Browsing the archives for the maple syrup tag.


Flower Fritters

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Before going raw, I made some scrumptious flower fritters with red clover blossoms and dandelion flowers. They were incredibly easy to make. They were inspired by my friend Vanessa who told me she’d made some with dandelion flowers: just mix egg, flour and milk for batter, dip the flowers and fry. Then drizzle with maple syrup.

I used coconut milk and buckwheat flour (to make them gluten-free and dairy-free), fried them in olive oil and voila: pure yumminess!

Red Clover and Dandelion Flower Fritters

Red Clover and Dandelion Flower Fritters

Recipe: Flower Fritters

Batter

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (you can use any milk)
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour (you can use any flour)

Mix ingredients together.

You’ll also need:

  • red clover blossoms
  • dandelion flowers (you can do one or the other or both)
  • olive oil
  • maple syrup

Dip flowers into batter, covering the flower with batter.

In a small pan (or pot) with olive oil, drop battered flowers. Flip when browned (this only takes a couple minutes.)

Remove onto cloth or paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

~ Melissa

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Week 6 Wild Food CSA

CSF Newsletters, Raw, Recipes
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In your share this week:

  • plantain leaves
  • burdock roots and stalks
  • red clover flowers
  • nettles
  • violet leaves
  • lemon balm
  • creeping charlie

Plantain leaves are excellent to eat (raw in salad or in soups or stir-fried). I also love to coat them with a special dressing and dehydrate them a la kale chips. If you get our newsletter you have seen this recipe for plantain crisps, but I will also include it below.

Plantain is also a wonderful medicinal plant. The leaves are used fresh from the yard, crushed and applied to bee stings, nettle stings, or bug bites. You can also make an oil by chopping the leaves (or cutting into small pieces with scissors) and covering them with olive oil. Let it steep for a couple weeks then strain the leaves out saving the oil. This oil is excellent to take the itch away from bug/misquito bites and even poison ivy! It is safe to use on children and animals as well. To make the oil faster, place chopped plantain and oil in the blender and blend well, strain and it is ready to use. You can also gently heat the plantain and oil in a crock pot (on low) or oven with a pilot light for a couple days. Sometimes leaving the plantain in the oil too long will cause mold, so I like the faster methods of blending or lightly heating!

To make a salve, just take the strained plantain oil, gently heat on the stove (double boiler) or in a crock pot) and add some grated beeswax. Stir until beeswax melts, remove from heat and pour into a container with a wide mouth (so you can reach into it.) I also like to add lavender essential oil as it cools. Lavender is also helpful to take away redness and itching. When it cools it will become harder. Depending on how much beeswax you add is how hard it will get. I usually just add a little so it’s not too hard. (I like to scoop it up and apply liberally to poison ivy rashes!)

Recipe: Plantain Crisps:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaking makes them softer
  • water to cover cashew, use sparingly in blender and add more as needed. You want a fairly thick sauce.
  • onion, 1 Tbsp, chopped
  • garlic, 1 clove
  • lemon, juiced or 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • tamari, 2 Tbsp or salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

In a blender place cashews, water, onion, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar, tamari or salt, and nutritional yeast (optional.) Blend until creamy.  Pour over plantain leaves (or kale leaves) and massage until fully covered. Place on dehydrator tray and dehydrate on 115 until crispy (about 6 hours.) If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use your oven on a low temperature until dried and crispy. It will probably take less than an hour in the oven.

Burdock Root, also known as Wild Gobo

Burdock root is a very popular vegetable in Japan, where it is known as gobo.  If you get the newsletter you’ll have received an entire ebook on Burdock! (If you don’t get the newsletter just sign up in the green box on the right, it’s free and filled with awesome information!) Burdock root is a tonic which brings great strength. The roots can be juiced, eaten raw, cooked in soups or stews, or sliced and dried for tea or roasted (and then ground) for a coffee substitute.

Here are some links to this blog for things I have done with burdock:

Recipe: Burdock Juice

Zesty, Lemony Burdock Juice (recipe below)

Zesty, Lemony Burdock Juice

Ingredients:

juiceingredients

  • 3 apples
  • 3 inches burdock root
  • 1/4 lemon, including peel
  • ginger root

Run all ingredients through a juicer and enjoy!

Here is a recipe for Kinpira Gobo, a traditional Japanese dish.  In this dish, you peel and cut the burdock root into strips, and saute it (often with carrot cut similarly), and season with tamari, mirin (a sweet Japanese wine), sake and sesame seeds.

Last week I battered and friend the red clover blossom, and it was delicious! To keep it dairy and gluten-free, I used an egg, coconut milk and buckwheat flour for the batter. I simply dipped clover blossoms (and dandelion blossoms) in, and fried in olive oil. Then I drizzled the fritters with maple syrup and enjoyed!

Red clover blossom and dandelion fritters

Red clover blossom and dandelion fritters

I have been using the violet greens and flowers in salads and on sandwiches.

This week I plan to dry some nettles to have as tea, and also I’ve been enjoying the nettles in a simple potato soup:

Recipe: Red Lentil, Potato, Nettle Soup

Red lentil, potato, nettle soup

Red lentil, potato, nettle soup

  • potatoes, chopped
  • nettles, blanched (in the soup water) and chopped, then re-added to soup at end
  • onions, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • red lentils
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water

Heat the water until boiling and add nettles to blanch (removes sting). Remove nettles and chop, saving the broth for the soup.

Add red lentils, potatoes, onions, garlic and boil until potatoes and lentils are soft.

Add salt and pepper, return chopped nettles to soup.

Ideas for lemon balm:

  • Add to smoothie
  • dry for tea
  • steep in honey for a delicious flavored honey

Creeping Charlie makes its return from week one. This is a mint found commonly in yards and gardens. It has a refreshing sharp minty taste. It can be dried for use as tea, added to smoothies or added to dishes (like tabouli) or rice for a minty bite.

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Video of Maple Tree Tapping

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Here is a short video I took of Dave tapping the maple tree. It goes a little wonky at first…but it’s pretty interesting to see how fast the sap starts to flow!

For more info on our maple tree tapping and syrup/sugar making, you can see these previous posts:

Enjoy the video!

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Wild Tree Water, Syrup, Sugar

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Freshly collect maple sap before boiling: wild tree water!

Freshly collect maple sap before boiling: wild tree water!

Above is our wild tree water: the fresh sap collected from maple trees. It looks and has the consistency of water, but tastes slightly sweet. Maple water is a true spring elixir! We loved drinking it just like this: I filled my water bottles with it and we used it as a base for our smoothies. Heated up it makes an excellent base for teas as well (sweet teas!) But really it is only slightly sweet, and if you are used to drinking sweet things like soda pop you may think it just tastes like water.

At first we boiled it down on the stove, which has many drawbacks, especially if making a whole season worth of syrup. You need to boil it for a very long time, so that uses a lot of gas or electricity. It also puts off a lot (!) of moisture, so your wallpaper (if you have it) may peel and your home will become quite humid. Outdoor cooking is ideal. We cooked it outdoors and boiled it way down, then took it inside to finish, because at the end you want to watch it and make sure it doesn’t burn.

boiling the sap into syrup

boiling the sap into syrup

You can use a wood fire outside, but our good friend Joe brought over his propane beer making keg, which worked fantastically!

Propane beer making "keg" which we used to boil down the syrup

Propane beer making "keg" which we used to boil down the syrup

Here you can see the sap inside, as we were heating it to a boil:

sap heating up in the cooker - looks like water

sap heating up in the cooker - looks like water

The beer making keg had a thermometer, which allowed us to see that it did boil at 212 F. If you are in the mountains this may be different.

Boiling at 212 F

Boiling at 212 F

We drained off the cooked sap, but it was still not quite finished. We took it inside to boil it for another hour or so until it became syrup. You will know it is syrup because the color darkens, and the property of the boiling changes: it looks like little fizzy bubbles coming up through a thicker liquid. You have to watch because at this point it can boil over.

draining off boiled sap to finish inside

draining off boiled sap to finish inside

Also, if you have a cooking thermometer, the syrup is done when the temperature goes up 7 degrees from the boiling point (in our case, it went up to 219 degrees.)

maple syrup

maple syrup

The syrup may turn out lighter or darker than you expect, and even from batch to batch. Here is our syrup on the left (lighter) versus some grade B store bought syrup:

Our syrup (left) is much lighter in color than the store bought syrup on the right.

Our syrup (left) is much lighter in color than the store bought syrup on the right.

Another fun thing to do is make maple candies. I poured off all but about a cup of syrup, and kept the final cup simmering on the stove. I stirred it fairly constantly for about 45 more minutes. It kept almost boiling over, but when I stirred it would calm down. When it reached 234 degrees it boiled way up and I knew it was done. I poured it off and make little candies, which were not hard candy, but molds of maple sugar.

maple sugar candies

maple sugar candies

maple candies

maple candies

maple sugar

maple sugar

We enjoyed our maple syrup adventure so much!!

Two books I used which helped me with this process are:

Thanks so much to Tracey whose trees we tapped and who offered us a place to stay for the better part of a week, and Joe for all his help and for the use of his beer making keg. What a wonderful week of connecting with friends and nature.

You can also read about how we made our own spiles and how we actually tapped the trees in the past couple blog updates.

Hope you are all enjoying the earth’s awakening! We are also waking up and getting ready for the emergence of many wild edibles. I bet Wintercress is already out there. We have a surprise for you coming soon so stay tuned!

Lots of love and light and life!

Melissa Sokulski of Food Under Foot

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Making Maple Syrup, collecting the sap

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We are back from collecting sap and boiling it down into syrup and sugar. What a great experience. We left the taps in the trees because the sap will continue flowing all through March (until the leaves come out on the trees, then the tree will begin to make new food again through photosynthesis). Our friend will continue to drink the delicious sap (which has the look and consistency of water but tastes just a little sweet) - she’s a raw foodie. Maple sap is an amazing spring elixir and tonic.

First, locate your maple tree. Right now in Western Pa it has small red buds. The bark is light gray and smooth with fine vertical ridges when it is young, as it matures it will turn dark gray with deeper ridges. You’ll be able to see the bark in the pictures below. You want a tree that is at least 10 inches in diameter, or has about a 31 inch circumference. The guidelines in this bulletin from the University of Maine’s cooperative extension let you know how many taps you can put in a tree based on the size of the tree.

One of our beautiful budding maple trees!

One of our beautiful budding maple trees!

You can tap any kind of maple tree for syrup, whether it is a sugar maple or not. Red maples, silver maples any kind of maple. Sugar maples usually have more sugar in their sap than others, but that is not always the case. It does take quite a lot of sap to make syrup, though (you’ll see in later posts.) But it’s about 40:1, so 40 quarts (or 10 gallons) of sap water will boil down to about 1 quart of syrup. By the way, other kinds of trees can be tapped for syrup as well including sycamore and birch.

First, we used a battery operated drill (you can also use a hand crank) to drill a 1/2 inch hole about 2-3 inches into the tree, at a slightly upward angle (so the sap could flow down our spile into our jug.)

Drilling a 1/2 inch hole about 2-3 inches into the maple tree

Drilling a 1/2 inch hole about 2-3 inches into the maple tree

Then we tapped the spiles which we made from staghorn sumac (see our previous post for info on how to do this) into the hole. The sap immediately started dripping out of our spile. Luckily we picked a beautiful sunny afternoon to tap the trees. The trees need to be about 40 degrees F for the sap to flow. It flows best in the late winter/early spring, when temperatures rise above freezing during the day and drop below freezing again at night.

Tapping in the spile we carved out of staghorn sumac

Tapping in the spile we carved out of staghorn sumac

We used empty plastic water jugs to collect the sap. We actually left the top on, but made a hole (or sometimes an “x” with a knife into the side of the jug,) which fit over the spile. This allowed the sap to flow directly into jug, protecting it from wind or rain and kept bugs and other debris out.

Placing the jug over the spile to collect the sap

Placing the jug over the spile to collect the sap

We could have made a notch in the spile and hung the jug from their, but we chose to put a nail in the tree and hang the jug from there. (Really the jug stayed on the spile by itself, but we did this just in case.)

Tapping a nail into the tree to hang the jug

Tapping a nail into the tree to hang the jug

You can buy maple syruping supplies like metal spiles and buckets on line (or if you are in New England maybe even at your local hardware stores.) But we had fun carving our own spiles and catching the sap in these jugs worked quite well.

Stay tuned to find out how we boiled it down to make delicious syrup and delectable candies.

I’m so excited that the earth is waking up and that wild food will soon be out in abundance!!!

Love,
Melissa Sokulski from Food Under Foot

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Food Under Foot Taps Maple Trees!

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We love collecting wild foods in the city. One thing our little house with it’s 20 by 60 foot property does not afford us, though, are maple trees.

Fortunately we have friends with land that live nearby and this year they have invited us to tap their trees to collect maple sap and make syrup! We are so grateful and super excited!

We got up bright and early this morning and collected some sticks from staghorn sumac trees. The hole in the tree will be 1/2 inch diameter, so we tried to find sticks that were just a little bigger. Sumac trees have a soft pith inside which is easy to push out with metal coat hanger. Then we widdled one end down to less than 1/2 inch, this is the side we will hammer into the tree (after drilling a 1/2″ diameter hole about 2-3 inches into the tree, see our next post which tells exactly what we did.)

100_0586

tapered ends

tapered ends

This is how a staghorn sumac looks during the summer, just in case you are wondering which tree I am talking about:

Sumac tree in bloom with foliage - not how it looks right now!

Sumac tree in bloom with foliage - not how it looks right now!

Now there are no leaves, but the old red berry clusters are still on them, which makes them very easy to identify. The staghorn sumac has velvety branches, but you can use any red berried sumac. Poisonous sumac has white berries, so as long as you see trees with clusters of these red berries (which may not be as vibrant red now, but they will still look red) you have the right tree to use. I believe elderberry trees also have a soft pith that can be pushed out, so if you happen to know of an elderberry tree you can use those instead.

We put 11 spiles into 8 trees and have been collecting sap and boiling it down into syrup for 3 days now! We’ve made delicious maple syrup and delectible maple candies. I’ll share more later…with pictures and maybe even a video or two!

Enjoy mud season! It’s also maple syrup season!
~ Melissa Sokulski
Food Under Foot

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