The Very Basics About Canning Safety Everyone Should Know!

Canning basicsCanning your own food, once a dying skill, is growing rapidly in popularity.  In Vancouver BC last year, the most popular course around was a canning course.  With the growing locavore movement, the higher cost of food, and concern about our food safety and health, a growing number of people want to know how to grow and/or preserve their own food.  It isn’t hard to do, and this skill can make a huge difference in your food bill and quality of life.  But there are some very basic rules that you MUST follow to prevent a very serious illness called botulism

“And just because our grandmothers did it a certain way and never got sick doesn’t mean it is safe.”

I know someone who, very new to canning, cooked and cut the corn off some cobs, stuck it into hot jars and put the lids on.  They sealed and she believed they were safe.  They were not.  Not only were they not canned at all, but being a low acid food they required pressure canning at the right amount of pounds for the right amount of time to be safe to eat.  Without doing this you are risking a rare but very real and deadly bacteria called botulism.  By following certain guidelines, however, you can safely can food without being afraid of botulism.   It is, after all, simply a science.

What is botulism?  Botulism is a rare but potentially deadly illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria called clostridium botulinum.  The bacteria may be present while you are canning.  You can’t smell, taste or see it, and the food product will not look spoiled even if it is.  It is serious enough to cause nerve damage, paralysis, and even death.  Even a small taste of it can kill you.

There are two types of canning: water bath canning and pressure canning.  Water bath canning simply means placing the filled jars into a large pot, covering the jars to an inch over the tops, and boiling for a specified amount of time. All you need to know is how long to boil for to kill mold spores in the jars, as well as how to pack the jars (hot or cold).  Pressure canning means canning food in a pressurized canner that has a pressure guage on the top.  When you pressure can you need to be familiar with the safety guidelines for pressure canning, and you need to know the required pressure and time for whatever product you want to can.

Here are the basic rules that you should follow.  Please also check the links below for reliable canning information.

  1. Water bath canning is safe only for high acid and high sugar products, which means it is safe for most fruits, pickles and jams. Water bath canning only gets the product as high as boiling temperature which is hot enough to kill mold spores (all that would grow in a high acid environment) but not hot enough to kill bacteria like botulism, which grows in low acid environments that are sealed.
  2. Pressure canning is safe for canning low acid products like meat, vegetables, sauces, etc. It brings the product to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria spores that may be present, such as the dreaded botulism.
  3. Some things you cannot ever safely pressure can, such as dairy, pureed squash or pumpkin, pureed potatoes, zucchini, rice, corn starch, flour, pasta noodles, olives etc. mostly due to the fact that the product could break down at that high of a temperature and create an uneven consistency, and therefore uneven temperatures. Some of these products can be safely pressure canned if they are in cube form, such as squash, pumpkin and potatoes.
  4. Store you canned goods in a cool environment, not exposed to direct sunlight, with the rings off and not stacked. Keeping the rings off and not stacking means that if a seal breaks it won’t be held down by weight or by the ring, and you will notice that the seal is broken and dispose of the product.
  5. Don’t eat a product that has a broken seal.
  6. Follow guidelines from safe canning sites to know which products are safe to can and which aren’t.  Just because it is on the internet, though, doesn’t mean a recipe is safe.  Use caution and follow these rules.  If you are uncertain, check some of the sites listed below, or just freeze your product instead.
  7. Invest in a good quality pH meter or litmus paper to test your products to see if they are acidic enough. Some products like pasta sauce that include some low acid foods may not be acidic enough to water bath can and must be pressure canned. If they are lower than 4.6 on the ph scale they are safe to water bath can. Buy a pH meter here.
  8. How to choose a pressure canner: Pressure canners can range from about $85 on sale new, to over $300. A good affordable pressure canner is a Presto 23 quart canner. Make sure you get a rack with it, and the extra weights can be helpful. Always make sure you read the manual first. Pressure canning is a lot different than water bath canning.
  9. Botulism isn’t only a risk in canned foods. It can also be a concern in dehydrated foods that aren’t dry enough and are stored in an anaerobic environment (ex. vacuum packed or sealed jars). If you are unsure if your food is dry enough to store, then just store it in the freezer. 

    Some of you have found good canning safety sites. Please share your links, tips and information in the comments!  And remember that just because your grandma did it, or a blogger does it doesn’t mean it is safe…

Safe canning sites:

National Center for Home Food Preservation

Home Canning Safety

Home Canning: Keep Your Family Safe!

 

 

Berkey Water Filtration System sale and we will match your purchase to donate to Flint!

 

Berkey sale proper emailHow safe is your drinking water? 
With the recent developments in Flint, Michigan, we should all be aware that our tap water might not be what we think it is. As the effects of the lead poisoning in Flint begin to be realized, with thousands of adults and children potentially suffering irreversible brain damage, it is a good question to ask. Is your drinking water safe? And how can you know for sure?
We have a Berkey water filtration system.  It provides our family with safe drinking water.  We can filter tap water, rain, well,  pond, river or whatever other source of water we might have available. 

Berkeys filter pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, VOCs, detergents, cloudiness, silt, sediment and minerals, foul tastes and odors out of the water through a process called Microfiltration. In an emergency situation, or in every day life, Berkeys keep your water safe and clean.

Berkey Systems
911foods.com and Berkey have teamed up to create a Berkey sale that is unlike any others.

With every Berkey unit sold, 911foods will donate either 3 generic sport Berkeys or 1 big Berkey to the needy people of Flint. For every two sets of filters sold, 911foods will donate a generic sport Berkey. Berkeys and accessories will be 10% off from now until February 13th, 2016.

Units available at this time are the Berkey Travel, Berkey Light, Berkey Big, and Berkey Imperial. There is no better time to buy a Berkey! Not only will you protect your family by investing in safe drinking water, but your purchase will be directly contributing to families who are suffering with lead poisoning in Flint. Once the sale has finished the orders will be fast-tracked in order to best assist the people of Flint.
To learn more about Berkeys and 911Foods.com click here!

logo
Email me at myhealthygreenfamily@hotmail.ca to ask questions or place your order.

5 Good Reasons You Should Start Homesteading NOW!

5 Good Reasons You Should STart homesteadin now!

So you want to homestead?  Welcome to the exciting, crazy, productive, and exhausting world of homesteading!  There is so much to think about and plan, it is hard to know where to start.  People approach me on a regular basis asking for advice on starting a homestead.  So here it is.

When is the best time to start a homestead?

Yesterday.

Yesterday is the best time to start a homestead.

If you are too late to do that, then today is the best time.  I have heard countless reasons to put it off.  “We want to have everything planned out first.”  “We are waiting until we are more financially stable.”  We are waiting until we can tell it is just the right time.”   “We are waiting until after we have our children.”  “We are waiting until we are done travelling.” Those are obviously all important reasons, and for some people, starting now isn’t an option.  But for many people, these reasons are partly procrastination and partly sheer intimidation.

Because homesteading IS intimidating.  It is expensive to buy property.  It is constant daily work.   It’s a huge challenge to homestead with small children.  Travel is vitually non existant, at least not without extensive and sometimes expensive planning.  But it is also extremely rewarding.  It is highly educational, and it is, after all, how you want your children to be raised.  So what is holding you up?

5 Good Reasons to Start Homesteading Now!

Madelaine holding meat chick

1.  Start homesteading before your children are too OLD to value it. 

We started homesteading about 5 years ago, when my youngest was one year old.  We started slowly with just 5 chickens, and gradually increased our workload as we were capable.  My youngest child has known no other life and so the daily chores are a part of life.  Growing food is a part of life.  Milking goats is a part of life.  Life and death are a part of life.  And she wants it all!  My eldest child is much less interested in the daily activities and had a harder time adjusting to the switch from commercial to homemade food.  My middle child is somewhere in between.

 

apples watermarked

2.  Enjoy the fruits of your labour as soon as possible.  

Why wait until everything is ideal?  There may be no ideal time.  If you start now you and your family can start benefitting from your efforts and from chemical-free, healthy, GMO-FREE food that much sooner.  The SECOND you purchase your own property plant your fruit trees.  Make your orchard the first priority.  It takes years to grow a fruitful orchard but only months to set up laying hens or fencing for goats.  Plan that orchard now before you even think about your garden, or chickens, goats or rabbits.

 

 

Madelaine planting onions

3.  Learn to value your food. 

Homesteading teaches you how to grow and raise food, where food comes from, how hard it actually is to work for your food, and what sacrifice is involved in gathering and processing your food.

 

 

Canning Shelves watermarked 2014

4.  Learn to be more self-sufficient. 

Ever wondered what would happen if for some reason you couldn’t access a grocery store for a while?  You wouldn’t even flinch if you had food stored away, a garden to eat from, and fresh eggs and milk at your fingertips.

 

 

Wool and wheel

5.  Step out of your comfort zone and gain real-life skills. 

Our bodies and brains are meant to be worked, and homesteading is a constant treasure trove of new learning experiences, both physical and mental.  You know all those things you never thought you would do?  Do them!  Learn how to process chickens.  Help birth a difficult goat labour. Build a chicken coop from scratch out of reclaimed wood. Plant your garlic in the icy cold rain of late fall.  Open up a beehive and meet a colony of 30000 honeybees.  Stepping out of your comfort zone allows you to conquer fear and uncertainty leaving you empowered and rich.

Now that you have some good reasons to get started, check out the following resources to help you get the ball rolling!

A day in the life of a homesteader group series

A Day In The Life Of A Homesteader

A Homesteader's Thank You watermarked

A Homesteader’s Thank You.  Do You Say It Right? 

You know you are a homesteader when... titled watermarked
You Know You Are A Modern Homsteader When… 17 Telltale Signs

Homesteading with Nigerian Dwarf Goats
A Goat Is Born: Homesteading With Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Homesteading-for-Sustainability
Homesteading For Sustainability from Homespun Seasonal Living

So You Want To Be A Homesteader! Part 1 from Timber Creek Farm

Adding Animals to the homesteadAdding Animals to the Homestead from Timber Creek Farm

Inspiring Homesteads from The 104 Homestead

finding your ideal homestead land

Finding Your Ideal Homestead Land from Homestead Honey

 

 

 

 

How to Make Vanilla Extract.  It’s So Easy!

How To Make Vanilla Extract titlepageI have pretty much given up on giving gifts to adults that can’t be eaten or used up.  This way, if it doesn’t match their décor, it doesn’t matter.  If it doesn’t look good on them, it doesn’t matter.  If they don’t read it, it doesn’t matter.  If it smells good, tastes good, and can be used up, most people will like it!  Pure vanilla extract is a good example.

Real vanilla extract is expensive.  I grew up with imitation vanilla extract because it cost a fraction of the price.  Of course the real deal tastes better and is better for you, but not everyone can go that route.  Enter, homemade vanilla extract!  It is super simple to make, tastes as good or better than the commercial stuff, and makes a classy gift that can be used up.  Keep in mind it needs a minimum of 6-8 weeks to infuse so make sure you start it ahead of time!

If you are looking for organic vanilla beans, you may have trouble finding them locally. You can buy them online easily though!  May I recommend purchasing them here, from my favorite source: Mountain Rose Herbs.

Ingredients:

750 ml Vodka
12-15 vanilla beans

Directions:

  1. Split the vanilla bean pods open lengthwise, leaving the top inch still connected, exposing the tiny seeds.
  2. Place the vanilla beans into the bottle of vodka.
  3. Shake gently once a week.
  4. Vanilla has infused enough after 6-8 weeks, or leave it for months to get an even better flavour!

Notes:

  • Cheap vodka works as well as expensive vodka.
  • The longer the infusion the better the flavour so after the 6-8 weeks, when you are bottling your vanilla, place a bean in each bottle to continue the infusion.

And it is as easy as that!  Enjoy!

More great uses for vanilla beans!

Honey Sweetened Strawberry Vanilla Jam by Homespun Seasonal Living.

Pear Butter by Homespun Seasonal Living.

Make Your Own Vanilla Honey by Homestead Lady.

Homemade Vanilla Extract by Timber Creek Farm.

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract by Joybilee Farm.

 

 

How to make butter in a blender!  Easy, quick and delicious.

Butter making How TO Make Butter in a Blender WatermarkedDairy products were “created” as a way to preserve milk without refrigeration many, many years ago.  I can picture the first person ever to domesticate a goat and use its milk.  Then, after realizing how amazing it tasted, discover that it would go bad after a few days. Somehow, after who knows how long, came the discovery of ways to preserve it.  Who was the first person who discovered that a bit of a newborn goat or sheep’s stomach would create rennet and make cheese?  Who was the first person to discover you can make yogurt from heating milk and adding a culture?  And who discovered that if you take the cream off the milk and agitate it long enough you would get whipped cream, and then butter?  Of course we will never know but we do know dairy products are delicious, and when made from quality milk, they are a healthy addition to your diet.

I was given 6 pints of outdated organic whipping cream recently.  I considered the possibilities, and decided that since it was already nearing the end of its potential, it needed to be made into something that would last longer.  I had read somewhere that my Blendtec could make butter.  A Blendtec is a very high powered blender, similar to a Vitamix.  Worth a try!  I am not sure how much longer it would take to make butter in a lower powered blender.  We love and use a lot of butter, and organic butter isn’t cheap.  I poured the whipping cream into the blender and turned the blender on.  Within three seconds the blender bogged down.  What was going on in there?  I looked inside and lo and behold, in three seconds, I had whipped cream!  I will never waste my time making whipped cream with my KitchenAid again!  I started to pulse the whipped cream, and with about 3 more 1 second pulses, the whey had separated from the cream, and I had butter.  It really is that easy!

 

Make Butter in a Blender
Author: 
Recipe type: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Make butter in a high powered blender in seconds!
Ingredients
  • 1 pint whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Pour whipping cream into the blender. Do not put more than 1 pint in at a time.
  2. Pulse the blender for about 2 seconds each pulse, checking after each pulse.
  3. The cream should turn to whipped cream first.
  4. If you hear the blender bogging down, scrape the insides down with a spatula and pulse for less time. It will take only a few pulses after turning to whipped cream, to make butter.
  5. Once you start seeing the whey separate from the butter, scrape the butter into a sieve and drain the whey. Save the whey for making pancakes. Dump the butter into a bowl.
  6. Using a spatula, press the butter against the side of the bowl to get out extra whey. Pour out whey.
  7. Once you think you have removed most of the whey, rinse the butter with water, then press the butter again. If there is still whey in it, the liquid will look milky. If the whey is gone, the liquid will look clear.
  8. Once the liquid is clear, add salt to taste and stir. You can then use the butter, or freeze it for later!
Notes
Try adding herbs or spices to make a savoury butter!
The more whey you remove from the butter the harder it will get, and the longer it will last. If you don't remove all the whey it will go sour in a few days. Store in the fridge of the freezer and enjoy!

 

Images from top, clockwise: 1. bottles of whipping cream. 2.cream turns to whipped cream. 3. whipped cream turns to whey and butter. 4. butter is strained. 5. butter is squished to remove whey and then rinsed and salted.

For more great butter-making ideas scroll down!

Butter collage larger

More great butter ideas from awesome homestead bloggers:

butter post kids

How To Make Your Own Sweet Cream Butter from Reformation Acres

Four Ways To Make Homemade Butter from Montana Homesteader

Making Butter In A Jar With Kids from Homestead Honey

Homemade Raw Grass-fed Butter and Cultured Buttermilk from Livin Lovin Farmin

How To Make Butter, A Visual Guide from Imaginacres

Clean Water For Emergencies or Everyday: Berkey Water Filter and Emergency Food Kit Group Buy!

Eva filling water bottle watermarkedA few weeks ago we experienced a surprise wind storm that left half of electricity customers in our area without power.  We didn’t have power for days.  While my own family is well set up for short term power outages and other emergencies, I discovered a bit of panic in the online voices of unprepared families in the area.  Most of the concerns were “how do I keep the food in my fridge and freezer from spoiling” and “where can I find a gas station or grocery store that still has power?”  When the power came back on everyone resumed life as normal and didn’t put a second thought into the possibility of another storm in the future, or worse, a destructive earth quake or other huge natural disaster.

I am not a “doomsday prepper” by nature; I am a homesteader.  I grow and raise food for my family, and I preserve it for the winter. I value knowing where our food comes from, and what I am putting into my children.  The prepper side of my husband (well, isn’t there a little prepper in every male?) likes the stock pile of food that homesteading naturally creates.  But this doesn’t account for water.  Everyone should have a backup system or plan for water.  We see natural disasters occuring worldwide on a regular basis and the very basic need is water, followed closely by food, shelter and emergency first aid.  A water filtration system and a stash of preserved food is not just a “doomsday prepper crazy idea” but a realistic and logical action.

What would YOU do if you lost your power and water, if there was no safe way out of your area, and you had to stay put for a week, a month?  Would you survive?

Over the last few years I have teamed up with Dan from www.911foods.com.  Dan has an online store that can supply you with the basic survival foods and water systems you might need.  There are premium food buckets, ones for families, and even Gluten Free options!  There are Berkey water filter units for everyday or emergency use that remove bacteria, viruses and more from your water giving you safe drinking water from sources as dirty as pond or ditch water!  Berkey also has smaller travel units, and sport water bottles which allow you to quickly fill up your water bottle from any creek, while hiking.  (As my daughter is pictured doing, above).  There are whole home filter systems from Propur available that are created according to your needs, and even Propur water filtration straws that are perfect for your emergency supply kit! BUTTONS-02

Currently we have a group buy on until September 20Th.  If you are interested in purchasing any of the products from www.911foods.com as part of the group buy which includes a discounted rate, please email me at myhealthygreenfamily@hotmail.ca for more information.  BUTTONS-07

Clean water means life!

 

 

A Day In The Life of A Homesteader: It’s Not About The Work.

A day in the life of a homesteader group seriesSo you want to homestead?  2 weeks ago when I was dealing with a mite infestation in the chicken coop, wearing a swim cap on my head, coveralls and rubber boots to keep the mites off me, during a heat wave, I would have told you to forget it.  Earlier that year when I sat down in a stall with a labouring goat and held the sticky, damp babies I would have told you it was the only way to live.  When the weeds get the best of me and my tomatoes get blight, when I lose an animal to sickness and the chickens scratch up my mother-in-law’s garden I will tell you it is crazy.  But when I feed my children food raised and grown by my own hand, when I see them learning about birth and death, when I watch them running barefoot all summer long and eating carrots from the ground I will tell you that even if it is crazy, it is a good crazy and it is worth every effort to achieve.

It’s about hard work.  It’s about victories and failures.  It’s about sunshine and rain.  It’s about life and death.  It’s about abundance and loss.  It’s homesteading.

Enjoy watching a day in my life!  Then see how the homesteaders pictured above, spend their day.

 

A Day in the Life by Ashley of Whistle Pig Hollow
On The Farm: A Peek Into Our Life by Ashley of The Browning Homestead
The Answer to “And what did YOU do today?” by Chris of Joybilee Farm
A Day in the Life of an Urban Homesteader by Connie of Urban Overalls
A Day in My Shoes by Emilie of The Toups Address
Homesteading Rhythm with Little Kids & A Bump by Isis of Little Mountain Haven
Homestead Truths, Minus the Sugarcoating by Janet of Timber Creek Farm
A Day of Homestead Living by Jessica of The 104 Homestead
A Day in the Life of a Homesteader by Katie of Livin Lovin Farmin
A Typical Day of Homesteading by Laurie of Common Sense Homesteading
Life, Unfiltered by Melissa of Ever Growing Farm
A Day in the Life of This Urban Homesteader by Meredith of ImaginAcres
A Day in the Life of a Homestead by Quinn of Reformation Acres
A Day on Acorn Hill Homestead by Teri of Homestead Honey

DIY Mint Teas With Refreshing Recipes!

Guest post DIY Mint TEas watermarked

The following article is a guest post by a friend of mine, Kathie N. Lapcevic.  Welcome Kathie!  Kathie is a freelance writer, teacher, and blogger living in northwest Montana with her soulmate Jeff.  She lives a fiercely D.I.Y. lifestyle in harmony with the natural rhythms of nature.  You can follow her blog at Homespun Seasonal Living. -Leona from My Healthy Green Family.

There’s no such thing as a small mint patch as it tends to be downright invasive.  Instead of cursing it for taking over every inch of the herb bed, harvest it often during the hot months of summer for refreshing iced tea. Mint tea is delicious all by itself but it also makes for some incredibly tasty combinations. Here are 5 different ways to make tasty tea from all that mint.

mint cropped

Start with Basic Mint Tea

Because this gets poured over ice, start with a double strength iced tea to prevent the flavor from being diluted as the ice melts.  In a heatproof cup, place 2 Tablespoons of fresh mint (2 teaspoons dried). Pour in 1 cup of boiling water and steep 10 minutes. Strain and cool mint tea to room temperature. Use this mint tea as a base in the following combinations, each of the following makes 1 large or 2 medium servings.  Simply double or triple the amounts for larger quantities. Keep any extra in the refrigerator.

Apple Mint

Combine 1 Cup Mint Tea with 1 Cup Apple Juice, mix well. Pour over ice and serve cold. Add a shot of apple brandy to each glass for an adult treat.

Black Mint

Brew a cup of black tea and allow to cool to room temperature. Combine 1 cup of black tea with 1 cup of mint tea. Serve over ice.

Hibiscus Mint

In a heatproof cup, add 2 teaspoons dried hibiscus flowers (4 teaspoons fresh). Pour over 1 cup boiling water and steep 10 minutes.  Strain and cool to room temperature.  Combine the hibiscus tea with the mint tea.  Serve over ice.

Lavender Mint

In a heatproof cup, add 2 Tablespoons fresh (2 teaspoons dried) lavender blossoms. Pour over 1 cup boiling water and steep 10 minutes.  Strain and cool to room temperature.  Combine the lavender and mint teas.  Pour combined teas over all and mix well. Serve cold. Add a shot of gin to each glass for the adults.

raspberries and mintRaspberry Mint

In a heatproof cup, add 2 Tablespoons fresh (2 teaspoons dried) raspberry leaves. Pour over 1 cup boiling water and steep 10 minutes.  Strain and cool to room temperature.  Combine the raspberry leaf and mint teas.  In the bottom of a glass, crush 3 fresh, ripe raspberries add ice.  Pour combined teas over all and mix well. Serve cold.

For the Sweet Tea Fans

Sweeten the mint tea when it is still hot. Simply add a teaspoon (more or less to taste) of sugar, honey, or other sweetener right after adding the boiling water and allow to steep as usual. Mixing the sweetener in while the liquid is hot ensures that it melts into the entirety of the tea. If you happen to have any mint infused honey, this is a great place to use it.

Kathie Headshot 300 labelledFiercely D.I.Y.

Creating herbal teas from the things that are growing in our yards or available to us locally is just one of many ways to build a courageous home and live fiercely D.I.Y. Creating herbal tea blends is just one of the weekly projects in this summer’s Fiercely D.I.Y. e-course being offered by Homespun Seasonal Living. The E-course is designed to inspire and encourage you to live a life by your own hands, on your own terms, and in your own pace. You can learn more, download a sampler, and register for the course over at Homespun Seasonal Living.

 

Dandelion Fritters and other great ways to use dandelions!

Dandelion Fritters watermarked2Dandelions are one of the first flowering plants to provide pollen for our honeybees.  We don’t pick them until our property is covered with the beautiful yellow jewels.  By then there are plenty for the bees and for us.  Many people think of the dandelions as ruthless weeds, but they actually are quite useful.  The tender green leaves harvested in early spring are often the first fresh greens available to anyone and can be added to salads.  The blossoms taste mildly sweet and floral, and the roots in the fall can be roasted to make a healthy tea.  We picked the blossoms this time, battered and fried them in coconut oil, then dipped some of them in cinnamon sugar for a sweet treat, and dipped the others in honey mustard for a savory treat.  To me, they tasted kind of like fried mushrooms.  The kids gobbled them up and then, I am sure, amused their teachers and friends by telling them all the ways you can eat dandelions.dandelion fritters collage

Dandelions are loaded with nutrients.  Sunwarrior tells us how good they are for you:

Dandelion is a very rich source of beta-carotene which we convert into vitamin A. This flowering plant is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. It is a good place to get B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium, and even vitamin D. Dandelion contains protein too, more than spinach. It has been eaten for thousands of years and used to treat anemia, scurvy, skin problems, blood disorders, and depression. – See more at: 11 health benefits of Dandelions

Dandelions grow all over the world, so chances are, if you don’t use chemicals on your lawn, you will have lots of dandelions in the spring.  Don’t confuse them with a similar flower that grows later in the year. Find lots of different ways to use dandelions below the recipe!

4.5 from 2 reviews
Dandelion Fritters
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Dandelion blossoms fried in coconut oil add a fresh, flowery, locally grown treat to your spring diet.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh dandelion blossoms, without stems
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • sugar and cinnamon to taste, if desired
  • honey mustard for dipping, if desired
Instructions
  1. With a whisk, blend flour, egg and milk until smooth consistency.
  2. Gently heat oil in skillet
  3. Pick up dandelion blossom by the bump on the back, and dip it into the batter until it is totally covered.
  4. Place blossom in oil, blossom side down. Once it has browned a little, flip the blossom with a fork and brown a bit on the other side.
  5. Remove blossom from frying pan with a fork, let excess oil drip off, then roll in cinnamon sugar or set aside to be dipped in honey mustard.
  6. Enjoy!

Learn more about how to use dandelions from these great links!

How To Harvest Medicinal Roots: Dandelion and Valerian from Homespun Seasonal Living

Useful Weed Dandelion from Homespun Seasonal Living

Harvesting and Using Dandelion Roots from Common Sense Homesteading

How To Make Dandelion Wine and Cookies from Common Sense Homesteading

How To Make Dandelion Salve from Montana Homsteader

Make Dandelion Pesto and Save the Goodness for Later from Joybilee Farm

Dandelion Jelly from Green Eggs and Goats

Dandelions: Foraging Them, Eating Them and Keeping Them Out of your Lawns from Yearning and Learning

 

 

Grow Your Own Popcorn!  The little things in life make the difference.

Grow Your Own PopcornLast night we enjoyed a very special treat.  We shared a bowl of popcorn.  But it wasn’t just any old popcorn and we didn’t eat it with a casual disregard as most people eat popcorn.  We savored each piece and smiled.  This popcorn was extra special and extra sweet because we grew it ourselves!

I bought a pack of pink popcorn seeds a few years ago from West Coast Seeds.  I didn’t plant them immediately because I was worried about cross pollination with the other corn.  Last year, though, I had a spot in my garden needing seeds, so I popped them in the ground.  The patch was only about 4×8 ft, and my rows were relatively close together, but I planted the entire pack and left them alone to see what would happen.  The seeds sprouted and developed like any corn, and grew to about 5 or 6 ft tall.  They were smaller than a normal corn plant, and thinner.

popcorn pink watermarkedThe package said that the corn is mature when the kernels are pink and then they should be allowed to dry on the stalk. The squirrels started to get into them so I picked them and let them dry in the house.  I was worried that they hadn’t fully developed because the cobs were small, and they weren’t uniformly pink throughout.  I left them alone for months… almost scared to try them to see if they would pop.

Last week my daughter pulled all the kernels off the cob and we put them in the air popper.  They popped!  And it was the best bowl of popcorn we have ever had.

Can you harvest and plant the seeds?
If you have other corn that flowered at the same time, or if your neighbours did within a fairly large radius, then likely your corn will be cross pollinated with another variety and it might not grow true popcorn.

What if my kernels don’t pop?
Always test a small amount first to see if they will pop.  If they don’t, soak them in water for a few days, dry them off and try them again.  They might not have quite enough moisture in them.

Do they taste the same as regular popcorn?  
No.  They are better ;)  I actually thought they were slightly sweeter.  In my opinion it was the best tasting popcorn ever, but my taste buds could be biased because I grew them!  They were delicious, and the popped kernel, along with the dried kernel, the cob and the plant itself, are a bit smaller than normal.

Was the percentage of corn that didn’t pop similar to store-bought popcorn?
I would say there were a bit more kernels left at the bottom of the popper afterwards than a good quality store-bought popcorn, but MOST popped and it was hugely successful.  My inexperience and the fact that I harvested them a bit early could have influenced that too.

How many cobs do you need to get a whole bowl full of popcorn?
This is a tricky question since I didn’t count the cobs that I used.  I would say we used about 4-5 cobs of corn to get a medium sized bowl of popcorn.

Are the popped kernels pink?
No they aren’t.  Just the unpopped kernels. :)

A couple quick tips on growing corn:
Corn likes to be grown in fertile soil so plant in soil that has been boosted with manure or compost, watch for pests especially when the plant is small (cut worms, slugs etc) and keep it nicely watered through the drier months.  Don’t plant until your soil is warm (in my location in Canada corn shouldn’t be planted until about May).  Corn needs to be planted in at least a 4×4 grid (4 rows across by 4 rows deep) to allow for proper wind pollination.

Where to buy seeds:
In Canada:
West Coast Seeds
Saltspring Seed Company

In the United States:
Victory Seeds
Rare Seeds

 

If you have a bit of space to grow some extra seeds, give popcorn a try!  I guarantee that you will love the taste and you will savor each bite.  And remember, its the little things in life that make the difference.