Transform your herbs and vegetables
Maybe it is because I don’t like to waste things or maybe because preserving and giving home- made presents is much more common on the continent but I think it makes sense to use produce which is available either in nature or in our gardens and turn it into something beautiful ,tasty or useful. Click here for rosemary
There are so many products you can make and here are just a few examplesto get you started and your creativity going.
It obviously depends where you are living what’s out there at the moment but I am sure you will find something even if the produce mentioned here are difficult to use because you are living in a hot climate
Anyway, when I was pruning the rosemary the other day and had to clear the last nasturtiums away I decided that Christmas is just round the corner and not everything should end up on the compost heap.
So I bundled the various mints and hung them up side down for drying to use in teas, oils and bath salts. The rosemary which always needs quite heavy pruning to keep in shape is now submerged in fine olive oil and the rest will be chopped and added to bath salts. Very refreshing and medicinal especially if you add some peppermint oil .
The Polytunnel got cleared as well and the remaining green tomatoes are bubbling away at the moment to turn into green tomato chutney . A bit less known are the false capers, made of green nasturtiums seeds and I will write the recipe down for you to have a go yourself.
I also dug up some comfrey to make a very rich ointment for rough skin ( I am sure most gardeners end up with some rough hands at the end of the season) and it is very easy to make.(see recipe below)
IF you don’t have a garden there is still produce to gather in the wild, like rosehips for a tasty and healthy rosehip syrup, sloes into sloe gin and the hawthorn berries into some excellent heart tonic safe to use and very beneficial for any heart conditions as well as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels !
So why don’t make something you can’t buy anywhere and give it to your dear friends, neighbours or relatives.
Here are some of the many receipts
Rosemary infused oil
For any herbal infused oil you have the choice of cold or warm method. For rosemary oil I choose the latter because the green “leafes” are quite robust and to release all the compounds, sun (especially at this time of year) is not quite strong enough. Chop the rosemary and add to your choice of oil (olive oil is good for culinary purposes also for cosmetic oils, but quite heavy. Sunflower or grape seed oil is lighter and gets absorbed easier by the skin and almond oil is even better for skin products.) I always use a double boiler (or use a heat resistant bowl over a pot of boiling water) I don’t measure things too much but to give you an idea, use about 750 g of fresh herbs to 500 ml of oil. Leave the herbs to infuse in the warm (not boiling) oil. 30 min is the minimum, but you can leave the herbs to infuse there for longer.
For culinary presents filter the oil into pretty bottles and add a sprig of herb (make sure it is covered in oil!) and you also can add garlic, chillies or other herbs if you fancy and maybe add a recipe to go with the oil. (focaccia, Pizza, lamb dishes would benefit from that oil)
For the false capers, pick the seeds just after the flowers have faded and still green. Steep in brine made of 110 g salt to 1 litre of water for 24 hours. Rinse seeds and pack into small jars. Make a strong spiced vinegar , (white wine or cider vinegar) by heating the vinegar with you choice of spices (bay leaves, pepper corn, lemon zest, nutmeg, shallots…..salt) pour the hot vinegar into the jars and seal. Leave at least for a month and keep in fridge afte4r opening.
When you make your own bath salts , dry the herbs first before mixing them with a coarse salt. (otherwise the salt will absorb the moisture of the herb and become lumpy) Rosemary is good to aid circulation and can be mixed with other herbs like Bay, Eucalyptus leaves, Hyssop or Mint for a refreshing mix. Use Lavender, Melissa Oat straw, Lime flowers, Chamomile, Hops for a relaxing mix.
Dried rose pedals always look good (can be bought) but make sure the person using the bath salt has a strainer in the plug hole or the herbs and flowers will clog up the plumbing system! You also can use squares of muslin or any thin material to make little bags filled with the bath salts.
Green tomato chutney
Again, use your own blend of spices and make it either less hot or add more chillies if you like it hot!
For 1.5kg green tomatoes I added about 800g cooking apples, 500g shallots,400 g sultanas 3 red chillies,1.9 Ltr of wine vinegar , 500g sugar juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime, mustard and coriander seeds, cloves and about 5 cm fresh ginger grated .
Slice the tomatoes and chop the peeled /cored apples and shallots . Throw everything into a big pot together with the remaining ingredients (chop the chillies without seeds for a milder version)Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar and then simmer for 2 hours uncovered until thick.
Sterilize jars in the oven first and fill with chutney, seal and let to mature for at least a few month.
is medicinal and a safe to use heart remedy for most heart conditions. Pick the best hawthorn berries you can find and chop them in a food processor. Fill in a jar and pour vodka or other alcohol your choice over them and leave to infuse for at least 6 weeks. Shaking the jar ever so often will help to bring out the best of the berries.Strain into dark bottles and take small amounts (3 tea spoons)a day IF you heat the tincture up before using it,the alcohol evaporates.