Tomato Powder – For Those Tired of Canning Already!

Ah, the harvest of tomatoes is a plentiful this year, however … Honestly, I am sick of canning tomatoes.

Too much time.  Too much work.  Too much space.

You get the point.

So I thought I would look up Do-It-Yourself sundried tomatoes, being all clever to figure something different out.  I do love sundried tomatoes but until I looked them up, I did not realize the difficulty in storing them.  Well, I don’t really want to have to freeze tons of sundried tomatoes.

As I was surfing through delicious photos of reds and yellows, recipes slowly going through the back of my mind, I saw the words:

TOMATO POWDER

how the POWDER changed my cooking life forever

These words combined have made my love of tomatoes grow beyond measure. And taste.

MR. DEHYDRATOR

Cutting up large numbers of my beautiful, organic tomatoes (courtesy of my wonderful garden this year!) in slices no more than 1/4 inch thick, sprinkle with a dash of pickling salt and now steps in Mr. Dehydrator.

The tomatoes get a really good air drying for around 12 – 20 hours.  Toss in some freshly chopped basil or oregano from my garden on top of the slices and add a punch of flavour.

MR. SPICE GRINDER

Spice grinder in one hand and the other throws a bunch of crushed, dehydrated tomato slices in.

BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

It’s pulse grinding.  Keep at it until you have taken a peek and find the consistency you are looking for, which for me is finely ground tomato powder.

USES

2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato powder plus about 1/2 cup of water creates the most amazing tomato paste to use for sauces.

Sprinkle a small amount into your foods, depending on taste.  Use anywhere you would use tomato or sundried tomato in recipes, just make sure to taste and adjust accordingly.

ALWAYS TASTE.

It is so versatile.

THE TASTE

It totally tastes like ketchup chips minus the chip part.

STORAGE

Storage is the best part it takes up WAY less room.  I store in a mason jar with a bunch of rice at the bottom to keep the moisture out.

Hope you enjoy, let me know any recipes that you may know of that uses tomato powder.

Lemon Vinegar – The Art of Homemade, Safe Cleaning

Vinegar. A versatile & classic liquid, used in cooking & cleaning.

When it comes to cleaning, it’s a natural disinfectant, a brilliant cleaner, but … it stinks.

Salt & Vinegar Fish & Chips, sure, loves it! But not a house that smells like pure vinegar?  Too abrasive to the senses.

Hence, a formula for Lemon Vinegar.

Now, you can use orange peels if you like … I’m a lemon girl!

What you need:

500 ml Mason Jar or whatever size you wish

Peel from 2 -3 lemons (add more for bigger jar)

Vinegar

How to do it:

Place peels in jar. Fill to top with vinegar. Cap tightly.

Let sit in a cool, dark place for about 14 days, give or take.

ET VOILA!

Lemon scented vinegar to be used for making the house not only shine its cleanest, but smell like bright, fresh lemons!

Enjoy.

Green Tomatoes? Chow Down On Canadiana Style Chow Chow – Fresh Gardening Recipe

The Art of a Great Chow Chow

This year, I’m on the verge of  a tantalizingly tasty tomato crop.  Reds, yellows & even purples I have painstakingly been gardening in a very organic fashion.  But I always find some that have found a home on the ground, or a few that have a brown patch or two … and besides, I don’t always want to wait for the September for the last of the green tomatoes to make something with them … something called Chow Chow.

Many of you have been reading about the horrors of genetically modified produce & meat, and I have been doing my best to avoid GMOs & processed foods.  Corn syrup, for instance, has given rise to heated arguments between scientists & health specialists & all kinds of people, and we all know we find it in everything.

One thing it’s in is Catsup. Or Ketchup. Heinz lists it here in Canada as ‘liquid syrup’, but we all know it’s genetically modified corn syrup.

Catsup or Ketchup is for some, like butter is to bread … a marvellously sweet, spicy & salty condiment that goes with everything from the classic french fry to being used as a flavour enhancer in curry sauces.

I don’t like bottled Ketchup. Sorry Heinz, but I can taste the fakeness. It just isn’t like it was when I was a kid (and I’m an OLD lady!).

But recently, thanks to a twitter friend, my attention was brought to a fantastically deliciously wonderful condiment that goes by the name “Chow Chow”.

Thank you dear twitter friend, because now my taste buds have taken me back to my childhood of travelling up to the cottage, stopping by the side of the road on Highway 11 North in Ontario at Dutchie’s Restaurant, where they made the best french fries I have ever eaten in my life.  And I know, I KNOW, they had homemade ‘catsup’.  Chow Chow brings me right back to the old style counter seats & smell of the fryer.  Enough memories, let’s make some Chow Chow and can it!

What you will need:

6 cups of coarsely chopped green tomatoes*

* remove white core, & if too many or too large seeds remove as well

3 medium to large size onions, coarsely chopped

3 medium apples, coarsely chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped up

1/4 – 1/2 cup of water

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of maple syrup

2 cups of white vinegar* (5% acetic acid)

* substitutes: red wine vinegar, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice

1 tbs. of mustard powder

1/4 tsp. of allspice (I put 1/2, I love it!)

1/4 tsp. of cumin

1/4 tsp. of red chili powder (spicy, don’t put in if you don’t like it)

Just a pinch, or two, of cinnamon

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup of pickling salt

In Quebec, additions such as green & red peppers and/or cauliflower are also included.

I always say, “Make sure you play with your food!”

How to Make Chow Chow:

In non-reactive pot (enamel, stainless steel), put 1/4 cup of water at bottom and heat on high.

Toss all ingredients except maple syrup & vinegar.  Bring up to almost a boil & simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the touch of Canadiana style – maple syrup – and give it a stir.  Then mix in all the vinegar.

Let this wonderful pot of goodness simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

Depending on your choice, you can can this chunky or fine.  I prefer it done fine, so I either mush it through a sieve or I use my hand blender.

Water bath canning takes 10 minutes (but as most know, this depends on your altitude.)

Serve with french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers …

One of my absolute favourite uses is as a wonderful side sauce for Jerk’d Chicken or Pork, and it goes heavenly with West Indian Curry.

Please try my recipe & let me know how it turns out for you.

Enjoy!

The Healthy Growing Lives of: Chives – Herb, Food, Plant & Flower

Chives: Easy Healthy Add to Liven Up Your Garden & Your Food

I have been taking a good long look at the plants I inherited when I bought my home.  I am blessed with a wonderful property, full of interesting plants, trees and animals.

Recently, for the last couple of years, my garden has been sprouting bunches of Chives.  This year is exceptional, so the following is an ode of information about and for the CHIVE.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a part of the same plant family as onions, scallions and garlic. They actually grow from small bulbs and have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses.

In the Middle Ages, chives were promoted as a cure for melancholy and believed to drive away evil spirits. Today we know that chives and chive flowers are high in vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Therefore, they should be routinely added to recipes to help restore vital nutrients lost in cooking. This herb’s tangy aromatic taste come from its high concentration of sulfur compounds and other essential oils, which are also partly responsible for its healing properties.

Growing Chives: So Easy!!!

Chives can be started from seed but it’s easiest to find a friend that already has an herb garden and dig-up a clump of their chive plant and get started growing your fresh chives.

Once your herb garden is established and you start getting blossoms on your chive plants you’ll quickly find that it’s best to use scissors instead of pruning sheers or a knife on these plants. Scissors are especially useful when cutting your chives to prepare for your favorite dishes.

This hardy perennial grows from 12 to 24 inches tall, with pink and lavender flowers that have flavored meals for centuries. It prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil that high in organic matter. Planting rooted clumps is the easiest way to propagate chives. Seeds germinate slowly and require darkness, constant moisture, and temperatures of 60 degrees to 70 degrees F. Divide plants every few years. Chives also grow well in containers on a sunny windowsill or on your deck mixed with other herbs or edible flowers.

It’s just unbelievable how incredibly versatile chives can be. When you have an abundance of plants in your garden you can always make a chive bouquet.

Here’s a wonderful outdoor dining idea: place a chive bouquet in the center of your picnic table or outdoor dining area, the aroma can enhance dishes placed around it!

You can even use them as dried flower arrangements. They are very easy to dry and keep as edible flowers for your salads and soups.

Chives Save Lives: Surprising Medicinal Health Benefits

You may be surprised to find that there is research that supports how chives ease stomach distress, protect against heart disease and stroke and may help the body fight bacteria that can cause disease. In addition, the herb may increase the body’s ability to digest fat.

Therapeutic Effect:The medicinal properties of chives are as varied as their uses in the kitchen. Chives stimulate the appetite and promote good digestion. They can be used to ease stomach upset, clear a stuffy nose, reduce flatulence and prevent bad breath. Combined with a low-salt diet, they help lower high blood pressure. Plus, they have a mild diuretic effect, as well as some antibacterial properties.

Components: Chives are valued for their many essential minerals, including cardiac-friendly potassium, bone-strengthening calcium and blood-building iron. And unlike most other members of the onion family, chives are high in folic acid (a B vitamin), vitamin A and vitamin C. In fact, just 3 ½ ounces of chives supplies enough vitamin C to meet your daily requirement of 60 mg.

Cold Prevention: The high vitamin C content in chives can help prevent colds. They also speed recovery if a cold develops by helping the body to expel mucus; the sulfurous compounds in chives are natural expectorants.

Cholesterol Reduction: Scientific research shows that chives stimulate the body’s digestion of fat. Eaten regularly, chives may help lower blood cholesterol levels.

The Chive Flower: Tastes as Good as It Looks

Here are a few foodie food ideas …

Don’t overlook the chive flower. The chive’s delicate purple flowers have a milder flavor than the leaves and stems and add a decorative touch to salads, herb oils and other dishes.

Chive Flavored Oil: add 1 ½ ounces of chive blossoms to 1 quart of vegetable oil. After a week, the oil will turn lilac and take on the fragrance of the chive flowers. Use the oil on salads or in cooking. Keep it refrigerated when not in use!

Chive Salt: If you like the oniony flavor of chives, make your own Chive Salt to add zip to all sorts of dishes. First, add some chive leaves to some salt. Then bake the mixture in the oven to dry the leaves and blend the flavors. Store in an airtight jar.

Cottage Cheese with Chives

  • 8 ounces of cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper

1. Blend the cottage cheese and mustard.

2. Peel the shallot, chip finely and mix with the cottage cheese blend.

3. Wash and dry the chives and snip them finely. Stir about two-thirds of the chives into the cottage cheese mixture.

4. Season the cottage-cheese mixture with the paprika and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining chives on top.

Food & Kitchen Tips

  • Cut chives just before you are ready to use them to preserve their vitamins, aroma and flavor. Chives are delicate; to prevent the loss of essential oils, snip them with kitchen shears rather than chopping or grinding.
  •  Don’t heat chives or they will lose their valuable vitamin C as well as their digestive properties
  •  Grow chives at home in a pot on a windowsill. Wait until the plant reaches about 6 inches in height before cutting. Harvest the chive leaves frequently to prevent blooming unless you specifically want to use the flowers. Once the plant blooms, the leave become less flavorful.
  • Freeze chives for future use. Frozen chives tend to retain more flavor than dried chives. Snip fresh chives into small pieces, then place them in an ice-cube tray and fill it with water. To thaw, put a chive cube in a strainer.

We hope you enjoyed the article on Chives.

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Ginger – Something Healthy and Different to Grow and Use

Ginger – that amazingly ‘hot’ and fragrant root, easily used in both sweet and savoury recipes, is a healthy plant to grow.  I’m doing it this year, however, it is a tropical plant and needs lots of humidity, in-direct sunlight and warmth.

You can grow Ginger from the roots you buy at the store, provided they are fresh and have ‘rhizomes’ or little bumps that are looking like they are trying to break through.  This will assure you growth, like you see in the picture below.

An underground stem, or rhizome, of the plant Zingiber officinale — has been used as a medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions since ancient times. In China, for example, ginger has been used to help digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions.

In addition to being used as a medicine, ginger is used throughout the world as an important cooking spice. It also has been used to help treat the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods.

Ginger is native to Asia where it has been used as a cooking spice for at least 4,400 years.

Plant Description:

Ginger is a knotted, thick, beige underground stem, called a rhizome. The stem sticks up about 12 inches above ground with long, narrow, ribbed, green leaves, and white or yellowish-green flowers.

What’s It Made Of?:

The important active components of the ginger root are thought to be volatile oils and pungent phenol compounds (such as gingerols and shogaols).

Medicinal Uses and Indications:

Today, health care professionals may recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy. It is also used as a digestive aid for mild stomach upset, to reduce pain of osteoarthritis, and may even be used in heart disease or cancer.

Motion Sickness

Several studies suggest that ginger may work better than placebo in reducing some symptoms of motion sickness. In one trial of 80 new sailors who were prone to motion sickness, those who took powdered ginger had less vomiting and cold sweating compared to those who took placebo. Ginger did not reduce nausea, however. Similar results were found in a study with healthy volunteers.

However, other studies have found that ginger does not work as well as medications in reducing symptoms of motion sickness. In one small study, participants were given either fresh root or powdered ginger, scopolamine, a medication commonly prescribed for motion sickness, or placebo. Those who took scopolamine had fewer symptoms than those who took ginger. Conventional prescription and over-the-counter medicines that decrease nausea may also have side effects, such as dry mouth and drowsiness.

Pregnancy-Related Nausea and Vomiting
Human studies suggests that 1g daily of ginger may be effective for nausea and vomiting in pregnant women when used for short periods (no longer than 4 days). Several studies have found that ginger is better than placebo in relieving morning sickness.

In a small study of 30 pregnant women with severe vomiting, those who took 1 gram of ginger every day for 4 days reported more relief from vomiting than those who took placebo. In a larger study of 70 pregnant women with nausea and vomiting, those who received a similar dosage of ginger felt less nauseous and did not vomit as much as those who received placebo. Pregnant women should ask their doctor before taking ginger, and should be careful not take more than 1g per day.

Chemotherapy nausea

A few studies suggest that ginger reduces the severity and duration of nausea — but not vomiting — during chemotherapy. However, one of the studies used ginger in combination with another anti-nausea drug, so it’ s hard to say whether ginger had any effect. More studies are needed.

Nausea and vomiting after surgery

Research is mixed as to whether ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting following surgery. Two studies found that 1g of ginger root before surgery reduced nausea as well as a leading medication. In one of these studies, women who received ginger also needed fewer medications for nausea after surgery. But other studies have found that ginger didn’ t help reduce nausea. In fact, one study found that ginger may actually increase vomiting following surgery. More research is needed.

Osteoarthritis

Ginger extract has long been used in traditional medical practices to reduce inflammation. And there is some evidence that ginger may help reduce pain from osteoarthritis (OA). In a study of 261 people with OA of the knee, those who took a ginger extract twice daily had less pain and needed fewer pain-killing medications than those who received placebo. But another study found that ginger was no better than ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or placebo in reducing symptoms of OA. It may take several weeks to see any effect.

Other uses

  • A few preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting. That can be helpful in treating heart disease, where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attack or stroke. But more studies are needed to know whether ginger is safe or effective for heart disease.
  • Laboratory studies have also found that some substances in ginger may kill cancer cells in test tubes. More research is needed to know if ginger would have the same effect in humans.

Available Forms:

Ginger products are made from fresh or dried ginger root, or from steam distillation of the oil in the root. The herb is available in extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. Fresh ginger root can also be purchased and prepared as a tea. Ginger is also a common cooking spice and can be found in a variety of foods and drinks, including ginger bread, ginger snaps, ginger sticks, and ginger ale.

How to Take It:

Pediatric

Don’ t give ginger to children under 2.

Ginger may be used by children over 2 years of age to treat nausea, stomach cramping, and headaches. Ask your doctor to help you determine the right dose.

Adult

In general, don’ t take more than 4g of ginger per day, including food sources. Pregnant women should not take more than 1g per day.

  • Standardized dose: Take 75 – 2,000 mg in divided doses with food, standardized to contain 4% volatile oils or 5% total pungent compounds including 6-gingerol or 6-shogaol.
  • For nausea, gas, or indigestion: 2 – 4 grams of fresh root daily (0.25 – 1.0 g of powdered root) or 1.5 – 3.0 mL (30 – 90 drops) liquid extract daily. To prevent vomiting, take 1 gram of powdered ginger (1/2 tsp) or its equivalent, every 4 hours as needed (not to exceed 4 doses daily), or 2 ginger capsules (1 gram), 3 times daily. You may also chew a 1/4 oz piece of fresh ginger when needed.
  • For pregnancy-induced vomiting, use 250 mg 4 times daily for up to 4 days. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger.
  • For arthritis pain: 250 mg 4 times daily.

Precautions:

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Side effects from ginger are rare, but if taken in high doses the herb may cause mild heartburn, diarrhea, and irritation of the mouth. You may be able to avoid some of the mild stomach side effects, such as belching, heartburn, or stomach upset, by taking ginger supplements in capsules.

People with gallstones should ask their doctor before taking ginger. Make sure to tell your doctor if you are taking ginger and will be having surgery or placed under anesthesia for any reason.

People with heart conditions and people with diabetes should not take ginger without asking their doctors.

Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking ginger.

Do not take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.

Possible Interactions:

Ginger may alter the effects of some prescription and nonprescription medications. If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use ginger without first talking to your health care provider.

Blood-thinning medications — Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger if you take blood-thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin.

Diabetes medications — Ginger may lower blood sugar, raising the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

High blood pressure medications — Ginger may lower blood pressure, raising the risk of low blood pressure or irregular heartbeat.

Alternative Names:

African ginger; Black ginger; Jamaican ginger; Zingiber officinale

Great Recipe … for Ginger Ice-Tea

Make a compote out of older fruit like apples & pears (getting bruised).

About a ginger root, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cup of water, one squeezed lemon, some vanilla, 1/8-1/4 cup of sugar and the fruit.

Simmer for about 1 hour or until fruit gets very soft.

Pour through a strainer with teeny tiny holes.

Voila.  Add the syrup to your favourite ice-tea. Makes for a deliciously different flavour of tea.

Hope you enjoy this information.

Please remember to follow us on Twitter @stealtharmour

The Preppermint Case – Versatile, Easy to Gro, Healthy Herb: It’s So Mint!

PEPPERMINT – For a Prepper, its Mint!

Although this article is a bit lengthy, it’s worth it.  A thorough examination of the wonderfully aromatic herb – MINT, including medicinal uses to how to dry it properly.  Hope you enjoy!

Overview:

Peppermint (Mentha piperita), a popular flavoring for gum, toothpaste, and tea, is also used to soothe an upset stomach or to aid digestion. Because it has a calming and numbing effect, it has been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs, used to treat symptoms of the common cold. In test tubes, peppermint kills some types of bacteria, fungus, and viruses, suggesting it may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Several studies support the use of peppermint for indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

Indigestion

Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. As a result, food passes through the stomach more quickly. However, if your symptoms of indigestion are related to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, you should not use peppermint (see “Precautions” section).

Flatulence/Bloating

Peppermint relaxes the muscles that allow painful digestive gas to pass.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Several studies have shown that enteric coated peppermint capsules can help treat symptoms of IBS, such as pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. (Enteric coated capsules keep peppermint oil from being released in the stomach, which can cause heartburn and indigestion.) However, a few studies have shown no effect. One study examined 57 people with IBS who received either enteric coated peppermint capsules or placebo twice a day for 4 weeks. Of the people who took peppermint, 75% had a significant reduction of IBS symptoms. Another study comparing enteric coated peppermint oil capsules to placebo in children with IBS found that after 2 weeks, 75% of those treated had reduced symptoms. Finally, a more recent study conducted in Taiwan found that patients who took an enteric coated peppermint oil formulation 3 – 4 times daily for one month had less abdominal distention, stool frequency, and flatulence than those who took a placebo. Nearly 80% of the patients who took peppermint also had alleviation of abdominal pain.

Itching and Skin Irritations

Peppermint, when applied topically, has a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations caused by hives, poison ivy, or poison oak.

Tension Headache

One small study suggested that peppermint applied to the forehead and temples helped reduce headache symptoms.

Colds and Flu

Peppermint and its main active agent, menthol, are effective decongestants. Because menthol thins mucus, it is also a good expectorant, meaning that it helps loosen phlegm and breaks up coughs. It is soothing and calming for sore throats (pharyngitis) and dry coughs as well.

Plant Description:

Peppermint plants grow to about 2 – 3 feet tall. They bloom from July through August, sprouting tiny purple flowers in whorls and terminal spikes. Dark green, fragrant leaves grow opposite white flowers. Peppermint is native to Europe and Asia, is naturalized to North America, and grows wild in moist, temperate areas. Some varieties are indigenous to South Africa, South America, and Australia.

What’s It Made Of?:

The leaves and stems, which contain menthol (a volatile oil), are used medicinally, as a flavoring in food, and in cosmetics (for fragrance).

Available Forms:

Peppermint tea is prepared from dried leaves of the plant and is widely available commercially.

Peppermint spirit (tincture) contains 10% peppermint oil and 1% peppermint leaf extract in an alcohol solution. A tincture can be prepared by adding 1 part peppermint oil to 9 parts pure grain alcohol.

Enteric coated capsules are specially coated to allow the capsule to pass through the stomach and into the intestine (0.2 mL of peppermint oil per capsule).

Creams or ointments (should contain 1 – 16% menthol)

How to Take It:

Pediatric

Do not give peppermint to an infant or small child. Peppermint oil applied to the face of infants can cause life-threatening breathing problems. In addition, peppermint tea may cause a burning sensation in the mouth. For digestion and upset stomach in older children: 1 – 2 mL peppermint glycerite per day.

Adult

  • Tea: Steep 1 tsp. dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain and cool. Drink 4 – 5 times per day between meals. Peppermint tea appears to be safe, even in large quantities.
  • Enteric coated capsules: 1 – 2 capsules (0.2 ml of peppermint oil) 2 – 3 times per day for IBS.
  • Tension headaches: Using a tincture of 10% peppermint oil to 90% ethanol, lightly coat the forehead and allow the tincture to evaporate.
  • Itching and skin irritations: Apply menthol, the active ingredient in peppermint, in a cream or ointment form no more than 3 – 4 times per day.

Precautions:

The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.

Do not take peppermint or drink peppermint tea if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD — a condition where stomach acids back up into the esophagus) or hiatal hernia. Peppermint can relax the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allowing stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus. (The sphincter is the muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach.) By relaxing the sphincter, peppermint may actually make the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion worse.

Peppermint, in amounts normally found in food, is likely to be safe during pregnancy, but not enough is known about the effects of larger supplemental amounts. Speak with your health care provider.

Never apply peppermint oil to the face of an infant or small child, as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing.

Peppermint may make gallstones worse.

Large doses of peppermint oil can be toxic. Pure menthol is poisonous and should never be taken internally. It is important not to confuse oil and tincture preparations.

Menthol or peppermint oil applied to the skin can cause a rash.

Possible Interactions:

Cyclosporine — This drug, which is usually taken to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, suppresses the immune system. Peppermint oil may slow down the rate at which the body breaks down cyclosporine, meaning more of it stays in your bloodstream. Do not take peppermint oil if you take cyclosporine.

Drugs that reduce stomach acid — If peppermint capsules are taken at the same time as drugs that lower the amount of stomach acid, the enteric-coated peppermint capsules may dissolve in the stomach instead of the intestines. This could mean the effects of peppermint are lessened. Take peppermint at least 2 hours before or after an acid-reducing drug. Antacids include:

  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)

Drugs that treat diabetes — Test tube studies suggest peppermint may lower blood sugar, raising the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Medications changed by the liver — Since peppermint works on the liver, it may affect medications that are metabolized by the liver (of which there are many). Speak with your health care provider.

Antihypertensive drugs (blood pressure medications) — Some animal studies suggest that peppermint may lower blood pressure. If you take medications to lower blood pressure, taking peppermint also might make their effect stronger.

Harvesting your Fresh Mint:
The best time to harvest mints for drying is just before they flower. Mint leaves retain the highest oil content prior to flowering. The oil content in herbs is what gives the herb its aroma and flavor. If possible always cut mint mid-morning after the leaves have dried but before the heat of the day. Harvesting in the early evening is also a good time. When you harvest mint cut stems of equal length and at least 4″ -5″ long. You will need the length in the stems if you intend to hang your mint upside down to dry.

Herb Drying Methods:
Most herbs can be dried either in the oven, in a dehydrator or by hanging in a dark, warm area.

Drying Herbs Using the Hanging Method: All herbs must be dried thoroughly before storing and particularly those with high moisture content such as mint, basil, rosemary and tarragon. To dry herbs, gather a bunch of herbs together by the stems and tie tightly with twine. Cover the bunch of mint with a brown lunch bag and secure. Covering the herbs with a brown bag will help them to retain their color and oil content during the drying process. Hang the bunch of herbs upside down in a dark , warm (70 degrees – 80 degrees) well-ventilated, dust free area. We dry our herbs in the  garage or you can use other structures if needed. It typically takes 1-2 weeks for the herbs to dry completely.

Drying Herbs Using the Oven Method: Drying mint in an oven is a faster way to complete the process, but you will loose some of the oil content from the leaves. Dry in a very cool oven (high temperatures will result in tasteless herbs).  Basically, just turn the oven on to “warm” (140 to 200 F) (or 65 degrees C to 93 degrees C, gas mark 1) for 20 minutes, then turn it off and pop in the herbs. Strip dried leaves from stems and discard the stems. Take care to not crush the leaves as this will result in flavorless herbs. Place the leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer. Turn the oven on to ‘warm’ for 20-30 minutes then turn the oven off. Place the baking sheet in the oven and leave until the herbs are dried. Oven times vary based upon the make and model of the oven, so some trail and error is required.

When your mint leaves are completely dry, either carefully remove them from the brown bag or off of the baking sheet depending on the drying technique that you used. I recommend not crushing your herbs, but rather storing them whole and then crushing them if needed right before using. Store the dried herbs in airtight containers such as canning jars. Never store herbs in plastic containers or plastic wrap as the oil will leech out of the herbs into the plastic. Check your stored herbs frequently after you have stored them for the first few weeks to look for any signs of moisture. Herbs will mold quickly in closed jars if not completely dry. Once you are sure the herbs are completely dry, place them in the airtight containers, and store them in a cool, dry place away from light.

How to Make Peppermint Tea:

Take a bunch of mint leaves and leave them on a plate in a warmish area for 24-48 hours. (Or use the dried mint you’ve made as above).

Boil water in your kettle.  Make sure the leaves are dry.  You will need about 2 teaspoons of crushed leaves for your cup.

Pour boiling water over. Let tea steep to your liking.  Add honey for some sweetness.

Mint is a valuable herb to include in your garden and to dry and store.

We hope you have enjoyed this information.  Please remember, be prepared. We can help.

For more information, please follow us on Twitter @stealtharmour or email us at stealtharmour@gmail.com

Ancient Egyptian Preppers – Food Security and Preservation (including Ancient Recipes)

 

Egyptians Were Preppers & Discovered Fermentation
In ancient times, fermentation was considered as a way of both preserving food and retaining its nutritional value. It was probably accidentally discovered in ancient Egypt when dough, made from ground-up wheat and rye, was left for a period of time before cooking. In contrast to dough that was immediately cooked, it was observed that the aged dough expanded in size and, when cooked, produced tastier, lighter bread.

The discovery of fermentation in Egypt also led to the first production of wine and alcohol. All these discoveries were largely phenomenological and it would be another 3000 years before the exact cause of fermentation was uncovered. It was Louis Pasteur, in 1857, who was able to demonstrate that alcohol can be produced by yeast when grown in particular conditions. This discovery revolutionised the modern food industry: for the first time the agent of fermentation was identified and could be used commercially.

Fermentation:

– aids the preservation of vitamin C and actually produces vitamins B and K

– makes food more digestible – particularly some hard-to-digest starches

– can reduce the levels of some toxic compounds – such as hydrocyanic acid, oxalic acid, some aflatoxins and ochratoxin – in certain foods.

How did Ancient Egyptians preserve their food?
Ancient Egyptians employed a variety of methods for food preservation. Great silos were constructed to preserve grain for long periods of time. Fish, meat, vegetables and fruits were were preserved by drying and salting. Grains were fermented to create beer.

“There is evidence that as early as 12,000 B.C., Egyptian tribespeople on the lower Nile dried fish and poultry using the hot desert sun. Areas with similar hot and dry climates found drying to be an effective method of preservation…Herodutus, writing in the fifth century B.C., describes how the Egyptians and their neighbors still dried fish in the sun and wind and then strored them for long periods.”
Pickled, Potted and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Processing Changed the World, Sue Shepard [Simon & Schuster:New York] 2000 (p. 31)

“…the Babylonians and Egyptians pickled fish such as sturgeon, salmon, and catfish, as well as poultry and geese. Sometimes salt was relatively easy to extract; in other parts it was more difficult.”
—ibid (p. 76)

“Salt has been used to preserve fish since ancient times, possibly even before meat was cured. The early Mesopotamian civilizations relied on a staple diet of salt fish and barley proridge…Fish curing, depicted in the tombs of ancient Egypt, was so highly regarded that only temple officials were entrusted with the knowledge of the art, and it is significant that the Egyptian word for fish preserving was the same as that used to denote the process of embalming the dead.”
—ibid (p. 79)

“For thousands of years the survival and power of a tribe or country depended on its stocks in grain. Harvesting, processing, and storing grain stocks was of huge importance, and war was declared only after harvest…One of the earliest records of large-scale food preserving was in ancient Egypt, where it was enourmously important to create adequate stocks of dried grain to insure against the failure of the Nile to flood seasonally. Huge quantities of grain were stored in sealed silo, where they could be kept for several years if necessary. Records from 2600 B.C. show that the annual flooding of the Nile produced surpluses of grain that were stored and kept to feed builders of irrigation schemes and pyramid tombs. The Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza was built around 2900 B.C. by slaves fed with stores of grain and chickpeas, onions, and garlic.”
—ibid (p. 51)

“Dried saltfish was part of a soldier’s rations. Roe from the mullet, a periodic visitor to the canals of the Nile, was also extracted during the drying process of the fish, to be pressed into large flat cakes and preserved.”
Food: A Culinary History, Jean-Louis Flandrin & Masimo Montanari [Columbia University Press:New York] 1999 (p. 42)

Authentic Ancient Egyptian Recipes

Egyptian Flat Bread
Makes about 8 pitta
500 g /1 1/2 lb spelt or other strong bread flour (brown or white)
1/2 tsp salt
7-g/ 1/3-oz sachet easy-blend dried yeast (1 packet)
300 ml /1/2 pint/ 1 1/2 cups tepid water (one-third boiling to two-thirds cold)
Mix the flour with the salt and yeast in a large bols. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. Gradually draw the flour into the water and mix to a soft dough. Knead by hand on a floured board for 15 minutes, or for 10 minutes in a food processor fitted with a dough hook. Pour a little oil into the bottom of a bowl, roll the dough in it and cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth or cling film. Put in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Remove the dough from the bowl and ‘knock back’ or punch it down. Knead it again for another 3-4 minutes, then cut into eight pieces. On a floured board, flatten out each piece into a round (about 5 mm / 1/2 inch thick) with your hand or a rolling pin. Transfer to a floured baking tray and bake in a preheated hot oven (220 degrees C/ 425 degrees F/ Gas mark 7) for 8-10 minutes. Do not open the oven door while the bread is baking. each bread should puff up, leaving a pocket in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack.”

Sesame Rings
Makes 2 rings
500 g /1 1/2 lb strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
7-g/ 1/3-oz sachet easy-blend dried yeast (1 packet)
300 ml/ 1/2 pint/ 1 1/2 cups tepid water (one-third boiling to two thirds cold)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
sesame seeds for sprinkling
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and oil and gradually draw in the flour. Knead on a floured board for 15 minutes, or for 10 minutes in a food processor fitted with a dough hook. Pour a little oil into a bowl, roll the dough in it and cover the bowl with a clean damp cloth or cling film. Put in a warm place for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Take the dough out of the bowl, ‘knock back’ or punch it down and knead again for a further 5 minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll each half into a sausage shape that you can form into a ring with a diameter of about 20 cm/ 8 in, about 5 cm/ 2 in thick. Lay the rings on an oiled baking tray. Bweat the egg wtih 2 tbsp water and glaze the tops of the rings. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and bake in a preheated hot oven (220 degrees C/ 425 degrees F/ Gas Mark 7) for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 150 degrees C/ 300 degrees F/ Gas Mark 23 for a further 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.”

Food Fit for Pharoahs: An Ancient Egyptian Cookbook, Michelle Berridale-Johnson [British Museum Press:London] 1999 (p. 61-62)