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Tips for Making This Winter's Best Naan

done naan

Keeping home-cooked meals fresh and interesting during the COVID-19 era has been tough, especially for a vegetarian family like mine. While I’m thrilled with beans, stir fries, and curries any and all times I can get my hands on them, I get a little self-conscious when I’m cooking for those around me. What if they get sick of my usual dishes? What if I’m not making enough? Is the meal colorful enough? Does this dish even look appetizing? 

Questions like these are natural. Sharing food is an intimate act that we could all benefit from appreciating a little bit more in our daily lives. Meal times aren’t just breaks to “refuel.” We aren’t cars or machines. We’re people. We assign cultural value to eating – at least, we have throughout most of our history – and we feel love through food. 

With that in mind, I’m writing to share my biggest secret for a slam-dunk addition to any meal that will make family and friends alike “ooh” and “ah” at your culinary verve. Yes, folks. I’m talking about griddle naan. It’s easy, it’s relatively quick to make, and boy is it tasty. In this article, I’ll discuss the recipe I use, a few procedural tricks, and some simple dishes with which to pair your flatbreads. 

Naan is a leavened flatbread that originated in India circa 1300 AD. Since then, it has been prepared and enjoyed countless times by fans and foodies around the world, and it is one of the most recognizable flatbreads on the planet. While naan is traditionally made in large ovens, I’ve found that it’s virtually impossible to get the same charred deliciousness and bite out of my kitchen oven at home. Therefore, I’ve adapted a griddle version that comes out a lot closer to the “real thing.” The ingredients you’ll need are as follows: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp active yeast 
  • 2 tsp organic cane sugar (use liberally)
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (add additional for kneading, if needed) 
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • A dash of garlic powder (optional – adjust for your own taste) 
  • A healthy spoonful of yogurt (or dairy-free yogurt product – coconut-base brands like COYO are best)
  • 4 tablespoons olive or avocado oil (and a little extra for your rising bowl) 

A lovely part about this recipe is that it’s very easy to make it vegan! Just use dairy-free yogurt or omit the yogurt all together (the bread will still come out beautiful and delicious). The ingredients above are proportioned to feed a family of four. Adjust as you see fit!

Directions:

dough

What your dough will look like right around the kneading phase! 

1. Measure out your water (preferably lukewarm, but any temperature below 100 degrees Fahrenheit will do fine) into a large mixing bowl, and add yeast and sugar. Stir and set aside for a few minutes.

2. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the mixture in that order one on top of the other, so that the salt does not touch the yeast-water-sugar mixture until wholesale mixing. 

3. Add your olive oil, yogurt, and garlic powder (if using) on top of the flour mound that is yet unmixed. 

4. Mix it all together at once! I like to use a wooden spoon for this part. After mixing, the dough should be ragged and workable with the hands. If it’s still too sticky, add more flour. (Flour is the only way to get dough off of your hands and work materials too!) 

5. Knead the mixture for about five minutes in the bowl (this way there’s less cleanup, and it comes out just as good as when you clean and flour your entire countertop). For a kneading tutorial, look here

6. After you’re done kneading, pour a little bit more olive oil over the ball of dough and rub it around the edges of the bowl. 

7. Cover with a damp towel and set aside for up to three hours (optimal). However, if you’re in a hurry (like I always am), you should be good to go with 45 minutes to an hour of rising. The key with baking bread is always planning ahead. Otherwise, it’s a stress-free, enjoyable process. 

8. After rising, begin heating up your griddle on high heat. I use a simple stovetop griddle pan like this at home, but any flat, very hot surface will do. I know some folks who get beautiful results with skillets and cast iron gadgets of all types. Just make sure you’re not using anything with teflon! That stuff is dangerous. 

9. While your griddle’s getting hot (should only take a few minutes), now’s the time to sprinkle flour on a small but clean work surface. Put some flour on your hands, too.

10 Punch down the dough in your mixing bowl and begin plucking off small balls of dough and pressing them quite flat (only about an eighth or a tenth of an inch thick) upon your floured surface. I usually like to work in twos because that is the number of naan breads I can fit on my griddle at once, but, depending on your griddle and your workflow, you can do it any way you’d like! (However, it is best to put the flatbreads on, then prepare the next round while the current ones are baking, so that you have something to do in the meantime!)

11. Once you’ve got your first batch pressed out (they can be any size, but for most eaters a five-inch-or-so disc or stretched oval will be perfect) and your griddle is very hot, reduce burner heat to just above medium. The breads already have enough oil in them to not stick to your griddle, so go ahead and slap your first round on without any additions to your cooking surface. 

12. After waiting a minute or two (in which you could be preparing your next round of breads to be cooked), flip your naan breads with a spatula and gauge their level of charred-ness. Ideally, the little specks on your cooked sides should be a deep, rich brown color. Almost black, but not quite. If they’re too light-colored once you flip, no worries! You can flip the naan as many times as you want to get your preferred level of char on each side after both sides are baked hard enough. 

13. While the flatbread is on its second side of cooking, press it down a little bit with the spatula to make sure the inside becomes just baked enough to be firm, airy, and soft. Again, don’t worry about precise timing here. It should take about a minute or two to cook on its second side, but after one or two rounds you’ll get into your groove and be able to sense when it’s done. Because you’re an awesome chef! 

14. Repeat until you run out of dough and all the naan is cooked. Then serve! 

15. Cover leftovers and store at room temperature for about 2 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat in the oven until warmed through for best results.

And there you have it! A simple and delicious naan for all occasions. I like pairing these yummy little numbers with a basic chana masala and/or a nourishing falafel meal! That being said, these flatbreads really do go with pretty-much everything, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with in your own kitchens at home. We got this! Happy baking! 


Jonny Malks is a sustainable agriculture student and food systems educator in Virginia who uses the knowledge of how to grow food to build community. Connect with him on Facebook and read all of Jonny’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Comfort Food 101: Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken soup resize

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

My love of soup began with my dad because he made every soup you can think of and he made them all from scratch. He made chili (it was always watery, not thick), vegetable beef (just green beans, canned tomatoes and some ordinary cut of beef), oyster stew (every Christmas), potato also known as Vichyssoise (he loved to say the name! Vee-Shee-Swahs!), clam chowder (always New England), navy or great northern bean and a myriad of others. My mother, on the other hand, was queen of the homemade noodle and chicken soup. She made noodles like nobody’s business probably because she learned how to do it from her mother, a German farmer’s wife and immigrant.

When I started out on my own I used recipes from cook books and didn’t deviate. Now I just get out the basic ingredients and go to town.

What you need to make Chicken soup from scratch without a recipe

  • Soup Stock
  • Chicken – breast meat or thighs – can be skinless or not, boneless or not
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Homemade Noodles (Optional – recipe follows)

How to make stock from scratch

1. Simmer chicken in 3 or 4 units of water. I fill my 4-quart stock pot half-way with water. You’re going to have leftovers unless you have a big family to feed. Leftovers are good! Even better the next day. Plop in a chicken breast or 2 depending how much meat you like, or a chicken thigh or 2. Add a couple carrots and celery ribs for flavor. Also, add 3 or 4 smashed and peeled garlic cloves. Lastly add a quartered onion. Don’t dice anything. This is for flavor. You’ll fish them out later.

2. Simmer everything together until the meat is cooked.

3. Remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon, set aside and strain through cheesecloth or fine sieve. If your chicken had bones bone the meat as soon as the meat is cool enough to touch.

4. Shred the meat, chop the cooked vegs and return to the pot to heat if you all you want is simple chicken soup.

If you want noodle soup here’s how to make easy homemade noodles

Egg Noodles

Noodles give the soup more body. Fresh noodles cook quickly and are just what the doctor ordered!

Ingredients

  • 2 units of unbleached wheat flour. A couple coffee mugs will do it.
  • A little bit of salt in the palm of your hand. You know what a teaspoon looks like. A little bit less than that.
  • 1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks.
  • A little bit of water to moisten.

Pile the flour into a clean table. Make a well in the center of the flour and plop the eggs, salt and a little bit of liquid in the middle and, from the edges of the flour pile, start scooping the flour onto the eggs and mix with your hands until egg and flour are incorporated. Your hands are going to get messy. That’s OK. Just scrap the mess off and keep mixing until it’s a soft almost sticky dough. If, perchance, it’s too dry add a bit more water. If it’s too wet add a bit of flour. You’re looking for a soft dough slightly sticky but not wet.

Roll the dough out on a floured board until it’s pretty thin. Like maybe 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. You can work in small batches to make it easier, because we’re not looking for food processor perfect noodle, are we? Roll up the flattened pieces from the short side to make a long tube. This is where you realize having a goodly amount of flour keeps the dough from sticking to itself. Dip your sharp knife in flour and cut through the rolled-up dough. Unfurl the strips and spread them on the table or hang from a rack to dry a bit.

When you’re ready to cook just plop them in the sightly boiling soup for about 5 minutes. Make sure there’s enough broth in the pot. The noodles will swell when cooked and the residue flour will thicken the liquid. It’s better to have enough liquid in the beginning but if you don’t have enough you can add more. It depends on how thick they are to see how long they take to cook. Fish one out, cut it in half and see if the center has a white uncooked center or if it’s cooked all the way through. Taste and adjust your salt and pepper seasoning to your liking. Don’t over salt in the cooking. Whoever is eating can always adjust the seasoning, too.

Then I’ll come over and we can have soup together! Cheers!

Renée Benoit is a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who currently lives in a 26-foot travel trailer with her husband, a cat, and two dogs while they travel the Western United States in search of beautiful, peaceful vistas and hijinks and shenanigans. Connect with Renée at RL Benoit, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts.

 


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.

Elderberry Tonic for Cold and Flu Prevention

elderberries
Photo by Adobestock/elfgradost

Elderberry, Sambucus, is a seasonal berry that fruits in time for the prevention of cold and flu season. A member of the Honeysuckle Family (Caprifoliaceae), elderberries are perennial shrubs with pithy stems that are typically found in valley bottoms or along streams.

Leaves are oppositely arranged on the stems with 5 to 9 strongly pointed and sharply toothed leaflets that are 2-5 inches long.

Flowers are white with many tiny flowers in clusters.

Fruit is in the form of pea-sized berries that ripen from green to dark blue or black with a waxy coating.

Health Benefits of Elderberries

North American, European, Western Asian and North African cultures have known the medicinal properties of the elderberry plant for thousands of years. The health benefits of the plant are widespread:

  • Antioxidant
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Improves Vision
  • Boots Immune System
  • Improves Heart Health
  • Fights Bacterial and Viral Infections

Most notably, the fruit ripens in time to make an elixir to prevent and treat the common cold and flu.

Elderberry Tonic Recipe

(adapted from Wellness Mama)


Photo by Lyndsay Dawson Mynatt

Tip: Freeze freshly picked elderberries in clusters after harvesting to simplify the de-stemming process.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Elderberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3-1/2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh or dried ginger root (or powder)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey

Instructions

  1. Pour water into a medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the liquid reduces to almost half (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  4. Discard the elderberries (feed to chickens or compost) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
  5. Add 1 cup of honey and stir well. (Note: honey is added after the mixture has cooled to keep raw enzymes intact).
  6. Pour mixture into glass jars to be stored in the fridge for up to three months.


Photo by Lyndsay Dawson Mynatt

Recommended Tonic Dose

Prevention (can be taken daily)

  • Kids (13 months-12 years old): 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
  • Adults: 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon

Recovery

Take the normal dose every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear.

Don’t get caught off guard by cold and flu season this year. Prepare this easy elderberry elixir for a natural alternative for flu prevention and recovery.

Special Notes:

1. NEVER give Elderberry Tonic to infants 12 months/under.

2. Elderberries can be used as any other berry for pies, jams, breads, stuffing, etc.

3. Consuming raw elderberries causes extreme GI distress in many people. Try a few berries raw before overindulging.

Elderberry Resources

1. Benoliel, Doug. Norwest Foraging. 2011. Skipstone.

2. Elderberry Benefits and Information

3. Elderberry as a Medicinal Plant

4. How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention

Lyndsay Dawson Mynatt, a dedicated forager and outdoor enthusiast, is a blogger for Mother Earth News. Published articles include: Build a DIY Cider Press in the 2015 September/October issue of GRIT and a forthcoming article on 5-Minute Mayonnaise in the 2015 Best of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Lyndsay and her husband, Jordan, are launching on a year of international rock climbing and trekking starting in October 2015. Follow their adventures at A Faithful Journey. Read all of Lyndsay's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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

Slow Cooker Winter Squash Chili Recipe

squash
When the harvest nets this much winter squash, you need more in your recipe repertoire than pumpkin pie. Photo by Pexels/mathiasp.r.

Do you still have winter squash or sweet potatoes from last fall’s harvest patiently waiting in your root cellar? I do and I want to be sure to use them before they start to go bad. Now is the perfect time to pull out one of my favorite cold weather recipes for those stalwarts: slow cooker winter squash chili.

It’s so easy and gets such amazing results — just a few minutes of chopping, then dump all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on and leave it for an afternoon or a full day. What could be easier? You can use sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or pumpkin (or any other edible winter squash) to make this recipe. I’ve done it with all three and each batch is just as delicious as the one before.

This recipe makes a generous six-eight servings. If you don’t need that much, you could certainly pare it down, but why not go ahead and make the whole thing. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for three or four days. For longer storage, freeze for an even easier meal in the future.

The recipe that follows is a mashup of two recipes I found online (Kitchen Treaty and Two Peas and Their Pod) with a few of my own adaptations.

I recommend going easy on the chili, chipotle, and cayenne in the beginning. Together, they can pack a wallop. You can always add more once the recipe is fully cooked.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep time: 15-20 minutes; Cooking Time: 4-6 hours

Ingredients

Note: You don’t have to fret about precise measurements for the vegetables. A little more or less of any one item will be just fine, so if you don’t have quite enough or need to use up one veggie or another, feel free. Likewise, you can play around with the seasonings to suit your own taste buds.

  • 3 cups cooked black or kidney beans, preferably that you’ve soaked from dried and fully cooked* or about 2 15-ounce cans, drained.
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, homemade or purchased
  • 1 quart home canned or 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium or 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (for added color, use one green and one yellow)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash or 2 medium sweet potatoes, or 3-4 cups of uncooked pumpkin, peeled, (seeded), and cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or 1/2 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Chili-Lime seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed or ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt (if using canned salted beans, omit salt now and adjust to taste at end of cooking period.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon powdered chipotle
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well in cool water (The addition of quinoa adds even more protein and heartiness—you may find you need to add a little more liquid if you add quinoa. To be on the safe side, check on your chili during the last couple hours of cooking. If more liquid is needed, you can either add water, another can of diced tomatoes, or tomato juice.)

Tip: cook up a whole bag of dried beans and freeze what you don’t need for this recipe. Then you’re ready for an even quicker meal that calls for beans next time.

Soup Instructions

Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Give them a quick stir. Cover. Set time and temperature (four hours on high; up to six hours on low). Now, go and enjoy the rest of your day!

chili in slow cooker
Photo by Carole Coates

Before serving, test taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve in individual bowls. My award-winning cornbread is the perfect accompaniment for this dish.

Topping Ideas: cilantro, plain yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped chives or scallions, tortilla chips, avocado

bowl of butternut squash chili
Photo by Carole Coates

 


 Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts hereYou can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.


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.

Canned Fire-Roasted Chili Starter Sauce Recipe

sauce
Photo by Pixabay

Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Fire roasted plum tomatoes. Photo by Tammy Kimbler

Put up this versatile sauce now while late summer produce is available, then use this it as a starter for chili by adding canned beans, sautéed veggies and canned tomatoes. Or use it as a spicy salsa, enchilada sauce, or to smother pot roast or pork shoulder in the slow cooker or oven.

Fire Roasted Jalepeños, Onions, Garlic and Tomatoes
Photo by Tammy Kimbler

Fire Roasted Dried Chilis
Photo by Tammy Kimbler

Fire-roasted dried chilis.

Yield 6 or 7 pints

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs plum tomatoes
  • 12 oz mixed hot & sweet peppers, depending on the heat you want
  • 2 oz dried chiles like guajillo, ancho, anaheim, chipotle, etc. (I like a mix, but definitely put in a chipotle for the extra smoky flavor)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 10 oz onions, quartered
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

Instructions:

  1. Set the oven rack under the broiler and turn to high.
  2. Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles.
  3. Place on a baking sheet under the broiler, but don’t close the over. Watch them carefully until they just begin to smoke.
  4. Remove from oven, flip over, and place under broiler again until smoking starts. Remove from oven.'
  5. Tear chilies into 1 inch pieces or cut with kitchen scissors. Place in a heat proof container and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let sit 10 minutes.
  6. Place tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions on rimmed sheet pans. Broil until all vegetables have nice char to them. Flip over once, and return to broiler until the second side has charred to your liking.
  7. In the blender, in batches, blend tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions until fairly smooth. Place in a stock pot and bring to a simmer. Add salt, cumin and coriander.
  8. Put the soaked dried chiles and water in the blender, along with lime juice and vinegar. Blend until very smooth. Add to stock pot with tomatoes and vegetables. Continue to simmer on medium heat while you prepare your jars.
  9. In a large stock pot or canner, submerge 7 pint jars in water. Set lids aside. Bring water to a boil and boil jars for 10 minutes. Remove hot jars to a towel covered countertop.
  10. Ladle hot sauce into jars, leaving 1/2-inch space at the top. Wide the rims well to remove any particles. Top with lids and tighten (not too tight!).
  11. Add jars back to water bath, with at least 1 inch of water covering the jars. Return pot to boil, reduce to medium heat, and boil for 30 minutes.
  12. When time is up, turn off the heat and let the jars sit for 15 minutes before removing to a rack or towel. Let cool over night. Remove lid rings and test seals by lifting each jar by the lid. If lid comes off, put jar in the refrigerator or reprocess with a new lid. Store jars in a cool dark spot without rings for up to 1 year.

Canned Fire Roasted Chili Starter Sauce Recipe
Photo by Tammy Kimbler

Tammy Kimbler hails from her Minneapolis, Minn., backyard and beyond, where she is a cultivator, gardener, preserver, forager, traveler, tomato fanatic, cook, hen wrangler. Connect with her on Instagram and read all of Tammy Kimbler'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.

Ginger-Turmeric Tonic for Joy and Health

tasting  

I learned how to make my ginger brew from a Jamaican who worked on my solar install crew when I worked in the Cayman Islands, although I don’t follow his traditional bury it in the backyard brewing method. I grew up living off the grid and didn’t acquire a taste for carbonated beverages. When I buy commercially made and available ginger beer (more of a soda), I tend to open it to let the bubbles dissipate before I drink it.

My ginger-turmeric-honey brew is more of a tonic and less of a beer or carbonated beverage, to be regularly sipped or added to water for joy and health. I have over time added my own local twist of using, instead of sugar, beautiful local honey for a healthy, completely local, honey-ginger-turmeric golden brew that regular drinking of it alleviates my chronic pain and is joyful to drink. 

Again I don’t follow the old timey traditional Jamacian aging process that was told to me, which is to get drunk, dig a hole in the backyard, bury an earthen jug with a flat stone to cover the top (but not seal). He said the longer it is brewed, the better and that the idea of burying while drunk is that you might forget where you buried it for longer for a better-aged drink.

While it is percolating don’t seal the jar or container as it is a live culture. Keep it in a fridge or a very cool location. If you seal the container and it gets warmed up it will expand too quickly and the container can explode. Don’t ask me how I know this.

I don’t have a recipe as much as guidelines:

  • boil water and let sit out over night with the lid off to allow the chlorine to dissipate 
  • warm back up but not to a boil if using honey. The less it is heated I feel the more of the natural goodness of honey is saved. 
  • dissolve 1 pound of sugar or honey per gallon of water
  • 1 pound of fresh ginger chopped. 
  • 1 pound of fresh turmeric chopped
  • if organically grown, don’t completely wash ginger and turmeric as bacteria is good.
  • with the chlorine-free water emulsify in a blender and put back in the warm water 
  • add yeast or some of the old batch for the good bacteria 
  • put in a container with an airlock to keep oxygen out and let out the excess “gases”
  • when stops bubbling taste and bottle

I used to make a batch in the fridge using a gallon jar that pickles came in. Well washed and covered with a plastic bag held in place with a rubber band or use a balloon with a pinhole. I like mine super strong and sweet. The small batch I would start drinking immediately however the longer you wait the smoother it gets.


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.

Garden to Glass: Creating Drinks with Edible Flowers

lavender in glass 

Lavender. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Edible flowers are delectable in the spring, summer, and fall! Did you know that they can grace your table during the winter as well? Not always on a plate, either. They are delightfully delicious added to a glass. Read on for ways to imbibe edible flowers throughout the dormant season of the garden.

Hopefully you dried or otherwise preserved a variety of edible flowers from your garden this past growing season. No need to panic if you didn’t. Dried edible flowers are available from numerous vendors online and through many local vendors no matter where you live.

Some Basic Ingredients

You’ll want to have some basic floral ingredients on hand for the recipes in the post. Then you’ll find yourself composing your own specialty drinks using many of these same flowers.

Dried flowers

  • Lavender buds
  • Rosemary flowers
  • Mint flowers
  • Hibiscus calyxes
  • Elderflowers

Whole flowers preserved in ice cubes

  • Borage
  • Nasturtium
  • Violets
  • Orange blossom
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Tuberous begonia
  • Plum blossom

floral ice cubes 

Floral ice cubes. Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Simple Syrup Recipe

  • 1 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 cup water Any one of the following dried flowers:
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary flowers
  • 1 Tablespoon chocolate mint flowers
  • 1 Tablespoon lavender buds 2 hibiscus calyxes
  • 1 Tablespoon elderflowers

Directions for simple syrup

Heat and stir until sugar dissolves; boil 1 minute without stirring Add flowers; let cool; pour into clean glass container Store in refrigerator for up to 2 months

Are you ready to mix your drinks? Here are some of our favorite winter quenchables and comforting mugs! Give them a try and let me know how you like them. Then create your own liquid concoctions and share them with me.

Holiday Punch

Remember those borage flowers you froze in ice cubes?  And the lovely rosemary buds you dried? Now is the time to pull them out and add delicious herbal notes to your holiday punch bowl! The flavor complexity of citrus fruits and herbs will keep you filling your glass.

 holiday drinks with flowers

Holiday drinks with flowers. Photo by Brook Lark on Unsplash

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Owen’s Grapefruit and Lime Cocktail Mixer
  • 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup natural pineapple juice
  • 8 ounces gin with rosemary herbal notes (such as Dartmouth English, or Forest)
  • Generous splash of Campari
  • 2 ounces rosemary simple syrup (or to taste)

Directions:

Gently stir all ingredients in a small punch bowl. You can double the recipe and use a larger bowl. Add ice cubes with borage and rosemary flowers frozen into them. Top with thin slices of orange to garnish.

Lavender Cocoa Recipe

Let a steaming mug of hot lavender cocoa ease away your stress and sooth your anxieties from a crazy year. While raw milk isn’t essential it will make a creamier and healthy drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart raw milk
  • 1 tsp. dried lavender buds (put in a sachet or cheesecloth bag)
  • ¼ cup powdered cocoa
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Mix the sugar and cocoa powder together. Put everything in a crockpot, stirring until the sugar/cocoa mixture is starting to dissolve. Turn the crockpot on high and the hot cocoa should be ready to drink in about an hour. To have this winter treat ready for a crowd after caroling I just triple or quadruple it, then cook it on medium setting in the crockpot for about 3 hours. Remove the bag of lavender buds before serving. Top with homemade whipped cream.

 hot cocoa

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels

Mint Memories Cocoa

Follow the recipe above, only substitute 1 tablespoon of dried chocolate mint leaves (or spearmint leaves) for the lavender buds. Once the cocoa is hot and ready to drink, add a light splash of peppermint schnapps. Top the whipped cream with a fresh mint leaf.

Hibiscus Champagne Cocktail

Red Roselle, or tea hibiscus is the variety most often used for cooking. The refreshing citrus and cranberry flavors are a great pick-me-up for a winter brunch. Use the calyx of the hibiscus which is the first part of the flower that develops and is attached directly to the stem of the plant. It is red, fleshy, and encases the bloom.

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces chilled dry champagne, Spanish cava, or Italian prosecco
  • ¼ ounce (1 ½ tsp.) hibiscus simple syrup
  • Lemon twist and sprig of mint for garnish

Directions:

Put the hibiscus simple syrup in the bottom of a champagne flute. Gently pour the sparkling wine into the middle of the glass to avoid bubbling. Garnish with a lemon twist and a sprig of fresh mint.

strawberries wtih floral ice cubes 

Strawberries with floral ice cubes - photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Summer Memories

If you remembered to freeze some whole strawberries last summer, just take a few of them out and defrost them gently on the counter earlier in the day before making this celebratory drink that is redolent of summer. Any strawberries you find in the produce section of the grocery store this time of year will be tasteless.

Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon elderflower simple syrup
  • 5 ounces cava or prosecco

Directions:

Muddle the strawberries in a mixing glass with the elderflower simple syrup. Strain into a champagne flute. Gently pour the sparkling wine into the middle of the glass to avoid bubbling. 

Summer Meets Winter

Winter is the time of cranberries, in baking, in sauce, in chutney, and now in drinks. Pair it with the lemony taste of hibiscus for an outstanding winter cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • ½ ounce Cointreau
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice (no sugar added)
  • ½ ounce hibiscus simple syrup

Directions:

Pour everything into a cocktail shaker full of ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice into a tall glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

What about Those Floral Ice Cubes

Now that you’ve mastered some mixology, what should you do with all those floral ice cubes we talked about at the beginning of the post? The sweeter and citrusy ones are wonderful in punches or any fruit juice based drink. Just think about the type of juice you are using and use a complimentary flavor. Orange blossom, Rose of Sharon, and tuberous begonias all have a citrus taste. Plum blossoms, red clover, and violets are sweet.

Borage has a cucumber flavor and is good in many fruity and more savory drinks since it is mild. Nasturtiums are quite peppery and best reserved for your next Bloody Mary.

Garden to Glass

If you didn’t grow your own edible flowers this year, plan them into your garden this spring and summer. Dry them and preserve them in ice for next winter’s drinks. Meanwhile, buy them from a local supplier and start experimenting. Let me know what luscious libations you create!


Sheryl Campbell is an heirloom gardener, shepherd, and edible flower educator who owns Bouquet Banquet in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read Sheryl’s previous blogging with Mother Earth Gardener and Grit and read all of her 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.







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