Posts Tagged With: vinegar

Homemade Blackberry Vinegar – Free Food!

Blackberries.  You can't escape them in Autumn!

Blackberries. You can’t escape them in Autumn!

Its that time of year, when blackberries are everywhere and we need inspiration outside crumbles and cakes.  Jane and I try to pick as many as possible, although sometimes its a thankless task.  They are not the easiest fruits to harvest (especially wearing shorts!)  Braving all those thorns is well worth it though.  Blackberries are one of my favourite berries and so versatile.  Vinegar may not be the most obvious way to use them but turning fruit into vinegar is wonderfully simple and the best thing about it is, they last for an age. Perfect for preserving our seasonal berry gluts.  Fruit vinegar is also quite an expense in the shops so you’re saving a few pennies.

REASONS TO GO BLACKBERRY PICKING

  1. Once you’re out there, it’s actually loads of fun!
  2. Eating blackberries makes our brains work better and also make our skin look younger.
  3. They are FREE!
  4. You can use the leaves of the blackberry plant.  We dry them out and use them to make tea.  The most tender leaves work best.

FREE-STYLE FORAGER

Its a good idea to have some bags or punnets in your car, when you see a blackberry hot spot, you can leap out and share in the wealth.  You can also arrange a family/ group of friends collective forage.  This means you can prepare vinegar or blackberry jams or compotes together in big pans.  This works out more cost effective and there is something very rewarding about a jar of homemade, foraged jam in the heart of winter.  Full of good memories and nutritional vitality.

Blackberry vinegar can be used in salad dressing or drank with some hot water (think a hot cordial) for a vitamin boost on a cold autumn day. You may also like to try roasting beetroots with the vinegar, similar to when we use balsamic vinegar in roasting roots. The results are delicious and are all the more satisfying because you made it! For free! From the hedgerow!!

So get out there with your punnets (or buckets).  Free berries for all!  That’s (almost) free food!

Beach House Blackberries

Beach House Blackberries

The Bits – Makes roughly 300ml Vinegar

250g blackberries
125ml white wine vinegar
150g unrefined light brown sugar

Do It

Soak blackberries in vinegar for 5 day to 1 week. The longer you leave them, the more concentrated the flavour. We left ours for 10 days.

You can use a sieve to support the muslin if you choose to lightly press the blackberries.

You can use a sieve to support the muslin if you choose to lightly press the blackberries.

Strain using muslin. You can either leave hanging above a vessel for 12 hours or pass through the muslin. The blackberry pulp left over should be relatively dry.

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Add the vinegar and sugar to a saucepan and bring gently to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes stirring regularly. The sugar should be completely combined with the vinegar.

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Leave the vinegar to cool and the store in a clean bottle with a decent cork/lid.

Bottle it up and enjoy!

Bottle it up and enjoy!

Foodie Fact

Blackberries are high in vitamin C and the very dark colour of blackberries means lots of anti-oxidants.  One of the highest in fruit.  The high tannin content of blackberries helps with intestinal inflammation, it has a soothing effect.  The high vitamin K content in blackberries is said to regulate menstruation and aids in muscle relaxation.

Categories: Autumn, Foraging, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Recipes, Vegan, Wild food | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Apple Mint Herbal Vinegar – Health Tonic Extraordinaire!

delicious minty vinegar

delicious minty vinegar

It has been a luscious blossoming blooming year for gardeners across the land. Much sunlight and only occasional rain has kept most of the slug and snail critters at bay, hoorah! And over in Staffordshire, Mum and dad’s apple mint went wild again, and started springing up everywhere in places most unexpected. We were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to harvest the lot, bring it back to the Beach House Kitchen and get creative.

When faced with huge armfuls of thick 3ft long mint stems, it is easy to find yourself wondering what on earth you’re going to do with the bounty of furry goodness there in front of you! But luckily there are many ways to preserve herbs – in oils, vinegars, dried in jars; and many uses for the finished product like salad dressings, flavouring for your cooking, teas and delightful herbal baths! Lets face it a whole shelf of different herbal vinegars is pure visual delight – and that’s before you’ve even eaten any!

yummy mint, fresh and dried

yummy mint, fresh and dried

The Bits

Glass or plastic jar with waxed paper and elastic band for lid if metal (vinegar disintegrates metal lids)

Apple cider vinegar with the mother culture (great for your digestive system)

Aromatic herbs, such as apple mint (or all the other kinds of mint too), chives and chive blossom, dandelion flowers and leaves, organic orange peel, lavender flowers, even nettles…. The list goes on…

Do it

Fill a jar with your freshly cut chopped herbs, making sure the jar is well filled but not packed too tightly either… (After a few goes you’ll get the idea, I don’t think I put enough in ours)!

Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full.

Cover jar with wax paper held on with a rubber band and metal lid on top, or a plastic lid, or a cork.

Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date.

Put the jar in a kitchen cupboard not too hot and not too cold but out of direct sunlight and leave for 6 weeks.

Don’t forget it’s there!

Serve

Over salads or beans and grains at dinner, in salad dressings, or to season stir fries and soups.

You can even drink it in the morning in a glass of water as a health tonic, after all what could be more healthy than your own produce soaked in apple cider vinegar!

We love it

There’s a lovely aspect of this creative process too and it’s all about the love and appreciation of food that has come out of your own soil. The very act of stripping the leaves from the stem, drying them, and getting creative all feels like a very natural and heart-warming process; one which our ancestors would have done too, to preserve that nourishing goodness of Summer ready for darker Wintery times. And it is SO good for you! Daily use of preserved herbs gives you a little health boost with virtually no expense or effort.

Foodie fact

Herbs are magic because of the high level of nutrients they contain – mint for example contains a lot of Calcium.

Apple cider vinegar has been known as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates swore by it, along with honey. It is incredible at lowering cholesterol, improving skin tone, and even for arthritis. It is also very good at dissolving nutrients from plants which water is not so good at, meaning this vinegar is super-healthy and mineral rich.

Ever seen your granny splash some vinegar onto her greens before serving? Eaten with iron rich vegetables like spinach or broccoli, vinegar can increase the amount of calcium you get by a third. Pretty amazing stuff!

Vinegar is highly alkaline, I know that sounds strange, but when it is metabolised by the body, it goes through a serious change.  Alkaline foods are incredible for health and keep disease and other baddies at bay.

minty spiral

minty spiral

Categories: Foraging, Infusions, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Wonders of Honeygar and the Alkaline Body

Hagar (Honey and Cider Vinegar)

Honey and cider vinegar combined with just boiled water is normally called ‘Honeygar’ and a mighty fine thing it is.  This potion is not only a lovely brew (an acquired taste) it also has great health properties and cures many ailments.  Both Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians are said to have appreciated the healing properties of cider vinegar.  It  has also been used as an anti-aging elixir, which is always popular!

Good cider vinegar is a completely natural product and is normally made by allowing crushed apples to ferment in oak barrels.  It has cleansing and disinfecting properties which self detoxify the body and it is a powerful cleansing agent and healing elixir with naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria.  Honey (unprocessed) is normally added to make the drink more palatable.

Cider Vinegar also helps to keep the body nicely alkaline.  Vinegar is obviously acid but when broken down in the stomach becomes alkaline.  An alkaline body fights germs and disease better and helps to ward off ailments such as bladder and kidney conditions, osteoporosis, aching muscles, low energy and chronic fatigue, and slow digestion.

Raw fruits, leafy green vegetables, tea and legumes are examples of alkaline foods.  Interestingly a foods actual pH is not a good indicator of a food that has acidic effects on the body, for example, lemons and limes when processed by the body actually have a very alkaline effect.  All animal products are acid forming, even if they have a alkaline pH prior to digestion.  The ideal ratio of alkaline to acid foods in a diet id 70/30.  High stress levels can also effect the amount of acid produced in the body.  For more on getting alkaline see here.

Cider vinegar is especially good at treating arthritis and with the British national health service restricting the access to arthritis treatments, many people are looking for alternative methods of treatment.  There have been many articles recently in the press verifying these healing effects.

Lillies on the windowsill (nothing to do with Cider Vinegar, but lovely non-the-less)

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the famous explorer and endurance chap, suffered with arthritis in his hand and hip and turned to drinking honeygar.  He says “Without it I wouldn’t be able to have done all the things I have done…it has completely kept my arthritis at bay.”

Honeygar is best drank regularly and can take a while to kick in, so stick with it.  It also must be combined with a low acid diet, that means no nasty foods high in sugar, nothing processed (factory food) and alcohol.  If you have stiff muscles and joints, try taking regular hot baths with epsom salts.

I have a hip that clicks and a dodgy neck, which are probably old injures from when I was young and used to do terrible things to my body, all in the name of sports.  I have started to drink honeygar and will keep you posted on the progress of my dodgy bits.

I think the message is, get off those awful painkillers and other drugs if you can and try something different.  There is enough evidence out there to suggest that honeygar and a huge number of other alternative remedies actually work.   This is not always backed up by medical tests, but who needs that when it works!

When buying cider vinegar, check that it contains the ‘mother’ and is organic.  This ensures that it is completely natural, the good stuff, and has not been distilled.   The distillation process kills of the powerful enzymes and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, iron copper, fluorine, silicon, pectin and natural malic and tartaric acids, which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting bacteria growth.

‘Hagar’ Recipe

Add 2 tbs cider vinegar and top up with freshly boiled water, add honey to taste (1 tbs is normally good for us)

Some of the info for this post came from the great benefits of honey site and an article in the Daily Telegraph

*Since writing is article Lee has gone fully vegan and now uses other sweeteners like maple syrup or date syrup to sweeten this drink.  The apple cider vinegar is the main reason for drinking Hagar and can be sweetened with whatever you prefer. 

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Categories: Healing foods, Healthy Living, Infusions, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 76 Comments

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