Make Your Own Herb Infused Honey

General Posts, Herb, Medicinal, Raw, Recipes
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Honey is amazing. There’s a lot of buzz going on right now (pun intended) about how bad sugar is, to which I heartily agree. Added sugar is in way to much of our “food” (processed food), things you wouldn’t even expect such as spinach dip or tomato sauce have oodles of added sugar. This is terrible for one’s health. And don’t even get me started on corn syrup.

However, true to form in our Western way of thinking, a carb equals a carb equals a carb. A fat equals a fat. To most Western trained dieticians, fat from an avocado is the same as fat from prime rib. It counts as fat. And sugar counts as maple syrup counts as honey counts as corn syrup.  It’s all added sugar, it’s all carbs, it’s all the same right? I disagree.

Way back in the nineties a WHOLE big chain of health FOODS stores would not sell anything with sugar. It was awesome! I could go to their bakery and things were honey sweetened, maple syrup sweetened, brown rice syrup sweetened. It was great! But then along came new sugar crystal products. Suddenly there were signs up in the store (literally!) about how honey is just the same for you health-wise as sugar, how a carb is a carb, and they realize how close-minded and out-dated their belief system is and BOOM, from then on the shelves were FILLED with cereals and other  foods with sugar. Now at the bakery if you try to find something with only maple syrup or honey, well, good luck.

Honey, especially raw honey, contains living enzymes as well as vitamins and minerals, includiing  B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. The minerals found in honey include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.

Honey has been used by herbalists for thousands of years. Honey has anti-bacterial properties, anti-tumer properties, energy boosting properties (well, ok, duh, sugar.) Herbalists have used honey to treat sore throats, coughs, nausea, all sorts of things.  And believe me, when you make your own baked goods or foods with a little honey or maple syrup, there is literally a little honey  or maple syrup. You are being mindful and conscious and getting way less sugar than the loads you get hidden in the products at the grocery store.

Honey is also a great way to incorporate healing herbs and wild edible plants into your diet. I love making things like infused honeys, vinegars, jams and butters that I actually use. It’s nice to make a tincture every once in a while, but those tend to sit on my shelf for years. The other things I use daily.  (I also love drying plants to use as teas, I use these all the time, too!)

Herbal and wild flower infused honeys are so amazing. I add them to tea, spread them on toast or rice cakes or drizzle them over homemade scones. And they are wonderfully easy to make. First get yourself some high quality (which usually means local) raw honey. Then find some empty jars. Now find your favorite herbs or wild flowers and you are in business. In general here is what I do:

  • Fill the jar halfway with fresh plants. Good ones to use for honeys include: violet flowers, calendula flowers, any kind of mint, sage, basil, anise hyssop, ginger, fennel.
  • Next pour honey over the herbs to fill the jar. Use a chopstick to tamp down and release air bubbles.
  • Cover and let sit in a warm place (the sun works well!) for at least 10 days before use. The honey will keep a long time, just keep the herbs right in there. They won’t mold, honey will act as a preservative. And the herbs are yummy to eat when spread on bread!
  • Label! Label as you would everything: the plant or plants, the medium (honey) and the date, including the year.

Herbal Infused Honeys and Sun Tea

Herbal Infused Honeys and Sun Tea

Above are three honeys I made recently:  calendula and chocolate mint, lemon balm leaves and lemon peel, the third is sage leaves. On the left is chocolate mint sun tea. All you do to make sun tea is fill a jar with fresh herbs, cover with water, put the lid on and set it in the sun for at least 6 hours, but that is another post!

Enjoy!

~ Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac

Food Under Foot

Birch Center for Health

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Wild Edibles Walk at Schenley Oval

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Wild Edibles Walk Schenley Park, August, 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Verala

Wild Edibles Walk Schenley Park, August, 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Verala

Our first evening wild edibles walk was a great success! Thank you to everyone who came. We took our time walking the one kilometer loop, stopping to discuss nearly 20 edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. We also discussed how to make tinctures, vinegars, oils and salves, how to identify, harvest and use the plants and some of our favorite ways to prepare them to eat.  Our next walks are planned for the end of Sept and into October. The dates haven’t been announced yet but stay tuned!

Some of the plants we discussed this evening included:

  • plantain - both wide leaf plantain (Plantago major) and narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata.) We talked about using plantain as an edible and medicinally, and how to gather the seeds.
  • dandelion
  • burdock - plenty of old burdock with lots of sticky burs, and an abundance of young first year plants whose roots and leaf stalks are great to harvest right now.
  • Pokeberry - This dark poison berry is also abundant now. It can be used as an ink or dye.
  • photo127Oak Tree/Acorn
  • Mulberry Tree
  • Hawthorn berries/haws
  • Motherwort
  • Golden Rod (what people often think they’re allergic to, but the pollen travels by insect, not wind. It is used medicinally to combat allergies.)
  • Ragweed (what people are actually allergic to - this inconspicuous plant with green flowers has wind-born pollen and is what many people with fall allergies are allergic to.)
  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Dryad’s Saddle Mushroom - usually thought of as a spring mushroom, makes a reappearance again in late summer and fall.
  • Lamb’s Quarters
  • Broad Leaf Dock, leaves and seeds
  • Red Clover
  • White Clover
  • Wood Sorrel

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us tonight, and to Jen Verala for snapping some great photos of the walk! (If anyone else has photos they want to share with me and the Food Under Foot family, send them to Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com. I will credit you! Dave forgot to take photos.)

Thanks!

Melissa Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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Walk With Us, Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 6:30 pm

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Easy Walk:  Flat, 1K (0.67 mile) loop around Schenley Oval. Pittsburgh, PA.

Type of Walk: Educational! We will find and discuss about 20 edible and medicinal plants on the walk. We will discuss how to identify and use these common plants. Bring your camera, a notebook and a bag if you want to collect some Hawthorn berries.

Cost: $10 adults, $5 kids age 6 - 17, (kids 5 and under are free)

Where: Schenley Oval. We’ll meet by the bathrooms at the top of the oval, near the track.

When: 6:30 pm until about 8 pm or so

Facilities: Bathroom, Port-a-Potties, water fountains

RSVP: Please let me know if you are coming on the walk! Please email Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com. We are going to limit the walk to 20 people, so if more than 20 want to come we may be able to offer a second walk on Thursday evening. Please RSVP as soon as you can, thanks!

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We hope you are able to join us next Wednesday evening, August 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm for a walk on the 1K loop around the Schenley oval in Pittsburgh, PA. We were just up there today and were amazed at the bounty of wild edible and medicinal plants! In one loop around the oval we saw over 20 plants (and mushrooms!) we can discuss including Dryad’s saddle (this early spring mushroom comes back in the fall!), red clover, dandelion, burdock, motherwort, Hawthorn, lambs quarters, acorns, plantain, wood sorrel and so much more!

red clover

red clover

Hawthorne berries, or Haws

Hawthorne berries, or Haws

Self Heal, or Heal-All

Self Heal, or Heal-All

It’s going to be a lot of fun! Many people have requested evening hikes so I hope you will be able to make it! Our weekends are booked through mid-September, but look for some fall hikes coming up at the end of September and into October.

Hope to see you there!

Questions? Call Dave at (412) 381-0116

Register by email: Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com

$10 adults, $5 kids 6 - 17 (kids 5 and under free), bring cash or check to walk

Thanks!!

Melissa

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Cook Forest Chanterelles

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We haven’t been out foraging this year as much as I’d like. Last year was a fantastic chanterelle year. This year, well, I honestly didn’t know.

This weekend we went up to Cook Forest State Park. Our reserved campsite was a mistake: loud, on the path to the bathroom, crowded, noisy. Luckily there were other spots available and we found a quiet one which was just at the start of a hiking trail.

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After setting up camp we took an evening hike.  There on the side of the trail were beautiful chanterelles.

chanterelles

chanterelles

We sauteed them with onions and roasted them in the fire into mountain pies with cheese.

img_0169The next morning we went out and harvested some more:

img_0158We sauteed them with onions, potatoes and had them with the most delicious eggs we picked up on an Amish farm in Smicksburg, on the way up to Cook Forest.

Later that morning we went to the Clarion farmer’s market and found a woman selling, alongside her organic produce, chanterelles by the pound.

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The woman told us it is a GREAT year for chanterelles. She agreed that last year was fantastic, and reported this year is even better. “There’s been so much rain that my lettuce is terrible, my cucumbers practically non-existent, but the chanterelles are everywhere. They are saving my organic farm!”

How has your chanterelle season been? I’m back in Pittsburgh, and I’m going out as soon as I can to find more!

Don’t know how to cook chanterelles? Check out these past posts:

Hope your summer is fantastic and that you are out foraging safely and sustainably!

Festive Foraging!

~ Melissa and the folks at Food Under Foot

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Our New eBook - Wild Edibles 101

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wild-edibles-101-page-001By request, this is a popular book from our workshops, made available for general purchase!

When we offer workshops at Food Under Foot, we start with a wild edibles walk, learning to identify common weeds. We talk about their use as food and medicine and how and when to sustainably harvest the plants. Then we return to the workshop space (often the Birch Center in Pittsburgh’s South Side) and I demonstrate making a dish using some of the wild plants. I’ve made pesto, smoothies, vinegars, etc. Then we all get to sample!

Making a Wild Green Smoothie

Making a Wild Green Smoothie at a Workshop in Chalk Hill, PA

The workshops are fun and often I send the participants home with a book, reviewing 8 of the most commonly seen weeds with a recipe or two for each. Nothing overwhelming, just a natural accompaniment to the workshop.

Well, we had a few extra of these books laying around the Birch Center and some acupuncture clients took notice. They wanted a copy for themselves! Once we sold out of those I figured I’d make it available to everyone here online.

Remember, this book is simple: 101! But it has good pictures, easy-to-follow directions and useful recipes. Some are similar to what you may have already seen on the website or in the 5 part wild edible series that comes free when you join our mailing list. But it’s nice to have them all in one place.

This book showcases 8 of the most common weeds: dandelion, burdock, red clover, lambs quarters, garlic mustard, onion grass, plantain, and mugwort, and gives recipes to turn them into vinegars, wine, pesto, tea, smoothies and more. This is a simple book with simple recipes (about 25 pages), but if you want to get started with the weeds you’ll likely find anywhere in the US, this is the place to start!

Here are the contents:

  • Red Clover
    • Red Clover Iced Tea
    • Red Clover Apple Cookies
  • Garlic Mustard
    • Garlic Mustard Pesto (vegan)
    • Garlic Mustard Vinegar
  • Lambs Quarters
    • Wild Green Smoothie
  • Dandelion
    • Easy Dandelion Wine
  • Burdock
    • Lemony Ginger Burdock Juice
  • Plantain
    • Plantain Crisps
  • Mugwort
    • Mugwort Vinegar
  • Onion Grass
      Onion Grass Vinegar

Color photos, plant descriptions and step-by-step recipes. If you are an expert forager with years of experience this may not be the book for you. But if you want to get started, maybe compile some great easy recipes from this website all in one place, this is a great place to start!

Just $3.99, about 25 pages

8 common plants, 10 uncommon recipes

Wild Edibles 101

Add to Cart

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Happy Foraging!
~ Melissa

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Return To The Blueberry Bog

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The Bog At Black Moshannon State Park

The Bog At Black Moshannon State Park

Remember last year when we went to the Blueberry Bash at Black Moshannon State Park? We went again this year!

Blueberries (Last Year's Picture...My Camera Stopped Working This Year.)

Wild Blueberries From The Bog (Last Year's Picture...My Camera Stopped Working This Year.)

Unfortunately my camera stopped working after only a few shots. But here is our experience in a nutshell, and a few tips:

  1. Make sure you have a good camera.
  2. Bring binoculars for spectacular birdwatching.
  3. Bring bug repellent! It was a nice sunny day this year and the biting flies were literally out in swarms! It drove us from the bog, we barely got any berries this year.
  4. The environmental center was full of blueberry treats but also…sugar overload. I came home exhausted and with a pounding headache.
  5. If you are in Western Pa, you still have at least a couple weeks to go harvest berries here! Because of the long cold winter the berries are late in ripening and there were loads of unripe berries on the bushes.

Today I made some bug repellent. I wish I had it yesterday! To make add strong essential oils (I used eucalyptus, peppermint, orange and rosemary because that is what we had on hand) to olive oil. I also added some St. John’s Wort oil which I had made by steeping wild St. John’s Wort flowers and buds in olive oil.

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We hope you are enjoying this gorgeous summer! What are you harvesting these days?

Happy Foraging!

Melissa Sokulski from Food Under Foot

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Great Walks This Weekend!

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We had wonderful walks this past Saturday and Sunday at Frick Park in Pittsburgh - thanks to everyone who attended!

Although we did not find morels, we found plenty of Dryad Saddle (also called Pheasant Back):

Dryad Saddle Mushroom, An Edible Polypore

Dryad Saddle Mushroom, An Edible Polypore

We also identified and discussed many wild edible and medicinal plants over the past two days including:

  • Wild Carrot/Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota
  • Mugwort, Artemesia vulgaris
  • Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca
  • Mulberry, Morus
  • Lamb’s Quarters, Chenopodium alba
  • Garlic Mustard, Alliaria pettiolata
  • Onion Grass
  • Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis
  • Violet, Viola
  • Chickweed, Stellaria media
  • Nettles, Urtica dioica
  • Deadnettles, Lamium purpurea
  • Cleavers, Galium aparine
  • Plantain, Plantago major
  • Burdock, Arctium lappa
  • Broad-leaf Dock, Rumex obtusifolius
  • Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum biflorum

chickweed

chickweed

We identified some poisonous plants:

  • Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum
  • Poison Ivy, Rhus radicans

We also discussed how to find and identify elm and tulip poplar trees (which helps in searching for morels.)

We are working on the dates for more 2014 walks and workshops…they will be posted soon.

Hope to see you!

~ Melissa and David Sokulski

Food Under Foot

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Wild Edibles Walk and Morel Mushroom Sale THIS Saturday!

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Please join us for a wild edibles walk and morel mushrooms sale this Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 10:30 - 12:30 at Frick Park Environmental Center.

There are so many fantastic wild edibles out there right now - including morel mushrooms and Dryad Saddle mushrooms - let’s see if we can find some!

Of course we can’t guarantee morel findings, but we CAN tell you Frick Park is a well known morel playground! At least you’ll learn what to look for and we’ll share some great tips on how to find them. We’ll bring samples of all the different equally delicious types of morels there are to find around here including little grays, black, half-free and yellow.

We’ll also find and discuss at least 15 common wild edible plants including dandelion, burdock, dead nettles, chickweed, cleavers and many many more.

If you’d like to buy some morels from us we are selling them in 3oz bags - which as you can see below is quite a lot of morels!

3 oz of morels

3 oz of morels

The walk is $5/person, and each 3 oz bag of fresh morels is $5.

Please register and let me know how many 3 oz bags you would like (ideally.) I will try to make sure each person who wants morels gets some, so if you’d ideally like 3 bags that will only be possible if there are more morels left over after everyone who wants some gets some.

Register by sending an email to: Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com with your name, email and phone number, how many will be on the walk with you and if you’d like morels how many bags you would ideally like.

We’ll meet at Frick Environmental Center, 2005 Beechwood Blvd (where the Earth Day walks were.) There is a parking lot there and we’ll meet at the circle garden (by the Port-A-Johns.)

In a nutshell:

What: Wild Edibles Walk and Morel Sale, rain or shine

When: Saturday, May 17, 2014 10:30 am until about 12:30

Where: Frick Park Environmental Center, 2005 Beechwood Blvd. We’ll meet by the circular garden at the entrance of the park.

Cost: $5 per person for the walk, plus $5 per 3 oz bag of fresh morel mushrooms (of course you do not need to buy mushrooms, you can just come for the walk…maybe you’ll find your own!)

RSVP: Melissa@FoodUnderFoot.com with how many in your party and how many 3 oz bags of morels (we’ll try to fill all orders, making sure everyone who would like gets at least one bag) or call: (412) 381-0116

Questions: (412) 381-0116

Hope to see you Saturday!

~ Melissa and Dave

* Please Note: You do not have to buy morels to go on the hike with us! (walk is $5/person)

** Also, we’ll have more hikes, workshops and learning opportunities this year and we’ll give you much more notice! We just wanted to get out while it is still morel season so you can learn how to find morels!!

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