Sunday, October 25, 2015

Honey Locust Coffee

I love coffee. A lot. In the world of foraging there is a constant search for a coffee like substitute. It appears I am not the only one with a coffee addiction. Coffee beans are not commonly grown in North America so finding a substitute is a national quest. Wild edibles that have been frequently used are dandelion root, chickory root, white avens roots, and honey locust seeds from the long pods. Just as an aside, the only plant I have found to grow in North America that produces actual caffeine in a substantial amount is the Yaupon Holly.

Recently, a foraging friend online, Peter Gussie, experimented with using Honey Locust pod seeds as a form of coffee bean. He graciously allowed me to share his experience.

He collected a grocery store bag's worth of Honey Locust pods which produced about 3/4 cup of seeds.

He roasted them in a cast iron skillet for 15 minutes.

The "beans" were not uniform in size so some cooked darker than others.

The final brewed batch tasted more like Earl Grey tea than coffee, but good, nonetheless. You can definitely pick up a little sweetness from the beans.

Thanks Peter Gussie for the review!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Spiced Pickled Cantaloupe

This week our local grocery store had their cantaloupes for .25 each! So how do you preserve an abundance of cantaloupe? You can cube and freeze for smoothies or you can can them. Here is a great recipe that would make an excellent side dish.

Spiced Pickled Cantaloupe

8 firm cantaloupes, cubed
2 cupes pickling lime
8 1/2 quarts water

6 cups white wine vinegar
6 cups water
24 cups sugar (3 - 4 lb bags)
2 T powdered cloves
2 T ground allspice
2 T ground ginger

In a five gallon food grade bucket, mix pickling lime and water. Add cantaloupe. Allow to sit over night. Cantaloupe will become crunchy.

Day 2: Drain and rinse until clear. Fill with water and let sit for three hours.

Bring vinegar, water, sugar, cloves, allspice and ginger to boil in large pot (I used my second waterbath canner). Drain cantaloupe and add to boiling syrup. Boil for 1 hour.

Meanwhile begin your waterbath canner and prepare 16 to 18 pint jars.

Add a peppercorn to each jar. Fill with cantaloupe mixture and seal. Waterbath for 15 minutes.

Honey Locust Persimmon Beer!

Wild persimmons, green apples and honey locust pods.
Honey locust beer recipes can be found in several antique reference books. I wanted to give it a try just to see how it would turn out. I have made wine many times but never beer. It turned out to be easy and produced a beer that resembles a dark fall-flavored specialty variety. I will definitely do it again in the future.  Here is the original recipe:

Honey Locust Persimmon Beer Recipe


Long black Honey Locust pods
Ripened persimmons or sliced apples
2 cups molasses or honey


Break pods into pieces.  Place layer in keg or crock.  Add persimmons or apples. Cover with boiling water. Add sweetener, let stand at least four days before using.

My notes: It was dilemma as whether to wash the pods or not since I was concerned for the natural yeast. Thus, I only washed the pods that really looked dirty to me (about half, lol). It turns out not to make a difference since I had to add yeast anyway. So in the future I would wash all the pods off.

Also, I used a two gallon crock/container. I alternated the layers with ingredients. I used a grocery store bag full of locust pods, a handfuls of persimmons, and three lbs of green apples.  I used molasses and added two teaspoons of Redstar yeast. I mixed the molasses and hot water together before adding to the fruit to distribute it evenly.  To add the yeast, I removed some of the liquid on day three since natural fermenting was not happening, warmed it slightly and mixed in the yeast. Then I returned it to the crock. It fermented for twelve days before bottling.

Broken honey locust pods.

Persimmon layer.

Sweet honey locust pulp.

Layers of ingredients.

On day three there was no fermentation so two teaspoons of yeast was added. It came to life on day four!

Day twelve fermenting had gone quiet.

Day twelve and ready to move to bottles.

Beer with carbonation!

Moving to bottles with great flavor and nice bubbles!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Go Get Your Nuts!

It's nut gathering season in Tennessee! What's your favorite nut recipe?
Black Walnuts, make a tincture with the hull and enjoy the nut!
Sawtooth Oak Acorns - makes a great flour, especially used in crusts.