Tag: Preserving (page 1 of 2)

The Piedmont Picnic Pantry: Intro to Veggie Fermentation

The Piedmont Picnic Pantry: Introduction to Veggie Fermentation | Saturday, March 11, 10-12 AM | Raleigh City Farm

We’ve all heard about the benefits of adding probiotic-rich fermented foods to our diets.  Buying them at the store can get expensive, but how do you know how to make sure you’re safely getting the most out of these foods when making them at home?  Fermentation can seem like a mysterious process, but we’ll make it easy for you and break it down step-by-step by:
  • Providing the story, benefits, and process behind vegetable fermentation
  • Tasting an array of home-fermented veggies
  • Guiding you through a hands-on demonstration of home fermentation using two different methods
  • Sending you home with handouts and a fermentation vessel filled with a prepped veggie of your choice to get started right away at home!

RESERVE YOUR SPOT HERE.

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Join us Feb. 19: Citrus Remix Workshop at Ramble Supply Co!

Citrus Remix Workshop | Ramble Supply Co., Raleigh | Sunday, February 19, 2-4 PM

Can’t get enough citrus this winter?  Want to preserve that peak citrus flavor to enjoy all year long?  Ever wondered how to reinvent citrus into new preserves and liqueurs?  

Join us at Ramble Supply Co for our upcoming workshop on preserving citrus!  Learn three techniques to preserve citrus at its peak to enjoy all year long: (1) infused liqueurs, (2) marmalade, and (3) candied peels!  We’ll also throw in several more bonus techniques for reinventing your citrus peels into useful or tasty new things.

Cost: $40

RSVP at Ramblesupplyco@gmail.com to hold your spot today!

What you can expect:

  • Learn:
    • In-depth instructions for how to transform citrus peels into liqueurs, marmalade, and candied peels.
    • Fun history behind citrus fruits and the things that can be made out of them.
  • Taste:
    • At least 3 different ways to preserve citrus, including one complimentary cocktail made with our citrus liqueur!
  • Take Home:
    • Recipes to make a citrus liqueur, marmalade, and candied peels.
    • An infusion kit to make your own citrus liqueurs at home.
    • A handout on 10 Ways to Reuse Citrus Peels at home.
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Postponed: Apples 3 Ways Preserving Workshop

Apples 3 Ways: Preserving Workshop | Raleigh City Farm  | POSTPONED to: Saturday, November 12, 9-11 AM

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Our October workshop has been postponed do to weather.  It is rescheduled for November.  Our November workshop in our Fall Class Series at Raleigh City Farm is Apples 3 Ways: Preserving Workshop! Interested in learning to preserve the fall bounty of apples all year long? We’ll show you three delicious ways and teach you the history behind these methods and some of your favorite apple varieties!

Information will cover how to preserve apples three different ways — including “snitzing”! Techniques generalize easily to other fruits! You will leave with a solid overview of how to use the water-bath canning method. We’ll send you home with a jar of apple preserves that you help make!

Reserve your spot here. 

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Want to know how to keep spring flowers all year long?

Flower Power Preserving Workshop | Raleigh City Farm | Saturday, April 9, 9-11 AM

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Reserve your spot here for our upcoming Flower Power Preserving Workshop!

Interested in learning to make and preserve syrups and jellies? Want to know which wild or home-grown flowers you can actually eat and what to do with them? Either way, we’ve got you covered!

Information will cover how to make syrups and jellies out of edible flowers. Techniques generalize easily to herbs or fruit! You will leave with a solid overview of how to preserve your jelly using the water-bath canning method. We’ll send you home with a jar of jelly or syrup of your choosing that you help make!

Reserve your spot here.

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Summer, 100 Miles, and Wild Berry Ice Cream!

This past Sunday, Piedmont Picnic Project had a lot to celebrate – and a dedicated group of picnickers braved the heat to come out and help us do it up right!  We held our third Wild History Walking Tour + Picnic of the year – a Wild Berry Ice Cream Social.  See full gallery here.

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The first day of summer for us meant the end of our 100 Miles in 100 Days series – we had officially walked 100 miles of Raleigh’s greenways in the 100 days from the first day of spring to the first day of summer, cataloging over 70 edible plants growing along the way!  You can see all of our finds on our instagram account.

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For our location, we chose Dorothea Dix [future] Park in downtown Raleigh.  We thought this spot was ideal for this celebration for a number of reasons…  This was the first spot I ever foraged berries in Raleigh, so it had special meaning to me.  The history of Dorothea Dix the person as well as the place is a rich one, and the place is in transition yet again with its purchase by the City of Raleigh for a park.

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It also is a place from where you can connect to several of Raleigh’s greenways…  Continue east to connect to the Walnut Creek Trail all the way to the Neuse River.  Continue west on the Rocky Branch Trail to connect to the Reedy Creek Trail to the NC Museum of Art all the way to Umstead Park.  Continue south to take the Centennial Bikeway Connector to the NC State Farmers Market and on to Lake Johnson.  Continue north connect to the House Creek Trail, Shelley Lake, and beyond all the way to the Raleigh city limits!  How connected we are!

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Another thing that made Dorothea Dix ideal for this day and this walk was that the entire Dix campus is rimmed with the perfect foraging environment – the intersection of grassy field with forest – resulting in a tangled mass of wild things brimming with edibles.  The edges of Dorothea Dix campus look like many of the Raleigh greenway edges we have seen in our 100 Miles in 100 Days walks.

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For the foraging walk, we focused on berries – mulberries finishing their season, blackberries beginning their season, and berries to come later this summer – muscadines and elderberries.

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Surprisingly, the plant that may have out shown all of these berry jewels was the easily-missed sassafras tree!

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We put our picnickers to work making their own ice cream for the first course!

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But at the end, we laid out a full spread for them – brandy-vanilla ice cream, “sassy snaps” sassafras cookies to make ice cream sandwiches…

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and a full wild soda bar for mix-and-match ice cream floats.

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We can’t think of a better way for us to have celebrated the first day of summer and the culmination of our 100 Miles in 100 Days journey, and we are grateful to those who chose to spend their Father’s Day with us!

So what will we do now that our 100 Miles in 100 Days challenge is over, and summer has begun?  Stay tuned for our upcoming events, especially coming up in July – the Blackberry Brigade – blackberry picking competition for a cause!

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Also, our theme for summer will be “Put it up!” – where we’ll focus on how to put up and preserve the summer’s bounty so that you can continue to taste summer all year long out of your pantry and freezer.

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Sea Salt, Rocket, & Roses… Piedmont Picnic goes to the beach

That’s right!  We just got back from the beach, but don’t worry, we didn’t take the week off.  To keep you entertained, while we were on vacation, we looked into things to forage on the beaches of NC…  What did we find?  We foraged seaweed for extra nutrients in the compost pile, picked sea rocket and wild roses, and made our own sea salt!  All things you can try out next time you pop over to the beach.  Check it out below.

Wild sea rocket…  like arugula, but the leaves are more like a succulent…

Wild beach roses were turned into an infusion and then into a yummy beachy cocktail (of course!).  

The #wildfoodlove #harvest continues even on #beach #vacation. #TopsailIsland #beachrose A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

“The #Wild #Rosy #Pear” – wild #beachrose #infusion+ pear syrup courtesy of #grandma’s #homecanned pears + #gin + lemon

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Finally, our grand finale…  If you are trying to eat more locally, how do you localize your salt intake?  Well, if you live in the NC Piedmont, in less than 150 miles, you can make your own local sea salt!  We just strained the seawater and then dehydrated it until nothing was left but the salt!  

Why yes! This is the start of our #homemade #seasalt evaporated from #foraged #seawater! #TopsailIsland

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

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Weekend Update: May Wild History Walking Tour + Picnic

Piedmont Picnic held their second Wild History walking tour and picnic of the spring this past Saturday!  We had a big bunch of friendly, enthusiastic picnickers and a beautiful day along Lake Raleigh – one of our favorite spots so far along the Raleigh greenways during our 100 Miles in 100 Days series.  See full gallery here.

Along the walk, we learned about wild edibles growing right now in this location – wildflowers, green shoots, and even mulberries!

Talking #mulberries at this past Saturday’s #WildHistory #Foraging Tour + #WildFood #Picnic!

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

The picnic was one of our more decadent affairs – because eating flowers of course lends itself to sweets! Wild weed salad, Trappist honey bread, and yogurt cheese were accompanied by honeysuckle sodas, wildflower jelly thumbprint cookies, and intoxicating wisteria ice cream!  

Oh, and did we mention we spotted our first ripe blackberries of the season!?

A big THANK YOU to all who came out for the picnic and to everyone that helped to promote it beforehand!  We are always grateful for and humbled by the overwhelming response we get to our wild endeavors!

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Pollinator Picnic was all the buzz!

Piedmont Picnic Project hosted our Pollinator Picnic this past Saturday as part of the Second Saturday events in Raleigh and as part of our Pollinators in the Piedmont blog series!    Special thanks to all those who came out for the event!  See full gallery here.

Pollinator Picnic

PapaSpuds_logoSpecial thanks to Papa Spuds for providing all of the honey for the event!  If you’re interested in Papa Spuds local foods delivery service, they’ll waive your enrollment fee and give you $5 off your first order when you use the coupon code PICNIC.  

If you couldn’t make it out, here’s what you missed…

A full bee buffet of honey and wildflower drinks and treats, including Honeygirl Meadery mead and Brothers Vilgalys Spirits krupnikas cocktail!

#yogurtcheese flavored with #honey and #foraged #hickorynuts decorated with more nuts, #nativehoneysuckle and #wildroses at the #PollinatorPicnic!

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

#trappist #honeybread at our #PollinatorPicnic! #likethebeesdoit A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

A pollinator garden demo including a good dose of bee history and recommendations for pollinator plants.  This berm is stuffed full of BREW coffee grounds and compost from a kindly CompostNow customer!

Our best helpers! #PollinatorBerm #startemyoung #givebeesachance

A photo posted by Piedmont Picnic Project (@piedmontpicnicproject) on

Stay tuned to our Pollinators in the Piedmont series to see what’s next – like our upcoming Wild History walking tour – learning more about pollinators, bee history, and forageable wildflowers!

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Raleigh Greenways: No shrinking violet

I didn’t need a calendar to tell me spring had arrived in North Carolina…  All I had to do was look out at my yard and the yards of so many others to see them blanketed in pink, purple, white, and yellow flowers!  I love this time of year before people pull out their lawnmowers, while they are still letting their yards turn into little wild places!  And even the smallest wild place can be a place to find some wild food.

Many of these flowers, including our featured plant today – violets – can seem so common that we take them for granted and ignore that they are just as beautiful as many cultivated flowers.  Many of them are also quite edible and useful!

This idea of something so prolific and common that we forget what a treasure it really is reminded us of our 100 Miles in 100 Days campaign.  To us, the 100 miles of Raleigh greenways are something we have often ignored and taken for granted, but as we explore them more and more of late, we see their value as wild places full of wild edibles and full of a rich natural and cultural history.

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 Where does Raleigh greenway history begin?

Speaking of wild places, they don’t all have to be remote locations, left undisturbed for generations to create a perfect, mystical balance of how nature should be. Your lawn, or the vacant lot down the road–or the edges of Raleigh’s greenway trails–all have things growing in them, right? But what a bummer it would be if there weren’t. If everything were paved over. Or plucked bare. Thinking of the Dust Bowl in the Great Depression? Or the Lorax? Pretty bleak.

When Raleigh was growing itself rapidly away from downtown in the 1960s and 1970s, voices began speaking out with concerns over what all the new construction and developments were doing to existing wild and natural spaces. Where were all the trees going? Or the people who loved them? And what about all the damn flooding?

The short version of a longer story is that City Council turned a report from a summer intern titled, “Raleigh: The Park with a City in It” into a reality.

The two main creeks, Walnut and Crabtree, would be protected to help manage the area’s floodplain, the surrounding wetlands would be a habitat for plants and animals, and the pathways would “give alternative to the automobile for short commuter trips” around the city. Ever since Central Park was created in NYC in the 1850s, there have been strong advocates for natural spaces within cities. However, the extent to which the Capital City Greenway is integrated into Raleigh’s business, residential, and other development was so unprecedented that it was considered the first citywide greenway system in the United States when it was begun in 1974.

Each section of the greenway has been added in the years since then, slowly working toward making them fully interconnected. As land is turned over to be cleared, or paved, it creates opportunities for new wild things to grow. Chances are, if you’re in Raleigh, you’re not much more than a few minutes away from a greenway trail at any moment. Which also means, you’re not much more than a few minutes away from discovering some of Raleigh’s coolest natural spots.

Plant Profile: Common Violet

One plant that is so common on the greenways (and probably in your lawn) this time of year is the common blue violet.  Sprinkle a handful of these blooms on any plate, and you will take it straight into gourmet territory.

Description and Habitat.  Violets like to grow in areas that are fairly moist, yet also offer some sun, which makes them bloom more prolifically.  Look for heart-shaped, somewhat glossy leaves about four inches tall and five-petaled purple flowers about one inch across.  Flowers have yellowish-white middles that are slightly furry.  Some violets are white blossomed with faint purple veins in the petals and are just as edible and quite striking!

Harvest.  Blossoms are present in early spring (late March to mid April), and are best harvested in the morning.  Leaves stick around most of the year.  They are best harvested when still very young and rolled up like a scroll.

Flavor and Use.  Common violet flowers (unlike their more fragrant English violet cousins) have a very faint scent – almost undetectable.  Their flavor is green tasting much like a salad green.  Generally, their use is more for their striking purple color which lends itself to garnish dishes or to be infused in syrups and liqueurs.  The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked – but when cooked can have somewhat mucilaginous qualities.

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 Violet Syrup

Place violets in a heat safe container such as the mason jar below.

WP_20150401_020Pour boiling water over the flowers – just enough to cover them.  Place a lid/plate over the steeping violets and allow to sit for up to 24 hours for maximum extraction of that beautiful purple color (cat optional).

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Drain violets, squeezing as much liquid out of the flowers as possible.  Gorgeous, isn’t it? Measure your liquid.

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At this point, you have two color options: pinkish-purple or bluish-black.

For bluish-black, warm your liquid with an equal amount of sugar (i.e., if you have 1 cup liquid, you’ll want 1 cup sugar) over low heat until sugar is fully dissolved.  Do not boil.  Pour into clean jar.   The color will lose some vibrancy but stay more violet.

Alternatively, add a few drops of lemon juice before sealing, and it will regain vibrancy but be a more pink-purple color rather than blue-violet.  This pinkish-purple shade is in the photo below (the other bottle in the background is a ground ivy syrup made in a similar way).

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What to do with this gorgeous purple syrup with an oh-so-delicate spring green taste?  Why not a cocktail?  We call it shrinking not for it’s flavor, but because it seems to disappear so quickly!

Shrinking Violet Cocktail

To make, shake the following in a cocktail shaker over ice and strain into a martini glass:

1.5 oz gin

1 oz violet syrup

1 egg white

juice of 1/4 lemon

Garnish with a violet, of course!

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Fresh Herbs in Winter: Wild and Homegrown Alternatives to the Supermarket

You may not think of winter as a time to write a post about fresh herbs, but that’s exactly why these beauties below fit into our Feasting in Times of Winter Scarcity series.  Winter may seem like the hardest time to find fresh herbs, making us all resort to those horrible clam shell herb containers at the store where you pay five dollars for a bundle of herbs you know you could grow so easily in the summer or find a bundle four times that size for half the price at your local farmers’ market.

This may lead you to attempt growing herbs indoors, something I have had mixed success with, often resulting in scraggly, slow-growing plants.

Alternatively, you may notice that many of your perennial herbs, although slow growing, live on outdoors well beyond the first frost date.  The piles of mint, onion grass, bee balm, catmint, and lemon balm below were all picked in January, well after many frosts.

Winter Herb Harvest

Another option is to attempt a cold frame or low tunnel outdoors to keep a few small stashes of herbs growing through the winter.  Cilantro does particularly well in that environment, like my little almost-picked-to-death cilantro in my low tunnel below.

Low Tunnel Winter Cilantro

If none of these options sound appealing to you, don’t count out the wild herbs!  Below are two of the most common wild herbs you’ll find around – two that I’ll bet you’ve either eaten or at least crushed and smelled before – noting their aromatic properties but hesitating to cook with them.  Why hesitate?

Onion Grass (aka Wild Garlic)

When I first moved down here, I remember someone pointing out “onion grass” to me, and I thought, no no, that’s just chives that have gone rogue into someone’s yard.  I didn’t realize that chives had a more wild cousin that really likes to get around.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and a happy one!  Because it shows how interchangeable the two can be in cooking – why spend $4.99 on that clamshell of “fresh chives” when you probably have a patch of onion grass in your lawn you’ve been trying to eradicate for years?

Wild Garlic

Description and Habitat.  “Onion grass” grows in clumps of green chive-like tops with a bulb at its base made of several smaller “cloves,” much like garlic.  You can find it in just about any lawn or field or along any roadside.  The strong onion/garlic scent is a good indicator that you have the right plant.

Harvest.  To harvest, you can simply cut off whatever leaves you need.  Feel free to give it a full haircut; it will grow back.  Alternatively, if you want to harvest the bulb below, you can pull up the whole plant. Just be sure to leave a couple bulbs from the clump in the ground so you can come back to your spot in years to come.

Flavor and Use.  You can use the grass like you would chives, and the bulbs like you would garlic (although their small size makes this difficult).  The grass itself is much more garlicky than chives, so I like to use it to lend that flavor to some classically garlicky uses – like this pesto below and the seasoned salt at the end of the post.

Wild Greens & Nuts Pesto

Warning:  This pesto is addictive!  You will scoop it on everything, and if you take it to a party, it will not come back with you.  It may just be my favorite wild food recipe I have under my belt so far…

Wild Greens and Nuts Pesto

Recipe:

2-3 handfuls of wild garlic greens, roughly chopped

2-3 handfuls of wild cress greens

1-2 handfuls of wild nuts (hickory, pecan, and/or black walnut)

2 large pinches salt

olive oil

Combine wild garlic greens and wild cress in a food processor with wild nuts of your choosing.  Salt well.

Pulse until they are well mixed, and then begin to drizzle in olive oil while the food processor runs.  I like mine heavy on the olive oil until the mixture turns from looking like separate ingredients into a smooth creamy paste, as the oil emulsifies into a totally different texture (see picture above – there’s nothing dry or leafy about that pesto!).

Scoop into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some wild leaves, and/or nuts.

Note: if you don’t have a chance to forage wild herbs for this, arugula and garlic with sunflower seeds will make another delicious version.

Ground Ivy 

One of my uncles was visiting a few months ago, helping us out on some backyard constructions projects.  When those were in ship shape, he asked, now what are you going to do about all this ground ivy?  (Our entire back “lawn” is ground ivy).  To which I replied, eat it!  We love our ground ivy lawn…  it’s beautiful covered in purple flowers in spring, durable, and smells delightfully herby when you walk on it or mow it.

Even better yet, you can eat it, and it’s tasty!  It could have made it into our Wild Winter Teas post, as it’s a member of the mint family, high in vitamin C, and brews a good cup.  But I like it even better featured as an herb for cooking.  Historically, it was used for eating, as medicine, in the beer making process by Saxons before hops were introduced, and by various other peoples in cheese making as a substitute for rennet.  How versatile!

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Description and Habitat.  Ground ivy grows in trailing runners up to about four inches tall.  Leaves are roughly heart-shaped and scalloped (see picture above), stems are square shaped (due to its membership in the mint family), and it gets small purple flowers in spring.  Ground ivy gives off a distinctly herby, almost minty sent when crushed.  You’ll find it in your lawn, along greenways and roadsides, and in fields, particularly where it is somewhat cooler and shady.

Harvest.  You can pull up entire runners of ground ivy or snip off individual leaves.  I generally “harvest” when weeding it out of my vegetable beds.  Ground ivy is considered a non-native invasive species in the U.S., so harvest away!

Flavor and Uses.  Ground ivy has a scent/flavor somewhere between mint and a mild, greener rosemary.  You can put it in soups and salads, make tea out of it, or use it as a fresh or dried herb.  The flowers look particularly pretty in salads in spring.

Wild Seasoned Salt Rub

This recipe for wild seasoned salt has about a million and one uses.  Rub it on chicken, lamb, or beef before roasting.  Toss it with pasta and Parmesan for a great side; add white beans, and it’s a main course.  Dry it and bottle it for a unique wild holiday gift!  Another bonus:  this is one more way to use your citrus peels.  Zest peels before juicing (it’s very difficult to do after) and dry to be used later in seasoning rubs like this one or in desserts.

Wild Seasoned Salt

Recipe:

Zest of 2 lemons, grated

1 bunch of Ground Ivy leaves

1 bunch of Onion Grass

2 Tbsp Sea Salt

If using immediately, mince ground ivy and onion grass and combine with lemon zest and salt (pepper optional).

Wild Seasoned Salt Ingredients

If you’d like to dry and store this as a wild seasoned salt, dry grated lemon zest, whole ground ivy, and onion grass (in your oven or toaster oven on its lowest setting is one good way).

Crumble ground ivy and onion grass (or pulse in a coffee grinder), and combine with dried lemon zest and sea salt.

Store in an airtight container somewhere dark and cool.  Use as you would the fresh version.

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