3 Forgotten Ways The Pioneers Built Fires Without Wood

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3 Forgotten Ways The Pioneers Made Fires Without Wood

Image source: Library of Congress

I’m fortunate to call the windswept prairie of the Great Plains my home. If you get out of farm country, it’s just grass as far as you can see. In fact, there are still places nearly unchanged since pioneers first tried settling this area more than 100 years ago.

Although quiet and expansive, there are real challenges to living in the plains. This rings especially true for a person who pursues knowledge in woodcraft. One of the biggest barriers to settling the plains was the lack of timber. Historically, people all around the world have overwhelmingly depended on wood as a natural construction material. The lack of trees on the prairie was one of the biggest obstacles pioneers faced when they looked into the Great American Desert. Wood was, and is, such a central part of our life, especially when forging a living from the land. Lack of timber seemed to make settlement nearly impossible.

While most Americans during the mid-19th century looked at the prairie as an inhospitable land, there were already people living happily in this treeless expanse. An array of Native American societies were established, each developing strategies for living a life that depend on wood as little as possible. Adventurous mountain men and explorers had also learned these lessons the hard way. They, too, knew how to survive in a land devoid of such a pivotal resource. One thing everyone on the plains had to know was how to build a fire without using wood as a fire fuel.

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Even today, we can take a page from their book and remember there are other excellent fire fuels besides wood. Here are three examples of resources you can burn when heavy timber may be in short supply:

1. Buffalo chips/cattle manure

Buffalo chips is a reference to the dried manure of buffalo that once dotted our grasslands. Once dubbed as “Plains oak”, buffalo chips were widely used as fire fuel for generations on the plains. When cattle were brought north, their manure also was collected for the same purpose. Both sources were a very common source of fuel, and actually offered several advantages to wood fires. For starters, in such a dry environment, buffalo chips don’t throw sparks like wood fires tend to do. Manure fuels smolder more than they actually burn. The smoldering actually helps control the fire, rather than constantly setting the prairie ablaze.

3 Forgotten Ways The Pioneers Made Fires Without Wood

Image source: Pixabay.com

This smoldering characteristic also made buffalo chips ideal for burning in tipis and other natural shelters. Another advantage of using a fuel “cut by the cows” was the saved labor. Rather than spending hours cutting and splitting wood, people living on the plains simply gathered and stacked the chips. In a region so difficult to make a living, this saved labor would have been nice.

2. Woody shrubs

Although there is a lack of trees on the Great Plains, there are locations with an abundance of woody shrubs. Most prolific in my area are sagebrush and yucca. At times, these sources of fuel came in especially handy. One mountain man, Osborne Russell, kept a journal of his experience depending on sagebrush for fire.

Russell and a few companion’s horses had been run off, and the group was on foot. Back in those days, being afoot on the prairie was akin to a death sentence. They headed for an army fort they that lay across a sagebrush sea more than a week’s march. While making their way across the barren land, they carried little more than their rifles and basic gear. No blankets, no food, and none of the small comforts their rough lives knew. As they traveled, they shot buffalo when they came upon them and used the hides to sleep on. While caught in his sagebrush sea, a mix of rain and snow moved in upon the group. Russell’s account of the incident leaves no debate that the trip was miserable. After many, many cold and wet miles, the group finally safely walked into an army fort and survived the ordeal.

Along the way, though, the group needed to build a fire each day. With no wood in sight, they turned to a nearly endless source of fuel in the sagebrush. Russell noted that at times these fires consisted of no fuel larger than thumb size. Needless to say, it kept them alive in poor conditions.

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Sage and other woody shrubs should not be overlooked for their potential as a fuel source. As with buffalo chips, small shrubs offer the advantage of keeping a fire small. Again, in a place that is so dry and windy, keeping your fire small is important. An old mountain man adage was “the bigger the fire, the bigger the fool.” By keeping the fire small, they not only limited the chance of spreading fire, but they saved labor and decreased their chances of being seen by those who meant to do them harm.

3. Animal fat

A final alternative fire fuel people utilized is animal fat. In the past, animals like bear provided not only meat for the larder, but fire fuel, such as for burning lamps. If the pioneers or Native Americans happened to be in an area devoid of animal manure or shrubs, fat would have been a viable option.

In my own experience, I’ve used raccoon fat as a fuel source while building a campfire. I can testify to its ability to put out some heat. A word of caution, though: Unlike the previously mentioned fuels, fat burns extremely hot and very fast. Just toss a bit of raccoon fat on the fire and step back. It is best used in small amounts; otherwise your fire could easily get out of control. Have a bucket of dirt on hand. (With a grease fire, water only would heighten the problem.)

Do you have any fire-starting advice? Share your tips in the section below:

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Five Emergency Toothache Remedies From Wild Plants

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tooth_ache_remedy_featured

tooth_ache_painThe crippling pain of a toothache can occur at inconvenient times – perhaps when far from your dentist or even your emergency first aid kit.  Because of the potentially intense pain and potentially critical health concerns associated with a tooth infection, wild herbs to treat toothache is an important category of medicinals to become familiar with in preparation for emergencies in the bush.

By Nathaniel Whitmore a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache

In my previous article Five Best DIY Toothache Remedies I mentioned three herbal remedies (the other two were oil pulling and shiatsu / acupressure).  Of the three, only one related to herbs common in the wild in North America.  I chose to focus on Barberry (Berberis spp.),  though it is a representative of the group – the berberine-containing antimicrobials.  Others include Goldthread (Coptis spp.) and Oregon Grape Root (formerly Berberis but now Mahonia aquifolium).  These and the other berberine-containing antimicrobials are great toothache remedies, and will be discussed in detail below.  The other two remedies in that article, though “natural”, won’t be easily found in the North American forests.  Clove is from Indonesia, and besides it is typically the essential oil that is used for toothaches.  Toothache Plant (Spilanthes spp.) is largely of the tropics.  It can be grown here (quite easily, actually), but I do not know it in the wild of even the warm locations I have been to in North America.  So, what other toothache remedies do we have around?

Berberine-Containing Antimicrobials

Lately, I have been focusing on Barberry (Berberis spp.) in regards to this group.  It is a common invasive where I live (I harvest it regularly as part of maintaining my property in New York state).  It also has the genus name that is the source of the name “berberine” – for the constituent that gives the roots of these plants a yellow color and strong medicinal properties.  Plus, for many years Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) has been in the spotlight to the point that this native plant has been overharvested.  There are different virtues to the various berberine-containing species.  For instance, Goldenseal roots are fleshy and are therefore easier to harvest and process than the woody roots of the prickly shrub Barberry.  For this reason, Goldenseal is a good herb to grow if you don’t have it locally abundant in the wild.  In the bush, it is basically a matter of finding whatever species you can.

Related: Five Best DIY Toothache Remedies

oregon_grape_forageBarberry species are common in some areas (often invasive).  Once harvested, the inner bark can be scraped off the root.  It can be packed directly onto the tooth or into the cavity.  Oregon Grape Root, also being shrubby (though small), is similar (See image – the root bark is scraped, showing the yellow inner bark.  Also take note of the bowl full of edible berries.  These pictures were taken in Montana.)  Goldthread is so-named because the rhizomes are thin and string-like.  The Chinese species used in medicine is much more fleshy.  Goldenseal is fleshy and can be easily chopped for making tinctures or chewed on for direct treatment of toothache.  Chinese medicine also utilizes a species of Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) with berberine-containing roots.

Phellodendron is another berberine-containing herb commonly used in Chinese medicine.  Often the three Phellodendron (Huang Bai), Goldthread (Huang Lian), and Skullcap (Huang Qin) are used together, perhaps with other non-berberine-containing “yellows” like Astragalus.  Many websites claim that the medicinal actions of berberine are unverified.  (Who knows if it is really berberine that is the main active constituent anyway?  And certainly each herb has countless active chemical constituents.)  However, the berberine-containing herbs from all over the world make up one of the best examples of verification in herbal medicine from different parts of the world.  To the best of my knowledge, all cultures that had access to yellow, berberine-containing roots figured out their medicinal uses.

barberry_tooth_ache_remedyIn addition to a distinct and very useful antimicrobial activity, Barberry and these other herbs are very good for stimulating the liver and gallbladder (take note, for gallbladder attacks are another medical emergency worth preparing for and herbal remedies can be very useful).  They are the quintessential bitter, “heat-clearing” herbs.  The bitter taste indicates cooling, cleansing actions.  “Heat-clearing” refers to the antimicrobial and antiinflammatory properties.  These herbs are often the best antibiotics around.  However, because of their strong bitter taste people generally don’t want to use them.  Plus, as with all herbs of powerful effect, there are some cautions and contraindications.

Regarding products available for sale, tincture can be quite useful to treat toothaches.  Perhaps, ideal is powder.  Powdered Goldenseal is often available.  Because of overharvest of native wild stands it is generally best to buy powder made from (organically) cultivated roots rather than from wildcrafted stock.  I would discourage it altogether, except that it really does work like a charm.  Very good to know about.  The powder can be applied directly to the trouble area.  It is also possible to tuck dried material into the gums near the affected tooth.  For instance, a Chinatown apothecary would likely have slices of Huang Lian that could be placed right between the cheek and gum.  Whether from the wild or from the store “chewing” these roots (like tobacco – chewed a little and tucked into the cheek) is a great way to keep the medicine local.

Echinacea

echinacea_cone_flowerConeflower (Echinacea spp. – the genus name is also used as the common name) is one of the best-known herbal remedies, made famous right alongside Goldenseal in the simple American formula Echinacea / Goldenseal that used to be the quintessential herbal antibiotic formula.  Unfortunately, many of the Echinacea products on the market are basically worthless due to the fact that Echinacea has a short shelf life as a dried herb.  Best products, in general, are tinctures made from the fresh root, flower, or seed (the leaf and stem are less potent).  The dried material does hold up for a little while, but not long.  

If you happen to live in an area where Echinacea grows wild, or if you find some in a flower garden, you can simply pick it fresh to chew on it.  If the cone part of the flower is still fresh, you can cut into it to and remove the center for use.  You can also unearth a piece of the root.  It is easy to figure out which part is most potent by chewing on it.  Echinacea, like Toothache Plant (Spilanthes spp.), creates a distinct tingling sensation on the lips, tongue, or whatever part of your mouth it touches.  It also encourages saliva production.  The more you tingle and salvate, the better.  It indicates medicinal potency.  It also numbs the ache.  You can also compare different species by taste.  

Prickly Ash

zanthoxylum_americanumSpecies of Zanthoxylum also have a tendency to produce saliva and a sensation that helps relieve pain.  In this way, it is very much like Echinacea and Toothache Plant.  Sometimes, Zanthoxylum is known at “Toothache Tree”.  The name Prickly Ash is in reference to the pinnately compound leaves, which are similar to Ash (Fraxinus spp.).  Prickly Ash and Ash are not very closely related. There are many species.  I am not sure how all their medicinal properties compare,  If you live near them or are travelling through an area where they grow.  It is worth getting to know them.  You might even find a toothpick, as the name Prickly is not in vain!  The bark is the main part used.  It is available through herb shops as well as in the wild.

Calamus

acorus_calamus_sweet_flagCalamus, or Sweet Flag, (Acorus spp.) is another very interesting medicinal plant.  Like the berberine-containing herbs, the medicinal virtues of Calamus have been verified by many cultures all over the world.  It has been a major medicinal of European and Chinese herbal traditions and has been among the most revered herbs of Ayurveda (the ancient healing tradition of India) and Native American medicine.  Several Native tribes have used Calamus for toothaches.  Moerman (Native American Ethnobotany) lists that the Blackfoot, Chippewa, Cree, Creek, Mahuna, Okanagan, Paiute, Saanich, Shoshoni, and Thomson used Calamus as a toothache remedy.

Read Also: Tree Bark as an Emergency Food 

Unfortunately, one of the main side-effects of Calamus that is relatively common is that it can cause or exacerbate heartburn.  This clashes a bit with the chewing method of administration I have been promoting for the treatment of toothache.  Perhaps, for mild toothaches a small amount of Calamus would be beneficial and tolerated by most.  But with higher doses, such as one with an intense toothache might be driven towards, there will be a higher rate of intolerance.  Try a little first.

Calamus has many benefits, mostly relating to its pungent, aromatic, and somewhat bitter flavor.  It stimulates digestion, opens the lungs, and benefits the mind.  Native people have traditionally used it to help with concentration and as a stimulant when travelling or for ceremonial dance.  Likewise, yogic and Taoist traditions have used Calamus for the mind.  It is a primary remedy for lung congestion.

The name Sweet Flag is because it looks similar to Iris (the leaves- not the flower), which can be called Blue Flag or Yellow Flag, etc. (according to the flower color).  “Sweet” because it smells nice (such as when walked on), not because it tastes sweet.  If you happen to walk on it, there is a good chance your feet will be wet, as it mostly grows in swampy conditions.  It is also called “Swamp Root”.

Spruce

spruce_tree_tooth_acheSpruce (Picea spp.) and its evergreen relatives are readily available toothache remedies.  I mention Spruce as the representative genus here because they tend to be pitchy and seemed to have been favored by Natives for toothaches.  The pitch is antimicrobial, pain relieving, and can be applied directly to the trouble area.  It can also be used to pack a cavity to fight infection and close the hole.  Cedar, Pine, Hemlock, Fir, and Juniper can likewise be used.  The needles and inner bark are also medicinal.     

Barberry Photo Courtesy of:

anneheathen

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The Best Shrubs To Grow For Privacy

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The Best Shrubs To Grow For Privacy If you live a little too close to your neighbor and you are on a tight budget or maybe don’t want a 6 foot plain old fence, there are many other options available for you in the form of shrubs. Shrubs can grow quickly, they can get very …

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Secret Gardening: How To Hide Your Food In Plain Sight

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How To Plant A ‘Camo Garden’ No One Will Ever Find

Image source: Pixabay.com

You’ve been gardening for years, and have mastered the art of growing food on your homestead. You do it organically, without using commercial pesticides and fertilizers. You save your own seeds, can your own produce, and are practically self-sufficient.

But in the event of a local or nationwide disaster that closes stores and causes people to become desperate, how are you going to protect your garden from potential thieves? Sure you could be generous and help a number of people for a while, but you can’t possibly feed each every individual that shows up at your door every time.

If you want to play it safe and make your garden “invisible” from unwanted elements, turn it into a “secret garden” with planting guilds.

A guild is a design principle in permaculture that groups assorted plants together, usually in a circle, surrounding a central plant. Each plant is carefully chosen to complement the others, ensuring each other’s growth. Like forests, guilds mimic the wilderness by having multiple layers of diverse vegetation: trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, root crops, ground cover, and even animals, insects and beneficial microorganisms. All of these work together to meet the four basic needs of plants: food (mostly in the form of nitrogen), mulch, pollination and protection. A guild is an ecosystem in itself, with different members in symbiotic relationship with one another. On a larger scale, a forest garden, also known as a “food forest,” is a great example of a guild.

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I first heard about guilds after watching a video of renowned natural farmer Sepp Holzer, who grew a food forest in the mountains of Austria. He cultivated a sundry mix of fruits, flowers, legumes, corn, buckwheat, herbs and spices, pumpkins, salad greens, medicinal plants and different kinds of root crops all across his acreage. He didn’t plant them in neat rows, but scattered seeds at random and just let nature do its course. Guild-planting, he says, makes the garden so much more dynamic, abundant and efficient. In fact, the yield in his food forest in the Appalachians is five times more than it would be if he did traditional row gardening.

How To Plant A ‘Camo Garden’ No One Will Ever FindThe benefits of guilds are undeniable: less or practically no irrigation, no mulching, no commercial pesticides and fertilizers and, ultimately, minimal maintenance. You get high yields from a very small space. And, because food forests look like a wild, untended, neglected hodge-podge of overgrown bush, nobody will think it’s a virtual paradise brimming with food! Even animals and pests would have a hard time fighting an array of repellents to get through to your goods.

Here are the different layers to plant in a guild:

1. Trees. In a guild, the trees are strong, deep-rooted plants that reach deep under the ground to absorb minerals and bring them up to the surface. They’re the canopy layer, dominating but not saturating the surrounding plants. They provide shelter for smaller trees and shrubs, beneficial animals and insects. The trees grown in the center of guilds are normally fruit or nut trees. In the northern states, they’re most likely apples, pears, cherries, plums and figs; in the subtropics, citruses like oranges, limes and lemons.

2. Shrubs. Shrubs provide a windbreak to reduce stress on your central tree. They can be low or understory fruit trees like bananas and papayas, stalks like corn, various woody perennials and most berry bushes. Comfrey, borage and dandelion are good because they’re “miners” – they collect nutrients from the soil, store it in their leaves and feed it to surrounding plants when they shed their leaves. You can also chop-and-drop them to use as green manure.

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 3. Vines. Vines make up the vertical layer that climb up the central and understory trees. They need little soil and ground space to thrive, but they require physical support from stronger plants beside them. Vines provide much food in less space, not just for humans but also for surrounding plants since they are nitrogen-fixers – they absorb nitrogen from the air and make them bio-available for surroundings plants. Examples of good leguminous vines are lima and runner beans. Annual climbers that seed themselves easily are gourds like cucumbers and squashes. Other edible vines are honeysuckle, jasmine, bramble, passionflower and of course, grapes.

4. Herbs and flowers. Herbs and flowers protect the fruits and nuts in your guild. Spices like peppers and herbs from the allium family like chives and onions ward off harmful insects. Even mice are said to be repelled by chives. On the other hand, fennel and dill attract wasps that prey on those harmful insects. Flowers, for their part, mostly attract pollinators, but certain ones draw predator insects: those from the daisy family, the Umbelliferae family when flowering (carrots, parsley, celery), yarrow and allysum. Marigolds, nasturtiums, lavender, tansy, elderberry, wormwood and peppermint geraniums are known pest repellents, while daffodils are said to keep deer at bay.

The thing to remember is that pests are attracted through sight and smell. Having an assortment of flowers, whether pungent-smelling or aromatic, will give mixed signals and confuse them. Other plants that can protect your guild from bigger animals and unwanted folks are thorny ones like cacti and osage orange.

How To Plant A ‘Camo Garden’ No One Will Ever FindSpeaking of protection, try attracting beneficial animals, too, like frogs, lizards and birds, or keep ducks or guinea fowl to control slugs. They’re natural predators. Put up birdhouses or consider building a pond to help attract these garden friends. The key is to simulate a balanced natural ecosystem so the different elements can regulate each other’s growth.

5. Ground cover – Ground cover plants protect the soil around the guild from too much sun, and reduce erosion during heavy rains and strong winds. They are your living mulch, building the soil while smothering unwanted weeds. They hold moisture and nutrients in the soil, keeping beneficial microorganisms underneath happy. They are usually in the form of grasses, legumes and brassicas. Ground covers that are wonderful nitrogen-fixers are comfrey, alfalfa, hairy vetch, field peas, soybeans and clovers. Other great edible cover crops are oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, canola, flax, rapeseed, spelt, spinach, mustards, strawberries, globe artichokes, parsnips, radishes, fava beans, fenugreek, chamomile, nasturtiums, elderberry, dandelions, sunflower and chicory.

6. Rhizomes — These are root crops that are diligent diggers:  white and sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, yams, daikon radish, and edible tubers like turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, cassava and yacon. They loosen compacted soil, make it soft, and mine nutrients underground. In the level which they belong to, called the rhizosphere, permaculturists like to include beneficial organisms like worms, insects and fungi.

For a comprehensive list of edibles you can plant in your food forest, click here.

As you can expect, you’ll have to prioritize growing perennials so you won’t have to sow and pull out parts of your garden year after year. Use open-pollinated heirloom seeds, and just let them go to seed to replenish themselves. And remember: The more diversity you have, the greater the variety and nutrients on your plate … and, the more confusion and camouflage you’ll create for both pests and people.

What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Shrubs: The Easy, Long-Forgotten Health Drink American Colonists Loved

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Image source: Lili.farm

Shrubs: The Easy, Long-Forgotten Health Drink American Colonists Loved

Certain food trends bring you back to the phrase, “Everything old is new again.” Bee keeping, backyard chickens, whole foods and local foods have become downright trendy.

Of course, those who are homesteaders and “do-it-yourselfers” know that many of the old ways are the best ways.

Shrubs or vinegar-based fruit juices are no exception. While today they pepper gourmet magazines and food websites, they were alluded to in the Bible, have roots in many places across the world, and were commonly found in American homes during the colonial times. They were also a common method of preserving foods prior to refrigeration, making them a common and popular choice of drink in early America.

Shrubs or switchels, as they are also called, are vinegar-based fruit juices. Very simply, they are a mixture of fruit, vinegar and sugar that is consumed both plain, and sometimes used as a base for a cocktail. From China to England, they have a history in many cultures spanning the globe.

They truly came into their own in America with the early colonists. There are some very interesting places in history where shrubs show up in American history. A recipe for shrubs is chronicled in Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin’s papers, according to the American Philosophical Society. During the War of 1812, Captain James Dacres, an English Naval captain, battled the American ship USS Constitution. Historians discovered that as the battle raged on, he fantasized about serving Americans this drink when they surrendered. Like Coca-Cola today, shrubs were seen as the epitome of American drinks.  He apparently dreamed about rubbing the Americans’ noses in their favorite drink, as they lost the battle to Britain. However, as history played out, Americans sank his ship.

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Shrubs also played a role in the American temperance movement, as they were lauded (at least the non-alcoholic version) as a refreshing alternative to an alcoholic drink.

During this time period, it was also seen as somewhat of a preventative medicinal concoction.  Today, we again recognize the benefits of vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar, for a variety of ailments. Historically, sailors used it to prevent sickness at sea.

Of course, they would not have been consumed had Americans and folks around the world not preserved fruit this way as a means of storage. This was also a primary function of making shrubs prior to refrigeration. The “Canning Across America” website offers a great recipe for canning strawberry shrubs:

Spiced Pickled Strawberries

Image source: kansascity.com

Image source: kansascity.com

Adapted from The Complete Book of Pickling, by Jennifer MacKenzie

Ingredients

  • 6 pints strawberries, hulled (preferably on the smaller side and just a touch under-ripe)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups cider vinegar

Puncture strawberries with fork tines and cut any large ones in half.

Combine remaining ingredients together in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour over prepared berries.

Cover the berries and let stand at a cool room temperature for at least six hours or overnight.
Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids.

Re-heat berries, gently stirring occasionally until strawberries are heated through but still hold their shape.

Gently spoon strawberries and hot pickling liquid into hot jars, leaving ½ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head space as necessary. Wipe rim and place hot lid on jar, screwing band down until fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in hot water for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface or a cooling rack and let stand undisturbed until completely cool, about 24 hours. Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.

Makes approximately 6 pints.

Use Up What You Put Up: Strawberry Shrub

  • 2-3 tablespoons pickled strawberry syrup (and whole fruit if you like)
  • 12 ounces sparkling water or club soda

Stir together in a tall glass, with or without ice, and enjoy. Add more syrup to taste.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

You do not have to can shrubs. You can make them for immediate consumption and refrigerate them. The Ultimate History Project website offers a great recipe for non-canned shrubs.

Recipe for Pomegranate Shrub

3-4 large pomegranates
1 3/4 cups of sugar
1 cup cider vinegar

Image source: chowhound.com

Image source: chowhound.com

Steps:

1.  Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a clean glass (or other non-reactive) bowl. Roll the pomegranates on the counter to loosen the seeds, then cut them into quarters. Invert the quarter and pop the seeds out into the colander.

2. Pick out any of the white pith that fell into the seeds, as it will lend a bitter note to the finished product if you don’t. Pull the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze the pomegranate seeds as hard as you can. Keep squeezing and twisting until you have only the inner kernels left in the cloth.  Throw that away. You should have about two cups of liquid.

3. Mix the liquid with the sugar (use more if you like it sweeter). Stir to try to dissolve as much of the sugar as possible.

4. Add the vinegar to the mixture, pour the whole into a clean bottle, cap it securely and shake it.  Place it in the refrigerator and let it sit for 2 weeks. Shake it whenever you think of it.

5. Finally, uncork it and give it a sniff. It will smell very vinegary. Mix a small amount with seltzer water and taste it.  It will seem extremely sour to the modern palate but mixed with seltzer or vodka in the right proportions, it is indeed, very refreshing. If you find it too sour, simply add more sugar and let it sit for another day.

Note: To make this recipe with any other fruit, just chop up the fruit very coarsely, mix it with the sugar and let the mixture sit on the counter or in the fridge for several hours until the juice oozes out of the fruit. (Blemished fruit is great for this!). Then, strain the fruit through a sieve and mix the resulting sugary juice with the vinegar. Some people cook the fruit for a time with the sugar to produce the syrup. Both methods work perfectly well.

Like other canned and preserved foods, there is a deeper appreciation mid-February for food that was preserved by one’s own hands. How delicious and refreshing a berry-flavored preserved drink is, watching the snow fly! Whether consumed as fruit drink or a base for cocktail, it is a nice glass of history and summer to imbibe, when the only signs of spring are a silly groundhog.

Have you ever made shrubs? What tips would you suggest? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Works Cited

“Cooling Off With Switchels and Shrubs. “The Ultimate History Project.” UHP, nd. Web. 4, Nov.2015

Cotner, Meg  “How To Make A Shrub Syrup.” “Harmonious Belly.” Self published 19, July, 2012.Web. 4, Nov.2015.

“Difford’s Guide For Discerning Drinkers.” “Class Magazine.” “Odd Firm of Sin Ltd.” 9, Aug.2011.Web. 4, Nov.2015.

Jung, Alyssa (Adapted). “Thirteen Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.” Reader’s Digest.”Life Rich Publishing.N.D. Web.4, Nov.2015.

Kim. “Strawberries +Vinegar=Shrub, A Beverage Revelation.” Canning Across America.”  N.P.16, July, 2012. Web. 4, Nov.2015.

Discover The Trick To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.