Preparing the first flat for jamming and freezing. So simple, just cut the green tops off (and any soft bits) and rinse! If freezing, put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour before bagging so they don't stick together or burn.
What do I do if I can't make it to the beach or a lake on a beautiful sunny Sunday? I go to the Strawberry U-pick with my love and then proceed to process 24 pounds of strawberries! At least that's what I did on this particular Sunday.
Where I live we have the wonderful gift of being able to access locally grown, unsprayed fruit- and I intend to take full advantage of it! It takes a little time yes- but with good company and dancing tunes playing it becomes a lot of fun! Besides, I now have a ton of local, organic ( & CHEAP) strawberries in my freezer (to keep my rhubarb company) for making smoothies, salsa, and other deliciousness long after the season has passed! Strawberries don’t ripen after they’re picked. That’s why berries shipped from elsewhere can’t match the quality and taste of those locally grown. We went to Hick's Berry Patch, a family owned and operated U- pick in Midgic, NB. They're so friendly and have a fantastic crop- but the season is nearly over! If you're no where near Sackville, NB where I live, ask around at your local farmer's market for similar gems.
Strawberries deliver a ton of vitamin C and are a good source of fibre, folate, potassium and manganese, a mineral that maintains healthy bones and helps regulate blood sugar. Their also well know for having a many antioxidants- especially anthocyanins that may help dilate arteries and prevent the build-up of fatty plaque and protect brain cells by fighting free-radical damage and reducing inflammation.
In addition to freezing the berries whole, I also made some jam! Jamming takes me back to summer kitchen fun with my mama- I can't believe she used to make huge cauldrons full! However, she and most other jammers use a ton of refined sugar in the process- and anyone who knows me can hear me saying that this is a huge no no! Not only do you lose the flavour of the berries and gain a ton of calories, but the nutritional value becomes diminished. The solution? This magnificent pectin I've discovered! Pomona's Universal Pectin is amhaaazing- no sugar or preservatives plus super simple recipes for low sugar jams & jellies. My jam contains only berries, apple juice concentrate and pectin. So now, we can enjoy jam on pancakes, toast and in cocktails (yes cocktails) without the sugar guilt!
Does the fact that I'm a 27 year old jammer concern me? Not really. Being a young person who makes and preserves her own food makes me feel like a renegade! I save money, help my environment and local economy, have fun and stay healthy. And seriously, to make 11 jars of jam only took 4 hours - including picking a ton of berries, enjoying a scenic drive with my love, and waiting for those babies to pop (audibly) their lids. One morning to enjoy a treat- and share as presents- well into the winter (only because there are just two people in my house and I hid the bounty!)
I used 12 cups of strawberries, 2 cans of organic apple juice concentrate, 6 teaspoons of Pomona's pectin and 11 250 mL jars- which means this project cost me about $22 all said and done. $2 for homemade, local & organic jam? I'll take that :)
I really encourage you to get out and enjoy the summer's bounty however you can!
Only by decreasing the amount of chemicals and unnatural products we consume will we enjoy healthy minds and bodies and a healthier world for us all.
If you have your own recipes or tales of how you've become a food renegade please share them with me <3
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Some of us have big (or small) beautiful vegetable gardens. But did you know that you can grow green, crunchy food year round in your home? A few cups of sprouts can be produced with minimal effort in just a few days at a cost of a few pennies!
Major organizations including the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins University have reinforced the benefits of sprouts in prevention and treatment of life-threatening diseases. They are conducting ongoing studies that explore various sprout varieties for their nutritional properties and to validate health claims. These tiny foods pack high levels of powerful phytochemicals that help to restore optimal health-and they’re so simple to grow!
All it involves is:
A 500 mL jar
sprouting seeds, beans or grains!
Seeds have historically been sprouted for several reasons. It improves digestibility, releases nutrients and removes anti-nutrients to enhance bioavailability of certain minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. By soaking seeds in warm water, they are tricked into thinking that conditions are right for germination and they will start to grow. Sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and the sugars responsible for fermentation and intestinal gas production. So people who complain of GI distress after eating cooked grains/legumes may tolerate the sprouted varieties. Those seeds contain all of the vital fats, vitamins and minerals necessary to grow a plant to maturity, all packed into one delicious little package. Plus, once the cotyledons of the seeds turn green, you have the added antioxidant benefit of chlorophyll in every bite!
The basic process is this:
Soak seeds overnight (about 8 hours) in water. Place cheesecloth over the opening and secure with an elastic band.
Rinse seeds 2 times daily (morning and night while you’re at your kitchen sink), and allow them to drain via sprouting jar or in tilted bowl. You want the inverted jar to be tilted at least 60 degrees (nearly completely upright) to ensure no water sits in the jar.
Sprouts will be ready in 2 to 4 days, when sprout is ¼ inch and green leaves form.
Dry completely, and store in fridge for about 3 days.
Now this is important- seeds need to be rinsed and well aerated. If you neglect your sprouts for a couple days and they start to turn pink don’t eat them. This indicates that bad bacteria have started to take over your sprouts, and consuming them will do you harm. Also, raw kidney beans are never to be consumed. Ever. It can be deadly!
I make up a ‘garden mix’ that contains alfalfa, china rose (radish), broccoli, clover and mung beans (2 Tbsp seeds to a jar) and use these sprouts to enhance my salads, sandwiches and smoothies. Bean sprouts (1/2 cup per jar) can also be grown on their own to use in stirfrys. Buckwheat (2/3 cup per jar) can be sprouted easily and is great in recipes where you’d use oatmeal.
Sprouting seeds and beans should be bought local and organic whenever possible to ensure best quality. Speerville makes a seed mix that can be purchased on their website and at some stores. Georgia Barnwell of Cuisine for Life also sells sprouting seeds and other bulk offerings (including many of my fav superfoods!) If this is something you’d like to try but want to learn more first, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. I also have a great sprouting chart with the amounts, yields and time to harvest of a variety of sproutables that I’d love to share with you!
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
The Wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar
If there is one thing that we should all have in our homes it is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). My Grandma told me about its benefits many years ago, and as I conduct my research it seems to be making a resurgence as a heal-all product!
Unpasteurized (raw) and unfiltered ACV is a fermented food that helps to balance your body’s pH level and acts as a probiotic in your gut. It also has incredible antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of ACV to 6-8 ounces of hot water with a teaspoon or 2 of honey and drinking it each morning will remove excess mucus from your body, cleansing your system and enhancing weight loss.
However- ACV also has some other interesting uses including:
Hair: rinse your locks with 1 Tbsp ACV & 1 cup water once a week to remove residue and boost shine
Face: Dilute ACV with water (1:2) and use as a toner to balance your skin’s pH and lighten age spots. Works just as well as an aftershave!
Teeth: If you can stand it- rub it directly onto your teeth to remove stains!
Sunburn & Windburn: add 1 cup of AVC to bath water and soak for 10 minutes
Cleaning: Mix 1/2 cup ACV with 1 cup water. This mix can be used to clean grime off of anything, and also works well as a disinfectant- try it in your kitchen or bathroom!
Flea Reduction: Rub toner dilution (1:2) onto pets skin, add some to their water, and spray their fur with ACV- all will help in repelling fleas!
I try to live my life as toxin free as possible- the world has enough toxins and carcinogens floating around without me adding them to my immediate vicinity! For this reason, I tend to follow the mantra: If I can’t eat it, I shouldn’t use it on my body or in my home. This also allows me to simplify my life- if you can help it don’t add to existing chaos right?
Boates Apple Cider Vinegar is locally produced, and can be purchased at the farmers market, health food stores and Superstore.
Thanks for reading, let’s talk soon!
Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Ariel Richards, R.H.N.