Preparing for the unknown
This is a busy time of year and with the frosts coming early, we have had to pick and bring in a lot of garden produce that needs processing. Green tomatoes have been ripening in sunny spaces so I am using my "Tomato Glut Sauce" recipe to process and can them quickly instead of making sauce. I will do that later this winter when time allows. Squashes loved this summer's sun and they, thankfully, can be stored without processing. We have already enjoyed the acorn squash halved with butter and maple syrup sauce in the seed cavities and baked to perfection. Ymmm! Plums, apples and cranberries are being made into preserves and the excess of zucchini made into relish.
Keeping in mind the volatile nature of our access to food, supplements and medicine in the midst of covid and now the election unknowns, we are preparing for anything as best we can by stocking up and thinking ahead. We have frozen vegetables, dried herbs, canned for long term access and beefed up our dry goods of flour, sugar, rice and quinoa along with beans and chick peas.
We have good dried stocks of herbs so that I can get to the tincturing and salve making as soon as time allows. And of course, we stocked up on oil and alcohol to do that. We have started our jars of apple cider vinegar and fermented veggies and they are in cool, dark closets out of the way until we are ready. We still have wild roots yet to dig of burdock and yellow dock as well as the echinacea in the perennial bed but they're safe underground until we can get to them.
We are thinking ahead to any medications we will need and purchasing them ahead even though at our house, we use mostly herbal products. Even the pets will need attention and food at some point, so we are mindful to make sure we have access. We are fortunate that we live in a rural area so that local meats, eggs and other items are a few minutes away.
The garden is now under cover of winter rye and the garlic will be planted in the next couple of weeks for next year. We have been saving our heirloom seeds right along so that should the access to seeds be difficult or shelves cleaned out, we can rely on our own time proven varieties. Though I like to experiment with new varieties, necessity brings a more creative approach.
Fall is always a busy time of year, but it is so amazing what we have available to us and exciting to see the beautiful collection of jars and bins of food as we fill up the shelves. It is very satisfying to see the work we put in result in such bounty and we are thanking the Lord for shining down on us.
Roasted root veggies are such a delight with potatoes, turnip, beets, carrots and others basted with our own maple syrup and making a wonderful side dish to our local meats. The flavors of winter are warm and satiating and bring plenty of Vitamin A for cold season and immune boosting power with warming spices. It's time to get out the Golden Milk recipe and this year I'm looking forward to adding some dark chocolate to the mix.
What's In Season?
Squashes, squashes, squashes....... It was a hot season this summer here and squash loves heat. My squash vines spread half way across my lawn from one of my raised beds and blessed us with 2 dozen acorn squashes from one plant. Squash is full of Vitamin A, a vitamin that is key in keeping immunity high. There is plenty of produce from the gardens as well as the wild edibles and herbs that are available to us now.
And don't forget the nutritional value of pumpkins. There are a myriad of recipes for soup, muffins, breads, sauces, etc on the internet for pumpkin. The seeds roasted or sauteed, dried and jarred are an excellent addition to the diet or snack, for digestive upset, and especially parasites.
It's time to dig roots. Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower) from perennial beds, 2nd year burdock roots and yellow dock roots from the fields. Gravel root from the wet places.
Dig them, scrub them, and then chop into smaller pieces to either be dried or to tincture fresh in alcohol for winter availability.
Echinacea is well known to be used in cold and flu season but not many know that echinacea is a blood cleaner and a help to the liver, which filters out the toxins from the blood. It is useful in any circumstance along with specific treatment therapy, to aid in releasing the bacterial and viral toxins out of the body through the wastestream.
Burdock root is not only a great herbal bitter and support for the liver and kidneys, it is a great food for the digestive system and a cultivated version called Gobo is a staple in Asian countries. Many bitter tea combinations are available in our health food stores for this reason. We can actually make some interesting combinations of our own by digging our wild friends in field and forest.
Yellow Dock is another bitter that has numerous uses. Also a helpful detoxifying agent it works as a mild laxative for sluggish digestive systems and bowels that do not empty well. Another bitter cousin of burdock and dandelion it stimulates the liver and gallbladder to process as well as the lymphatic system. It can also help with indigestion.
Herbal Bitters have become popular and these can be added to recipes and taken in mocktails and alcoholic toddies. We have a yellow dock bitter with tumeric and ginger which not only stimulates the digestive tract for action but is a great immune boosting addition. Many recipes available on the internet and a great book by Guido Mase and Jovial King called DIY Bitters are great resources. Really makes taking your medicine fun!
Gravel root, or Joe Pie Weed, is a plant known for it's help in preventing and helping to break up kidney stones. It has recently become popular for landscaping in wet areas but can usually be found along waterways and along the edges of swampy areas.
NOTE: Whenever digging roots, remember the general rule of taking ONLY 1/3 of a batch of herbs when you find them in the wild. It allows the others to continue to grow and spread and leaves some for others that might find them also.
Be wise, be safe, be blessed!!!
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Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.