in Kennett Square, PA.

To help you give specialty mushrooms a try I made up this Royal Trumpet Soba Salad recipe. If you can’t find Royal Trumpet mushrooms substitute with crimini mushrooms, which are a baby portabella mushroom.

Soba salad ingredients

Simple ingredients

Grilling the mushrooms

Grilling the Royal Trumpets

Royal Trumpet Mushroom Soba Salad

Ingredients:

• 1/2 pound Royal Trumpet mushrooms
• 8 oz, more or less, soba noodles
• 1 Tbsp chopped chives
• 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
• 1 Tbsp sesame oil
• 1 Tbsp grilling oil, olive, corn etc
• 2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar, available in most grocery store Asian sections
• optional: 1/2 red bell pepper chopped or sliced thin

Directions:

1. Fire up the grill, if gas med-hi heat will do

2. Slice mushrooms in half length-wise

3. Brush with oil and grill about 3 minutes each side.

4. Remove from grill to a plate for cooling

5. Boil water and cook per directions on soba package

6. Drain and rinse noodles in cold water

7. Cut mushrooms into bite sized pieces

8. Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl

9. Season with salt and pepper to taste, soy sauce, or Tamari can be used instead of salt

Serves four as a side dish or two as a lunch salad

Note: Crimini mushrooms can be substituted for Royal Trumpets. Cut Criminis in half, brush with oil and grill for 3 minutes each side.

Snow peas sliced in bite size bits are a nice green vegetable addition.

let's eat soba salad!

Kurt Jacobsohas been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blogFor tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blogTasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



5/26/2016

 mulberries on the tree

Mulberries are one of the first wild fruits to ripen in late spring and early summer. Frequently cursed by property owners who detest how these fruits of the Morus genus stain their pavement, mulberries are a delicious fruit that grows on several continents.

How to Identify a Mulberry Tree

In the wild, look for mulberries in floodplain woodlands. They are also a common urban and suburban tree. Mulberry trees can get up to 60 feet tall, but they are most often much shorter than that. The trees have a scruffy appearance, with the branches sticking out at odd angles.

You’ll frequently find three leaf shapes growing on the same mulberry tree: a 2-lobed mitten shape, a 3-lobed leaf, and a roughly heart-shaped leaf. Note that there is another tree out there with those three leaf shapes: sassafras. But the leaf margins of sassafras are smooth whereas those of mulberry are toothed. When there is only one leaf shape on a mulberry, it will be the simple heart shape. Whichever shape, mulberry leaves grow in an alternate arrangement.

The bark of mulberry trees develops craggy vertical furrows as the trees age. The branches emerge from the short trunks just a few feet above the ground.  

The fruits look very much like blackberries, although depending on the species the fruit may be ripe when it is dark purple or when it is pale pink. (FYI, blackberries do not grow on trees. Whenever someone tells me they found a “blackberry tree,” I know that what they really found was mulberry.)

How to Harvest Mulberries

Peak mulberry picking season stretches from late spring through early summer. It’s easy to tell when the berries are ripening because they start dropping onto the ground.

The quickest way to collect them is to lay down a drop cloth and then shake the branches: the ripe mulberries will fall immediately. If you prefer to pick them off of the tree, take only those that yield to your gentle pull without resistance. If you have to tug, that one isn’t ripe yet.

Harvesting the berries does not hurt the tree. And you’re actually curbing the spread of these sometimes invasive species by gathering the fruits.

Eating Mulberries

Whether fallen fruit or plucked from the branch, mulberries always come off the tree with a small bit of stem attached. These are a hassle to remove, and often I don’t bother. But if you’re serving guests you may want to take the time.

The easiest way to do this is to freeze them first: spread the berries in a single layer on baking sheets and freeze them, uncovered, for an hour or two. Don’t just dump fresh berries into a container and freeze them or you’ll end up with a berry brick — the single layer freeze prevents clumping. It is much easier to pull the little stems off the solid, frozen berries than to do so while they are fresh and squishy.

Mulberries are mildly sweet and pleasant raw. They are also good in pies, ice cream, jam, and homemade wine. If you decide to make mulberry jam, keep in mind that they they require some added pectin and acidity.

As with other berries, mulberries freeze well.

Dried mulberries are a worthy ingredient in their own right. When dried, the mulberry flavor intensifies in a wonderful way. They are great to snack on as is, but they are also delicious when rehydrated and used in recipes such as this chutney.

Mulberry Chutney Recipe

Yield 1 pint

Sweet, tangy, and lightly spicy, this chutney is great with any kind of meat, poultry, cooked whole grain, or cheese. The flavor is especially good if you use a combination of fresh and dried mulberries (but fine to use frozen instead of fresh).

Ingredients:

• 2 cups fresh or rehydrated dried mulberries, or a combination of both
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup finely chopped apple
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
• 1/4 cup raisins
• 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
• 1 tsp red chile pepper flakes
• 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
• 3/4 tsp ground spicebush berries OR 1/2 tsp ground allspice plus 1/4 tsp ground pepper
• 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated or been absorbed.

2. Refrigerate and use within two weeks, freeze for up to one year, or pack into canning jars leaving 1/2-inch head space and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (adjust canning time if you live at a high altitude).

Leda Meredith teaches foraging internationally and is the author of several books including The Forager’s Feast: How to Identify, Gather, and Prepare Wild Edibles and Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries. You can find more of her recipes and food adventures on her blog and videos. Read all of Leda's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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5/25/2016

 

Rye bread is a challenge for many bread bakers. So many “hockey puck” disasters. This recipe works! You’ll make a loaf with a moist, open crumb and a chewy crust, just like the best deli loaves.

You can form your dough into two fat loaves in loaf pans, a huge artisan boule or two smaller boules, or even use some for crusty, chewy rolls — fabulous for thick sandwiches. With tiny amounts of sugar and fat, this is a very low-calorie, high-fiber bread that is also delicious.

For the Starter

The day before, mix up enough starter for three batches of bread.

Ingredients:

• 6 cups (30 ounces) bread flour
• 1 ½ tsp fine sea salt
• 1 ½ tsp instant yeast
• 2 ½ cups tepid water

Directions - the day before

You can use the mixer with dough hook or it’s easy enough to stir this up by hand, just approximate the mixer directions.

1. Whichever you choose, put the flour into a good-sized bowl, tall rather than wide, your mixer bowl is fine. Put the salt in one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other, then stir together. Never dump the salt and yeast on top of each other — the salt delays the yeast.

2. Make a little well, then pour the water into the mix. Run the mixer on “stir” until the flour is taken up. Turn the mixer off, and let it rest a minute or two, then turn the mixer on to #4 and run for 2 minutes. Rest a minute then run on #4 again for a couple minutes.  Repeat.  The dough will clear the bowl, but still look pretty shaggy.

3. Put out a large cutting board (mine is 16 by 20 inches) or a sheet pan will do. Put about a Tbsp of oil on the board, smear it around with your hands and leave your hands greased. Then dump the dough out. Pat the dough into an oval, about 10 by 12 inches.

4. Now, pick up the far edge of the dough and pull and stretch it away from you, then fold it back onto the back half of the dough. Pick up the front edge, pull and stretch it, and then fold it back onto the dough. Turn the dough over so the stretched and folded surface is now on the bottom. Repeat the pull and stretch again, and turn the dough over.

5. Walk away for a few minutes. Because the dough is oiled, you don’t need to cover it now. Go back and repeat the pull and stretch, both sides, and again let it rest a few minutes. Repeat one more time. If you pull and stretch a small area, you’ll see the “window”, a bit of dough that will stretch so thin that you can read through it. This indicates that the dough is nicely developed even though you’ve done very little work.

My hands always need care, so I usually just massage the oil into them, then wipe just my palms on a paper towel in between stretches.

6. Put the dough into a greased bowl large enough to allow it to fully double. Cover the bowl with plastic and put it in the fridge overnight to rest and develop flavor. The dough will rise nearly double, and then deflate a bit. It can rest as long as two nights if you’re not ready to bake.

Rye Bread Recipe

Makes 2 standard loaves or a huge boule, or you can mix up the sizes to suit your needs and menus.

Ingredients:

• 3 cups rye flour, whole rye if possible
• 3 cups bread flour in all  (divided)  plus extra in reserve
• ¼ cup vital wheat gluten
• 1 Tbsp fine sea salt
• 2 Tbsp instant yeast
• 2 Tbsp Deli Rye Flavor*
• 2 Tbsp whole caraway seeds
• 16 ounces pre-fermented starter (about 1/3 of a batch)
• 2 ¼ cups hot (105 degrees Fahrenheit) water
• 2 Tbsp molasses or sorghum syrup
• Optional: a little cornmeal for the bottom of the loaf

* Note: Deli Rye Flavor is available from King Arthur Flour, or you can grind tablespoons of caraway seeds with a pinch of citric acid in a spice grinder. Even if you don’t like the whole caraway seeds in your bread, be sure to put in the ground seeds or the deli rye flavor.

Directions:

1. Set up the mixer with the dough hook. You will want the mixer for this dough — rye dough takes a lot of muscle.

2. Put the rye flour and 1 cup of the bread flour plus the vital wheat gluten in the mixer bowl. Put the salt and deli rye flavor on one side of the bowl, the yeast on the other. Add the whole caraway seeds. Stir only to mix the dry together.

3. Measure out 16 ounces (1/3 batch) of the starter. With your bench knife, cut the starter into about 10 pieces, dropping them into the flour mix.

4. Measure out the hot water, spoon in the molasses or sorghum and stir. Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the water. Turn on the mixer on #1 Stir to begin incorporating the flour. When it’s mixed in, let it rest a few minutes to give the rye flour a chance to absorb the liquid.

5. Turn the mixer on to #4 and run for at least 5 minutes. Add the remaining bread flour, holding back about ½ cup. Run on “stir” until the flour is mixed in, then again on #4 for at least 5 minutes. Rye dough should be soft but firm, but it stays rather sticky. Add only enough flour for the dough to come together, but don’t let the stickiness tempt you to a dry dough.

6. As with the previous breads, a little oil down the inside of the bowl will help your dough to clear the bowl.

7. Transfer the dough to your rising bucket or bowl and allow it to rise to doubled. Rye flour has less gluten strength, so rising may take longer than other breads. Be patient with it.

8. When it’s fully risen, turn your dough onto your floured kneading board. Give it several turns, again resisting adding much flour. When the dough feels nice and smooth and elastic, form your loaves.

Decide what loaves you want and divide accordingly. In the picture, you’ll see a fat boule that I formed with about 2/3 of the dough for a company baked-ham dinner. With the rest, I made a few nice sandwich rolls for scrumptious ham sandwiches. You can also form two standard sandwich loaves for more uniform sandwiches.

For the boule, pat out the dough into an oval, then roll it up tightly. Try not to totally deflate the dough, be gentle with it. Coax the loaf into a rounder shape, pulling the edges to the bottom to create surface tension. If you like, you can put a little cornmeal on the baking sheet, then place the boule on it or put some on the board and drag the loaf through it to lightly coat the bottom.

Put boules on a greased baking sheet with the cornmeal, regular sandwich loaves into greased or well seasoned loaf pans. Optional: For a crackly crust, lightly beat an egg white with a teaspoon of water and brush the crust. Stick on a few more caraway seeds if you like.

Put the bread under your proof cover or cover it with greased plastic wrap. Allow your bread plenty of time to rise to almost doubled.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes until a thermometer inserted through the side to the center registers 190 degrees.  Take the bread off the pan(s) and cool on a wire rack until completely cooled before wrapping or cutting.

Swedish Rye Bread Variation: For a really different rye, you might try the Swedish flavoring. They use orange and fennel. A tablespoon of grated orange peel and a tablespoon of whole fennel seed would approximate this.

What to Do with Leftover Starter

If you don’t want to make three whole batches of bread and have some starter left over, you can make really nice ciabatta-style hamburger buns. I just pat out the starter on a lightly floured board and cut it with a bench knife into pieces just a little smaller than a burger. The dough will spread a little as it rises. Square is fine! Is there a rule that says burgers are round?

Burgers, Italian sausage and peppers grinders — these rolls work for all kinds of sandwiches when you want more crust than bread.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.









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