Friday, August 22, 2014

Get Creative and Brew Up Something Good

We've done a lot of talking about super foods and "drinking your garden", two trends detailed in our 2014 Garden Trends Report. Surely you know there's a whole world of ingredients out there just ripe for the picking so to speak. So why aren't you getting out there and experimenting?

You've decided you want to break into this growing trend of DIY beverages, but where do you start? What ingredients should you look for and what do you do once you have them? You've heard about foraging for food, but what items are good to pick and which should you avoid? Are you even skilled enough to create something good?

These questions are expected, and even scare people away from trying something new. Guess what? It's not as hard as you think, it can even be fun!

What ingredients should I look for? 
Simple. Whatever you can get your hands on! Many fruits and vegetables can be turned into delicious beverages. Get your toe in the water and start with the basics - apples, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, blueberries (a great superfood by the way, chock full of nutrients.), etc...

Where can I get them?
I will say, it's much more rewarding to grow your own fruits and vegetables and turn them into something great. However, not everyone has access to a plot of land to grow food or even the time to garden. So what else can you do? I would suggest checking out your local farmer's market or CSA. As a last resort I would suggest taking a trip your local grocery store, but if you have no other option it's definitely better than nothing!

I'm feeling creative, what are some lesser known ingredients to use?
Odds are, there are ingredients out there you've more than likely have never even thought to use, or knew you could use. In fact, it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I learned crab apples were even edible, let alone able to be turned into something that tastes fantastic. This is where some foraging can come into play, find ingredients such as the aforementioned crab apples, serviceberries also known as Juneberries, birch tree sap, prickly pears, rose hips, etc... You can also grow your own herbs and spices to add a kick to your beverages such as basil, bay leaf, fennel, mint, and passionflower.

Ok, I have my ingredients, what do I do now?
A common and increasingly popular trend of blending ingredients together to make a smoothie or "groothie" as we like to call it. (green smoothie) Is a simple way to make a beverage, however this doesn't always work for all ingredients and you have to drink them right away since you can't store them for long. Fortunately for you there are other options of beverages to make such as juice, ciders, and teas. You can even break into the world of fermentation by making your own wines and meads.

Now, it could take me 20+ blog posts just to START you on your path to drinking your garden or you could spend a megaton of time sifting through information on the internet and magazines to find recipes and instructions on foraging, growing, fermentation, etc.. OR I can cut all that work out for you right now by telling you about a great book I recently received called Drink the Harvest.

"Welcome to the world of homegrown beverages." starts out this full-color, 200+ page deep dive into everything you need to know about making your own juices, syrups, wines and the like. Written by Nan K. Chase and DeNeice C. Guest, Drink the Harvest walks you step-by-step from growing or foraging for fruits and vegetables to making and preserving your homemade juices. Drink the Harvest teaches you to be creative and use ingredients right from your own backyard, including items such as crab apples and wildflowers to such standard fare as apples and blueberries.

Harvest gets right into the nitty gritty, detailing everything from how to prepare your ingredients, to explanations on how to use certain kitchen tools like a fruit press and an hydrometer. Also how to can and store your juices and syrups for later usage. All in beautiful glossy pages with clear, crisp images.

Order your copy of Drink the Harvest from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
For more information visit Storey Publishing
Images from Drink the Harvest and ©Johnny Autry

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