WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?
Here at Forest Gully, we have fallen in love with them all. The unique plants of each season and the importance of the process throughout the year make it hard for us to answer that simple question. However, we know many people do have favorite seasons. So, here are just a few things to expect on the farm during each season.
WINTER (December – February): Snuggles by the fire, sounds of nature, hikes…
SPRING (March – May): Flower forager’s delight, goumi berries, butterflies, hikes…
SUMMER (June – August): Blackberries, blueberries, flowers, veggies, creek fun…
FALL (September – November): Oh the colors, hazelnuts, persimmons, muscadines, hikes…
MULLEIN: mullein flower ear oil
Mullein is one of my favorite “weeds” 😉 You can use both the leaves for teas, poultices and can be smokes or the flowers for teas, oils, salves and more. I have made an ear oil for those pesky ear infections caused by respiratory infections. Just a few drops of this warm oil into the ear can relieve pain in minutes and begin reversing the infection. Luckily we have about 10 of these plants in our yard. So here is what I did;
MEDICINAL HERBS: A beginner’s guide by Rosemary Gladstar’s
- Collect about 1/4 cup of flowers (this can take a few days due to the slow opening of the flowers)
- Place flowers in a pint jar and cover with olive oil
- Set jar in a warm, sunny spot and let infuse for 2 weeks.
- Strain and bottle
- To Use: warm oil over very low heat, until warm not hot. Dispense 2 or 3 eyedropper full of oil down each ear. Repeat two or three times daily, or as needed.
*not useful for swimmers ear or other infections cause by water entering the ear. Nor is if recommended for severe ear infections. *
Violet Syrup: by, Leda Meredith
- 1 cup lightly packed violet flowers(no stems)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cup sugar
- Gather the violets by pinching them off at the tops of the stems. Remove the calyxes (the green parts at the bases of the flowers) by twisting the petals free. Save the petals and compost or discard the calyxes.
- Put the violet petals into a heat-proof, non-reactive container, such as a glass canning jar or a stainless steel food storage container. Do not use plastic or aluminum.
- Bring the cup of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the violet petals. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. The liquid will turn a gorgeous clear blue with a slightly lavender hue.Important: the violet extraction is pH sensitive. If your water is “hard” (alkaline), you can add lemon juice to get the blue color, but you’ll lose the subtle flavor of the violets. A better option is to use distilled water.
- Pour the liquid and the petals into the top of a bain-marie (double boiler). If you don’t have one, you can simply put an inch or two of water in a pot over medium-high heat and set a large stainless steel or another heat-proof bowl on top of the pot. Put the violets and their infusion into the bowl.
- Add the sugar. Cook the syrup over the steam created by the bain-marie, stirring often, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Note: although I’m not usually a big fan of white sugar, it is important not to use anything else for this recipe or you’ll lose the exquisite color.
- Strain the syrup through a finely meshed sieve to remove the flower petals. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then transfer it to glass jars, label them, and store in the refrigerator.
USES FOR VIOLET SYRUP:
- Make a spritzer with 1/3 syrup and 2/3 plain seltzer. (My favorite!)
- Add it to iced tea.
- Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream
- Spoon it over pancakes, waffles or crepes.
- Pour over fresh fruit.
- Freeze it into ice cubes and add to summer drinks (make sure to freeze some whole violets in the cubes, too! They’re SO pretty floating in a glass.)
- Use it to glaze cookies or cakes.
- Soak pound cake cubes in syrup and add to trifles.
- Get creative and create a floral cocktail. (Just be aware that your color may fade! I added whipped vodka, and the color was GONE in minutes!)
Goumi Berry Syrup
Goumi Berry Syrup: Rinse the berries. Don’t worry about separating the thin stems from the fruit. Simmer three parts goumi berries with one part strawberry, raspberry or other sweet berry. This gives the mixture a lift in flavor without masking the goumi taste too much. For every two cups of berries, add one cup of water. Meanwhile, in a separate pot make a simple syrup by combining one cup water with one cup sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Set aside. Strain berries through a sieve, cheesecloth or a food mill. This separates the juice and pulp from the stems and large fibrous seeds. Compost the stems and seeds. Combine simple syrup with berry juice. Suggest using three parts juice to one part syrup, but do this slowly and keep tasting until it is sweet enough for your preference. Pour goumi syrup into freezer containers, label and tuck away.
Sumac Berry can be used for many things, here are just a few:
1. SPICE & BEVERAGE The fruits (drupes) of the genus Rhus are ground into a reddish-purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. The Smooth Sumac (R. glabra) and the Staghorn Sumac (R. typhina) are sometimes used to make a beverage termed “sumac-ade,” “Indian lemonade” or “rhus juice”. This drink is made by soaking the drupes in cool water, rubbing them to extract the essence, straining the liquid through a cotton cloth and sweetening it. Native Americans also used the leaves and drupes of the Smooth and Staghorn Sumacs combined with tobacco in traditional smoking mixtures.
4. MEDICINAL USES