The O-town Scene

December 6, 2012

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Pure & Simple Pure & Simple features recipes by Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower, registered nurse and herbalist. She looks to introduce the community to the importance and bounty of nature. Wild Woodland Yule Jellies Just returned from visiting an herbal colleague and friend Betty Pillsbury at Huntersland, Middleburg, to pick up bear fat her son saved for me from one of his hunts (and that's another story, for another time … possibly for deep winter wandering glimpse at animal medicine). While in Betty's country kitchen with some of her prized quilting possessions — which is Betty's other passion, quilting — I asked if she had any dried rose hips that I could purchase from her as I was hoping to make some rose hip jelly for Christmas gifts. Though Betty had none dried, she noted she did have a few still fresh and bright red on the bushes out back. So we took a stroll through her raised beds and arbor like fences and went to pick a few. It was a pleasant full morning since the weather was gentle, with little wind, mid 50s temperature a fine misty rain and great talk. Thank you, Betty, I can't wait to try this in a day or two. But will get to them quickly as I know they could decompose quickly. One does not often find a rose hip jelly on the store shelves. Or I don't think we ever see a jelly prepared with pine needles or birch bark. So have some fun this Christmas if you dare to cause a fine little stir among your relatives and friends. My father-in-law always comes to holiday gatherings searching for the unusual food I may be serving each year. He first samples a bit before digging in, and, always with a cute smirk on his face. Remember, rose hips can be exchanged with white pine needles, birch bark twigs, chamomile or fennel seeds. Though if you do venture out to try birch, harvest in the following three very important ways. First: bring a well-educated person with you to identify what it is you are harvesting. Two: trim the tree branch tips. Don't cut away at the tree trunk at all, ever. This will open up the tree for infection and in certain circumstances, may slowly kill the tree over time. Clip only the last 12 inches or so of the branch tips where the buds have formed. Cut up into small ½-inch pieces. And three: give thanks for your harvest, to the tree and to Nature elementals. All are in direct balance for their health, our health and our environments. And surely, enjoy birch's sweet aromatic wintergreen flavor. Ingredients 3 cups rose hips, dried or 4 cups fresh (white pine needles or birch, use – 2 cups fresh) 10 O-Town Scene Dec. 6, 2012 5 cups granulated sugar 1 package of powdered pectin 4½ cups of water Prepare rose hips tea Boil 4½ cups water, remove from heat Add the 3 cups rose hips, cover with a lid and let sit for 2 hours Strain out rose hips and compost Set this rose hip tea aside Preparing for the jelly making Sterilize canning jars and prepare lids, which if you're unsure about how to do, I'd suggest you contact your Cooperative Extension or ask someone in the know how to do before starting this. Measure out the 5 cups of sugar and set aside. Jelly-making process After rose hip tea has cooled, add pectin powder to this and stir until dissolved well. Place on pot high heat and stir constantly, bringing to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. (Note: adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter to this helps reduce foaming.) At once stir in sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil again and then boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the pot from the heat and quickly skim off foam. Immediately pour rose hip jelly into sterilized hot canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe jar rims with a clean wet cloth (not from your sink, a fresh cleaned one that hasn't been used yet). Add prepared (boiled) two-piece lids. Process the jellies for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Remove from hot water bath. Allow to cool at room temp. Label with contents and date. Store in cool basement or root cellar until use. The jelly does not need to be refrigerated and has a oneyear shelf life when preserved. Remember, this above recipe can be exchanged with white pine needles (fresh), birch twigs (fresh), even chamomile (dried) or fennel seed (dried). Yule Tide Blessings and a Happy New Year. If you have any thoughts on this or other recipes that I've shared here, share them by emailing Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower at Rose hips, above, and white pine needles, left, can be used to make jellies for the holiday season and the rest of the year. Contributed

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