Foraging and Putting Food By.






My fingers and thumbs are purple today. From grapes, raspberries, and elderberries. I spent yesterday out in the rain with another homeschooling family, foraging and marveling at just how fast autumn is coming on. It was gorgeous out there. 

We brought home so many elderberries! The elderberry season had wound down and my friend and I were both wishing we had harvested more. Then we looked up, and all along the forest edge were some late elderberries, hanging down from the branches. We were thrilled and set to harvesting. As we drove home we kept finding great clusters of elder along the country road and stopped our cars again and again to fill another bag and another and another. We were both bordering on giddy. I am up to my ears in elder! What a blessing.

I also harvested wild grapes and plenty of raspberry leaf to get us through the winter. (Raspberry is a wonderful tonic for women. Along with dried nettle I try to drink it daily as tea.)

And so last night (and this morning) was busy in the kitchen. I made a half-gallon of elderberry tincture, twenty half-pints of raspberry jam with honey (from a nearby farm), a half-gallon of kefir, and got rolling on a batch of pickled beets. (Those are in the canner right now.) Oh yeah, and that was on the heels of butter and yogurt with more butter to be made this afternoon.

The freezer is bursting. The shelves are loaded. And fall is here.

(Now all I need to do is end my garden-denial and get out there to harvest the bushels of greens, basil, beans, peppers, and tomatoes and then I can throw in the towel!)

I'd love to hear what is happening in your kitchens this week.


20 thoughts on “Foraging and Putting Food By.

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Impressive! This is our list for this week, so far:
    3 pints pickled beets
    7 pints applesauce
    5.5 pints pear-vanilla jam
    4 eggplants (sliced, breaded, baked and frozen)
    2 quarts dehydrated cherry tomatoes
    need to get another batch of applesauce on but I am procrastinating a little. 🙂

  2. Amber says:

    love love love your new header!

    just did a post about small batch freezer roasted tomato sauce here:

    and my ramblings about my last run with 75 pounds of tomatoes here:

    what a life it is with self sufficiency and putting by!
    i am off to apples and apples and willing my kale to take over to secure our greens greens and more greens winter!

  3. Casey says:

    I made a batch of pumpkin butter this morning (from my frozen puree I made last year — gotta make room!).

    Today we’re heading out to the apple orchard for more apples, and we should be getting a bushel or two of concord grapes early this week. We got about a quart of raspberries from a friend, but those were gobbled up fresh. 🙂

  4. Darla says:

    Rachel, I’m wondering if this is something you grew up doing or something you started doing as an adult? I keep having every intention of learning to can and preserve and pickle and all that but have a hard time knowing where to start! Do you recommend beginning with a specific process? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  5. Heloisa Lima Paulon says:

    How nice to know there are people like you.
    We get the impression that it is possible to have these feelings, this view of life and things.
    Thanks to meet you, I’ll be following you.
    My English is not very good …

  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    I also suppliment from a local farm. The raspberries and the beets were from them, and the elder was from the side of our country roads! Sometimes we have to get clever to overcome our shady yards… 🙂

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Darla,
    This is the first year I have focused on putting food by. In years past I make a few jars of sauce or blanch some greens and call it done. But this year I felt like my kids were old enough and I was ready for the challenge so I jumped in. Before this year I cant remember canning – except a couple of times with my mom – since the late 1990s when Pete and I moved into our first rental (in the country) and planted a big, ambitious garden. I am a newbie! I am loving the book Canning for a New Generation and then just hunt around online. I also use Pamonas Natural Pectin and use their honey-sweetened recipes inside the box because we dont eat sugar. Hope this helps. I suggest you pick one thing you want to put by (applesauce or dilly beans for example), find a recipe, and dive in with a small batch. It gets more mellow with every batch you put by. (Trust me!) Rachel

  8. Anne-Marie says:

    It is so good. I combined two recipes for this batch (my first time going out on a limb with this canning thing) and I was very happy with the results. Sweeter than I usually like fruit, but reminiscent of what I used to eat when visiting my grandmother.

  9. Bianca says:

    Oh, how I love this time of year. It’s time for wool!! And I love making extra time to spend in the kitchen. All the extra cooking is great for warming the house as we are not ready to turn on the heat yet.
    This week my 4yo and I made-
    2 batches of salsa
    2 key lime pies
    3 quarts of elderberry tincture (berries came from a neighbors yard)
    6 quarts of elderberry syrup
    elderberry dye for new kitchen napkins
    baba ghanouj
    lentil soup
    And I’m ready with ingredients to make your chai tea recipe.

    Thank you for sharing your ways. It has helped inspire my desire to make more things homemade.

  10. Darla says:

    Thanks so much! You just made it seem all the more doable!
    Reading Independence Days by Sharon Astyk was what really ramped up my drive to preserve/store food but I was still too overwhelmed by it. Starting small is what I needed to hear. Thanks again!!!

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