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Spicing up the season with wild ginger

Wild Ginger 2012 harvest. Dried

Winter Wow, Spicing up the season with Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadense

 

Basking in a beam of sunlight-Wild Ginger in the woods - Ontario
Basking in a beam of sunlight-Wild Ginger in the woods – Ontario

Wild Ginger, or, Asarum Canadense, is a wild growing forest herb native to eastern north America from Quebec and Nova Scotia, down to Georgia and Tennessee. As a culinary spice, Wild Ginger has a bold distinct character, both in its fragrance and flavour. Though it shares a spicy bite with tropical Ginger, the similarities end there. In our area, Wild Ginger is not yet on the endangered list, let’s do what we can keep it that way. Try to buy  from reliable sources that practice ethical and sustainable harvesting, (especially when purchasing the essential oil which necessitates the harvest of large quantities), and if you’re going to harvest it yourself, please be considerate of the plants and the balance of nature. For insights on how to take care of your local wild growing Wild Ginger patches, you can read the post Wild Ginger flavourful fragrant Northern Treasure.

Wild Ginger, washed, weighed and ready
Wild Ginger, washed, weighed and ready for candying.
Wild Ginger 2012 harvest. Dried
Wild Ginger 2012 harvest. Dried

Unfortunately, most of us have little, or no experience with Wild Ginger in the kitchen.We are not familiar with its unique flavor and fragrance or how it can complement even the simplest of daily meals. In particular, how it transforms our traditional fall and winter dishes. Comparing it to Tropical Ginger is like comparing mangos to a really boring fruit, they both may be fruit, grow on trees, sweet, but very, very different from each other. They each have  different qualities we can utilize in the kitchen. Wild Ginger is very different from tropical ginger, not even belonging to the same family. From the perspective of flavour and fragrance, Wild Ginger offers us much more than regular Ginger.

 WILD GINGER or CANADA SNAKE SALAMANDER ROOT

Washed, and air drying prior to distilling essential oil, I think  that from now on, Wild Ginger should be called Canada Salamander root, instead of Canada Snake root. the new shoots always stagger out from their sides as if they are trying to scurry away and hide under a stone.
Washed, and air drying prior to distilling essential oil, I think  that from now on, Wild Ginger should be called Canada Salamander root, instead of Canada Snake root. the new shoots always stagger out from their sides as if they are trying to scurry away and hide under a stone.

Crooked, pencil diameter greenish-grey to black rhizomes, twisting, spreading, clinging  to the surface of the forest floor like undulating  salamanders frozen in a defensive “camo'” move. Called Canada Snakeroot in some traditions, the swollen pointed arrow shaped growing tips support this name, looking almost reptilian, but, the shorter offshoots, staggered and alternating to each side, make them look more like a startled nest of scurrying salamanders, than snakes with shorter snakes exiting their flanks.     That, my friends, was the easy part of describing Wild Ginger to you. I simply can’t think of any spice, plant, aroma or flavour, natural or other, that I have experienced that could possibly act as a reference for a comparative description. There is nothing I could say that would give you the slightest inkling of what you will experience when you taste or smell Wild Ginger, or the abundant inspired uses you will find for it in the kitchen. It  is simply not “like” anything else. Even naming this plant Wild Ginger is a stretch, but understandable.

Candied Wild Ginger
Candied Wild Ginger
Giving fresh harvested Wild Ginger a good scrub and rinse. Tip, do not do this in a sink, unless you are a plumber with lots of spare time :-)!
Giving fresh harvested Wild Ginger a good scrub and rinse. Tip, do not do this in a sink, unless you are a plumber with lots of spare time :-)!

So, as mentioned, Wild Ginger, tastes nothing like tropical Ginger. It does however have, among its rich complexities of fragrance and flavour, a spicy bite, that can be compared to the bite of tropical Ginger. But, that is about all they share. Can it be used as a replacement for “regular ginger in cooking and baking?, Yes, but, it is NOT a true replacement for it. A replacement would perform as the original, and a good replacement, would barely be noticed. This is NOT the case with Wild Ginger folks. You can try to use it as a replacement for regular Ginger, but instead of not noticing the substitute, you will get-a WOW!! Yes ma’am, a WOW!!  Eyes open as far as they can, eyebrow cocked, (one in question, one in awe), a pause, while they look you in the eye, silently asking. ?  ?  ? ,  And looking at the blankness in their other eye, through the iris dilated with awe, you see the little gears in their brains spinning around, clinking, grinding. In the foreground, little clerks run around amidst flying papers and reference notes of things they tasted, smelled, heard of in the past, but, they are fast coming up with nothing. Frantically trying to find anything to pass on to the mouth which is still hanging open silently. True story.  So it is not a replacement for Ginger, as much as it is a secret weapon in a cook’s or baker’s repertoire that can be substituted for regular ginger and wow people. People who may have expected the flavour of “normal”  ginger in your dish. I hope you gleaned some knowledge of what it is through what it isn’t. Because as implied in the preceding paragraph, describing Wild Ginger is a challenge. Therapeutically, Wild Ginger shares many of the same qualities that tropical ginger has, it is stimulating and warming, improving  the appetite and digestion, reduces nausea, acts as an anti-inflammatory. Topically it is a rubificant that stimulates surface blood-flow. It makes a wicked essential oil for perfume or aromatherapy. Wild Ginger abounds with oleoresins, with an accent on the resins, fragrant molecules a little heavier than essential oils, so they cannot be distilled off with the essential oils, but must be collected via solvent extraction such as alcohol. I believe the resins in Wild Ginger will eventually reveal great therapeutic value, just as the resins in Turmeric, Frankincense, Myrrh, the Spruces, and Fir family.

Distilling essential oil of Wild Ginger, Yumm.
Distilling essential oil of Wild Ginger, Yumm.

   It’s fragrance is perky and mesmerizes you with its unexpected depth and complexity.  Though not “perfumey”, it has a lovely bold and distinguished fragrance. With a hint of the forest floor, and spicy Maple leaves layered in the woods, caramelized sugar and Maple Syrup. This sweet spiciness is couched in a warm, woody masculine  floral note,  reminiscent of Neroli or Mock Orange blossoms with Black Pepper keeping it dry and crisp. Perhaps due to its abundance of resins, Wild Ginger has a persistent, soft, woody, amber-like balsam note holding it all together. A spicy, warm creaminess like Peru Balsam, Vanilla and Cloves. Wild Ginger, in its short description, is a spicy, sweet,  woody, dry floral fragrance with a vanilla amber note, and an uplifting,  flavourful and pleasant bite. So much more than tropical Ginger. I don’t know if any of the above attempts at describing wild ginger helped, or left you exactly where you were, but I did come up with the brilliant idea, (pat on the back), of making small 10 gram samplers that could be shipped inexpensively by regular letter mail. ($2.00?). Enough dry wild ginger pieces to make one or three pots of rice, or trays of squash, or pans of coffeecake, etc. Enough to experience it first hand in the kitchen and at the table. I hope by now you  can understand my frustration with words falling short of conveying in even the smallest measure how wonderful and useful this herb is. How it can transform the food we cook, and enrich our lives.I honestly see no way for second hand words to impart the understanding  first hand experience can give us. But I tried anyway.

Candied Wild Ginger and Pancake Syrup from 50 grams dried Wild Ginger
Candied Wild Ginger and Pancake Syrup. The yield  from 50 grams dried Wild Ginger

Using Wild Ginger in the kitchen

I am not an expert cook. I am though, a creative cook, and can whip up a mean batch of humus, a nourishing winter stew, or a succulent roast without much thought.  I do not have a huge collection of recipes. OK, I haven’t collected any culinary recipes. Ok, I don’t actually have any culinary recipes.  I try to practice trusting life to provide what I need when I need it, and there are soooooooooo many recipes online, it really does not take much faith, trust or effort to find a good recipe when I need one. I cast my Google net when I do, and  improvise. I cook like I shop. I pick 3 of the most appealing recipes on Google. Then,  after comparing, and finding the median in price, simplicity, method and daring, I change it. Or use parts of each. Most of the time I outdo myself with this approach and in general, it works well,  keeps me on my toes and engaged. I found it is very easy to improvise with wild Ginger and create unique dishes. It lends itself especially well to fall dishes and winter dishes with its warming fragrant spiciness. This for me, is another indication that fall is the best time to harvest this plant for essential oils and culinary applications. Wild Ginger is a very exciting spice to explore and work with, and the simplest way to do so is to substitute regular ginger in a recipe with wild Ginger.  It does have one or two quirks that are important to note before experimenting with it..

  • It is fairly easy to grind it up coarsely in a mortar and pestle,  then transfer it to a coffee grinder and turn most of it into a powder. This powder can be stored in spice jars, added anywhere you would like something a little different.
  •  Wild Ginger keeps well if stored well. Thoroughly dried in a sealed container. Storing any herb in a dark jar or cool dark spot, is always a good idea. Kept properly it will keep whole for over a decade! Powdered for 3-5 years. I attribute its extended shelf life to the resins it contains, I think they are naturally bound with the essential oils which keeps the fragrance from flying off.
  • Wild Ginger has the added benefit of adding a unique texture. For instance when ground coarsely these chunks tenderize nicely during the time that a pot of rice cooks, let’s say 20 minutes, and will turn into tender chewy,and very flavorful morsels in your rice dish.  This adds a lovely and surprising texture along with its unique flavour. Often when grinding this tough rhizome in the coffee grinder, you will find only half your quantity has powdered, and when passed through a simple sieve, you will be left with small nuggets. They are perfect as they are for adding flavoured texture..
  • Another difference between the wild Ginger and regular Ginger, is that wild Ginger is a little less spicy, and though it has much more character than regular ginger, it is modest and does not shout, bite or cut. It is rich but less outspoken than some spices. If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of regular dry Ginger one should usually add one and a half teaspoons of dried wild Ginger.

Everyday meals, fall dishes, warming winter treats, and holiday favourites. Baked goods, candies, cakes, cookies, casseroles and warm winter beverages.The possibilities with Wild Ginger are endless. Here are some thoughts and ideas for where Wild Ginger could be wonderfully suited.

  •  Pumpkin pies A perfect match for your filling, adjust the other spices accordingly, more WG-less Nutmeg or other spices. Use your intuition, your nose, you’ll do fine.
  • Sweet potatoes and squash dishes, add powdered WG to the butter, garlic or whatever you baste it with.
  • Gingerbread,  Ginger-snaps, spice loaf, coffeecake. A little more WG is required than regular Ginger, about 1 1/2- 2 times WG as called for regular ginger. Adjust the original spices accordingly.
  • Rice dishes, as I mentioned Wild Ginger chunks, (about 1/8″ long), make lovely pieces of chewy flavoured tenderness, it goes really well with wild mushrooms, chicken stock, beef stock and vegetable stock.
  •  Venison, Bison, Wild game and fowl are flattered by Wild Ginger. It also helps lighten heaviness and eases digestion of heavy or wild meats.  The flavours blend beautifully!!
  • Added to a stuffing and a baste for regular store-bought turkey, chicken, pork, WG  helps cut any fat or heaviness associated with meat dishes, while adding a beautiful flavour and spiciness that blends seamlessly with your dish. It really shines!
  • Eggnog Wild Ginger is a lovely touch and lends rich spicy notes to eggnog.  It lifts it up!
  • Ice cream? If you make your own, use WG as your main or secondary flavour.
  • Wild Ginger is excellent as a tea infused in hot water, or added to your favorite herb tea or chai.  1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground fine per cup of boiling water works well alone or in most herbal and fruit type teas. It is warming to the body helps ease a sore throat, dispel nausea and stimulate digestion.
  •  Pancakes and hot breakfast cereals can benefit from a pinch of powdered WG  in the mix, especially when using fruit in your batter, like blueberries.
  • Mulled Cider is transformed and sublimated with the addition of wild ginger. It will be an eye opener at gatherings! The wow! factor.
  • The same goes for mulled wine.
  • Needless to say a pancake syrup made from wild Ginger is exceptionally yummy and memorable. You can find directions for making a Wild Ginger syrup along with the recipes for making candied Wild Ginger in these two posts. Candied Wild Ginger Recipe, and Candied Wild Ginger, a recipe from fresh.
  • Elderberry wine, Dandelion wine and many other wild brews benefit greatly from a measure of Wild Ginger. I think you get the point by now, so I won’t ramble on any further.

These are a starting point really. Some I have myself made over the years, some I hope to make in the future. Wild Ginger takes them all up a notch. I would love to hear of any ones experiences growing, harvesting, distilling or cooking with Asarum Canadense. Any comments, insights, inspirations, recipes, thoughts and of course questions, would be more than welcome. Anytime. I wish you all an illuminated Winter Solstice, and a wonderful, warm, inspiring Winter. Dan

Wild Ginger-10 gram samplers
This just might work better than words. Wild Ginger-10 gram samplers-Perfect stocking stuffers too!

If you live in the Hamilton area, you can purchase these samplers at Humblepie, on James Street North. Susan also carries a selection of Frankincense and Myrrh samplers and some of my Astrodynamic preparations. Here’s a link to her site.Humblepielifestyle.com

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Candied wild ginger- a Recipe “from fresh”

Candied Wild Ginger 2013-Apothecary's Garden
Wild Ginger - Asarum Canadense,Ontario
Wild Ginger – Asarum Canadense,Ontario

Since I posted my recipe for candied wild Ginger made from dry wild Ginger, I have been itching to make the “from fresh” version.

I had to be patient, waiting till it had finished flowering and seeding itself, it seemed the polite, considerate thing to do. No one likes to be disturbed while procreating. So Friday I went out and spent three hours on my hands and knees harvesting fresh wild Ginger for our recipe. Did I mention I turned 59 last Saturday?!! I know it’s just a number, but allow me a little moaning and groaning. I have earned at least that for being in this body for so long. Harvesting, visiting my old friends was a lovely and of course fragrant experience, but after a winter in front of the computer, blogging, I am paying the price the past couple of days. My body aches, my butt hurts, my legs & lower back feel tender. A sudden, and extended sprint of, down on your knees bent over and reaching using both hands to cut and collect roots with the occasional elbow for support, has left me a little tender and sore days later. Thank God for St. John’s Wort Oil.

 

I harvested about 5 kg per hour or 15 kg of fresh wild Ginger which after drying would be about 4 Kg. Enough for a couple of good shareable batches of confection and syrup, while building up some stock for the extraction of essential oil. I need about 15 Kg. of dry wild ginger to properly charge my essential oil still and do an efficient extraction of this truly amazing and versatile essential oil. I sometimes feel I couldn’t make perfume or mens products without it.

 

I must admit the resulting candied recipe from fresh Wild Ginger is a little different. A little more succulent and tender than the same product from dry. They both have the same level of yumminess, taste and fragrance, but the winter version from dried is a tad, well, drier. Chewier. (I may try changing the recipe a bit and see if I can get it to reconstitute a bit more when cooking.)

 

Candied Wild Ginger 2013-Apothecary's Garden
Candied Wild Ginger 2013-Apothecary’s Garden

If you have already identified Asarum Canadense, know where to find some, or have a proven patch of Wild Ginger and have made its acquaintance, then you are almost ready to harvest. If you are new to this and have not yet identified Wild Ginger, then be aware there are some challenges, mostly along the lines of look-alikes . Luckily, in our area, none are harmful, and the worst experience you might have is mounting frustration from being misdirected by Colt’s foot, Wild Violets, or young Garlic Mustard. Don’t be surprised if you do not find it the first year of seeking. It took me a few years till I finally was granted an audience.

 

So, if you have

 

  • a decent photo,
  • a basic knowledge of where Wild Ginger does and does not grow,
  • and a functioning olfactory member,( nose), then it is only a matter of time before you find Wild Ginger.

Wild Ginger ONLY grows in the woods and forests, often on slopes, NEVER in the open, or on roadsides, stream banks, fields or deserted waste places. Coltsfoot will grow in all these places and will even penetrate somewhat into the woods. Coltsfoot will be your first imposter and will mislead you as long as you let it. They both grow in shaded areas, though Coltsfoot will tolerate sun, they both grow to about 8 inches in height and have 6-12 inch wide heart-shaped leaves. The similarities end there.

 

Coltsfoot has a scalloped edge to its leaf, a fine fur or fuzz on stalk and underside, has a stalk bearing multiple yellow compound flowers in very early spring before the leaf comes out, ( why it is also called son before father), and has an odd smell. Not a bad smell, but not fragrant or reminiscent of Ginger in the slightest way.

Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wild Ginger has a smooth-edged leaf, smooth on top and bottom, has almost a reflective sheen to it, as if it was embedded with tiny glass beads that shimmered a bit but only at the right angle. It unfurls its leaves in the spring before it flowers a dark purple, often downward facing flower which is completely hidden unless one lifts a leaf and exposes it. And of course, Wild Ginger is intensely and unmistakably fragrant!

 

Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, close up - Ontario
Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, close up – Ontario

HARVESTING

 

When you meet a plant for the first time, it is always courteous to greet it, introduce yourself, leave an offering or gift of some sort. Perhaps to state your intent. Many cultures ask permission to harvest. It is at the very least a relationship. What kind, or how rewarding a relationship it becomes often is up to us. I usually find one patch that is separate from the rest and I place an offering. I introduce myself if it’s a new patch that I never been to, or I simply say hello to an old friend and I usually leave something. It doesn’t matter what you give as long as you give something that has meaning to you. It could be some food it could be some tobacco or a symbolic offering. It could be Money or coins, or even something personal like spit or urine that is applied in a reverent and respectful manner. It’s symbolic of giving and taking, balance and harmony, of your intent. As in life in general, we get what we give. Once the introductions and gift exchange is done, I excluded that spot from harvesting.

 

One of the most important things about harvesting in the wild, or “Wildcrafting“, is keeping the well-being of the plants in mind, harvesting in a way that will be beneficial to the plants as well as to yourself. We don’t want to leave the patch struggling for years to recuperate from the effects of our harvesting or over harvesting.

 

For this reason I harvest patches that aren’t too noticeable, will grow in quickly over the course of two or three years and I also try to collect the older roots, the “Nexus” where there is a heavier concentration of older roots and old-growth. This way I collect from a richer area, spend less time harvesting, and facilitate the vigorous growth of younger shoots that will fill in the area quickly. I should point out here, since there have been questions about which part of the plant is used, that I remove all the leaves when I am harvesting, pinching them off with my thumbnail or harvesting tool. The rootlets are not the fragrant or useable part, but since there is so much soil clinging to them, I leave them on till I can wash out all the soil with water. It is the rhizome that is of interest to us.

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post on wild Ginger I enjoy harvesting with bone tools. I find that using metal for harvesting plants just doesn’t feel right. With my background of sculptor and craftsman, specializing in natural materials, I make my own simple bone harvesting tools. If anyone is interested I can probably provide bone “blanks” to carve or shape your own tools, or a ready to use bone or antler harvesting tool. I should have them displayed in my web-shop by July.

 

There is an abundance of information available on traditions and methods of harvesting plants in the wild from cultures all over the world. I could and should write a page on the subject because it is simply too much to add here and so very very important, it deserves its own page. Identifying and finding the plants we are looking for is only a small part of the path. In reality it only leads us to the door. What will you do once you enter Natures door? How will you behave? Will you behave as the best a human can be? And what does that mean? Treat others as you would be treated? What kind of relationship will you have with her? What quality of relationship will you have and what quality of products will you be able to make with Natures bounty? Is there a connection between the two? We are shifting away from quantity based agriculture and mass production. There is only one other and opposing path, and that is the path of the individual, not the masses. The path of depth, not breadth, intuition and not one size fits all generalized solutions . We are at the brink of, and being forced over the cliff into a new way of thinking and behaving in the world. Rethinking. Individual responsibility. Yes, well, perhaps a few pages will be needed to address methods and approach to Wildcrafting and our relationship with nature!

 

There are mixed opinions as far as what planet rules Wild Ginger. Her heart-shaped leaves and delightful fragrance indicate that she is ruled by Venus, her spiciness seems an indication of Mars being her ruler. I lean towards Venus, especially after working with the essential oil of Wild Ginger in perfumery. It adds a beautiful, depth and richness to a perfume. nothing like the sharpness or heat a Martian scent would share. Thus, the hours and days of Venus are when I harvest this fragrant herb.

 

astrological glyphs, planetary rulerships.
Astrological Glyphs- Planets and Asteroids Chaldean. Though Planets and their dynamics with each other and our world are one element at the core of Astrodynamics and Plant Alchemy. Each Plant is associated with an astrological sign, planet or both. They are said to resonate on similar frequencies, to share characteristics. Plants are at their peak energetically when their ruler is well aspected or exalted in the current natal chart

So pay attention to the stars. Some things you have to experience for your self, study yourself, and only you can say if it does or does not make a difference to the end product. Some wisdom cannot be given us, taught to us. Perhaps knowledge can be passed down, but wisdom we must earn from life and personal experience.

 

On a more mundane level.

 

There really is no way to clean Wild Ginger rhizomes of soil while you’re harvesting. A large quantity of water is necessary anyway you look at it, so I take my harvest home, and I put it in a very large container filled with water.

 

Never try to clean Wild Ginger in the sink in the house. It will eventually if not immediately clog your trap with silt and mud and add a lot of extra labor to your endeavor. Just because you managed to do this once with no apparent consequences, don’t be fooled, ( as I was).

 

It usually takes me two or three good washes in deep water scrubbing and stirring the roots and dumping out the dirty water or removing the clean rhizomes from the dirty water before washing them again.

 

Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, scrubbing clean keep changing the water till nothing more can be removed.
Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, scrubbing clean and keep changing the water till nothing more can be removed.

A Recipe for making Candied Wild Ginger using fresh rhizomes

-250 Grams, or 1 heaping cup of washed and cleaned Wild Ginger roots cut to 1/2 to 2 inch lengths
-500 Ml. or 2 cups water
-500 Grams or 2 cups white sugar
-extra sugar for coating
-This recipe can be doubled or tripled easily. It yields in its basic form, about 2 cups or 500 grams of candied treats.
—————————————————————-
-Bring water and sugar to a boil
-add cleaned and cut Wild Ginger rhizomes
-bring to a boil
-reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour
-When cooled to room temperature pour syrup mix and Wild Ginger into a glass jar.
-let sit closed for 3 days.
-Pour off syrup and boil till it reaches 125 degrees Celcius.
-Add Wild Ginger and boil for 15 minutes.
-When room temperature, remove Wild Ginger to a rack and allow to drip dry.
-When no more syrup is dripping from the rhizomes roll the pieces in sugar, making sure they are thoroughly coated.
-Let Ginger pieces sit in sugar overnight or for 8 hours.
-Shake off excess sugar and put your candied Wild Ginger in a sealed jar.
– It will keep for years if it does not get consumed first.

Recipe for Wild Ginger Pancake Syrup

Add the sugar from coating the Ginger to the syrup and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Bottle it in sterile jars or decorative bottles where it should keep for a couple of months in a cool dark place. If not using sterile vessels it will keep in the fridge for an equal length of time.

 

I am almost at the final stage of changing over from wordpress.com to wordpress.org on a self hosted site, incorporating a storefront in the native layout. I will not go into too many details, but the past few weeks have been quite challenging and presented a few steep learning curves with all the expected frustrations and roadblocks. Now for the juggling act, to try to seamlessly transfer everyone over to my new site without anyone,( or googlebots), noticing. Or at least I hope it is not too jarring a transfer. So, sometime over the next few days I hope to do this, be prepared and bear with me while I switch moving vehicles on the highway! I will see you on the other side.

 

Dan

 

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Candied Wild Ginger, a Recipe “from Fresh”

Wild Ginger - Asarum Canadense,Ontario

Since I posted my recipe for candied wild Ginger made from dry wild Ginger, I have been itching to make the “from fresh” version.

I had to be patient, waiting till it had finished flowering and seeding itself, it seemed the polite, considerate thing to do. No one likes to be disturbed while procreating. So Friday I went out and spent three hours on my hands and knees harvesting fresh wild Ginger for our recipe. Did I mention I turned 59 last Saturday?!! I know it’s just a number, but allow me a little moaning and groaning. I have earned at least that for being in this body for so long. Harvesting, visiting my old friends was a lovely and of course fragrant experience, but after a winter in front of the computer, blogging, I am paying the price the past couple of days. My body aches, my butt hurts, my legs & lower back feel tender. A sudden, and extended sprint of, down on your knees bent over and reaching using both hands to cut and collect roots with the occasional elbow for support, has left me a little tender and sore days later. Thank God for St. John’s Wort Oil.

I harvested about 5 kg per hour or 15 kg of fresh wild Ginger which after drying would be about 4 Kg. Enough for a couple of good shareable batches of confection and syrup, while building up some stock for the extraction of essential oil. I need about 15 Kg. of dry wild ginger to properly charge my essential oil still and do an efficient extraction of this truly amazing and versatile essential oil. I sometimes feel I couldn’t make perfume or mens products without it.

I must admit the resulting candied recipe from fresh Wild Ginger is a little different. A little more succulent and tender than the same product from dry. They both have the same level of yumminess, taste and fragrance, but the winter version from dried is a tad, well, drier. Chewier. (I may try modifying the recipe a bit and see if I can get it to reconstitute a bit more when cooking.)

Candied Wild Ginger, from dried rhizomes-2013
Candied Wild Ginger, from dried rhizomes-2013

If you have already identified Asarum Canadense, know where to find some, or have a proven patch of Wild Ginger and have made its acquaintance, then you are almost ready to harvest. If you are new to this and have not yet identified Wild Ginger, then be aware there are some challenges, mostly along the lines of look-alikes . Luckily, in our area, none are harmful, and the worst experience you might have is mounting frustration from being misdirected by Colt’s foot, Wild Violets, or young Garlic Mustard. Don’t be surprised if you do not find it the first year of seeking. It took me a few years till I finally was granted an audience.

So, if you have

  • a decent photo,
  • a basic knowledge of where Wild Ginger does and does not grow,
  • and a functioning olfactory member,( nose), then it is only a matter of time before you find Wild Ginger.

Wild Ginger ONLY grows in the woods and forests, often on slopes, NEVER in the open, or on roadsides, stream banks, fields or deserted waste places. Coltsfoot will grow in all these places and will even penetrate somewhat into the woods. Coltsfoot will be your first imposter and will mislead you as long as you let it. They both grow in shaded areas, though Coltsfoot will tolerate sun, they both grow to about 8 inches in height and have 6-12 inch wide heart-shaped leaves. The similarities end there.

Coltsfoot has a scalloped edge to its leaf, a fine fur or fuzz on stalk and underside, has a stalk bearing multiple yellow compound flowers in very early spring before the leaf comes out, ( why it is also called son before father), and has an odd smell. Not a bad smell, but not fragrant or reminiscent of Ginger in the slightest way.

Wild Ginger has a smooth-edged leaf, smooth on top and bottom, has almost a reflective sheen to it, as if it was embedded with tiny glass beads that shimmered a bit but only at the right angle. It unfurls its leaves in the spring before it flowers a dark purple, often downward facing flower which is completely hidden unless one lifts a leaf and exposes it. And of course, Wild Ginger is intensely and unmistakably fragrant!

Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, close up - Ontario
Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, close up – Ontario

HARVESTING

When you meet a plant for the first time, it is always courteous to greet it, introduce yourself, leave an offering or gift of some sort. Perhaps to state your intent. Many cultures ask permission to harvest. It is at the very least a relationship. What kind, or how rewarding a relationship it becomes often is up to us. I usually find one patch that is separate from the rest and I place an offering. I introduce myself if it’s a new patch that I never been to, or I simply say hello to an old friend and I usually leave something. It doesn’t matter what you give as long as you give something that has meaning to you. It could be some food it could be some tobacco or a symbolic offering. It could be Money or coins, or even something personal like spit or urine that is applied in a reverent and respectful manner. It’s symbolic of giving and taking, balance and harmony, of your intent. As in life in general, we get what we give. Once the introductions and gift exchange is done, I excluded that spot from harvesting.

One of the most important things about harvesting in the wild, or “Wildcrafting“, is keeping the well-being of the plants in mind, harvesting in a way that will be beneficial to the plants as well as to yourself. We don’t want to leave the patch struggling for years to recuperate from the effects of our harvesting or over harvesting.

For this reason I harvest patches that aren’t too noticeable, will grow in quickly over the course of two or three years and I also try to collect the older roots, the “Nexus” where there is a heavier concentration of older roots and old-growth. This way I collect from a richer area, spend less time harvesting, and facilitate the vigorous growth of younger shoots that will fill in the area quickly. I should point out here, since there have been questions about which part of the plant is used, that I remove all the leaves when I am harvesting, pinching them off with my thumbnail or harvesting tool. The rootlets are not the fragrant or useable part, but since there is so much soil clinging to them, I leave them on till I can wash out all the soil with water. It is the rhizome that is of interest to us.

As I mentioned in my earlier post on wild Ginger I enjoy harvesting with bone tools. I find that using metal for harvesting plants just doesn’t feel right. With my background of sculptor and craftsman, specializing in natural materials, I make my own simple bone harvesting tools. If anyone is interested I can probably provide bone “blanks” to carve or shape your own tools, or a ready to use bone or antler harvesting tool. I should have them displayed in my web-shop by July.

There is an abundance of information available on traditions and methods of harvesting plants in the wild from cultures all over the world. I could and should write a page on the subject because it is simply too much to add here and so very very important, it deserves its own page. Identifying and finding the plants we are looking for is only a small part of the path. In reality it only leads us to the door. What will you do once you enter Natures door? How will you behave? Will you behave as the best a human can be? And what does that mean? Treat others as you would be treated? What kind of relationship will you have with her? What quality of relationship will you have and what quality of products will you be able to make with Natures bounty? Is there a connection between the two? We are shifting away from quantity based agriculture and mass production. There is only one other and opposing path, and that is the path of the individual, not the masses. The path of depth, not breadth, intuition and not one size fits all generalized solutions . We are at the brink of, and being forced over the cliff into a new way of thinking and behaving in the world. Rethinking. Individual responsibility. Yes, well, perhaps a few pages will be needed to address methods and approach to Wildcrafting and our relationship with nature!

There are mixed opinions as far as what planet rules Wild Ginger. Her heart-shaped leaves and delightful fragrance indicate that she is ruled by Venus, her spiciness seems an indication of Mars being her ruler. I lean towards Venus, especially after working with the essential oil of Wild Ginger in perfumery. It adds a beautiful, depth and richness to a perfume. nothing like the sharpness or heat a Martian scent would share. Thus, the hours and days of Venus are when I harvest this fragrant herb.

astrological glyphs, planetary rulerships.
Astrological Glyphs- Planets and Asteroids Chaldean. Though Planets and their dynamics with each other and our world are one element at the core of Astrodynamics and Plant Alchemy. Each Plant is associated with an astrological sign, planet or both. They are said to resonate on similar frequencies, to share characteristics. Plants are at their peak energetically when their ruler is well aspected or exalted in the current natal chart

So pay attention to the stars. Some things you have to experience for your self, study yourself, and only you can say if it does or does not make a difference to the end product. Some wisdom cannot be given us, taught to us. Perhaps knowledge can be passed down, but wisdom we must earn from life and personal experience.

On a more mundane level.

There really is no way to clean Wild Ginger rhizomes of soil while you’re harvesting. A large quantity of water is necessary anyway you look at it, so I take my harvest home, and I put it in a very large container filled with water.

Never try to clean Wild Ginger in the sink in the house. It will eventually if not immediately clog your trap with silt and mud and add a lot of extra labor to your endeavor. Just because you managed to do this once with no apparent consequences, don’t be fooled, ( as I was).

It usually takes me two or three good washes in deep water scrubbing and stirring the roots and dumping out the dirty water or removing the clean rhizomes from the dirty water before washing them again.

Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, scrubbing clean keep changing the water till nothing more can be removed.
Wild Ginger-Asarum Canadense, scrubbing clean and keep changing the water till nothing more can be removed.

A Recipe for making Candied Wild Ginger using fresh rhizomes

-250 Grams, or 1 heaping cup of washed and cleaned Wild Ginger roots cut to 1/2 to 2 inch lengths
-500 Ml. or 2 cups water
-500 Grams or 2 cups white sugar
-extra sugar for coating
-This recipe can be doubled or tripled easily. It yields in its basic form, about 2 cups or 500 grams of candied treats.
—————————————————————-
-Bring water and sugar to a boil
-add cleaned and cut Wild Ginger rhizomes
-bring to a boil
-reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour
-When cooled to room temperature pour syrup mix and Wild Ginger into a glass jar.
-let sit closed for 3 days.
-Pour off syrup and boil till it reaches 125 degrees Celcius.
-Add Wild Ginger and boil for 15 minutes.
-When room temperature, remove Wild Ginger to a rack and allow to drip dry.
-When no more syrup is dripping from the rhizomes roll the pieces in sugar, making sure they are thoroughly coated.
-Let Ginger pieces sit in sugar overnight or for 8 hours.
-Shake off excess sugar and put your candied Wild Ginger in a sealed jar.
– It will keep for years if it does not get consumed first.

Recipe for Wild Ginger Pancake Syrup

Add the sugar from coating the Ginger to the syrup and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Bottle it in sterile jars or decorative bottles where it should keep for a couple of months in a cool dark place. If not using sterile vessels it will keep in the fridge for an equal length of time.

I am almost at the final stage of changing over from wordpress.com to wordpress.org on a self hosted site, incorporating a storefront in the native layout. I will not go into too many details, but the past few weeks have been quite challenging and presented a few steep learning curves with all the expected frustrations and roadblocks. Now for the juggling act, to try to seamlessly transfer everyone over to my new site without anyone,( or googlebots), noticing. Or at least I hope it is not too jarring a transfer. So, sometime over the next few days I hope to do this, be prepared and bear with me while I switch moving vehicles on the highway! I will see you on the other side.

Dan

Posted on 16 Comments

Dandelion Wine 2013

Remember how I always say “keep notes”?
Let me clarify and add a very important detail to that statement,,..Don’t just keep notes, but keep CLEAR notes. Notes that you can actually read accurately in case you want to duplicate, adjust or share your recipe!

I am a little embarrassed,( well a lot actually!), and have felt a little stressed about this, but, My “Best”Dandelion Wine recipe, Has a flaw. It won’t yield the 12 L that I stated, But only 8 L. This due to not being able to read my own handwriting!!
The recipe now has the correct amounts to fill a 12 -15 liter carboy
12 liters water, 3 kg, (not quarts), of dandelion flowers cleaned.
I also wanted to add that while a nylon stocking is a brilliant trick for filtering infused herbal oils, which I have done a lot of recently, it will be nearly impossible to fit a pot full of boiled Dandelion flowers and orange pulp into it!! What I should have added as a nifty way to filter your wine, was a clean Pillowcase!  I think that is it as far as corrections to that recipe go.

Dandelion Wine 2013

Prime Dandelion Wine real estate.
Prime Dandelion Wine real estate. Sometimes, timing ,is everything. Dundas Ontario
Dandelion Flowers for Dandelion Wine
Dandelion Flower Diva. If you have a counterpart/partner/”friend”, Spring, Flowers and Love are a magical combination that can make both the process and your Wildflower  Wine memorable.

Since we are on the subject, and after getting  this years batch of Dandelion Wine into primary fermentation over the weekend, I might as well add a couple of words.

  • There is a lot of leeway when it comes to improvising with various flavoring materials, not only can you play with adding more, or less Oranges, lemons, cloves and Wild Ginger etc. you can explore adding other natural materials to your Wild Flower Wine. For instance I added 60 grams of oleo-resin of Frankincense Papyrifera  to this last “Beltane” batch of Dandelion flower Wine. Something about it makes me think it will add something unique and beneficial to both the flavour and the aroma of this batch. I will find out if it actually does, in December.
Cleaning Dandelion Flowers for Dandelion Wine
Cleaning Dandelion Flowers for Dandelion Wine. All it takes is on small ray of sunshine to shine.
 Dandelion Wine.Squeeze out all your liquid through a pillowcase
Dandelion Wine. Squeeze out all your liquid through a pillowcase
Dandelion flowers after cooking. In pillowcase and cone colander for straining.
Dandelion flowers after cooking. In pillowcase and cone colander for straining.
  • There have been some inquiries about adding water, or topping up a wine. If you need to add some liquid to a wildflower wine recipe, at any stage of fermentation, you can usually add a couple of liters of room temperature boiled or distilled water to a 12-15 liter batch,without worrying that you might be diluting it or affecting the flavour too much. This is sometimes  required when you want to keep the volume of air in the secondary fermentation to a minimum.
  •  Remember it is always wise to use a light hand when trying something new in a recipe, and you can only really test the effects of any additions or adjustments when your wine is ready to drink,  so make sure to take notes, and learn from both your successes and failures. Life is a process.

I will post updates on this batch of Wildflower wine as the process unfolds, and hope to share a review of the final product in December when it is ready for consumption.

Until then, enjoy these gorgeous spring days, and don’t forget to keep notes. Clear, readable, notes. Your future self will thank you.

Dan

Posted on 14 Comments

An update on Candied Wild Ginger

After writing the post on Candied Wild Ginger, I couldn’t help but make some for myself. Partly because I am a perfectionist, and had to make sure the recipe worked properly, but also because the thought of making another mouth-watering batch was too hard to resist.

50 Grams of Wild Ginger Whole pieces.
50 Grams of Wild Ginger Whole pieces.

I also wanted to see exactly how much I would end up with if I used a 50 gram package like  the standard size I sell in my shop. It wouldn’t hurt sales to show folks the result. What these dry but fragrant sticks can transform into with a bit of kitchen Alchemy. It does yield more than one would assume.

Basically 50 grams dried Wild Ginger gave me 250 grams  of reconstituted material, and once candied, the quantity increased further.      I also made a batch from 100 grams dried Wild ginger. Unfortunately I didn’t hide it well enough, it slowly diminished, a bit, daily, almost hourly, so I couldn’t get an accurate photo of how much Candied Wild Ginger 100 grams  gave me.

Wild Ginger sitting and becoming one with its sugar.
Wild Ginger sitting and becoming one with its sugar. not being well hidden, it shrank in quantity daily.

I don’t begrudge anyone in the house,(Currently 5 roommates), it really is a challenge to walk by and not take just one little piece that no one will notice.

Candied Wild Ginger draining after boiling in sugar syrup
Candied Wild Ginger after boiling in sugar syrup, draining well before covering in sugar

If you figure everyone does it a couple of times a day,,, well you can guess the result. I am happy it is such a success  and that I at least got an exact photo record of how much one gets from 50 grams. Needless to say the recipes were perfect. It takes about one full cup of white sugar to coat each 50 grams, and after packing all the Candied Wild Ginger in a nice jar, you add the leftover sugar to your syrup and give it a 10 minute boil before bottling it up. There is an elegance there that appeals to me.

Candied Wild Ginger and Pancake Syrup from 50 grams dried Wild Ginger
Candied Wild Ginger and Pancake Syrup from 50 grams dried Wild Ginger. Yumm.

P.S. For all of you in the physical ,(Hamilton Ontario Canada) neighborhood, tomorrow (Saturday), morning from 9:00 AM till Noon I will be at the Apothecary’s Garden at the Teaching Gardens in Churchill Park, along with anyone who can make it for our first Saturday Workparty of the season. We will be opening the gardens for the season, preparing for the plant giveaway, and making plans for how to best take care of the “Plant Lovers Garden” till we can organize an official renovation with the city. Hope to see you all there.

Dan

Posted on 4 Comments

9 Tips- for making a Kick Ass Wildflower Wine

Now is the season, the possibilities of this years bounty are starting to bubble up in our minds. Wild wines, Jams, Jellies, confections and preserves, fritters and frittatas. Wild Mushrooms and May-apples. SPRING is here! Symbol of potential and new beginnings, new endeavors. so let’s get started.

Experience has shown me a good recipe is only part of the work, and often not as important to the result as HOW we go about making our wildcrafted delicacies. Since Dandelion Wine is one of the first Wild wines we can make, and in many North American areas, there is still time to make it, I will use Dandelion Wine as our example. These TIPS can be applied to all your planned productions from Mother Natures Bounty each season and year.

Dandelion Wine is a Spring tradition internationally. More than just a beverage. It can capture the essence of the season, and since it should sit for a few months to mature, you shouldn’t really drink it till Winter. Yule or Christmas or Chanukah time, capturing a taste and memory of springs light and warmth to savour during the dreary cold dark and dead of winter.

A pest and a blessing. Love them or hate them, either way we simply have to live with them. As persistent and adaptable as the proverbial cockroach, they are going nowhere, and we will never be rid of them, so might as well embrace them in all their bitter, medicinal, sweet and sunny glory.

dandelion
dandelion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are hundreds of recipes for Home made Dandelion Wine. I can’t tell you which is the best. I am sure every year there are more being developed as more people explore making it, and with the speed and proficiency of internet communication there are probably more wonderful recipes being posted as I write this. Whatever recipe you use, these tips are guaranteed to take it to a whole new level!!

– Not all Dandelions are equal .When it comes to making Dandelion Wine. You can’t just chop down any Dandelion flower at any time of the year in any place willy nilly so to speak and expect to make a superb wine. One dandelion is not the same as all other dandelions! First of all, if we are going to use them for our dandelion wine, we need to wait for them. That’s right.

–If you want Wild Mushrooms, you hunt them.

–If you want Dandelions for wine, you wait for them. Seriously.

1- Wait patiently , keep your eye open for where and when they will rise, you know where they will appear. Because you have noticed them,(consciously or not), year after year while your subconscious toyed with the idea of making something with that abundance that seems to be wasted. You are a creative spirit. Have all your tools, materials and vessels ready and sterilized, and a place ,(kitchen?), to do your magic planned. Be prepared!

2 – What is it that you are waiting for? You are waiting for that first county-wide Yellow Shout of Spring Joy from the earth, and that big outward push of those Dandy Lions from the sweet loins of mother nature en mass. That is the sweet spot!. There is usually only one per year. And it is worth waiting for! It could last two weeks, or it could only last a few days before a run of cold cloudy rainy weather puts a damper on it. There will be no more of a glorious or perfect a time to harvest Dandelion flowers for wine than this. Period. Sure, there will be more Dandelion flowers all summer long, and yes you could make dandelion wine at some later point in the season. But y’know what? It simply won’t be the same, and you will never know it unless you try this out.

English: Dead Football Ground with Dandelions,...
English: Dead Football Ground with Dandelions, Barnsley, Shropshire The building is the former changing rooms (home team this end, please!). A set of goal posts still leans against one wall. Dandelion wine makers, please take note. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So,,.Do enjoy Spring, relax and breath it in, take a few days to let that warm spring glow take the winter chill out of your bones, but DON’T miss that first yellow window! Seriously, when I do miss that first virgin big yellow swath of dandelioness everywhere, I will most often just wait till the next spring and say, “oh well, it wasn’t meant to be”. That’s how important it is. Having a good recipe is only one part of making the best Dandelion wine.

English: Dandelion clocks near Long Itchington...
TOO LATE!!!
English: Dandelion clocks near Long . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 – If you can, try to harvest on a SUNDAY. Start as close after dawn as you can. Astrologically this is the day of the Sun and The hour of the Sun. (about an hour and a half to two and a half depending on which system you use for division of Planetary hours), and you only really have to initiate the harvest then, you don’t have to complete your harvest within this time frame. Astrologically, Dandelions are ruled by the Sun. (As are Calendula, and St. John’s Wort). So from an Astrodynamic perspective they are energetically at their peak and prime, resonating and ripe, in happy harmony ,( vigorous and vibrant) at this time. Timing is everything. You can tell, if you look for it. There is an extra vibrancy and glow to them. It is not random, and it’s not your imagination.

astrological glyphs, planetary rulerships.
Astrological Glyphs- Planets and Asteroids -Chaldean. Planets and their dynamics with each other and our world are one element at the core of Astrodynamics and Plant Alchemy.,(ignore the Asteroids for now). Each Plant is associated with an astrological sign, planet or both. As is each day, Monday-the Moon, Tuesday-Mars etc., and each “Station” of the Moon as she goes through a Lunar cycle is ruled by a different sign of the Zodiac..

There are other Astrological conditions that you could take into account, but if you are not familiar with the energetic connection between plants and planets, Astrological rulerships, Planetary hours and the basics of Plant Alchemy, this is a great place to start. Especially since you may not have a wide window of time to work with. Does working with plants according to their astrological rulerships make a noticeable difference in quality? I believe so. But,, you will have to try it and find out for yourself.It’s just one of those things. Esoteric, because you have to experience it from the inside to know it. Experience it first hand, first person. It is not exoteric knowledge, learned from the outside as most knowledge is transmitted to us.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday would be second best choices, ruled by Mercury, Jupiter and Venus in that order. Here is a link to a great site that is a primer for Astrodynamics, Planetary Rulerships, and Plant Alchemy, check it out ,http://humanityhealing.net/2012/08/astrology-and-the-use-of-herbs/

4 – Morning Dew Often, when harvesting herbs for drying, it is important to pick when the dew is dried from them, to avoid encouraging mold and other organisms while they are drying.. When harvesting flowers for wine, you do not have to wait till all the dew has dried off, morning dew is a unique ingredient. So don’t shake it off. If you have it, keep it..

5 – Find a spot where where there is an obvious abundance of Dandelions, an area rich in whatever it is that Dandelions thrive on. Physically and energetically. Don’t get too close to busy roadways where pollution from exhausts might have seeped into the ground, or anywhere there might be a chance herbicides or pesticides may have been used, and stay away from areas that may have been home to, or down hill from old industrial buildings or old land fill sites. Stay away from areas sparsely populated by Dandelion, go for the gusto! There is a reason they grow so thickly in some areas.

6 – Harvest them by hand.. not with scissors or knives. Also, If you have helpers, get someone to do the picking, and someone to nip off all the stubs of stems and anything green that is still attached. (Kids are great at this).The green parts are not needed or desired for wine and will only reduce the colour and add their own flavour. We only want the flavour of the flower. Thumbnails work perfectly for harvesting most flowers.

7 – Since you are taking something, always give something back. Whether something physical that is of benefit to the land or plant, a gesture, or something symbolic. Give and receive. Balance. Nature is big on balance. It is a law you can count on. Like Karma.

8 – Make sure all your bottles, spoons, funnels etc. are clean and sterile, if you can’t boil them then use sodium metabisulfite, a standard preservative and sterilizing chemical available in all wine and beer making supply stores. Follow the instructions for using it. It is very, very important to keep everything clean and not introduce any organisms other than the yeast we are intentionally adding.

9 –. USE WILD GINGER I always add Wild Ginger to every wine I make! I am constantly impressed with the magic it performs and the flavours it adds without being obvious or obtrusive in any way. And I am not just trying to perk up sales of Wild Ginger from my shop either. Wild Ginger lends rich character and depth to a wine. It is absolutely transformative. To any wine. Perhaps due to the complexity of its oils and resins. I have heard historically in old Europe, Clary Sage was used for a similar purpose to create “Muscatel” Wine. Clary Sage is also an herb endowed with essential oils ,(in flower), and resins, (on the stem). About a teaspoon to a teaspoon and a half of ground dried Wild Ginger to each gallon,(4 liters) of liquid. I have found this especially benefits floral wines that need body to compliment their lighter and more ethereal spirit.

A treat for the senses, Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.
A treat for the senses, Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.

So those are the basics of How to make a kick ass Dandelion Wine, You can use these tips with every wild wine you make, and adapt them to all your foraging forays and wildcrafting projects. Here is a simple recipe. One I hope will suit first timers as well as the practiced maker of wild wines. it can be doubled, tripled or halved. It includes a secondary fermentation which many of the old recipes do not include, but I have I found it refines your end product considerably. making it dryer, crisper, clearer and higher in alcohol content. If you find it too complex as a beginner, you will find many simpler and good recipes online. Take what you can from these tips and incorporate them in your project. Start small.

Remember to Always take notes!!! I can’t stress this enough!! Quantities, ingredients, variations from a recipe, observations, times, dates, and keep them somewhere safe for next year. This is really important and if you do keep diligent notes, I guarantee your future self will thank you! If you already have your favourite recipe, try out the tips and let me know how this seasons wines turned out for you.

MY BEST DANDELION WINE RECIPE

(Makes about 12 liters of Dandelion Wine)

  • 3 Kilograms of cleaned Dandelion flowers.
  • 12 Liters, (quarts) of water.
  • 4 Kilograms sugar, brown or white.
  • 2 cups white seedless Raisins chopped fine, (or an extra cup of sugar).
  • 2 whole large washed Oranges, seeded and either put through the blender or chopped fine.
  • 1 whole, washed Lemon,same as above.
  • 6 whole clove pieces
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons dried and powdered Wild Ginger or 60 grams,(2 oz.) fresh & chopped.
  • 1 packet wine making yeast, or 1 tablespoon regular bread making yeast.
  • 1 cup lukewarm water.
  • 1 food grade white plastic bucket 15 liters capacity,(standard restaurant size used for liquids and muffin mixes, grape juice for wine etc.
  • Large pot that will boil 15 liters.
  • Old and clean Pillowcase.
  • Clear plastic hose for “racking”,(transferring the wine out of containers without the must).
  • Large funnel, and or colander that will sit firmly on top of your bucket.
  • one medium wine making carboy 12-15 liters.
  • or -3 to 4-1 gallon narrow mouthed glass jugs. The kind hot sauce and vinegar come to restaurants. Easy to find on recycling day.
  • Beer or wine bottles with corks or caps.
  • Sodium Metabisulfite for sterilizing. Available at most brew your own shops and anywhere that wine making supplies are sold. Follow directions!
  • All vessels and tools must be sterile.
  • Collect and prepare your Dandelion flowers as directed above.
  • Bring water to a boil,
  • Add flowers, water, sugar, oranges, lemon, cloves, wild ginger, raisins
  • Bring back to a boil for 1/2 hour, simmering on low and covered.
  • Let it sit covered to cool, until it is just cool enough to handle.
  • Pour and strain into plastic bucket through a clean washed pillowcase, or through a colander lined with doubled cheese cloth, nothing beats a pillowcase especially for wringing out the liquid and keeping larger particles from passing into your wine. the colander is just a precaution, and to support the weight, ( ideally find one that your bucket supports, or put the colander in a funnel that sits firmly on the rim of your bucket, or just use a large funnel and sit your pillowcase in it.)
  • Press whatever liquid you can through the pillowcase or cheese cloth. (Make sure your hands are washed and clean first).
  • When liquid is room temperature or a little warmer. Take one cup of liquid, (using a clean or sterile utensil), add it your cup of lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until yeast starts “working”, (it will start creating fizzing or frothing).
  • Add yeast mixture to liquid in plastic bucket, cover with a clean cloth or a clean towel, (tie or use rubber band around the rim so it does not sag and come into contact with the liquid), and let sit for 1 or 2 weeks at room temperature undisturbed or until you can hear no more fizzing.
  • Note, if you do not hear fizzing within 24 hours of adding yeast. Put your liquid back in the pot, boil for 10 minutes, cover, wait for it to cool enough to just above body temperature and go through the process of adding your yeast again.
  • After a week or two, when your wine has stopped “working” or fizzing, “rack” it to a sterile carboy or to your sterile one gallon glass jugs if you don’t have a large narrow necked glass carboy. Racking in wine lingo means siphoning off your clear wine from the must that has settled on the bottom. Pouring it out would just mix in the must and carry its taste over.
  • Keeping a minimum of space between the top of your liquid and the top of the bottle is helpful. If needed add room temperature boiled water to bring liquid level up to 3 to 4 inches from the lip in a gallon jug and 6 to 7 inches in a large carboy.
  • Add CO2 locks, From a wine supply store, about $1.00 each. Or a piece of balloon rubber pulled tightly over the opening and tied, with a couple of pin holes in it for gas to escape and keep organisms out. Let sit, undisturbed in a cool dark place for secondary fermentation. Cool basements are ideal for this.
  • Wait 4-6 weeks, then siphon the wine off the must again, but this time into your sterile bottles.( Note; For those more experienced with wine making, you can do whatever you like at this point. You can put it back in a sterile carboy and continue your secondary fermentation, rack it as often as you like, pump it through a filter, play with the sugar/alcohol content, flavouring etc.)
  • Cork, cap and set aside till December at the earliest.

In December, open, decant, and have a taste of Spring in the middle of Winter.

Remember to keep CLEAR notes. Your future self will thank you.

Dan

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  • Country wine basket
    Country wine basket (Photo credit: wchuang
Posted on 6 Comments

Candied Wild Ginger recipe

A treat for the senses, Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.

Candied Wild Ginger.

As promised, I am adding the first recipe for Wild Ginger. I will copy it to my Recipe section for easy future reference.

Candied Wild Ginger is probably one of my favourite Wild Ginger recipes. This recipe yields two separate products, candied Wild Ginger and a delicious syrup used for pancakes and ice cream, added to shakes and smoothies, drizzled on Yoghurt and fruit salads and added to  dressings and sauces. In my mind I can almost visualize its spicy sticky sweetness part of some kind of Cinnamon bun recipe. I am sure those of you that are much more accomplished than I at the culinary and confectionery arts could work wonders with it. I have used powdered Wild Ginger with great results in ginger snaps chocolate chip  and peanut butter cookies, but haven’t explored baking to as great a degree as others I know.

I would Love to hear any tips, ideas or Wild Ginger recipes you might have. Or questions, so please, don’t hesitate to leave a note in the comments section.

A treat for the senses, Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.
A treat for the senses, dried Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadenses offers infinite delights in the kitchen and Perfume studio.

 Candied Wild Ginger

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 50 grams dried Wild Ginger broken into 1/2″ to 2″ pieces. 
  • Extra sugar for coating when done.
  • Bring the water to a boil,
  • Give your dry Wild Ginger a quick but thorough scrub in cold water.
  • Add Wild Ginger pieces to boiling water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar till dissolved and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Set aside to cool down to room temperature
  •  Once cooled, put it in a jar and let it sit for 2 days in a covered non metallic jar.
  • Drain all the liquid and let the Wild Ginger pieces stand in a colander till they stop dripping.
  • Take 1 cup of sugar for each 50 grams of original dried Wild Ginger, mix the sugar and Ginger in a bowl till the ginger no longer picks up sugar granules.
  • ( I often let the moist Wild Ginger sit for a few hours in the sugar.)
  • When you are ready, put your candied Wild Ginger loosely into a well sealed glass or ceramic jar to keep for future use .
  1. WILD GINGER SYRUP

  2. Add the sugar-water back to a pot with any sugar left over from coating the candied pieces, heat and stir.

    -When the new sugar dissolves, strain your syrup through a fine sieve, return to the pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

  3. -When cool, bottle in clean or sterile bottles.
  4. This is your Wild Ginger Pancake Syrup. You can either keep it in the fridge for a few weeks,(6?), or “Preserve” it in sterile bottles and keep it longer.
  5.   If you would like it thicker, either add more sugar or boil it down till it thickens further, (or both)! I am sure there are some other culinary tricks for thickening a sugar syrup, but these are the ones I know of. Candied Wild Ginger will last a very long time if not gobbled up as is usually the case. A few years ago I made the mistake of hiding my treasured jar of candied Wild Ginger so well, that I forgot all about it for a couple of years!!. It is now almost 4 years old and is still preserved perfectly and just as mouth-watering as the day it was made!! (see photos).
 Candied Wild Ginger 2009. Still tastes amazing!!!
Candied Wild Ginger 2009.
Candied Wild Ginger 2009. Wild Ginger Syrup.
Candied Wild Ginger, Asarum Canadense 2009. Still tastes amazing!!!
Wild Ginger ready to be candied. Asarum Canadense. 2012 Harvest
Wild Ginger ready to be candied. Asarum Canadense. 2012 Harvest

A closing note to everyone. Though currently, in our area,(Southern Ontario), Wild Ginger is not a protected plant, nor is it on any kind of endangered list. If you already have made its acquaintance, and know where to find it, please treat it with respect and care, it is a privilege.

Give a little something back, either before or after you harvest!

Harvest in a way that is in harmony with the plant and its growth patterns. A way that will encourage its natural propagation and growth, and  not be harmful to the plot you are harvesting from.

One way of doing this is to harvest the more mature “Nodes” as I call them. These are the central points or “Hubs” from which it sent out shoots in past years, which in turn rooted and sent out their own shoots and runners the next year etc. This removal of the center pieces not only gives the harvester prime herb, a higher yield of roots, but it is no longer needed by the offshoots and I believe will actually stimulate them to grow well and establish themselves as new “Parents” or central nodes for more runners or shoots. It is more in harmony with its natural growth patterns, ( and ours,) as it reminds one of the child leaving home, becoming independent and getting well rooted on its own, then becoming a parent, (Hub) itself as it sends out more of its own shoots to root and grow.

However you approach and engage plants, it is always a relationship. The only choice we have is what kind of relationship it is going to be. Though Nature seems passive and yielding to our choices, whether to her benefit or detriment, there is, I believe, a lot more going on in forest and woods than meets the eye. She is not as defenseless as we may think.

So, if you get whipped in the face or tripped unexpectedly by a branch for instance, consider them polite hints, by a gracious host, and at the very least,  stop, and be still for a moment, contemplate, your actions and choices,  and just Listen. 

Dan

Dan Riegler