Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Itching and Scratching: Part I

You think you know, what our post title is aiming at? You think we are exaggerating?
Well, we think you are right :-)

Rose hips are the topic. And yes, this can be a very itching thing. But since the turn of the century (of course we mean the one before the last one) we are blessed with rubber gloves and zeppelins. One of it fits your hands better.

Rose hips

What rather raises the foragers' hackles, is the work associated with processing rose hips.
Rose hips? Of course you know them! They are the fruits of the rose plant, usually red or orange, and catch the eye through autumn in nearly every garden or park, at roadsides, hedges and skirts of woods.

If you reach through the prickles, you will be awarded with one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C.
Rose shrub with hips

Rose hips have a very unique sweet-sour taste and can be used very versatile. But we start with a very common usage: herbal tea.

We are lazy sometimes. And that's why we skip the rose-hip-processors'-nightmare. We neither scratch out the seeds nor the little hairs, which cause the itching at contact with the skin.
All we do, after washing, is cutting off the ends of the little fruits.
After that we throw them into a kitchen blender and let them be cut in little pieces for a few seconds.
Rose hips

Rose hips in blender

Don't fill the blender as full as we did on our photo. Better split it in smaller portions. We processed about 500 grams, by the way. More than two people can drink in one year ;-)
Another tip: Don't use very ripe fruits. It's easier with the hard and dry ones.

Blended rose hips

Afterwards you have to dry them completely before storing. If you have low air humidity in your rooms, you can simply spread the tea onto kitchen paper and let it dry over a few days. Otherwise you can put them into the oven with very low heat (about 30°C) for an hour or of course use a dehydrator if you possess one.

For brewing the tea use 2-3 teaspoons (of our Middle-European teaspoons. If you live in a country with standardised teaspoon-sizes you surely know better how to use them ;-)) for one cup, pour over boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes. If you want to make sure that you won't get a hairy throat (it wouldn't be itching, just a little bit „sandy“) use empty teabags or coffee papers. Otherwise a tea strainer will do it too.
And don't expect the deep red colour of bought rose-hip-teas. They usually have other herbs added. But the tea is delicious. Don't miss upcoming part II, were we make rose hip marmalade.

Rose hip tea
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Sunday, 12 October 2014

All we took were pictures


Today was a wonderful sunny autumn day and even though we had to study a lot, we felt the urge to go outside and into the wood. The floor was covered with many different mushrooms and we also saw some beautiful berries. But we are quite sure that they are inedible, so all we took were pictures. 

The beautiful glossy black berries we saw are uneatable but not unusable. They are the fruits of a plant called Ligustrum vulgare which many may know from privat garden hedges. Once the berries were used to dye wool into an rich blue. We might try it out some time...

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Filling the hoards

What can be associated more with autumn-food than nuts? Okay, squashes and mushrooms maybe. But our today’s post is devoted to nuts.
More precisely we want to focus on hazelnuts.

You all know them from bakery or Nutella. Large regions of Europe are crowded with the common hazel, a shrub of 3-8 meters height. Some days ago we found such a shrub. The funny thing is, we passed it for years now and never noticed it. But this day the surrounding ground was paved with nuts, so there was no way to overlook it.

Let us tell you a little bit about the plant and where to find it.

The common hazel (Corylus avellana) is native in most European regions. During Mesolithic it was the dominating woody plant and its nuts have had an important part in nutrition for eras. Nowadays mainly nuts from Corylus maxima (Filbert / German “Lambertshasel”) are on the market.

Hazel shrubs can be found in light woods, edges and hedges. The wood of hazels is not good for any relevant usage. However, young branches can be used for barrel hoops, fences or the like. In early spring, young leaves and catkins can be used as vegetable like spinach.
But as mentioned above, the real treasure are the nuts.
They are rich in protein and unsaturated fat. High amounts of vitamins B1, B2, and E, magnesium and calcium make them very valuable for nutrition. The nuts can be stored for months if you leave them in their shell.

In traditional medicine the leaves have been used for curing liver diseases. Catkins brewed as tea are diaphoretic and the nuts are salutary for brain and nerves.

Hazelnuts are delicious freshly peeled or roasted. But you can use them in lots of dishes, sweet and salty. Mainly the nuts are used directly or pressed to oil in pastries.


Okay, back to our personal treasure :-) We gathered a large bowl of nuts so far and hopefully there's more to come. But of course not everything is for storage. We'd like to try three dishes with them. Or more precisely two pastries and one salty dish, which we think could be tasty. But we have to wait for a special ingredient ;-)
What would you do with plenty of hazelnuts?
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