Medley Acres Homestead has a few things for sale right now by request or at our farm stand by the road. Let me know if you’re interested in any of our items and we’ll make it happen 🙂 We also have fresh mint and nettles in limited quantities. Cucumbers and tomatoes coming soon; apples and pumpkins in the fall.
Right now we have a few summertime drinks brewing in various locations in our kitchen: Ginger Switchel, Kombucha and Nettle Mint Tea.
In this post I will share the recipe I like to use for making switchel, and will share my kombucha and nettle tea making techniques in upcoming posts.
Switchel is a delicious, refreshing and good for you summertime beverage that you can easily make! I have a batch in my refrigerator right now. I utilized this recipe below from Wellness Mama, using honey from Wolf Honey Farm who houses some of his bees on our property. We have enjoyed learning more about honey bees and being a part of this process! (especially since I don’t have to don a bee suit myself!)
Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe
A fermented drink that combines the benefits of apple cider vinegar, raw honey (or molasses), and ginger for a refreshing and electrolyte drink.
- 2 TBSP unfiltered apple cider vinegar with “the mother”
- 3 TBSP raw honey or blackstrap molasses
- 2- inch piece of fresh ginger root peeled and finely minced
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 of a fresh lime juiced and zested
- Mix all ingredients in a large jar, cover, and shake well.
- Place in the refrigerator overnight.
- To serve, pour over ice or add seltzer water if desired.
Benefits of Switchel
Wellness Mama says… Like other fermented foods and drinks, switchel has its share of benefits, depending on the ingredients. There are endless ways to make this tasty drink and all of the ingredients offer their own benefits. In my favorite recipe, I use:
- Apple cider vinegar: A great natural source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as beneficial bacteria and acids. While many people don’t love the strong flavor of vinegar by itself, it is perfect in this recipe when balanced with ginger, honey, and lime.
- Honey: A versatile natural remedy in our house that I use as a face wash, to help speed healing of cuts and burns, and even as a natural sleep aid. Raw honey is a source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that makes it a nutrient powerhouse with antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is often recommended for digestive health and there is some evidence that it may benefit the skin when taken internally.
- Ginger: A powerful natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant due to the presence of an oil called gingerol. It has a long history of use as a remedy for digestive problems, nausea, and illness. In this recipe, it adds both flavor and a slight spicy balance to the sweetness of the honey. Ginger root is found in most grocery stores and its skin can be peeled off easily with the edge of a spoon.
- Lime: I add some fresh lime juice purely for flavor but it is also a good source of vitamin C.
Above and additional information found at Wellness Mama HERE.
I keep going back to this recipe from Wellness Mama when I want to make Elderberry Syrup for our family. I’ve used this recipe many times, and just this past fall I purchased some tiny silicone ice tray/muffin pans to pour the syrup in, then froze them into little mini elderberry ice cubes. After they froze, I popped them out and put them in freezer bags, in the freezer. When we are ill or I think we might become ill, I pull out the bag, pop a few cubes in our tea pot, add hot water and we sip on it as elderberry tea.
We got the elderberries from our friends last year who grow them. I dried them in our dehydrator and put them in a jar for storage. This year we are planting our own bushes to give it a try here at Medley Acres. Thankfully all our kids seem to enjoy drinking the syrup or tea, as elderberries are very beneficial at helping to ward off and fight colds and flu.
See the full blog post with link to the recipe here, via Elderberry Syrup Recipe
I also found a helpful and informative poster about elderberries online that I thought I’d share:
This year we decided to try planting a pumpkin patch for pick your own pumpkins this fall, along with a zinnia patch, sunflower patch and sweet corn. We also planted a large number of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and perennials from seed that we hope to be able to sell later in the summer as well.
Dan invested in a few more tractor/farm implements, including a planter and a plow, and has prepared and planted the 5+ acres we had previously leased to a local farmer… we now have fields of timothy, clover, and switchgrass for cover crops/habitat, and we’re adding our garden fields of pumpkins, sunflowers, and raspberries. Its finally dry enough in the fields to be able to get out and do some planting! We’re hoping for a long fall to make the growing season long enough to make all farmers’ plantings worthwhile this year…
Here are some pictures from the homestead over the past couple of weeks (including today!). Many of the photos are courtesy of our daughter Eva.
Something interesting… Chamomile can help your stuffy nose…! Article posted on Learning Herbs dot com.
It got me. I’ve been skillfully avoiding it for the last few weeks, and lacking all subtlety the dreaded virus finally caught up with me. I am now under the weather. Strictly speaking, sick. Doesn’t this ill-timed disease understand I don’t have time for this? I’m a mom. I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m a mom with way too much on my plate to become even the slightest bit tired much less down for the count. I can’t take a sick day. Who has time for a sick day?
Dramatics aside, how does being sick affect our learning routine? It’s one thing for one of my children to be sick. Mom can attend to their needs while keeping the remainder of our household intact. But when I get sick almost everything stops. As we can’t afford to keep this up for too long, I need a plan of attack:
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Tis the season… for a cold. Darn. Thankfully it’s just a little sniffle but I’m going to finally make the elderberry syrup that I’ve had the ingredients to make for a while now… I have a couple of recipes at my fingertips, but this is the one I’m going to work from today from Wellness Mama.
Another great article from Mountain Rose Herbs on how to make herb infused vinegar. I didn’t realize it but according to their article here, using vinegar instead of alcohol does also work for creating tinctures for health benefits!
See article below, from Mountain Rose Herbs…
Chop or grind your dried herb to a coarse powder. You can also find many powdered herbs available on our website. Fill 1/5 of your sterilized jar with the herb. Pour organic apple cider vinegar over the herb until the jar is filled to the top. Cover tightly and allow to extract for 14 days in a cool, dark place. Be sure to shake the jar daily.
After 2 weeks, strain the herb through cheesecloth. Set the strained liquid in a capped jar on a shelf and allow the sediment to settle overnight. Decant the clear liquid layer into another sterilized jar using a strainer. Cap tightly, label, and store for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place.
If you are infusing the vinegar with roots or barks, there is one more step you might want to take. Once the mixture has extracted for 2 weeks and the herbs have been strained out, heat the infusion just short of boiling and filter through cloth while hot. The heat will help congeal albumin in the solution that can then be removed when straining. Excess albumin can encourage your extract to spoil quickly.
As a general guide, take 1 tbsp of the vinegar extract up to 5 times a day when needed, unless you are working with potent low/drop dosage herbs. Due to the acid content in vinegar, be sure to avoid direct contact with your teeth. You may want to mix each dose of vinegar with water or tea to dilute the acidity.
For more information about making herbal vinegar extracts at home, check out Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech and The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green.
Mountain Rose Herbs has a good post about how to make your own herbal infused oils. I’m harvesting the abundance of mint, lemon balm, basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano that we have growing here and am figuring out the best ways to preserve them right now… going to try making some infused vinegars and oils to be later used for cleaning, cooking or on our bodies as ointments. I am also referencing this great book called Alchemy of Herbs which has been very helpful for looking up all the herbs I have growing and how to use them. It’s exciting!!! (the photo above also includes a bowl of beans and lettuce from our garden today… those items are photo bombing and will be eaten later today…)
An easy way to make herb infused oils that I’m going to try. From their website post here.
Use the sun to naturally infuse oil with the goodness of herbs!
- We always recommend using dried herbs. If you desire fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12 hours to remove the moisture (too much water will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortar and pestle before adding to the jar.
- Place herbs in a clean, dry quart jar.
- Fill remaining space in jar with oil of choice, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1 inch. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more oil on top to ensure the herbs are well covered.
- Stir well and cap jar tightly.
- Place jar in a sunny, warm windowsill and shake once or more per day. You can also cover the jar with a brown paper bag if you prefer that to direct sunlight.
- After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. Make sure and squeeze out every precious drop of oil!
- Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should keep for at least a year. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong shelf life.
I just got an email from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, talking about planting soon for fall and winter harvests… I have never actually thought about this before, but always admired friends who had hoop houses and green houses and were able to pull carrots out of the ground in January… it seems Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds might have some suggestions I could actually consider here in their blog and on their website… Might be fun to start thinking about how to extend the growing season on our property!
I am not affiliated with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds; I simply love their seeds and gorgeous catalogs and like to share…!
photos and content credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds/Rareseeds.com