SUMACADE ~ A SUMMERTIME HERBAL BEVERAGE YOU’LL LOVE

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It has been many moons since I was introduced to sumacade. I can’t even recall who first shared this herbal knowledge with me. But I can see myself standing in the production room in the back of my herbal shop, brewing up this tasty summertime treat for the very first time. And that, like most all of my herbal firsts, is a fond memory ❤

Sumac is a very easy herb to identify. It has only two look-a-likes, poison sumac and tree of heaven. I’ve always been a little bewildered as tp why they are considered look-a-likes for sumac, because they have white fruit/berries and sumacs berry blooms are red.

Nonetheless, they are look-a-likes. And poison sumac is … well … poison.

This is a picture of the type of sumac shrub I gather the material from to make my sumacade. Apart from the difference in the color of the fruit/berries between this bush and it’s two look-a-likes there is another variation you can us to tell them apart.

The sumac used to make ade has serrated edges around the leaves. Poison sumac and tree of heaven’s leaves have smooth edges.

The botanical names for the ade you want to make herbal beverages with are Rhus glabra and Rhus typhina.

In addition to vitamin C, the berries of the sumac shrub contain many beneficial minerals.

Sumac berries were used by Native Americans, Native Canadians, and American pioneers for many ailments. These include; bladder issues, digestive problems, respiratory ailments, and fever. It was also used as a laxative and a diuretic. And to support liver function, as well.

A little sumacade in the fridge throughout late summer and early fall is a good, good thing. It’s such a healthy way to treat yourself well. If you have this incredible berry available to you don’t miss out on the pleasures and benefits it has to offer 😉

Head out to your closest sumac shrub and harvest yourself 3 or 4 clusters of berries. Be sure they are deep red in color, as this indicates that they are ripe.

Bring them home and get out your favorite half gallon pitcher. Or if you have one, grab a half gallon canning jar.

Boil about 2 cups of water and sweeten it with your favorite natural, unprocessed sweetener. This step is done to taste. So remember that these 2 cups of water will sweeten the whole batch of ade. Don’t go overboard. Sweetener is not really healthy. Besides you won’t need much 😉

Pour your ‘sweet mix’ into the vessel you’re using to make your beverage, place the full cones of berries in it too, and then top it off with water.

Let it sit on the kitchen counter until it cools down to room temperature. Then cover it and let it sit overnight.

In the morning pull out the berries, and if you are opposed to the small plant particles left behind being in your drink, line a strainer with a coffee filter and use it to remove them.

And that’s it all! You have made sumacade ❤

The only thing left for you to do now is give it a taste and let me know how that goes for you! Is it a beverage you see yourself making again? A few times a year? Or just once a season? I’d love to know 😉

And … connect with me on facebook, instagram, and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health professional. You are solely responsible for researching herbs to determine how you choose to use them. If you decide to make them a part of your health care plan, I take no responsibility for the results of that decision.

CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS ~ JUST A FEW SHORT WEEKS

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Chanterelles are easily the most known wild mushroom out there. It seems that just about anyone who has ever had even the slightest interest in foraging mushrooms has heard of these fabulous little woodland treats.

They are also one of the tastiest wild shrooms. And they are among the least likely to cause gastrointestinal distress, a side effect of many wild mushrooms. Particularly by those who are not accustomed to eating them.

They are common throughout the United States and rather easy to find. They do have look-a-likes, so proper identification is key. But then proper identification should always be a priority when harvesting any wild food 😉

Foraging wild mushrooms has slowly been creeping its way into my life for a few years now. And I’m a fan ❤

Chanterelles are one of my very favorite shrooms to find. I always get quite excited when my eyes spot their bright, golden yellow color on the forest floor. I know the goodness that awaits me as I place them in my basket. And I don’t even mind the tedious job of cleaning them up when they come home. It’s well worth the effort ❤

They are only with us for a few short weeks a year. So our time together is fleeting. Making me cherish it all the more.

Fortunately, they freeze really well so the bounty can be preserved and spread over a few months (or more if you’re lucky)!

If you’re among the blessed who get their hands on some it’s pretty simple to prep them for freezing. Clean them well and cut off the bottom of the stems. Slice them up and dry fry them to remove the water. Drain them and allow them to cool. Place them in freezer bags and toss in the freezer for later.

The first batch that was wild-harvested in my house this year was sauteed with shrimp, served over rice noodles, and topped with a butter basil sauce. Sooooooo damn YUMMY 😉

Eat light the first few times you try chanterelles just to be sure they get along well with your belly. I find that each year it is best to go easy on portion size for my first few meals. Then … it’s time to dig right in!

Do you wild-harvest mushrooms? If so, what are your favorites? And how do you prepare them? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments. Being a relatively new ‘shroomer’ I’m like a sponge for info. So, if you’ve got some, dish it up please!

If you have questions rather than info, ask away. I’ll do my best to answer them!

And … connect with me on facebook, instagram, and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

MY FIRST EVER MOREL MUSHROOMS

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Morel season is upon us once again!

I’m not sure how excited that makes you but it literally makes me squirm in delight!

I have kept an eye out for these little beauties for a few seasons now. A couple of years back I decided to start taking baby steps toward becoming a reasonably competent mushroom hunter. It’s for sure something I aspire to be good at 😉

The obstacles I am facing are time and a places to hunt.

Time … well I probably don’t have to explain that one to most of you. We are all lacking in this area, LOL!

Places to hunt … I am surrounded by state and national parks. You can’t forage there 😦 And most other land here is privately owned.

Sooooooo … the morel mushroom might is sort of a reclusive forest dwelling creature to me!

And then …

I met a new friend at the gym.

AND …

Her significant other is a mushroom hunter!

Ahhhhhhhhh … Lady Luck has turned her smile upon me ❤ ❤ ❤

As if meeting a great friend (I really do like her a lot) and finding out that her significant other hunts mushrooms is not lucky enough, it just so happened that he returned from a morel hunting trip a short time after our meeting. Life is good!

I was able to pick up a pound of fresh morels at a great price, and trust me that made my day. Well, maybe my week. Probably, definitely my week 😉

I FINALLY had the chance to cook fresh morels.

I could touch them. Smell them. Sit quietly and admire them.

I could clean them. Chop them. Season and sauté them. I could stand with them as they cooked, soaking in the delightful aroma they emit as they simmer. Oh my! If only the net had a scratch & sniff feature … You would be in heaven right now!

How do you cook morel mushrooms, you ask?

I’m sure there are MANY ways to prepare these little beauties. But I kept it pretty simple. I wanted to really savor the taste of them the first time I ate them. I didn’t want them to be smothered in sauce or buried in seasonings.

So I put half a stick of butter in a large frying pan with about 3 large cloves of garlic, and threw in the whole pound of mushrooms. I covered them and let them simmer on a low setting for about 20 minutes.

Morels need to be cooked well or they can make you a bit sick. No one wants that! It works out though because they don’t get tough or rubbery when they are cooked for long periods of time 😉

After 20 minutes the pan was pretty full of liquid. Mushrooms always lose a great deal of water while cooking. I drained the water off and threw in just a bit of salt. Salt is a flavor enhancer and … well … as I’ve already said, I for sure wanted to REALLY TASTE these little beauties!

I cooked them with very minimal liquid. Like really hardly any at all, for another 5 minutes or so, and then I served them with roasted, organic bell pepper and onion and fresh, organic mild Italian sausage.

They were SERIOUSLY delicious! Now I know why everyone raves about them!

The experience left me with just one pretty serious issue …

Where, oh where, am I going to find a patch of fresh morel mushrooms to harvest next spring?

I’d love to hear about your thoughts on or experiences with morels! Leave them in the comments if you will 😉

And … connect with me on facebook and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

POSTSCRIPT:

This post was written while I was living in the PNW. Where I live now in northern Maine morels are not common. But I have heard they are sometimes found. I hope to be so lucky as to come across them here 😉

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH FIDDLEHEADS

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I’ve wanted to get my hands on fiddleheads since my enamoration with wild food first began. If you are among those who don’t know about this delectable little spring treat, please allow me to enlighten you 😉

A fiddlehead is the furled frond of the young ostrich fern. They appear in the spring and are harvested as a vegetable. As always, it is important to ethically harvest this tasty little gift from Mama Earth, as you don’t want to affect the population of the species.

If you do not know the ‘rules’ for wild-harvesting do check them out before you head out to gather wild food. One of the most important guidelines to follow with fiddleheads is to be certain that you don’t collect all the fronds from a single plant. This will result in death of the plant. And that is a pretty crappy trade-off for the gift that this generous little green ally brings to your plate 😦

Where I am living in northern Maine these delicious little morsels are wild-harvested and then sold by the roadside and in local markets. And as much as I love ‘collecting grub’ from the wild, I haven’t had much time lately so that works out perfectly for me! I get fresh-picked fiddleheads. And foragers get a little cash in their pocket. Win! Win!

The batch that inspired this post was picked up at a self-serve roadside stand. I saw them on my way up north and passed them by because I didn’t really have room in my schedule for meal preparation at all, and uncovering how to cook fiddleheads felt burdensome.

But hose fiddleheads stayed in my head through the whole trip. Lucky for me, the stand was still there on my way home. So I grabbed a bag full of fiddleheads and went back home to figure out just what I was going to do with them.

I discovered that you have to cook them down before you can eat them. I’ve learned that this is the case with many wild foods. If fiddleheads are eaten raw one can get quite the case of indigestion from them.

So I put them on the stove in a pot of water, heated it up to boiling, and then let it simmer for 10 minutes.

After that I took the easy way out because it was late and I was hungry, LOL!

I sautéed them in butter, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper. When they were done I squeezed just a tiny bit of lemon juice on them, gave them a toss, and voila … deliciousness was mine.

They are crazy tasty! Like really crazy tasty!

They taste very much like asparagus to me. Like really very much like asparagus. And I’m a big fan of asparagus ❤

My son and I enjoyed them that evening, but you’re not supposed to eat too many at a time until you are sure your stomach doesn’t react the them (another common wild food rule). So, we had plenty left over. And when I woke up in the morning I couldn’t wait to get another crack at them.

So, the first fiddlehead omelet ever was made in my kitchen that morning. Fiddleheads, tomatoes, grilled onions, and swiss cheese = heaven ❤ Just sayin’.

I have another bunch of these little babies in the fridge right now and I’m looking at breading and deep frying them. I’ve had a few locals tell me that I won’t be disappointed if I prepare them that way. I think they’re right. I just can’t decide if I want to serve them with a butter garlic parmesan sauce or a bit of siracha mayo?

But a decision will have to be made. Unless, of course, I choose both 😉

Have you ever had fiddleheads? And if so, how were they prepared?

Did you like them? Would you eat them again? We loved them! And will likely eat them often from now on ❤

Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say 😉

And … connect with me on facebook, instagram, and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤