Sunday, December 27, 2015

Bradford Pear Wine!

You should be well acquainted with Bradford Pear trees. They are everywhere, and they smell awful in the spring. They are some of the most popular landscaping trees around. They are attractive, nicely shaped and resistant to most diseases. However the roots are shallow, the limbs are weak and a strong wind storm easily destroys older trees.  They were imported in 1910 from China and are generally sterile. However when they do produce and birds transport the seeds, the feral trees become great producers of tiny tart pears about the size of a cherry. You can pick them in September and early October.

The fruit is edible but needs the right recipe as it is very tart. There are not a lot of recipes since the tree is a recent addition to the US and was not widespread during the Great Depression when people would have experimented with it more. I like to try something new with it every year since it is widely available.  This year was wine and now a favorite! The flavor is sweet, strong, and tastes like pears. The primary fermenting container is a lidded glass container which is 2.5 gallons and was purchased at Walmart for about $12.  You can find it next to the canning jars.

Bradford Pear Wine Recipe


8 cups of Bradford Pears
2 gallons water
12 cups sugar
4 teaspoons loose tea
1 campden tablet
1 lime, sliced
1 teaspoon pectin enzyme
2 teaspoons yeast nutrient
1 pack of yeast (wine yeast is best but baking yeast works fine)

2 or 2.5 gallon lidded crock


Rinse pears and remove stems. In sections, crush pears by double bagging and using a rolling pin (or step on). Don't use a food processor. You do not want to break the seeds as it may make your wine bitter. Add to a two gallon lidded crock.

Boil 1 gallon of water and sugar.  Pour over crushed pears. Add tea. Add crushed campden tablet. Mix. Add sliced lime. Mix. If there is space in fermenting jar, add water from the other gallon of water until full. Mix.

Let sit over night (24 hours).

Add 1 teaspoon pectin enzyme and mix. Let sit for six hours.

Add yeast nutrient and yeast. Add lid and clear plastic wrap around lid to prevent anything from entering (a single fruit fly could destroy the entire batch). Occasionally stir. Let sit until bubbles subside.  Mine took about eight weeks and was quite strong. Rack wine to clean bottle(s). Rack again once it settles for clear wine.

For best results let wine age six months, though you can drink it at this point.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Hedge Apples (Osage Orange) as Medicine

Lately I have seen numerous references to the use of Hedge Apples as an effective treatment for cancer. I began to wonder, what would you do if someone you loved had cancer and something catastrophic occurred that caused the medical field/ economy to collapse? Or if traditional treatments did not work? So as an experiment, I trudged out to the trees in December to see the state of the hedge apples. While the exterior was beginning to brown in spots, the flesh was still firm and fragrant. I collected five to try dehydrating. After which I plan to grind into powder and add to my growing herbal collection. In the past, I have tried the seeds of the hedge apples (pretty good) so I left them in. Hedge apple flesh is not very tasty though not poisonous. However, if you have a latex allergy you may want to avoid them. They have gained a bad reputation because they tend to cause cattle or horses to choke. Squirrels really like them.

Some people freeze them whole and grate for a tablespoon twice per day while others dehydrate and turn into a powder which can be put into capsules. I am not recommending this as a treatment since I do not have personal information on it and I am not a medical doctor, but I do want to have it on hand if needed. I have found that I will forage something thinking it will never be needed or used only to realize its value and use later.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Crockpot Mustard Greens

Mustard greens, both wild and domestic, love cold weather. They are the last to die out in winter and some of the first to show up in spring. But what to do with them? Frying them in bacon grease is wonderful, I admit, but, honestly, bacon is expensive and I try to avoid more than two cooking steps. This recipe is great because you can use some of your home canned bone broth and once it is set up, you can leave it alone until done. Thus, it was a perfect Thanksgiving side dish!

Crockpot Mustard Greens


Grocery store bag stuffed with cut mustard, tough stems removed and torn to bite size pieces
1 large red onion chopped
1 hot pepper cut in half or 1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
1 smoked ham hock or smoked turkey part (drum, neck, etc.)
3 cups bone broth (chicken, turkey or ham)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper


Grease inside of 6 or 7 quart crockpot. Place smoked meat. Add mustard, pepper, onion and seasonings. Lightly toss. Pour broth over ingredients.

Cook on low for six hours. Remove hot pepper and meat part before serving (optional).