Archive for Homemade Remedies

Cherry Cordial: Packed with Vitamins and Anti-Oxidants

I posted up how to make raspberry and blackcurrant cordial; but am going to experiment this year with a new one-cherry cordial. I have a lot of cherries I put in the freezer, as I read somewhere that if frozen whole with stems intact, they will defrost just like fresh cherries to eat. They do actually, although you need to eat them pretty quickly as they do go mushy after a day. Anyway I have lots left and so this year I think I am going to use them up by converting them to syrup giving them another 2 year life span, as well as using more fresh ones when they come into season. I have just ordered my muslin to strain through, very reasonably priced on Amazon so once that arrives I shall give it a whirl, following the raspberry syrup method.

Looking around though I did find that cherries are packed with goodies to keep us healthy [which is why I froze so many last year], and I am now considering and consulting/negotiating with Granddad about possibly planting some of our own wild cherry trees. Here is the low down on how good they are for us. I always bear in mind these nasty flu viruses and like to have something handy to boost the immune system that is natural and nice from about September onwards here in the UK. Does it work? Well 3 years ago I was staying with my son and his girlfriend; when my son went down with the so-called swine flu. He and his girlfriend were wiped out with it, very very poorly; and I did not get the slightest hint of it. They were prescribed Tamiflu. I was with them before their symptoms and during the flu itself. Luck? Or my boosted Vit C and especially Vit D? I think its worth doing anyway!

  • Cherries are pigment rich fruits. These pigments, in fact, are polyphenolic flavonoid compounds known as anthocyanin glycosides. Anthocyanins are red, purple or blue pigments found in many fruits and vegetables, especially concentrated in their skin, known to have powerful anti-oxidant properties.
  • Scientific studies have shown that anthocyanins in the cherries are found to act like anti-inflammatory agents by blocking the actions of cyclooxygenase-1, and 2 enzymes. Thus, consumption of cherries has potential health effects against chronic painful episodes such as gout arthritis, fibromyalgia (painful muscle condition) and sports injuries.
  • Research studies also suggest that anti-oxidant compounds in tart cherries help the human body to fight against cancers, aging and neurological diseases, and pre-diabetes condition.
  • Cherry fruits are very rich in stable anti-oxidant melatonin. Melatonin can cross the blood-brain barrier easily and produces soothing effects on the brain neurons, calming down nervous system irritability, which helps relieve neurosis, insomnia and headache conditions.
  • Further, they are also mild source of zinc, moderate sources of iron, potassium, and manganese and good source of copper. Potassium is a heart-healthy mineral; an important component of cell and body fluids that regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
  • The fruits, especially tart cherries are exceptionally rich in health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic anti-oxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin and beta carotene. These compounds act as protective scavengers against harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging, cancers and various disease processes.
  • Anti-inflammatory property of cherries has been found effective in reducing heart-disease risk factors by scavenging action against free radicals.
  • Acerola or West Indian cherry has exceptionally very high levels of vitamin-C (1677.6 mg per 100 g or 2796 % of RDA) and vitamin-A (767 IU per 100 g).

Cherries

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A Polish Secret : Raspberry Cordial

I once worked with a lovely Polish lady called Maya. She grew up and lived in Poland under what was then the Russian state control, and her story of growing up and living in that system was fascinating. Many things that we take for granted with our supermarket and shop cultures today were unavailable to them then, and one particular thing she told me about stuck with me.

She was a great advocate of raspberry syrup, which they made themselves as a home-made medicine for a fantastic range of ailments. It was probably THE thing to have at all times at home in the  family”medicine chest”. I know that it is still renowned by the Polish because even the local supermarkets like Tesco here stock it on their Polish foods shelves. But it is easy to make and quite fun too and has a shelf life of two years, so below I shall put the recipe. You will need bottles with proper stoppers to seal it, these can be bought in various sizes from mail order companies supplying home cookware. Here in the UK I use a company called Lakeland for pretty much all my requirements. Of course being glass, they are reusable. I know that raspberry leaves are also used in traditional medicines but since my knowledge of this is very limited, I do intend to cover that here. Any search of the internet will soon yield results if that interests you. The raspberry syrup can be diluted for a refreshing drink, as can the blackcurrant which I also will give details for. We all know how high the vitamin C content in blackcurrant is. Later in the year [Autumn], I will give detail as to how to make rosehip syrup, so high in Vitamin C that children during the war were given days of school where they were expected to harvest rosehips for the nation’s health. Now they still grow in the hedgerows and are a much unused and under-valued free commodity.  Certainly as a child we were given a spoonful of rosehip syrup daily as our vitamin C boost [along with cod liver oil and malt extract before going to school]. I have made rosehip syrup for the past few years as I believe it, combined with vitamin D to be a very effective barrier to these horrid flu’s that pass round the world. Who knows…but its served me well so far anyway!

Before you start always remember that you bottles must be sterilised before use, either a quick cycle in the dishwasher or a hot wash and dry them in a low oven will do it. [Same is true for jam jars, preserving jars…]

Raspberry Syrup.

Raspberry syrup

You will need:

1 kg raspberries

75 ml water

Preserving or granulated sugar.

Put the raspberries and water in your bowl and mash well. Set over a pan of boiling water for 1 hour, mashing occasionally.

Pour into a sterilized jelly bag and leave for a few hours until the dripping has ceased. Squeeze the bag and then filter the juice through a double layer of muslin.

Measure your juice and allow 400 grams of sugar for every 500 ml of juice. Now put juice and sugar into pan and boil stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Skim off any froth and boil hard for 4-5 minutes. Do not overcook though as mixture will start to set!

Pour into hot sterilized bottle and cork, or place stopper in. Leave to cool and cover cork with wax if you wish.

This amount will give about 750 ml of syrup. It can be diluted to drink, or poured over ice cream, and deserts.

Blackcurrant Syrup.

Blackcurrant syrup

You will need:

1 kg ripe blackcurrants

Preserving or granulated sugar.

Puree the blackcurrants in a food processor or liquidiser. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and leave for 24 hours.

Pour the puree into sterilised jelly bag and leave for a few hours until dripping ceases. Squeeze the bag, then filter juice through double layer of muslin.

Measure juice and add 400 grams sugar for every 500 grams of juice. Stir well until sugar has dissolved.

Pour juice into sterilised bottles, filling them to within 5 cm of the top. Cork. Wrap in cloth and stand on metal rack at base of large lidded pan. Pour in enough water to cover cork by 2.5 cm. Cover, bring to the boil and allow to boil for 25 minutes if using a 500 ml bottle. Remove from pan with tongs, leave to cool completely. Wax if desired.

As the blackcurrant syrup requires heat processing, it may pay you to make up several batches of this at same time, so they can all be popped into hot bath at same time for processing.

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The Home Medicine Chest

First and foremost be sensible. If symptoms persist go to your doctor.
However, there are certain things you can do to help those minor things that affect us all from time to time and they may be worth a try too.

Whilst you have your lemons and ginger about, if you are making the lemon marmalade, here is a good homemade cough syrup. Keep it in the fridge.

2 lemons scrubbed and thinly sliced.

6 teaspoons grated fresh ginger.

 Honey as needed.

In a glass jar layer the lemon slices and grated ginger until jar is full. Pour honey into jar. Store in fridge for 2 weeks before using. Then take 1-2 teaspoons of the liquid 3 times per day as needed, for coughs and sore throats.

Ginger Tea

Ginger tea taken twice a day can help relieve flu symptoms such as headache, sore throat and congestion. Make the tea by steeping [soaking for a decent amount of time] 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water. Make sure not to exceed your ginger intake by more than 4 grams of ginger a day as it can cause irritation of the mouth, heartburn and diarrhea if taken in excess.

Lemon and Ginger

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Lemon and Ginger Marmalade

Combining lemons and ginger gives a really zesty marmalade. Something a bit different!

1.2 kg lemons

150g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1.2 litres water

900g granulated sugar, warmed.

Quarter and slice the lemons. Tie the pips in a muslin bag and put in preserving pan with lemons, ginger and water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. [Simmering means at a low temperature where a bubble escapes to the surface now and again]. If the fruit is tender, you are ready for next step. If not give it another 10-20 minutes.

Remove the muslin bag from pan, leave to cool slightly then squeeze over the pan to release all the juice and pectin. Stir the sugar in over a low heat until dissolved then increase the heat and boil for 5-10 minutes or until setting point is reached. If you use a thermometer, this is 105 degrees C. I use saucer method because it was the way I was shown and because I actually find it a lot more accurate! Place a saucer in fridge for 10 minutes before testing. Then drop small amount of marmalade [testing for jam is same] onto saucer and put back in fridge. After a minute take out and gently push finger from side into centre. if it “wrinkles” it is set. If not, then boil again for another few minutes and test again.

Remove pan from heat, if there is any scum, remove with slatted spoon.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes, stir and ladle into warmed sterilised jars and seal. When cool, label and store in cool dark place.

Makes about 1.8 kg-4-5lbs.

Lemon and Ginger

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Marmalade

Marmalade

I have tried many different recipes and there are lots to try on the internet. But this is Nigel Slater’s recipe and I love Nigel Slater! His recipes are easy and always work, they taste great, they are easy to understand, follow and practical. Nigel has lots of good cookbooks available too…check them out!
Marmalade is best known for eating on buttered toast, but you can also use it to glaze a ham, which gives it a beautiful taste. Orange marmalade is a common ingredient in quick Asian-style sauces to go on pork or chicken. The orange marmalade can be made more tart by adding lemon juice or more savory by adding beef or chicken broth. The orange marmalade sauce is usually thickened with flour or cornstarch to create a thick glaze that coats the meat. Orange marmalade sauce can be used on other meats too, such as veal cutlets, fish or shrimp. I also like it instead of jam in rice pudding.

Marmalade Recipe:

I made two batches this year. One with organic fruit, the other not. The flavour of the organic one shone most brilliantly and took less time to reach setting point. This is enough to fill about 5 or 6 normal jam jars.

12 Seville oranges

2 lemons

1.25kg unrefined golden granulated sugar

Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit.

Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.

Make the juice up to 4 litres with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here. Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.

The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel. (This time, mine took 45 minutes with the organic oranges, just over an hour with the others.)

Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil. Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don’t your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.

Ladle into the sterilised pots and seal immediately.

To sterilise your jars, either put them through dishwasher before use, so that they are still hot when you ladle marmalade into them, or pop jars in oven at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, so they are hot when you ladle into them. They must be sterilised or fungal deposits may grow. This is also why you put waxed paper circles ontop of marmalade [or jam] to prevent any air getting to it and spoiling it.

Waxed circles and the plastic covers can be bought at a number of outlets. I get most of my cooking equipment here in the UK from Lakeland. Since I live in the Highlands, away from large shopping centres [JOY!], I choose their home delivery option, which is quick, and they are a very friendly and efficient company to deal with.

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/Homepage.action

Have fun! Granny.

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Sorting Out and Making Marmalade

January is a good month to take stock of things in the kitchen. After the Christmas festivities and the New Year I use this month to go through all my stored foods, and check dates to make sure everything on shelves and in cupboards is still edible. It’s a good time to go through freezers as well, making sure that everything is rotated and used within a safe time period and to actually remind yourself of what is in there. This is especially important for fish, but also we all usually find something that has slipped behind everything else and has not emerged for an embarrassing length of time. Chuck it. Don’t take chances.

Its marmalade making month which we will be doing here tomorrow. This is the month when Seville oranges are in the supermarkets and they can be frozen whole for use later, if you want to do it…sometime! By the way, unwaxed lemons and limes also freeze whole extremely successfully, so buy when they are cheap and freeze. They are easier to zest when still frozen, and once defrosted, you will get more juice out than when they were fresh.

I will post up a recipe or two for marmalade in the next day or two. In the meanwhile I just saw this and thought I would put it out. Honey is one thing you should always have in your kitchens for medical as well as spreading on toast but here is a particular kind which has anti bacterial qualities and is worth having in store. It is expensive, so keep it for those emergencies. Honey will last indefinitely and remain edible.

x

Mysterious Honey Discovered That Kills All Bacteria Scientists throw at it.

AUSTRALIAN researchers have been astonished to discover a cure-all right under their noses — a honey sold in health food shops as a natural medicine.

Far from being an obscure health food with dubious healing qualities, new research has shown the honey kills every type of bacteria scientists have thrown at it, including the antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” plaguing hospitals and killing patients around the world.

Some bacteria have become resistant to every commonly prescribed antibacterial drug. But scientists found that Manuka honey, as it is known in New Zealand, or jelly bush honey, as it is known in Australia, killed every bacteria or pathogen it was tested on.

Bees

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The First Post: Horsemeat: No Thankyou

This blog is an idea that I have had for quite a long time. I know that skills that were once held by everyone, are being lost, and I know that they are still as relevant as they ever were. So it is a simple decision to hand on these skills and tips so that lots more people can follow them and hand them down to the generations to come. But the impetus came this last week; when I found myself horrified at this report in the newspaper; following a warning of heavy snow to come:

‘There were frantic scenes at a Tesco store in Aberdare, South Wales, where hundreds of people turned up after the Met Office issued a rare red warning for the area, meaning travel should be attempted only if absolutely necessary.

Rhiannon Griffiths, 38, said: ‘It was a real scrum. People were grabbing loaves and milk and dashing to the tills. I managed to get two small loaves and some pitta breads – but that was all that was left.’

A member of staff at another supermarket in Newbury, Berkshire, described scenes that were ‘busier than just before Christmas’. ‘It’s almost a sort of mass hysteria,’ she said. ‘People are rushing in and blindly grabbing what they can see, frightened there will be nothing left.

‘The shelves are emptying as fast as we can fill them – they’re after bread, milk, dairy produce, fruit, vegetables and lots of people seem to be stocking up on the tinned stuff, like soup.’

One small snow warning and panic sets in. Supermarket shelves clear within a couple of hours leaving the vulnerable even more at risk of going without. This amazes me on several counts. One, it is unthinkable that so many people have to do this because they are not prepared for such things to happen. It is so easy to have stocks of food within the house that should cover such events. A few years ago the lorry drivers were considering striking here in the UK. It took Lord Sanisbury to approach the government and ask the Prime Minister if he was aware of how much food we stock in this country. No said the PM. Lord Sainsbury then informed him. We hold 3 days food in this country. Apart from that we are reliant on food coming in, and our transport systems working properly to get it both from the ports and farms to the distribution centres and on to the supermarkets and shelves for the customers to access.

Then came the news of horsemeat being put in burgers for sale here in the UK from those big supermarket names. You need to know what you are eating folks, and there is only one way to know that…take control of what goes in by doing it yourself.

Natural disasters can strike at anytime. A massive solar flare can knock out power supplies and electrical grids. ATM’s are reliant on those grids as are the tills in the shops and the reordering systems in the shops. No power means no sale of goods. Severe weather events happen, and they have happened throughout history. How will you feed yourselves and your family and keep them warm, if an event happens? Whilst we cannot prepare for the truly unexpected, we can and should take steps to ensure that we are at least prepared for at least a three week period, this being about the timeframe that it takes for governments to be able to assess and step in to start putting things right. For those who have freezers, that is a start, but dont forget that if your power goes down for more than 48 hours, the food you have in there is unuseable and will have to be thrown out. In the winter of 86 I was living at the farm in Norfolk with 5 small children aged under 9. We were without electricity for 3 weeks, and had no heating as the oil fired heating required electricity to run it. We had electrical cooker, fridge, and the hot water was run by the oil-so no hot water either. The snow was to deep for vechiles to run and we were cut off by snow for 3 weeks. If we had not been prepared for such events, how would we have fed and kept our young children warm with temperatures dropping to minus 10 and more? Now people may say, well we live in the city, we can always get to a shop…yes but the shop may not be able to be stocked, and if there is no electricity…and you cannot get your money out of an ATM and your debit/credit cards are not working…So to be prepared is a simple common sense precaution. To know that you can feed, and keep your family warm for 2/3/4 weeks independently of whatever else is happening surely makes sense. And those sorts of things are what we will be posting on. These things can be done gradually throughout the year; until you have built up into a rhythm whereby it becomese second nature. What you make and or preserve will taste better than anything you can buy, and you will know what has gone into them. It will also save you money. You have the choice nowadays, we didn’t, when we were growing up it was this way or you didn’t have it! Organic food was the norm, it came out of our garden with slugs attached and dirt all over it! No sprays…that would have been “a waste of money” to our parents. I never saw a cabbage without holes in the leaves until supermarkets opened! And apples came in all shapes and sizes…no European dictates then [that led to tons of perfectly good fruit being wasted].

Nowadays we are also being asked to take notice of the carbon footprint of our food, and to try and eat from more locally sourced produce. When we were kids, the trek of our fruit and veg was from the back garden to the kitchen. What you didn’t grow you did not eat in 90% of fruit and veg produce. Oranges and tangerines only appeared at Christmas. We did have a huge variety of food but it was always seasonal, and when eaten in season it tastes so good! Peas straight out of the pod, strawberries straight off the plant, somehow made each season special becasue of what it produced; and knowing that you could not have at any other time of year made each crop you loved special and each that you did not like bearable! Either way…it would not last long!

I will also just include various other odd things which I hope will interest people, so I really hope the people that visit this blog will enjoy it and contribute their own tips and skills in the comments as well.

Lets start taking back our skills and be less dependent on the big corporates to provide our needs for us shall we?

 

Veg Garden

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