How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies

How to Make Elderberry Syrups and Jellies with Fresh or Dried Elderberries
My friend, Tami, saw my comment on the Common Sense Homesteading Facebook page about wanting to experiment with elderberries, and embraced the challenge with gusto.  She and her family went picking, and came home with the entire car trunk filled with elderberries.  Bless her heart, I didn’t have time to help her process them the next day, so she stuck them in the freezer overnight and tackled them herself.  In this post we’ll share how to process fresh elderberries, plus how to make elderberry syrup and elderberry jelly with those fresh elderberries, and an easy recipe for a small batch of immune boosting elderberry syrup with dried elderberries. [Read more...]

How to Make Pumpkin Wine

How to make pumpkin wine. Classic spices and a little creativity come together in an usual pumpkin recipe that's sure to be a conversation starter.

Did you know you can make wine out of just about any fruit or vegetable with a fairly high sugar content?  One of my foraging mentors, the late Mike Jacisin, was willing to experiment with cooking and fermenting just about anything.  One year he was blessed with an abundance of onions, so he made a batch of onion wine.  Alas, said onion wine went down in infamy as the worst brew he ever concocted, and has become a running joke in our extended circle of family and friends.

This year we’ve been blessed with such an abundance of sweet onions that I’m seriously considering a small batch of the infamous brew, since I missed out on tasting the original, but thus far my husband has vetoed the idea.  :-)  Since he won’t let me ferment onions, I’d like to share how to make pumpkin wine.  Like Mike, I’m willing to bulk up my food and beverage storage with a wide variety of foodstuffs, and it’s fun to break out a bottle of an unusual brew for friends.  I am not a big wine drinker, but I love the rich, yeasty smell in my kitchen as the wine ferments.  Wine is pretty forgiving, too.  I’ve made batches that are better or worse, but nothing completely skunky like some of my beer brewing friends have encountered. 

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Immune Boosting Herbs in Finger Gelatin

Immune Boosting Herbs in Finger Gelatin - combine anti-viral and antibacterial herbs with fruit juice and honey for a healthier sweet treat.

If you’ve been watching the reports about an unusually strong respiratory virus sweeping across the U.S. and looking for more ideas to give your family’s immune system a boost, you may want to give this recipe a try – or make your own variation.

I made “jello flu shots” by infusing immune boosting herbs in finger gelatin made with fruit juice.  Call them what you like, and enjoy some extra anti-oxidants and cold and flu fighting herbs. 

These are not made from the prepackaged gelatin dessert.  The color comes from fruit and vegetable juices. They are thickened with plain gelatin, or agar agar can be used if you need a vegan alternative. [Read more...]

Gummy Zucchini Candy Recipe – Naturally Sweetened

Naturally Sweetened Zucchini Gummy Candy Recipe - Tastes like commercial gummy treats with no artificial flavors, colors or refined sugar.

Overwhelmed by zucchini or summer squash?  Make some zucchini gummy candy!  I saw a recipe online that made them with drink mix and sugar, and coated them with more drink mix – more sugar and artificial color and flavor than I prefer.  So I decided to experiment with a simpler version using fruit juice concentrate.  It worked out great!

Naturally Sweetened Zucchini Gummy Candy Recipe

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Chocolate Raspberry Granola Cookies

Chocolate Raspberry Granola Cookies - Quick and easy chocolate raspberry granola cookie recipe packed with healthy ingredients and a chocolate/raspberry kick.

Here’s a tasty cookie recipe that’s loaded with fiber and healthy fats, plus it uses no refined sugar.  Best of all, it’s delicious!  You just might be tempted to have these for breakfast instead of dessert, especially if you’re a granola lover.

I always hated tossing the leftover raspberry puree/pulp when I made raspberry jelly or a smooth raspberry sauce.  The Berry Health Benefit Network states that “The oil from raspberry seeds is rich in Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids”.  Can’t let something like that end up in the compost!  I save and freeze my raspberry pulp in 1/2 cup packages for this recipe.  You could also substitute 1/2 cup crushed raspberries and add a bit more flour, or use freeze dried raspberries, or use raspberries that had been frozen, thawed and drained.  The original recipe I adapted suggested sesame seeds or flax seeds, but I really like the “extra something” that raspberries add to the flavor. [Read more...]