The first time I made chimichurri was out of necessity – I had harvested handfuls of gorgeous Italian parsley, and after drying some, freezing some, and making a lot into parsley pesto, I had to do something else with what was leftover. A quick search…
I love combining rose with cardamom – it is a lovely Middle Eastern combination and puts me in mind of all the exotic places I visit \vicariously through the internet and travel books. Actually, the first time I combined these particular flavours, it was when…
Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter definitely has come a-knocking… And with it, I’m already seeing an upsurge of colds and flu all around. Luckily, I’ve come into the season fully prepared – beating cold with hot! Ice with Fire! Fire Cider Tonic, to be exact.
This tonic brew is also known as Cyclone Cider, or Master Tonic, and is a folk medicine of old, made popular again by herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar in the 1970s (and when using the actual name “Fire Cider” in commercial settings, it is also the center of huge trademark disputes… which I don’t really want to go into, suffice to say it is a cider based tonic and it is fiery).
Essentially it is simply an infused vinegar packed with herbs and spices to make it a powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and circulatory tonic.
There are quite a few variations on the original recipe, and it is easily adaptable to what you have on hand, and the quantities used are also not set in stone – adjust it to your tastes, your heat level tolerance, and the ingredients you have easy access to. Keep in mind though, the healing properties, and the interactions between all the different herbs and spices.
This is my go-to for a traditional tonic, and a good base to start from:
- Raw, unpasteurized (with the “mother”) apple cider vinegar
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 heads garlic, chopped
- 1 organic lemon with peel, sliced
- ¼ – ½ cup fresh ginger root, chopped
- ¼ – ½ cup fresh turmeric root, chopped
- ½ cup fresh horseradish root, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh thyme and parsley, chopped
- Some black peppercorns
- A few fresh cayenne or jalapeño peppers
- Honey to taste
As I mentioned, the above ingredients make a good base, but you can be quite flexible – add different fresh herbs, e.g. rosemary, oregano, or even lemon balm or nasturtium leaves. Dried herbs and roots like elderberries, cinnamon sticks or Echinacea root can also be beneficial in the tonic.
- Place all the herbs and spices in a 2 liter jar, and cover with raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Be sure to cover the herbs by at least few mm, then cut a square of parchment or wax paper and cover the jar before tightly capping it.
- Store in a warm (but not full sun) place for a few weeks, shaking the jar daily.
- After three weeks, your tonic is ready, but it can sit for a few more weeks to get really potent. Some herbalists let it steep for months before straining.
- Strain the herbs and roots out (you can use the pulp and dry it in a dehydrator, and powder it to use like a spicy condiment sprinkle on soups etc.)
- Add warmed raw honey to taste (around a 1/3 cup is good), mix thoroughly, and bottle.
Although it doesn’t strictly have to be refrigerated, I like to keep my cool.
Using your tonic
Take a tablespoon a day as a preventative, or when fighting an infection, you can up the dose to 2-3 tablespoons twice a day. There’s a lot of interesting ideas on how else to use it, although I’ve not tried any of them – make a salad dressing with the tonic as a base, add to herbal teas, or juices, and I’ve even read that someone used it as an analgesic rub for sore joints!
Ingredients Base: 1 packet biscuits (I used Tennis Biscuits from South Africa, Coconut Based) 115g butter, melted Filling: 500g cream cheese (2 tubs) 100g caster sugar 100ml sour cream 1.5tbsp cake flour 2 large eggs 1 egg yolk 1 tsp vanilla extract with seeds 50ml…
The cherry tomatoes are dripping fruit… and it’s a race to get to them before the birds do! But what to do with all of them once they are picked? I’ve done dehydrator “sundried” cherry tomatoes, and of course, we snack on them constantly, but still I had more than 3kg picked the other day!
Then I found Pickled Cherry Tomatoes, and I’m in love – I enjoy almost any kind of pickle in any way, and it really looked like the most beautiful way to preserve a harvest of mixed cherry tomatoes! So this is what I’ve done, and having tried one a few days after the initial bottling, can say that I’m super happy I gave this somewhat unconventional way of preserving tomatoes, a go – delicious!
Easy peasy too!
The recipe below made about 7 (400ml) jars
- 2kg ripe cherry tomatoes, washed and pricked with a toothpick *
- 5 cups of cider vinegar
- 5 cups of water
- 3 Tbsp sugar (can be more if you like it sweeter)
- 5 tsp Kosher salt **
- 2ml peppercorns per bottle/jar
- 1 clove garlic per bottle/jar
- chillies (optional)
- basil leaves (optional)
- To make the brine, heat the cider, water, salt and sugar in a pot until all the granules have dissolved.
- Put half a teaspoon (about 2ml) of black peppercorns and a clove of garlic in each sterilised jar.
- Pack in the washed and pricked cherry tomatoes.
- Pour over the brine.
- Let cool slightly, tapping the sides so all the air bubbles can escape, seal and store in the refrigerator.
According tot he original recipe, this will keep for about 2 months in the fridge, or if you go ahead and can it properly with a waterbath, may last a couple of years.
How to use your pickled tomatoes
Once I posted this on social media, people were intrigued about how to use it – I’d say they are best just liek that as a snack out the jar! Or tossed into salads in winter when fresh tomatoes are too expensive! Halve them and add them to pastas with olives and garlic and herbs… or as a side for a cheese plate…
* This helps the flavour permeate the cherry tomato, and helps them sink into the brine too.
** I only had pink Himalayan salt, and it worked beautifully for taste, but did cloud up the pickles a bit.