Growing Goslings: Real Feathers and Big Feet

The older two goslings are now 7 weeks old, and the younger group of four are 5 weeks old. The older goslings have replaced most of their yellow baby down with snow-white feathers, including wing feathers! The younger ones still look downy, but their wings are longer and less “stub”-like, and their legs have elongated to the point that they look a bit gawky…especially when they run.

Continue reading “Growing Goslings: Real Feathers and Big Feet”

Farm Foraging: Black Locust Flowers

There seem to be new flowers blooming daily – we usually catch the first hint of scent wafting over to us during morning chores. With the hot, sticky weather we’ve been having, the fragrance may even hang over an area like a perfumed cloud, like it did with the black locust flowers. Anything that smells that great merits further investigation!

Continue reading “Farm Foraging: Black Locust Flowers”

More Dandelion Delights: Refreshing Herbal Beer

The bumper crop of dandelions on the farm has inspired me to look for new ways to use these delicious and nutritious gems. My most recent find was a recipe from Mother Earth News (by Roger Phillips, April 2015) for dandelion beer. In his article, the author provides some interesting history behind the drink: it was apparently a very popular brew among iron foundry and pottery workers in England. No tiny paper umbrella with this one!

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This herbal beer doesn’t require any grain or hops, is very easy to make, and is ready to drink in less than two weeks. Find the recipe here: Homemade Dandelion Beer.

The recipe requires a quart of young dandelions with intact taproots. I started digging up dandelions with my hand weeder, only to have several roots break off because the clay soil was so hard and dry. Recommendation: dig up the dandelions after a rain or early in the morning when the ground is still moist and tease those roots out of the ground gently. After a bit of effort (and some cursing), I managed to procure a quart’s worth, with some intact roots.

After washing the dandelion plants well, with special focus on the very dirty roots, I put them into a stockpot, along with chopped ginger, lemon rind, and a gallon of water. This boiled for 10 minutes, then the solids were strained out. I then poured the liquid over the sugar and cream of tartar in the fermenting bucket, stirring to ensure the sugar was dissolved. I set the bucket, loosely covered, aside to cool.

When the liquid was tepid, I added yeast and the fresh lemon juice. The recipe called for “brewer’s yeast”, but I substituted half the amount of baking yeast, instead. Before proceeding, I read about the pros and cons of using baking yeast in beer recipes, and understood the risks inherent in using a yeast not specifically intended for beer (like “off” flavors due to wild yeast contaminants, for example) and forged ahead, anyway. Worst case scenario: the beer was so bad it wouldn’t be drinkable. Ok, risk accepted.

The mixture worked its magic – the fermentation was surprisingly active, and the brewing beer smelled great. An early sample revealed it to be very tasty. After 5 days had elapsed, I strained the beer into screw-top bottles and put them in the refrigerator to chill.

Final verdict: seriously tasty! It’s reminiscent of beer in that it’s carbonated, but the similarity pretty much ends there. It’s light and refreshing without the malt or hops flavors typical of grain-based beers, with complex herbal notes – like a suggestion of the dandelion’s golden blooms. Would I make this dandelion beer again? Definitely…though next time, I’ll try using Lalvin EC-1118 yeast; in a pinch, though, bread yeast still creates a lovely finished product.

Wine Chronicles: Dandelion Wine #2

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Those gorgeous golden blooms just keep coming, so I had to get out there and pick some for both a wild-fermented dandelion-ginger wine and for (truly addictive) dandelion water kefir. I’ve really come to appreciate those precocious dandelions!

For this version of dandelion wine, I used the recipe found on Pixie’s Pocket’s blog: Wild Fermented Dandelion Ginger Wine. Amber has great recipes on her site (like the Goldenrod-Ginger wine I made last year) – check it out! Continue reading “Wine Chronicles: Dandelion Wine #2”

No Food Waste: Candied (Fermented) Grapefruit Peel

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Earlier, I shared how we made several enjoyable products from 6 fresh grapefruit: wine (Wine Chronicles: Now Making Grapefruit), fermented syrup (Ferment This: Grapefruit Rind Syrup, No Food Waste: Grapefruit Rind Syrup Part II), and grapefruit water kefir. The wine’s not ready to taste yet, but the syrup and water kefir are great! The final item we made from the grapefruit is candied fermented peel. Interested in how we did it? Read on. Continue reading “No Food Waste: Candied (Fermented) Grapefruit Peel”