Probiotic Wild Raspberry Lemonade

You will need:

  • a handful of fresh raspberries – or other foraged berries e.g. blackberries or blueberries
  • juice of 4 lemons
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • water

In a 1 liter jar combine the juice of the lemons, sugar and whey. Pour enough water to fill half of the jar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. Wash the raspberries and place in a blender. Pour enough water on top just to cover them and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour the liquid into the jar (keep the pulp for use in other recipes – see below). The liquid should come up to 1 inch below the rim of the jar, if it doesn’t, add a bit more water. Mix well, cover with a dishcloth and secure with a rubber band. Leave out on the counter for 2-3 days. This will allow the good bacteria to colonize the liquid:)

When it is ready skim the foam which has formed on the top (mine had quite a lot of it) and discard it. Taste the lemonade – mine needed some more sugar. Transfer to the fridge to cool. Serve over ice for a refreshing summer drink.

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Important: Do not throw away the leftover raspberry pulp. You can add it to some natural yogurt together with a little honey and voila! – you have raspberry yogurt. Or do what I did: mix the pulp with some whole milk and honey and freeze in popsicle molds to create raspberry pops. 

 

Weekend foraging in the woods

I have ‘consciously’ started foraging just this spring but I am already hooked. In years before I had often gathered wild raspberries or blackberries because that was what my family did when we were kids, but I never intentionally looked out for edible foods in the wild.

I started foraging just this year inspired by other traditional food bloggers, and the first thing I gathered was spring nettles. I made nettle soup, pakoras, tea and plant fertilizer. In May I gathered dandelion flowers to make dandelion syrup and dandelion infused oil for soap making. Now wherever I go I am constantly on the lookout for new edible plants.

No matter where you live, you can always forage something. I live in the city but can still find edible plants in the park, on the playground next to my home or in the forests surrounding the city.

 

Foraging was once an essential part of food culture here in British Isles, and many plants have a history of being used as food or medicine.

You do not need a lot of free time to forage. I have a small daughter who does not allow me to gather plants for more than a few minutes at a time, or she gets bored, so during the week I usually gather a little bit of everything on our way through the park to the playground.

And this weekend we also went to a forest just 15 minutes drive from our home. Here is what I foraged there…

wild raspberries

Raspberries for my homemade pink lemonade (recipe coming soon).

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This is cleavers, also known as goosegrass (because geese love to eat it). It is easy to identify since it clings to anything that it touches. It can be eaten cooked, just like kale or spinach (if you gather it before the tiny round fruits appear). It can also be made into poultice and used on the skin to treat burns, wounds or stings. I am drying my bunch of cleavers to make it into tea. It is supposed to be very good for the lymph system (e.g. to treat tonsillitis). I am very curious how it is going to taste and I will update you when I know.

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Linden flowers grow on the linden tree. I love their sweet, honey-like aroma and they remind me of spending summer holidays at my grandma’s cottage in the Polish countryside. The linden trees are in bloom in July so now is the best time to gather enough of them to use as flu tea in winter. They dry very fast spread on paper towels or trays on the kitchen counter. I want to use some of them to make linden lemonade.

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This is the humble tansy which can grow everywhere, even on wastelands. Flowers, buds and leaves are edible. Flowers and buds can be dried and used (sparingly) as seasoning – it is supposed to taste like sage. According to Darina Allen in Forgotten skills of cooking a little of fresh chopped leaves (1 tsp – 1 tbsp) can be used as seasoning in bechamel sauces or omelettes. Tansy is believed to keep flies and bugs away and has a really interesting history. I found a video on Youtube talking about tansy being used in meat transportation and also put inside coffins -find it here.

I hope this post will inspire you to go out and look for edible plants. There are many great books, posts and videos about foraging online if you want to know more about this topic.Here are some of my favourites:

16 Ways to Eat Dandelions by The Prairie Homestead

Let’s Talk About Foraging  by Ariana at And Here We Are.

Joe and Zach Survival channel on Youtube have lots of short videos about foraging.

Food for Free by Richard Mabey is a great book about foraging.

 

Make your own plant food for (almost) nothing

I only have a few potted plants at home but like all plants sometimes they need to be fed, not only watered. Newly bought soil usually has fertilizer (compost) added to it but after about 6 weeks have passed since planting you have to start adding some liquid plant food to the water tray on a weekly basis. I like organic fertilizers because they contain plant-derived nutrients and not chemical compounds.

But organic plant food can be pricey – for example a liter of Organic Liquid Seaweed fertilizer currently costs £7.49 on Amazon.co.uk. So in this post I am going to show you how to make liquid fertilizer for just the cost of a kilo of brown sugar.

Here I am using a bunch of seaweed I gathered at the beach last weekend, but you can use any green plant matter that you want (except legumes). Examples: grass cuttings from your lawn, nettles or other green weeds gathered in the forest, or even some spinach or kale bought in the supermarket. The last option is going to make it a bit more expensive, but if it is the middle of the winter and you can find nothing green outside, then go for it.

What you will need:

  • 1kg green plant materials
  • 1kg brown sugar – light or dark brown are both ok. Or white sugar and molasses (mixed in proportion of 1-2 spoons molasses for every cup of white sugar)
  • 4.5 liter water
  • large bucket with a lid (I am using an old enameled pot)

Here is my seaweed which is my preferred green to use as a fertilizer because of its abundance of minerals such as magnesium and iodine. 

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By the way, if you have a garden or allotment you could just spread the seaweed on the beds between your plants and let the earthworms take care of it. If all you have is plants in pots, then you have to turn seaweed into liquid plant food first.

And now the recipe:

1. Put your plant matter into the bucket and then dump the sugar in. Now pour the 4.5 liters of water and mix well to dissolve the sugar. This is how it should look.

Yummy!

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2. If you want, you can fit a plate inside and weigh it down with a stone or something. It will prevent any mold from forming on the top. I didn’t do it this time but it worked anyway. Now cover your pot and place it somewhere dark and cool for at least one week. Once I kept it for over a month (because I completely forgot about it) – but no worries, it will smell even worse but will be still okay to use!

3. After 1 week has passed, it is ready to be strained and poured into bottles. Seaweed fertilizer usually smells real bad, and so does spinach. But once I made it with nettles and the aroma was quite nice, beer-like. In the end, it does not matter if it smells and looks repellent, your plants won’t mind. 

Strain it through fine mesh sieve. Then strain again to make sure there is no plant bits left which would later float to the tops of your bottles and mold. Throw out the plant material or compost it.

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The end result will be dark brown liquid the consistency of single cream. Pour into glass bottles, put the lids on and keep in a dark, cool cupboard. I don’t know how long it can keep but i kept mine for about 5 months until it finished and it was still usable at the end of that time. 

To use, dilute 1 cup of fertilizer in 4.5 liters of water. Use once a week. It is a general purpose fertilizer suitable for most plants, outdoor and indoor alike.