Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pleasently Surprised--VINO

Ahhhhh. The wonders of the Blackberry are numerous, medicinally as well as just plain good to eat right off the plant. We decided to try our hand at making some Blackberry wine. The equipment needed was minimal and we already had the 5 gallon glass jug.
As I said in my previous post, Blackberries are EVERYWHERE around here, and honestly they are a pain in the behind to control, so in an effort to make these thorny bad boys pay off we went picking and after about two hours we had about 3 gallons of berries begging to become wine.
The process is fairly simple, and after ordering some champagne yeast from Amazon and an airlock we were well on our way to having Blackberry Vino! We fermented the berries after mashing them with a potato masher in one of our giant stainless steel pots we cook our BBQ sauce in (5 gallon). After several days it was time to strain the fruit and pour the juices into the carboy, we added a little water and a bit of sugar put the airlock in place and let it work. It actually only too about a week for the fermenting to slow down and after a taste test it seemed we were doing it right. So then came the straining, again, a little bit more sugar and poured it all into quart jars. The result was an effervescent wine, yeah bubbly! The balance of yeast and sugar turned out to be just right. Being the frugal guy I am I saved my favorite beer bottles (Black Butte Porter) to bottle our wine in and bought a capper and a gross of caps, knowing full well if this worked out well we will be making our own wine every year. You know what the most difficult part was? Getting the labels off of the beer bottles, good God they use some serious glue to affix their labels on those things. Anyway here is a photo of the finished product.


Monday, October 26, 2015


Not my photo as you can tell but a good representation

Typical Yellow bloom

Coos liked to hide in them
The seed pods can be pickled to become similar to Capers
Common Name: Nasturtium

Latin Name: Tropaeolum majus L.

Parts used: Flowers, Leaves, Seed Pods

Identification Notes: An annual flowering plant that trails. Flower colors are yellow, orange, red and combinations of the three.

How used: There are some medicinal uses listed such as to help with a cough, taken internally or applied to sore muscles externally but there does not seem to be much documentation to back it up. However it is very edible! The flowers and leaves in a salad add a peppery flavor and you can't deny how cool the flowers look in a salad. The seed pods can be pickled to make something very similar to Capers. I tried it once and, yeah something similar to Capers is right, but I am not an officianodo when it comes to Capers so you be the judge.
Dose: N/A
Document Results: We have used the leaves and flowers many times and we both find them delicious, but G'ganna's daughter thinks they are "too peppery"  OK Jen so we won't make you eat em just pick the flowers out of your salad.
Here on the south Oregon coast they grow like gangbusters typically the yellow and orange ones do the best, the red ones grow but not as robust as the others. Being an annual they die back when it gets really cold but some years it doesn't get cold enough to kill them back and they grow back easily. Even when the frost does take them down the seeds are everywhere anyway and re-sprout on their own.
Please comment if you stopped by.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Materia Medica, Stinging Nettle

Common Name: Stinging Nettle

Latin Name: Urtica dioica

Parts used: Roots, Stems, and Leaves

Identification Notes: Square stem and up to 6' tall but normally 2-4' tall. Visible hairs on the stem and leaves will irritate most peoples skin. A plant like this, with so many uses should be one of the plants everyone knows at a glance. Even if your in doubt, as soon as your bare skin comes in contact with it you will be certain it IS Stinging Nettle. Mother Nature is kind to us though and if you look around anywhere you see Nettle you will find one or more of the following to use as an antidote to the stinging. Mint, Dock, Rosemary, and Sage.

How used: This is another one of those plants with so many useful attributes it is amazing. Medicinal uses, check, nutritionally excellent, check. It can also be made into cordage/ string/ rope. And if that doesn't float your boat, it is also used as a fabric dye. Here is a link to a good page for info on this awesome plant.....Stinging Nettle
Document Results:We make a tea from the dried leaves, and will in the future make a tincture.
Side Effects and Cautions: This is copied from WebMD and I think it is wise to let you all know.

"Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Stinging nettle is LIKELY UNSAFE to take during pregnancy. It might stimulate uterine contractions and cause a miscarriage. It’s also best to avoid stinging nettle if you are breast-feeding.

Diabetes: There is some evidence stinging nettle above ground parts can decrease blood sugar levels. It might increase the chance of low blood sugar in people being treated for diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use stinging nettle.

Low blood pressure: Stinging nettle above ground parts might lower blood pressure. In theory, stinging nettle might increase the risk of blood pressure dropping too low in people prone to low blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, discuss stinging nettle with your healthcare provider before starting it.

Kidney problems: The above ground parts of stinging nettle seem to increase urine flow. If you have kidney problems, discuss stinging nettle with your healthcare provider before starting it."

Please comment if you stopped by.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Disclaimer, sort of

Just because I am sharing medicinal herbs and what I am doing with them, in no way am I suggesting any of them as a medical cure. For crying out loud do some reading and research, I have. Modern medicine has done some wonderful things and some pretty horrific things too, and the drug companies IMHO do not have our best interest in mind when they come up with the drugs they are.

So my thinking is why not look into what has been used for thousands of years, modern medicine has only been doing what they do for a little over one hundred. BUT if I get hit by a truck crossing the road take my busted butt to the emergency room, do not offer me a cup of herbal tea instead.

I am no doctor, and sure as heck do not want anyone to think I am offering any medical advice. I am only sharing what I have learned and what I am doing with that knowledge. Of course I am having fun too, it has always been a passion of mine to learn what nature has to offer out there in the wild. Some the edibles growing wild even in the urban areas I have lived are a hoot to discover and some are down right delicious.
 Here are some pictures of some of the wild things I love to forage for. I will rate each of them on a scale of 1-10, 10 being awesome and 1 being edible but not so hot
Morel 10

Chanterelle 8

Huckleberry 8

King Bolete 9

Oyster Mushroom 8

Salial berries 5

Stinging Nettle 7

Dandelion 7

I will post more pictures but there are many that need no photo like blackberries good GOD they are everywhere. Some, you really have to look hard for like Lambsquarter, and Sheeps sorrel. Some are easy to find like Cattail. Just a note of caution I see Cattail from the road all the time but would not ever consider eating any of those, who knows what vile crap drained into the area they are growing in? Oil?, spilled gas? let alone the fumes from vehicles. So if your going to go out looking, do some reading, talk to someone who has been out looking and knows a little something about foraging. If your nice they might take you with them sometime.

Materia Medica, Licorice Fern Root

Common Name: Licorice Fern

Latin Name: Polypodium glycyrrhiza

Parts used: Roots

Identification Notes: A fern as pictured, found on rocks, mossy tree trunks, logs etc, below 600 metres in coniferous and mixed forests in California, Oregon and Washington. Our experience is that they are found almost exclusively on Maples here on the south Oregon coast.

How used:Little is documented about it medicinal value, native Americans used it as a pleasant drink, also was chewed raw and is quite tasty. It is said to sooth mucus membranes, and good for sore throat, and cough. We use it to make tea, dried root boiled and add a little honey wow it is delicious. 
Dose: n/a
Document Results: Made into a tincture10-15-2015 will test this to see if there is any benefit, for cough and congestion.
In Comments area, note updates.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Materia Medica, Sage

Common Name: Sage

Latin Name: Salvia officinalis

Parts used: Leaves, Flowers

Identification Notes:Leaves and flower tops as pictured flowers are blue

How used: Go to this link as the uses are too many to list here but one I found interesting is it is used to turn grey hair dark, really mmmmm.Detailed Sage uses Also we are making a tincture of 3/4 Sage and 1/4 Plantain to be used as an external Poison Oak remedy. Will see how well it works next year probably.
Document Results: Made into a tincture10-15-2015 ( 3/4 Sage +1/4 Plantain )
In Comments area, note updates.

Materia Medica, Rosemary

Common Name: Rosemary

Latin Name:Rosmarinus officinalis

Parts used: Leaves, Flowers

Identification Notes:Leaves and flower tops as pictured flowers are blue

How used: Tea, and as a common spice in cooking.  Tincture 1:1 Everclear to H2o 4-6 weeks filter and store in brown bottle.
Dose:  .6ml - .8ml
Document Results: Made into a tincture 9-9-2015 began taking .6ml -.8ml daily 10-17-2015
In Comments area, note updates.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Materia Medica, Dandelion

Common Name: Dandelion

Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale

Parts used: Leaves, Roots, Flowers

Identification Notes: Leaves are smooth on underside and have no spines or frurry-ness to them. Red coloring in the stem of the leaf.

How used: Tea, cooked greens, fresh greens in salad, (best flavor in the spring, by fall they become very bitter).  Tincture 1:1 Everclear to H2o 4-6 weeks filter and store in brown bottle.
Dose:  .6ml - .8ml
Document Results: Eating the greens in the spring but not daily. Harvested roots of 2nd year plant, dried and made into a tincture 9-9-2015 began taking .6ml -.8ml daily 10-17-2015
In Comments area, note updates.