Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Flavored vinegars and ACV drink recipes

 In the Kitchen

I posted about making apple cider vinegar (ACV) last November.  Then, at the end of winter, I made a post about foraging for pine needles and making pine needle vinegar.  This led me to looking into other types of flavored vinegars that could be made.  Wow!  What a rabbit hole!  You can make a flavored vinegar with just about anything!  It is actually quite simple.  You put the item that you want to flavor in a jar, fill it up with vinegar and then let it sit about 6 weeks to infuse.  You can speed up the process by heating the vinegar.  I don't want to heat the vinegar because I am going to be using the apple cider vinegar that I make from our apples.  This vinegar is "alive" because I ferment it myself and I want to keep this product raw so that there are probiotics in the ACV which is good for your gut health, microbiome and digestion!
Let's take a step back and look again at apple cider vinegar.  Basically, it is acetic acid.  It is the result of fermenting yeast and bacteria with a food/drink item.  I use apples for the food item but there are lots of different vinegars.  Red wine, white wine, grapes (balsamic), and rice vinegars just to name a few.  Yeast turns the sugar in the food item into alcohol and then bacteria converts the alcohol to acetic acid.  Just to be clear, I am making ACV from our apple trees and then flavoring the ACV with plants we grow on the farm.  

ACV is all natural and can be used as a home remedy for many ailments.  But not everything you read on the internet is true about ACV.  What is the scientific evidence for the benefits of ACV?  These five proven benefits with sufficient scientific evidence are taken from the MedicineNet article 20 Benefits of drinking Apple Cider Vinegar:

1. Lower the blood glucose level: There is enough scientific evidence that ACV regulates the blood sugar level in diabetes; however, it shouldn’t replace the medications. Adding ACV as a part of an anti-diabetic diet may help to control the blood sugar level.

2. Weight loss: Researches have stated that ACV helps in weight management, lowering lipid levels, and prevents fat deposition around the organs.

3. Antibacterial: ACV has multiple antimicrobial properties on different microbial species, affecting its growth.

4. Boost skin health: ACV kills the bacteria and prevents the infection on the skin, thus helping in enhancing skin health.

5. ACV helps in detoxification of the body.
It is important to dilute ACV before consuming it.  Put 1-2 tablespoons of ACV in 1 cup of water.  ACV shouldn’t be directly applied to the skin as it can damage the skin.  I am drinking some of the pine needle vinegar in a glass of warm water this morning as I am finishing this blog post.  Make sure to use warm (not HOT) water or the hot water will kill the probiotics you are trying to consume.

Drinking straight ACV can be a little sour tasting. You can add a couple drops of sweetener to balance out the acidity. You can also add other ingredients to make a healthy drink.  Here is a great recipe for using ACV in a morning drink from NuVision

Apple Cider Vinegar Berry Lemonade

2 tbsp of berries (like strawberries) 
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice 
2 cups water

Place the berries in the bottom of your cup 

Add in your ACV, lemon juice, and sweetener if using. Fill the cup up with ice and add in enough water to fill the rest of the cup. Stir and enjoy! 

You can also add a few drops of raw honey or stevia if you prefer more sweetness in your drink. This drink is not only delicious, but the ingredients will also provide helpful benefits to start your day off right. Berries are low in calories, yet packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and other powerful nutrients and vitamins. These components will replenish your electrolytes, give your immune system a boost and the fiber will help you feel full by delaying the movement of food through your digestive tract. Along with the berries, lemon juice is another great addition to this beverage. Lemon juice has been shown to ease bloating, improve digestion, and even promote detoxification, which makes it a great option for a detox drink. Lemon juice contains helpful vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Consuming this drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will further promote these benefits. These ingredients make it a great apple cider vinegar recipe for weight loss, and overall health. 

Okay, let's get back to talking about flavored vinegars.  As I mentioned before, you can use almost anything to flavor vinegar...fruit, flowers, herbs, vegetables and a combination of these items!  I plan on experimenting with many different flavors this year.  I already started another batch of pine needle vinegar.  My chives are getting ready to flower and I am going to start some chive flower vinegar soon.  Also, I just made some rose petal jelly last week and I am thinking of making some rose petal vinegar now!  Here is a great website with some ideas for making 9 flavored vinegars.

How else can you use ACV?

* Use ACV as a substitute for plain vinegar in any cooking recipe

* Use ACV instead of lemon juice in homemade mayonnaise

* Homemade Broth – add a tablespoon of ACV to your bones to help get the minerals out

* Make salad dressing:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well. Store in the refrigerator. Just before serving, shake dressing again.

* Water Bath Canner or Steamer Juicer – I add a tablespoon of ACV to the water in my canner/juicer to keep the minerals from building up inside

* Fruit Fly Traps – I just pour some in a small dish and keep it near my composting container on my counter. I also add a couple drops of dish soap to the dish.

* Vinegar is an acid and is great for cleaning because it kills microorganisms

Homemade Natural Cleaning Products
Make your own all-purpose cleaner with one part water and one part ACV. Use it to clean hard surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, including countertops, hard water stains, and drains.

Daily Shower Cleaner
1.5 cups water
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1 teaspoon liquid dish soap (I like this kind– affiliate link)
15 drops lemon essential oil (these are my favorite essential oils ever)
15 drops melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil
Mix all the ingredients together in a quart-sized spray bottle.
Shake well, and spray onto shower surfaces every day after use.
Remember–this is designed as a maintenance spray, so I would suggest starting with a clean shower first. It won’t remove built-on grime by itself, it’ll just slow down the process.

Homemade Hair Rinses
After shampooing, just mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water, massage into your hair, and rinse off. It helps remove buildup, it also works as a natural detangler and general scalp revitalizer. Best not to use this hair rinse if you have color treated hair.

Foot Soak
Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and warm water with a tablespoon of Epsom salt. Soak your feet in the bath for 20 minutes. After soaking, rinse off feet and coat your feet in a hydrating cream, put on a pair of socks, and let the lotion sit on them overnight.

Have an eggcellent week!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Spring 2022 update and phenology...Joshua graduating from high school this week!

 On the Farm

Just going to do a little update about what is happening on the farm...mostly planting!  We have had an unseasonably cold spring this year.  It has delayed planting of pretty much everything until the past couple of weeks.  I remember in past years planting in April and just crossing my fingers that everything would be okay but I didn't dare do that this year.  As soon as it looked like there were no freezing temps in the 10 day forecast, I started planting.  

Here is a pic of something new I am trying this year...Pink Celery!  Celery is actually pretty easy to grow and I have grown regular old green celery for several years.  I have canned my own cream of celery soup to use in casseroles the past couple years.  I saw the seed for this pink celery and decided to give it a try...so cute!
The geese are doing great!  Can you believe they are only 7 weeks old!  They only have a few baby feathers left on their necks.  They are learning how to go into their mobile coop at night and come out in the morning.  Golly the Gander is really good at going in at night now.  The first few nights I had to catch them and put them in but now they walk up the ramp themselves.
They love their pool but it is a little small for them.  I have a bigger pool to get out but just haven't found the time to drag it out of the barn.
The apple trees finally started blooming a couple weeks ago and the bees are out.  All 3 of our hives made it through the winter.  This is pretty amazing.  I really was just hoping at least 1 would make it.  Most of the time you can expect about half of your hives to not make it through the winter.
I moved the worms out to their summer home...the bathtub that we converted to a worm bin.  They will stay out here until the freezing weather returns.  I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of worms that I had in my bin in the house...
They will love it in the bathtub and will have lots of room to expand and grow.  I love the vermicompost that I can collect at the end of the season.
I have been working on expanding the flower farm.  I got the weed mat down and burned holes in it.  I did get some flowers planted but still have about half of it to go...


I find phenology fascinating and I always think that I am going to follow this advice but then life happens and I just get so busy and want to get it all planted!  One aspect of phenology is looking to (mostly perennial) plants to give you cues as to when to plant your garden.  In a broader sense, phenology also encompasses bird migration, fall leaf color, insect emergence, etc...

Taken from almanac.com:
"Phenology is the study of cyclical natural phenomena and events—from bud burst to bird migration—and then letting nature’s timing help you understand when to plant and harvest. Native and ornamental plants act as nature’s “alarm clock” by signaling that temperatures and precipitation are optimal for planting.

Since average frost dates are just an estimate, observing the plant and animal activity can be very helpful. While not totally foolproof, following nature’s clock helps us tune in to the rhythm of life around us."

Here are some examples...sorry, not the best quality pic but I think you can read it if you make it larger...

When I asked Henry if he knew about phenology he said he did and gave me this example:  it is time to put out a preemergence herbicide for crabgrass when the forsythia bloom.  I had heard earlier this spring that it is time to hunt for morels after you have cut your grass 2 times.  

Do you use any phenology when you plant your garden?

Have an eggcellent day!

Joshua is graduating from high school on Wednesday!