I can tell fall is almost here, even thought the weather is still in the high 20s. It seems the plants' energy has gone down, down into the roots. Or, that the plants are busy making seeds. Like my Nasturtium plants. Such beauties! I've been steaming and eating the leaves. Their peppery taste mellows out when cooked, so you could even add them to soups and stews.
My Oregano, Common Marjoram and Sweet Marjoram (also known as Wild Oregano) are also in flower. I harvested them today; have them drying on mesh screens in the dehydrator for future soups :)
I also spent time with Sage, harvesting her large, slightly fuzzy leaves. She's such a sweetie, such a lovely, quiet energy. Reminds me of Mugwort and Motherwort in their energy, although I have several baby Mugwort plants that have a mischievous energy. I was chiding them about growing everywhere and not sharing the space with other plants in this large pot --- really the bottom of a repurposed rat cage. They seemed to giggle at the time. However, when I decided to harvest several Sheep Sorrel plants growing with the muggies, I noticed that the muggies were growing all clumped together. Hm, interesting. When I decided to haul up the Sheep Sorrel roots, I soon saw why. Roots and more roots still!
Oh boy. What ended up with me in my PJs going to get some morning sun on my sunny balcony ended up with me dirtying my hands, arms and PJs and spending about 2 hours gardening! The root system of Sheep Sorrel is just amazing! These plants actually have large roots, but growing where they are in about 6-7 inches of soil, they are obviously not at their prime. Still, each plant was connected to all the other plants by these long root "threads." Reminded me of how trees are connected by their root systems, or the mycelium in mushrooms. Just fascinating, I tell ya! Yep, muggies don't stand a chance when Sheep Sorrel is around ;)
Sheep sorrel leaves are mighty tasty, BTW, and have a nice lemony taste. You can eat them raw in salads and appreciate them that way, or have their lemony flavor enhance your soups and stews. When cooked, they taste like spinach with a lemony feel. Quite nice. You can also steam them, add them to green juices or green juices. They also freeze well or you can dry the leaves and then add them to soups and stews that way. They do contain oxalic acid, so most people prefer to cook them to neutralize their oxalic crystals.
Sheep Sorrel root is best prized for her anti-cancer effect and is best known in Essiac Tea.
I am drying the roots, of course :) Extra antioxidant power in my tea? Now who doesn't need some help fighting those free radicals!
I bought Sheep Sorrel seeds from Richters, but she self-seeds most readily, so you'd have plenty for future years. Her leaves grow in a rosette and once she shoots up her central stem, she's then going into baby/seed-making mode. To extend her life, cut back the central stem if you see her growing one. I did this a few times with my plants and they continue to grow leaves and spread further in the pot. She's also what I'd call a cut-and-come again plant: I remove her leaves and she grows them back in. I do leave some of the leaves on the plants, though -> take the leaves growing on the outer edges of the rosette and leave the inner ones.
Yes, she grows just fine in containers, although, as I mentioned earlier, her root system is extensive, so if you're looking to grow medicine, she's best grown in the garden to get that big root.
Well, you can tell I've been writing about plants, but no foraging per se. How come? I meant to go foraging today, but work intervened! It plumb rained all day Monday, so I was going to go yesterday, on Wednesday, to have a look 'round. Ah, I said, I can go tomorrow, and took the day to make soup and sauerkraut.
I love the crockpot for the sauerkraut, BTW, the one that I mentioned in my last diary post.
For my last batch, I left it to ferment for only 7 days, but it was really humid last week, and humidity does "heat" up the fermentation process. Of course, 4 weeks is often prescribed to let things really ferment, but I didn't want to wait that long. Plus, there was a stench coming from the crock. I had taped on a dishcloth to cover the hole because there are fruit flies hovering about, and when I took off the cloth, I noticed green mold all on the top of the weights. In fact, even after washing the weights with soap and vinegar, they got green mold on them all over again! After washing them again, I placed each weight in a plastic bag and will see how the mold situation goes. It is normal for mold to form on the top of sauerkraut, on the part where you have placed the outer cabbage leaves. When you take off the leaves and weights, the part that is under the brine is the good stuff. The icky and tricky part is making sure you get all the mold off so that none goes into your 'kaut :PP
The sauerkraut does tastes great, and it continues to ferment in the fridge, with the taste getting better as it continues to ferment. I used 3 medium heads of cabbage, both last time and this time, and my crock was filled about half-way full. Last time I made it with red cabbage and this time I used green. The color of the red cabbage is stunning! I used the "special" probiotics again, but really, you don't have to. Lots of veggies have the "good" bacteria on them already!
FYI: cabbage is rated as being low in chemical residues by the EWG, so if you can't afford organic, no worries here with the cabbage :)
My neighbor gave me some caraway seeds to use with the cabbage, and they do taste nice to use in 'kraut. So does dill seed and Wild Carrot/Queen Anne's Lace seed. I might try making different 'krauts next time around, using mason jars for each type of 'kraut. You can also use other root veggies as well for fermenting (sometimes called kimchi---although this doesn't ferment for long--- or fermented veggies). Good choices include parsnip, rutabaga, carrot, beet, celery root, radish and turnip. You can also add in other goodies like ginger, garlic and onion --- I'm not so keen on these as they are too heating for me! Tough greens can also be added as well, such as kale, collard, bok choy and chard.
The Body Ecology diet/website is really keen on using fermented products. They are really big on reinoculating the gut with friendly probiotics, on curbing and treating candida, and on using stevia as an all-around great sweetener ALL THE TIME (not just for when you have a digestive issue). A great resource. I'd recommend bookmarking their website and getting the book The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates.
Hm, all this 'kraut talk has gotten me itchin' to play around in the kitchen ;) Although to be honest, it does take a bit of time to make 'kraut, because first everything has to be well-cleaned (I like to use soapy water and vinegar to clean my knife, cutting board, crock pot, etc.), then shred the cabbage in the food processor (in several batches), then add to the crock with the water, probiotics and salt (if using), plus any herbs or spices, and then start giving it a good pummeling. Once it gets a nice brine, then you add the outer cabbage leaves, put on the weights and finally done. About an hour, I'd say, but so worth it!
I made FOUR 1-liter mason jars using 3 heads of organic cabbage.
Cost: $10 for 40 liters or 16 cups 'kraut. Compare that to the store- bought version, where 500ml/2 cups will go for $5. I've seen pricey 1 cup 'kraut in vacuum-sealed bags go for $6-7. Whew! Good thing I got me an hour to spare in the kitchen, and that at about every 2-3 weeks depending how much 'kraut I eat in a day!
The recommendation is to start off with 2 Tbsp 'kraut a day. Best to eat at the end of your meal. It can take some adjusting too, aka it can give you bloating and gas. I know, I know, not what you want if you already have those symptoms. BUT, if you persist, you'll find you start craving 'kraut AND that it helps to balance your blood sugar really well.
In fact, if you've overeaten or eaten too much sweets, a few Tbsp of kraut can really help. It also helps to cut down on your cravings for sweets. Being sour, it's a boon to the liver (helping with detox and the free-flow of qi), PLUS fermented cabbage and the cabbage brine helps to treat iron deficiency, not to mention being an excellent way to repopulate your gut flora. Cabbage itself is anti-cancer, anti-gastritis/ulcer and anti-inflammatory. It's also a vermifuge, meaning worms in the gut go bye-bye.
Why we all aren't eating more fermented foods, I really don't know.
And it's dirt cheap to make, plus cabbage is easy to grow, too.
OK, that's my 2 cents "tirade" on cabbage 'kraut ;)
Good news: signed up for a class at the Wise Woman University. Also got the books by Susun Weed Down There: Sexual & Reproductive Health The Wise Woman Way and New Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way, Alternative Approaches For Women 30-90. Looking forward to going deeper with the herbs!
Well, sunshine, cross your fingers so that I can go foragin' later this week. Hopin' to get more Red Clover flowers and leaves, plus lotsa liver-toutin' roots: Burdock, Dandelion & Yellow Dock.
Keep your bright rays sunny, sunshine :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: