HOW TO :: Harvest Rose Hips & Dry for Recipes

rose hips for harvestingWith the recent autumnal frosts, now is the perfect time to collect rose hips. A bit of frost sweetens them up. Rose hips offer a subtle floral flavor to dishes, but their real power is in the health benefits they possess. Rose hips contain more vitamin C then most other herbs - even many times those found in citrus pound per pound. These antioxidant, red globes, are best harvested in late fall and used in syrups or jams. Rose hips look like little tomatoes, often orange-red and shiny. They are more round than long, about the size of a red globe grape. Harvest rose hips by snapping the stem from the plant. They are tough enough that you can toss them into a plastic bag and then a backpack without doing too much damage. Rinse them well when you get home to drown out any bugs and use them within a day of bringing them home.

Following is a quick guide on how to harvest and dry rose hips. Their chewy skins can be used in tonics, jams or recipes. To dry rose hips is quite an effort, but if you're looking for  a slow winter project, this is it. Of course, you can always skip this step and purchase dried rose hips at your local apothecary or herbalist, or order online.

Dried Rosehips makes about 2 cups | start to finish: about 2 hours active time

Harvest 6 cups of rosehips from untreated, wild bushes between late October and mid-November. To begin the drying process, wash and dry them completely. Trim off both the stem and blossom ends. Lay them out on newspaper in a single layer to dry for several days.

After three to five days, cut the rosehips in half, and using a small spoon, scoop out the interior hair and seeds. (Allowing them to dry slightly first makes the removal of the hair and seeds far easier. This process can be long and arduous, but the hairs can be very irritating if ingested.)

harvest & dry rose hipsOnce all of the rosehips have been cleaned, preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Place the semi-dried rosehips in a single layer on a sheet pan and put it in the oven to dry overnight. The drying time will depend on the size of the rosehips, but figure it will take 5 to 7 hours. Rosehips are done when they are entirely dry and hard to the touch.

When rosehips have been completely dehydrated and cooled, add them all to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are coarsely chopped. Do not over process, or the rosehips will turn into a powder. Store crushed rosehips in a glass jar in the cupboard, where they will keep for several months.

washed jars • pantry storage

Preserving Plums - Ginger Plum Sauce Recipe

plumsTogether, plums and cherries make a happy marriage of texture and flavor: plums break down easily in cooking, and cherries hold their shape. They are both stone fruits, and maintain a slight almond essence that can be highlighted with a splash of brandy or kirsch. Plums are excellent fruits for both sweet and savory preparations. Broken down into a luscious sauce spiked with Asian flavors, they are easily manipulated into a silky condiment. The sauce also comes together quickly and will take little more than an hour to make and jar, resulting in the perfect jar of preserves for gift-giving. Ginger Plum Sauce Makes 4 to 6 half pints | start to finish: 1 hour

Sauces and savory relishes are an excellent way to add some flexibility to your pantry; this spicy ginger plum sauce has a kick of heat from jalapeno peppers. Use the sauce as a condiment to barbeque with, or as a dipping sauce for grilled meats. Drawing from Asian flavors, this is also exceptional as an accompaniment to summer spring rolls and steamed dumplings. You can easily turn up the heat by adding more jalapeño, or go sweeter with a bit more sugar. Neither will affect the safety of the sauce and can be adjusted to your personal taste.

3 pounds purple plums, pitted 1 cup brown sugar 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced 1/4 cup soy sauce 3 tablespoons ginger, peeled and chopped 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Prepare jars for canning. You’ll need to sterilize the empty jars for this recipe. Place all the ingredients into a large pot and set over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the plums release their juice. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the fruit breaks down and the sauce thickens. If the fruit is too hot and sticking to the bottom of your pot, lower the temperature. The sauce is done when a small spoonful is placed on a plate and no liquid separates out, creating a ring around the pulp. Total cooking time can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

When the sauce is cooked, add half of the mixture to a blender (or add it all, if you prefer) and process to a smooth puree. Combine the puree and sauce and add to the prepared jars. Using a damp, clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and place the lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter. When the sauce is cool, remove the metal rings, check for proper seals, and label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to a year. Once opened, store in the fridge.

washed jars • water bath


Plum & Cherry Jam makes about 7 half pints | start to finish: 1 1/2 hours plus overnight rest

Pectin is the plant cellulose needed to set a jam properly. Cherries are a low pectin fruit, so do not easily turn to thick and luscious jam. Plums, however, contain decent amounts of pectin and so work in harmony with the cherries to make a perfect jam. Both fruits tend to pronounce their acidity when cooked, so the sugar amount is important here. Taste as you go, and feel free to add a half cup more mid-way through cooking if the jam seems sour. With a deep red-purple hue, this spread is gorgeous served on toast or over a bowl of morning yogurt.

3 pounds sweet red cherries, pitted 1 1/2 pounds plums, pitted and split in half lengthwise 2 cups sugar 1 lemon, juiced and halved, rind reserved Splash of kirsch or brandy, optional

Place cherries, plums, sugar, lemon juice and one half of the lemon rind into a large pot and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Stir the fruit regularly, and reduce heat to medium-low, holding fruit at a gentle simmer. Cook until cherries soften completely and plums begin to break apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Skim any foam. Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, prepare jars for canning. You’ll need to sterilize the empty jars for this recipe. Remove the lemon rind from the pot and return the jam to medium heat. Put a small plate in your freezer. You will use this later to check the set of the jam. Cook, stirring frequently, until jam is set, 30 to 45 minutes. To check jam set, place a small spoonful on your cold plate and let sit for 30 seconds. If the preserves wrinkle slightly when pushed with your fingertip, jam is set. If preserves do not wrinkle, continue cooking and checking the set every 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.

After the set is reached, add a splash of kirsch or brandy, if desired, and stir to incorporate. Pour the jam into the jars. Using a damp, clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and place the lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter. When the jam is cool, remove the metal rings, check for proper seals, and label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to a year. Once opened, store in the fridge.

washed jars • water bath

Elderflower Syrup Recipe

elderflowerA few summers ago on the highway home from a long weekend at Lake Chelan, I pulled my car across three lanes of traffic when I spotted a tall slender tree hunched over by the weight of its small blue berries. I had noticed the same trees on the way out to the lake, but wasn’t sure they were what I thought they were – elderberries. Some sleuthing in books (yes, I packed my copy of Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples) and a quick bit of online research over the weekend confirmed my suspicion and I made a vow to find some trees on the way home. Yanking my car across the road may have startled my co-pilot (sorry, Katie!) but she forgave me as I scaled up a loose clay hill and threw fat clusters of berries her way. Elderberries! It was like we struck gold and were giddy with excitement. I knew I was going to make syrup and Katie knew she was destined for elderberry tincture (elderberries are thought to be high in antioxidants). With four shopping bags full, we headed home with stained fingers and dusty clothes. These same gorgeous trees produce dense clusters of blossoms in the spring, more commonly known as elderflowers. According to an online index of plants from the University of Washington, the trees can be found from British Columbia to California and typically grow along river banks, and open places in low level areas near a water source The flowers blossom around May, growing in dense clusters. These white flowers are heavily scented and smell of thick honey and sweet pollen. When steeped in water and sweetened, they impart a delicate floral note and make an excellent syrup for sipping (they’re the basis for trendy St. Germain liqueur). I first had elderflower syrup in Croatia, at my cousin’s landlord’s house, with a splash of seltzer. She called it Sirup od Bazga, and taught me how to make it. Now that I know where to find these trees in spades, I’ll definitely be stocking my pantry this year. Drivers east of the mountains, you’ve been warned.

Elderflower Syrup

Makes about 4 cups start to finish: 2 days plus 30 minutes

30 flower clusters 4 cups water 4 cups sugar 1 lemon, zest reserved & juiced 2 teaspoons citric acid (available in the vitamin section of most stores)

Place flower clusters in a large bowl and cover with the water. Make sure blossoms stay submerged and let it sit out on the counter for two days. Strain out blossoms and discard. Over medium heat, heat the blossom-infused water and add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove promptly from heat and add lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer lined with damp cheesecloth, straining out any residual petals and the lemon zest. Add citric acid, stirring to dissolve. Bottle syrup in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 8 weeks. washed jars | store in fridge

Lucky for us, in the Pacific Northwest we have gobs of edible wilds ripe for picking. Unlucky for us, sometimes you really need to do your homework to know where to look. Good thing, then, that our urban jungle is home to easily identifiable treats from nature. Apples, blackberries—these plants are easy to identify and everyone knows they’re edible. But a Big Leaf maple? I’m betting that never crossed your mind. Seattle plant expert, Arthur Lee Jacobsen wrote about these large maple trees several years ago, and what I recall most about the article is that the tree’s flowers are edible. Like the elderflower, maple trees form heavy clusters of florets each spring, starting in April. Most maple trees are quite tall, so foraging after a storm is a great idea as branches tend to break off. Failing that, put on your climbing shoes. The flowers are lime green and look like tiny pine cones, and carry a soft, round sweetness. Similar to maple syrup, but not nearly as sweet, these blossoms can be made into an infusion (as above), sautéed or eaten raw, but they also make a subtle and delicious quick pickle. These little pickled buds can be added to salads of bitter greens or used as a garnish along with minced shallots and chopped herbs on a grilled steak. They don’t keep long before getting mushy, so are best eaten within several weeks.

++photo credit to Edible Seattle

How to Harvest & Eat Dandelions

Poor dandelions, always getting a bad rap for wreaking havoc on lawns and in general being a ruthless weed. It’s true that dandelions are a deeply rooted “weed” that are a real nightmare to dig out, but it’s also true that they taste pretty good and are literally everywhere. One need not look very far to find a bed of dandelions fit for eating; they are easily identifiable. Dandelion greens turn bitter and woody quite quickly, so very early spring is the best time to harvest them. To harvest and eat dandelions, try to clip the small leaves from the plant before the plant flowers. How to Harvest & Eat Dandelions

Once the yellow flower has bloomed, taste the dandelion greens first to see if you find the flavor too off-putting. Harvest by picking off the small leaves and eating straight away. Be sure to wash dandelion greens well, and steer clear of picking them out of public lawns. Those areas are too heavily sprayed with chemicals to warrant
eating. Use dandelion greens in salads, or
cook them in a sauté. I like my greens
wilted with a little bacon and an egg
in the morning. You may also use the
flower petals in recipes. I roll chopped
 petals into cracker or pie dough, for their 
bright yellow color, but the taste will not
shine through unless you use an exorbitant
amount of petals. If you're really brave, you can try this recipe for Dandelion Jelly & Pectin.

Lemon Trout with Dandelion Greens

Whole fish can sometimes be intimidating, but trout cooks quickly and tastes great. No need to clean anything—commercial trout comes scaled and gutted already. I learned this wholesome and healthy recipe from my friend Jaime years ago; it has been a standard of mine ever since.

Whole trout is cooked quickly under the broiler and served topped with a salad of dandelion greens and almonds. The dandelion greens are quite bitter, but work well with the subtle fish. They are also very healthy for you; ounce for ounce, they have more vitamin A, iron, and calcium than broccoli.

Harvest new dandelion growth in spring; older, bigger leaves are too tough and woody, and their flavor is harsh.

Dandelion Greens

Serves 2

1 garlic clove, peeled 1 handful sliced almonds 2 handfuls dandelion greens, coarsely chopped 1 lemon, zested, then sliced 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 whole trout

Preheat the broiler and raise a rack to the highest position in your oven.

In the bowl of a mortar and pestle, mash and grind the garlic clove. When the oils have covered the walls of the mortar, remove and discard the garlic flesh. Add the almonds to the bowl and grind until they are broken up into smaller pieces. Add the dandelion greens and lemon zest and mash all the ingredients together until com- bined. The mixture will look a little bit like a salad and a little bit like a pesto. Inconsistency in the size of the leafy bits is perfect. Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt and give it one last stir with the pestle. Set aside.

Meanwhile, season the trout on both sides and inside the belly with salt and pepper. Insert several lemon slices into the belly of the trout. Place on a sheet pan and lightly coat the trout with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Place the sheet pan directly under the broiler, and broil on one side until the skin starts to shrivel and char, 4 to 5 minutes. Take out the pan and flip the trout with a spatula. Return to the broiler and broil the other side until charred and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the broiled trout on a platter and spoon the dandelion salad over it. Serve immediately.

More Garden Recipes: Dandelions are a great green for adding to your salad, but use them sparingly so they don’t overpower the other flavors. Try making a dandelion pesto with crushed garlic and pine nuts. Dandelion greens can also be used as a filling for the Pea Vine Dumplings, which are in my book Apartment Gardening

Foraging for Nettles


_MG_6078Stinging Nettles (aka Nettles) are hot hot hot these days. Everyone wants to get their hands on some.Known for their superfood properties (nettles are rich in vitamins A, C, and D and loaded with calcium and even protein), raw nettles will sting you if they come in contact with your skin. The leaves and stem have tiny plant hairs that penetrate your skin and result in welts that sting and burn slightly and are sometimes itchy. Luckily, the welts don’t last for long on most people.

Nettles grow along roadsides and pathways, mostly in woods, so keep your eyes open when you’re on any urban nature walks. They come up first thing at the end of winter and are best harvested around March when they are still young, one to two feet high, but I just harvested some new growth at low elevations (like, Seattle!) last week and they were just fine.

The leaves are deeply serrated and end with a pointed tip. They grow in tiers like a Christmas tree—big leaves at the bottom of the plant and smaller leaves toward the tip. Nettles tend to grow in clusters. If you’re not sure you’ve found nettles, a light brush up against a leaf will quickly confirm any suspicions. Nettles are mildly flavored and can be used as a hearty green, a filling for pastas or roulades, or a quick pesto-like pasta sauce. Nutrient-dense nettle leaves may also be used in the garden as an all-purpose fertilizer for your plants—they are thought to pass their beneficial qualities on to other plants.

_MG_6109To harvest, wear gloves and trim only the top 6" - 12" of the stem and leaves. Clip with scissors and place in a large paper bag. When home, set a large pot over high heat and just cover the bottom with water, about 1" deep. When the water is boiling, toss in the nettles and steam for 10 to 12 minutes. This will remove the sting and leave them ready for eating. I will also often fill a pot with water and blanch nettles for 3 to 4 minutes, reserving the blanching water as nettle tea for drinking.

Nettles can be used as you would spinach or sauteed greens in recipes. You can also leave the nettles on their stalks and lay them out on drying racks or hang them upside down to dry. These dried leaves can be steeped as tea, which is thought to be rich in minerals and vitamins.

To make nettle tea for your garden, fill a large jar or jug densely with nettle leaves and cover in water. Let sit out, covered, for a little over a week. During this time, the leaves will start to ferment. The mixture will smell a bit boozy and yeasty. Spray on plants or add a cupful to each container once a week.

Recipe for Maple Blossoms

Maple Blossom, april82013I did something really off character yesterday and went for a walk in the middle of the day, despite looming deadlines and a long Honey-Do list. Spring is my 'go' season when I adjust to the circadian rhythm of a 6:30am wake up call and spend my days juggling garden work with computer time. Fortunately, that short walk was a great reminder to grab a harvest bag and spend more time outdoors. There are LOTS of foods found easily in the great outdoors, and spring is the time to embrace the season and get moving along trails and roadsides. Yesterday, I spotted dense mats of Miners lettuce, young nettles and vibrant Salmonberry flowers. Maple trees are also in the beginning stages of bloom wherein the branches are bare, but tipped in a dense cluster of closed flowers - the perfect time for pickling.

Here, also, is a recipe for Pickled Maple Blossoms, another wild food project for spring. Fair warning is necessary for these recipes, as the buds and blooms are only perfect a very short amount of time, so make a plan to get out in the coming days.

Pickled Maple Blossoms

Makes about 2 cups start to finish: 20 minutes

2 cups maple blossoms 1 1/2 cups white vinegar 3 tablespoons sugar 2 whole star anise (optional) 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 teaspoon coriander seeds Pinch of salt

Place maple blossoms in a glass pint jar, and pack them down. In a medium saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, star anise, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and salt over medium heat until simmering. When the liquid is near boiling, pour it over the blossoms and let the mixture sit on the counter until cool, stirring gently on occasion. When cool, store pickled maple blossoms in the refrigerator until ready to serve, up to several weeks.

washed jars | store in fridge

HOW TO :: Harvesting Fennel Blossoms

It's your last chance to harvest late-blooming fennel blossoms, so if you haven't stocked up already or you've never tried before, now is the time. Now! 

Wild fennel looks very much like the fennel fronds you see in the grocery and at farmers markets, though wild fennel is not a bulbing variety. Instead, wild fennel grows tall and vigorous in the wild, offering up licorice-scented fronds nearly year-round that can be harvested and used as a fresh herb. These blossoms have a distinct fennel flavor without the sharpness that is found in both green and mature seeds.

To collect fennel blossoms, wait until the blossoms are in full bloom and open. Flower heads will be densely packed and bright yellow. Cut stems just below flower bunches—each stem will have a multitude of blossoms. Do not rinse them off! While fennel blossoms are often collected from roadsides and railroad tracks, rinsing them will remove some of the pollen that you’re trying to collect. To dry the blossoms, make a small bouquet and secure with a long piece of string or twine. When dry, pick off the blossoms with your fingertips. To do this, set up a clean workstation and, holding the stem in one hand, pull up on each individual blossom stem to release the flowers. You may also cut with a pair of scissors, being careful not to also cut the small stem. Store blossoms in a small glass jar in your spice cupboard, where they will keep for several months or longer.

Roasted Shiitakes with Fennel Blossoms

Roasted mushrooms are an easy and flavorful side dish any time of the year. Shiitakes are widely cultivated and available all year long. They don’t have much moisture, so they bake up to a chewy-crisp texture quickly. For this recipe, mushrooms are roasted until the stems just begin to brown. Fennel blossoms can be collected in summer and kept as a spice in the pantry. They impart a sweet fennel flavor and aroma to these mushrooms that is quite distinct, as well as phenomenally flavorful.

Serves 4

2 pounds shiitake mushrooms, roughly torn into pieces 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon fennel blossoms 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F. Toss the mushrooms, salt, pepper, fennel blossoms, and oil in a large bowl, coating the mushrooms evenly. spread out on a sheet pan, in a single layer,

and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing oc- casionally, until the mushrooms are shriveled and their stems are starting to crisp. They will have re- leased most of their moisture and shrunk in size. serve immediately or hold at room temperature until serving.

More Garden Recipes: Fennel blossoms are a great herb to add to pork or a white fish like halibut. a light sprinkle of blossoms will also add a complementary flavor to vegetable soups.



URBAN FORAGE :: ROSE HIPS & Anna's Rose Hip Sherry

Rosehips are easily foraged in fall and make awesome jams, purees and tinctures. I was recently reminded rosehip season is upon us, when I read Johanna Kindvall's blog, kokblog, which I've been reading for yeeeeeears. She is a one-woman illustrative dynamo (check out my homepage illo) and I love her recipes and ideas. Her sister, Anna Kindvall (who curates electronic art), makes this amazing-sounding sherry that I think we should all attempt this year. Anna likes to use rosehips before the frost (more acidic), but I've always picked them after Seattle's first frost - in early November. Check out kokblog for the recipe and notes on making and storing your foraged sherry. And for more rosehip info, here is an earlier piece of writing on rosehips from my second book, Apartment Gardening.

"Rosehips are the seed buds that follow the rose bloom in July. Rosa Rugosa plants make hips somewhere between late July and September. They tend to grow along coast lines and water which is likely why some people call them rock roses. You can identify these bushes when in bloom by their strong rose-scented flowers which bloom in white and pinks all the way through bright fuchsia. Make note of their location and head back in four weeks to collect the rosehips. The rosehips themselves look like little tomatoes hanging off the plant. They are often orange-red and have shiny skins. They are more round than long, and are about the size of a red globe grape. Harvest rosehips by snapping the stem from the plant. They are strong enough that you can toss them in a plastic bag and then a backpack without doing too much damage. Use them within a day of bringing them home. Rosehip puree can be made and frozen and used at a later time in recipes."

HOW TO :: Dandelion Jelly + Pectin

I just received this email from a past student (I taught preserving at Bastyr University last fall) and thought it was a great learning opportunity for anyone interested in home preserving, particulary jams and jellies in this case. dandelion crackerRachel writes:

Remember how I said you changed my life by introducing me to the fact that I don't need to buy pectin? Weeell, I have this recipe for Dandelion Jelly that asks for no sugar needed pectin (yet later calls for sugar in the recipe) here. My question is, can I make my own pectin in lieu of the no sugar needed? Does it really serve any sort of purpose in this recipe?

This Dandelion Jelly recipe is made from steeping dandys in water, flavoring with lemon juice & rind, pectin and sugar. Here is what everyone needs to remember: ALL jams and jellies need pectin in order to set. Some fruits are heavy with natural pectin (apples, lemons) and do not need any help from added pectin to set. Other fruits that are low in pectin (blueberries, cherries) will need some pectin added. You can add pectin by using a pectin product (whether or not the label says it requires sugar) or by using natural pectin - the rind of a lemon, core of an apple or homemade green apple jelly.

To answer Rachel's specific question, yes, you need sugar. You need some sort of sweetener for two reasons.

1 - If you didn't have sugar in the recipe, you would have dandelion infused lemon water. Not yummy.

2 - Sugar and pectin work together. (We talked about this in class, remember?!) Sugar helps to attract water away from pectin, allowing the pectin molecules to create network of 'links' that hold the jam/jelly together. This pectin linkage is what give jellies their body.

So, if you removed the sugar, the pectin would have a hard time bonding. AND if you removed the sugar, the jam wouldn't taste good. If it were me, I'd use homemade apple jelly pectin, not a powdered product from the store. My final thoughts on the matter are left from my friend and uber-smart forager, Langdon Cook. Lang made Dandy Jelly last year and his post sums up all the potential mishaps and shows what the actual product will look like on his blog, Fat of The Land. I also like the sound of this recipe better - the proportions are more balanced.

When to Harvest Potatoes

Twitter is a great resource for information, though some may debate. I set up a Twitter account over a year ago (thanks to some friendly plying from my fab chef friend, Becky) and it's been a wonderful site to both read from and post to. This week, I had a handful of questions regarding potatoes. Potatoes are an elusive plant, as the good stuff happens underground. When to harvest them is a real brain-teaser that leaves new gardeners questioning their skills. With that, here (in 140 words) is all you need to know about getting those sweet tubers out of the ground and on to your plate: When to harvest potatoes - after they are done blossoming. Don't water - let skins dry. Harvest only as needed - the ground acts as storage

Twitter: @gogogreengarden

Wild Edibles

Be sure to check out April's issue of Martha Stewart for the Wild Edibles article.  I've been singin' the praises of wild edibles since I met Arthur Lee Jacobsen - a local plant expert (yes, of course I have a crush).  Most of the 'weeds' highlighted can be found in the NW. Particularly delicious is a weed called "Chickweed".  Nearly every garden I've seen thus far this year has this plant.  Not only is Chickweed a healthy soil indicator, it's pretty delicious.  Sorta like if arugula and grass had babies - at once earthy in flavor with a bit of bite.  Get 'em while they're small!  The longer the grow, the more bitter they become.  Everyone's been talkin' about Urban Farming.........I'm moving on to an Urban Salad.