Friday, September 30, 2011

Organic orange marmalade - the herbal way.

This marmalade has still got some way to cook. The bubbles are much too big.

In my opinion, breakfast isn't breakfast without orange marmalade on toasted home made bread.
I like to take advantage of winter fruit and make enough marmalade to last for the whole year. It's also appreciated as a gift by my family and friends. I buy organic oranges and organic sugar from Woolies. I like to use Artemisia afra (wilde als) herb to give it a more bitter flavour. If you don't have wilde als, you can use Leonotis leonurus (wild dagga) or Marrubium vulgare (white horehound), but as these are much more bitter than wilde als, use them more sparingly. Try ten leaves of either.


10 organic oranges
2kg organic sugar
Juice of 6 organic oranges
10 large sprigs of wilde als (optional) see pic>
2.5 l filtered water


Top and tail the washed oranges, cut in halves and finely slice. Cut the slices into quarters. Boil the water and add the wilde als. Infuse for at least an hour. Strain the water and add to the sliced oranges. Heat the mixture until it starts to boil, then switch off the stove and leave over night.
Next day add the orange juice and sugar, and bring the mix up to the boil again. Simmer until it has reduced by about a third and has very small bubbles on the surface.

Test it by putting a small amount on a saucer in the fridge for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when pushed by a spoon it is ready.
Put it into warm, clean jars, and allow to cool. Once it is completely cool you can put the lids on, label and store in the cupboard for many delicious breakfasts. You can tweak this recipe by using some lemon juice or extra bitter leaves, just be brave and experiment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lime blossom tea

Lime blossom
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons

Tilia cordata
Lime blossom is the flower head of the Tilia tree, a highly scented tree when it is in flower which has inspired poets and song writers.  In Europe the tree is a favourite and lines many avenues.  It is the national tree of the Czech republic and the Slovak republic. Some specimens are estimated to be up to two thousand years old. In France the flowers have been used traditionally for a tea called “Tilleul”.  A monofloral  honey from the lime tree is extremely highly valued and often used in medicine.
Lime tree flowers  contain flavonoids, mucilage, tannins, volatile oil, saponins and sugars. The tea tastes quite pleasant and is very soothing for the digestive system. The mucilaginous effect is useful for respiratory problems and the tea has been traditionally used for fevers, flu and colds.  Lime is antispasmodic, sedative and hypotensive. I t can be used for fever, headache and anxiety. It is often specifically used for high blood pressure associated with hardening of the arteries. The rich flavonoid content has a strengthening effect on blood vessels, and is generally antioxidant.
In my practice I like to make a flavonoid tea which is preventative against vascular damage and strengthening for the cardiovascular system in general. Herbs containing rutin such as rue, elder flower and buchu;  solidago which I have previously written about, and lime blossom would make up the perfect tea.
So how about a nice cuppa? In a world where everything is about "pick me up", it makes a change to have something to relax and have health benefits. Tilleul tea is available from many good tea companies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nasturtium pesto

Nasturtiums are very plentiful at this time of the year. They are packed with nutrients like iron, vitamins and minerals and contain chemicals called glucosinolates, (similar to what we find in broccoli and brussel sprouts), which have antibiotic and antioxidant actions. Nasturtium is excellent for people with chest problems and Madaus, a company in Germany make capsules from it, for treatment of antibiotic resistant lung and bladder infections.

One can eat both the leaves and the flowers raw in salads. The leaves are very strong when eaten alone, but on a sandwich they don't burn the mouth, but add a great flavour. They certainly are more nutritious than ordinary lettuce.
 I invented this pesto recipe to preserve as many of the rich nutrients of the leaves for as long as possible. I find it quite delicious. I am going to freeze quite a lot for use in the summer, because by then the nasturtiums in my garden are finished.

Nasturtium pesto: 200g freshly picked nasturtium leaves. (Check for aphids and brush them off. There is no need to wash the leaves if they are grown away from a road.) 250ml good quality olive oil, 100g pumpkin seeds, 50g fresh garlic, 1tspn Ina Paarman Chilli and Garlic salt. Method: Place the olive oil in a blender and add the nasturtium leaves gradually until they are all ground up. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. If you wish you could add 50g or so of parmesan cheese which would make it even more delicious! This is very nice instead of butter on a sandwich and good on toast as a snack. Best of all it's very good for one's health!