Monday, September 22, 2008

Lemon Kefir Icecream

This deliciously addictive recipe has done the rounds on the internet. The online English version originated with Clothilde Dusoulier at Chocolate and Zucchini. We’ve adapted it to our own resources (home-fermented kefir, no agave, no icecream maker) and our own needs (two family members don’t like bits of lemon zest in their ice cream!)

4 small lemons
1 1/2 cups fermented milk kefir
1/3 cup sugar

To make
Peel the lemons.

Squeeze the lemons into a pot, and add the peel and the sugar.

Gently heat the pot, stirring till the sugar melts.

Turn off the heat, cover, and leave to cool, with the peel still in.

Put the kefir into a bowl.

Strain the cooled lemon/sugar mix into the kefir, and stir well.

To freeze without an ice-cream maker

Put the bowl in the freezer and leave for an hour or so.
When the edges are freezing, push the frozen bits down into the unfrozen bits and stir briefly and gently.
Repeat approximately every hour for about four hours. (Actually, as time goes on you may need to stir it a little more frequently than every hour, as the freezing picks up speed ... it depends on the temperature in your freezer.)

To serve
This can freeze very hard, so I usually leave it out of the freezer for 10 mins or so before serving.
The texture is sometimes crumbly, so when you scoop it out, you may need to do a bit of compressing as you scoop!

* You can use buttermilk or yoghurt instead of kefir.

* Honey is nice instead of sugar. You can just heat the peel in the honey without the lemon juice, and add the lemon juice to the kefir after, without heating it. (I like the mildness of clover honey for icecream recipes.)

Getting hold of milk kefir
Contact your closest Weston A Price Foundation chapter and ask about it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cleavers Lemonade

Cleavers (Galium aparine) is best known as that weed you can stick onto your clothes – but it has a history of herbal use as a purifying tonic. Added to homemade lemonade it makes a refreshing and astringent drink.

Cleavers stems and leaves from your garden – two or three cups (gently pushed down)
Lemonade fruit or lemons – 3 big ones or 4-6 smaller ones
1/2 cup of sugar

A juicer, or a blender and a square of muslin
A 1-litre measuring cup

Make the cleavers juice:

It's probably easiest to harvest cleavers with scissors, snipping off the smallest, choicest looking lengths.

Wash the cleavers well, and make sure no bits of other plants have snuck in.

Put cleavers through your juicer, or if you don’t have one, into the blender. Whizz it up and then strain and squeeze through muslin.

This should make at least a quarter of a cup of juice. If you have more than that, you can freeze it for future use.

Note: When you juice it or blend it, you may need to add a couple of tablespoonfuls of water to make it process properly.

Make the lemonade:

Peel the lemons (or lemon fruit).

Put the peel into a pot and add half a cup of sugar and half a cup of water.

Turn on the heat under the pot and bring almost to the boil, stirring sometimes to make sure the sugar all dissolves. Leave to cool.

Squeeze the peeled lemons into the 1-litre jug.

Add a quarter of a cup of the cleavers juice to the jug.

Strain the cooled sugar/water/lemon peel mix into the jug.

Top the jug up to the one litre mark with cold water.

Chill (and decant if you like). Shake or stir before serving.

Variations to try
Add more or less sugar according to taste.
Use honey instead of some or all of the sugar.
Use chickweed (Stellaria media) instead of some or all of the cleavers.
Top up with tonic water instead of ordinary water.

About Cleavers
Traditionally, cleavers has been used for a number of purposes, but especially for cleansing the lymphatic system. It’s a diuretic, so you might not want to drink TOO much at one time.

See the Plants for a Future entry on cleavers.
(It has other names as well as cleavers - they call it goosegrass.)

See my blog entry about Cleavers Lemonade.

Also - my gallery of local wild plants