I’ve just got the mush into the muslin, draining overnight into the bucket, tomorrow I’ll make the juice into the jelly.
It’s now Apple, Rose Hip & Hawthorn jelly. I went out for a walk this afternoon, onto Honeymoor Common, and was greeted by more rose hips and lots and lots of haws – the hawthorn berries. The trees on the common are loaded with berries, dark tree-limbs jewelled with bright garnets that glow in the autumn sun. I couldn’t get all the way I wanted to, along the footpath across the common to come into the village behind the church, the stiles were too high, I would need to pull myself up onto them and having only one working arm doesn’t make this a good idea to try! So, I turned back and walked around the common past the smaller pool, then back to the big pool and to the lane home. It was a good walk.
Coming near to the big pool there was this exquisite hawthorn tree. She had lost all her leaves and stood at the edge of the water glowing with her garnets. She called to me. I asked again when I got to her – never take anything for granted. A robin – again, like yesterday – sang to me. I said that I would only take a few, what my big coat pocket could hold, and leave the rest for the critters and birds. Both tree and bird seemed satisfied and the slight pressure I’d felt, a sort of wariness, wanting me to have some of the fruit but hoping I wasn’t going to be greedy, slipped away. I took some fruit from all the branches I could reach, it quickly half-filled the pocket, weighing the coat down on the shoulder that side. Not my operated shoulder. When I’d finished I thanked the tree, and the land and the beasties and moorhens I could hear in the long grass and reeds, and went on homewards.
In the lane,m before I got our drive, the sun caught the fruit on a lovely apple tree. bright greens and reds, and the tree herself had a lovely shape. I stopped to admire. No-one had picked the fruit although it was well ripe and the tree stood right by the gate – but outside – of one of the houses in the lane. It called too. I looked at the fruit but I couldn’t take it, not without asking the people, but there were a lots of windfalls, many of them good, lying in the grass. I felt I could take those. Again, I asked the tree. “Please! Please!” she said. “I want my fruit eaten.” So I did, filling both the big pockets in my coat with the gorgeous apples. The scent was delicious.
So I got home with all the makings for the jelly, and all wild-harvested. The rose hips from yesterday are in my wild hedge although they get the biodynamic treatment. I love this, asking Mother Nature for food and being given it. It’s always worth watching the things that happen to you, the apparent “accidents” like me not being able to do the walk I had intended. If I had done I may well not have gone anywhere near the hawthorn tree, nor would the sun have necessarily been in the right place to show me the apple tree, and nor might I have been in the right frame of mind to see any of it either. I don’t subscribe to accidents and coincidences as many do. I try to always listen and hear and see the little gifts the Mother showers on me every day, and to return gifts of my own whenever I can. the little everyday magics are amazing :-).
behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
My thanks to The cottage Smallholder for this recipe
Rosehips are ripening and perfect for picking now. Some people wait until after the first frost, when the rosehips will be soft. We start picking from the first week in September. They need to cook for longer but we know that they’re really fresh. They’re high in vitamin C and a great asset for the self sufficient smallholder. As a child, I remember my Mother giving us rosehip syrup (a dessert spoon daily). It was rather good. Nowadays, we make apple and rosehip jelly.
The rosehip flavour combines well with the apple. This is a delicate jelly with a fuller taste than plain apple jelly; good with toast for breakfast and excellent served with chicken, pork or a mild cheese.
Incidentally, I recently heard that rosehip concoctions are good for sore throats. Perhaps we should all toy with a spoonful when we’re next in bed with a bug.
Rosehip and Apple Jelly recipe
2 lb/900g rosehips
4 lb/1800g of sweet eating apples. We use windfalls as they won’t keep
Zest of half a lemon (add to the apples)
Juice of half a lemon (strained). Half a medium lemon equates to one tablespoon of juice.
Sugar – 1pt/600ml of strained juice to 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar
This recipe makes 14 half pound jars. So adjust accordingly.
Method: As the rosehips can take longer than the apple to soften I always cook them separately. In this way both are cooked for their individual optimum time. I cook the rosehips on one evening, straining it overnight, and then cook the apples on the next evening. The juice will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, in covered containers. Split over three evenings, the jelly is not a palaver and can be easily fitted into a busy routine.
Remove stalks from the rosehips and place in a large pan. Don’t use an iron or aluminium pan as this will strip away the vitamin C. A large glass or enamelled saucepan is ideal. I use a large non stick or stainless steel stock pot. Barely cover the hips with water and bring to the boil and simmer gently until the hips are soft. This can take quite a while if the hips are still firm (when I was making this jelly, the hips took a good hour and a half to soften). Keep an eye on them, stirring from time to time. Top up with water if necessary. (I mashed them gently with a plastic potato masher to hurry them along). If you are using my three evening method, strain the rosehips through sterilised muslin (see points 3 and 4 below)
Wash the apples, cut out bad bits and chop roughly. There is no need to peel or core the apples. Add water to coverc of the fruit. Add the lemon zest. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer very gently until all the fruit is soft and squishy. (This can take anything from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how ripe the fruit is.)
Pour the cooked fruit through sterilised muslin into a large clean bucket or bowl (how do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag? See tips and tricks below). The muslin is often referred to as a “jelly bag”. We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method-between the legs of an upturned stool) I find it easier to line a large plastic sieve with the muslin. This clips neatly onto the top of a clean bucket. The sieve is covered with a clean tea cloth to protect against flies.
Leave the jelly bag to drip overnight (or about 12 hours).
Measure the juice the next day.
Pour the juice into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan and add 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar for each 1pt/570ml of juice.
Add the lemon juice.
Heat the juice and sugar gently stirring from time to time, so as to make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil.
As there are apples (high in pectin) in this recipe only continue to boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. This is called a rolling boil. Test every 3 to 5 minutes until setting point is reached. (What is testing for a set? See tips and tricks below).
Tossing in a nugget of butter towards the end will reduce the frothing that can occur.
When jelly has reached setting point pour into warm sterilised jars using a funnel and ladle. (How do I sterilise jars? See tips and tricks below).
Cover immediately with plastic lined screw top lids or waxed disks and cellophane tops secured with a rubber band.
If you don’t think that the jelly has set properly, you can reboil jelly the next day. The boiling reduces the water in the jelly. I have done this in the past. Ideally you should try for the right set the first time.
Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place. Away from damp.
Tips and tricks:
What is a jelly bag? A jelly bag is traditionally a piece of muslin but it can be cheesecloth, an old thin tea cloth or even a pillowcase. The piece needs to be about 18 inches square. When your fruit is cooked and ready to be put in the jelly bag, lay your cloth over a large bowl. Pour the fruit into the centre of the cloth and tie the four corners together so that they can be slung on a stick to drip over the bowl. Traditionally a stool is turned upside down, the stick is rested on the wood between the legs and the jelly bag hangs over the bowl. We experimented and now line a sieve with muslin, place it over a bucket and cover the lot with clean tea cloths (against the flies).
How do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag? Iron the clean jelly bag with a hot iron. This method will also sterilise tea cloths.
Jelly “set” or “setting point”? Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method.
Before you start to make the jelly, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jelly, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jelly is far more delicious if it is slightly runny. It does get firmer after a few months.
How do I sterilise the jars and lids? We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we use is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c (140c fan-assisted). When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.
I found this diet site today. I was just looking up how many calories = 1 pound and it came up, it’s perhaps the best info site I’ve found on calories, weight, food and their interconnection.
Part of being a shaman is to be as healthy as you can, being overweight (as I was before the knee op) is not good. it stresses you emotionally and mentally as well as doing your physical body in, so your ability to discern, to have good judgement and clear vision are much impaired. Yes, it really does make a difference! even with a lifetime of experience working with otherworld i found my abilities impaired, my judgement less good and my faculties out of kilter. Losing the weight has made a difference.
So any aids to getting to your proper weight, getting fit, are part of the shaman’s way.
This particular article is very good about how eating good food helps. It talks about eating as little processed food as possible, eating whole foods, eating natural foods. I would add eating organic and biodynamic foods ups the anti on this but that’s more difficult for a generalist site like this to do without seeming partisan and so putting people off .. which I certainly don’t want it to do
So, form a shamanic point of view, as well as a wannabe healthy person, i recommend you get to your optimum weight and fitness state … and this article can help.
behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
The Moon-month for Peith runs from 28 Oct – 24 Nov
The guilder rose is the tree of the feast of Samhain (31 October) and the death of the year
Guelder rose is one of the ancient trees of Britain. It’s also called water-elder or whitten, reminding us of the magical elder tree
Most traditions say this is the time of the reed but I use the Guelder rose for this season and the ogham character commonly used for nGeatal.
Guelder-rose contains the important Celtic winter feast of Samhain on 31st Oct, now called Halloween.
It is the season of death and rebirth, the turning of the Celtic year and a time when the veils between worlds are very thin and often drawn aside so that we and the Fae can pass across the borders freely. It’s been a time of death for millennia in the northern hemisphere, coming as it does just after the autumn equinox. The light each day grows less and less until the sun stops and turns around at the midwinter solstice.
For those in the southern hemisphere it comes right after the spring equinox, where the light increases every day up to the midsummer solstice. Also a time of rebirth going to death.
Midsummer is a time of death, the going down of the sun and lessening of the light.
Midwinter is a time birth, the rising of the sun out of the time of darkness.
So in either hemisphere this season is about rebirth, return, change, coming again.
The thesaurus gives us the following possibilities for these concepts …
return, repay, pay back, reimburse, refund, give back
change, new beginning, new start
coming again, homecoming, arrival
Take each if these into your sacred space and ponder on it.
Medicinally, the Guelder rose has extensive uses, since both leaves and fruits are laxative, while its bark contains ‘scopolamine’ or “Cramp Bark”, which helps painful menstrual cramps which fives it one of its country names. It’s also called Snowball Tree; King’s Crown; High Cranberry; Rose Elder; Water Elder; May Rose; Whitsun Rose; Dog Rowan Tree; Silver Bells; Whitsun Bosses; Gaitre Berries (Chaucer’s name for the tree) and Black Haw.
The berries have anti-scorbutic properties and they turn black in drying. They have been used for making ink, a tool of scribes and bards … the poetry of the crone, the wise-one.
Guelder rose, Samhain and menstruation … not perhaps the first things to think of together. Samhain is the crone-time, the Old One, long past her menstrual years. It’s also a time of the ancestors, so what has this to do with menstruation?
The crone time is the menopause, when the wise blood no longer flows each month, the movement through the goddess’ cycle from Maiden to Mother to Crone … Inspiration, Love, Wisdom. For me, the Guelder rose takes on all three of these forms.
The cycle of the Guelder rose begins with the white flowers of the Maiden, Olwen of the White Track, although her more usual flower is the May or hawthorn or whitethorn. Just after Lammas the Guelder rose fruits ripen into the bright red berries of the Mother. The dried fruits – if the birds haven’t had them – go the black of the Wise One, the Crone who holds the wisdom of the ancestors. Over the winter, our Guelder rose stand leafless, its branches dark against the winter sun, sparkling with bright red berries until midwinter when all turns black in preparation for rebirth.
The word ‘ritual’ comes from ‘rtu’ which is Sanskrit for menses, the word from which menstruation comes via the Greek … menus meaning both moon and power, and men is the word for month. The womb blood which nourished the unborn child was known to have ‘mana’ or ‘breath of life’. It’s likely the traditions of blood sacrifice originate in the ‘sacrifice’ of blood that pours from women at the Moontime each month when there is no pregnancy for it to nourish. Menstrual blood is given freely and was once used to nourish the tribe or the earth in other ways.
A woman’s bleeding was, and still is by pagans, considered a cosmic event, relating and connecting to the moon, the lunar cycles and the tides. She was thought to be at the height of her power at this time, and for this reason was encouraged to spend time listening to her inner voice which would often offer suggestions and wisdom which would benefit the whole tribe. It still is a time when women can be at their most intuitive and creative. It was only later, under patriarchal rule, that the Moontime was distorted into a perception of uncleanness. Women were forced to go apart, not allowed to participate in the preparation of food for men or ceremonies and their wisdom denigrated, called lunacy and forced underground.
With the advent of Christianity the pendulum began to swing away from Goddess-centred worship and towards the patriarchal, man-based place we still largely are today. In Britain, this was made worse by the Norman conquest which relegated women to being possessions of fathers, brothers, husbands … indeed just about any male! My recent ancestors headed the movement for the Married Women’s Property Act without which women’s’ suffrage would not have happened, so I get quite passionate about this J.
Birth – Death – Rebirth
I work on all of these ideas at the time of Samhain. It’s the time of death and rebirth so invokes the white, the red and the black, the maiden, mother and crone, as all three are necessary to make the transits of death-birth.
Remember, when you are born into thisworld you die to otherworld. Then, when you die to thisworld at the end of your incarnation, you are born again into otherworld. So the cycle goes on and on, round and round. At each spiral you take with you all that you have learned to date and go into the new life with the wisdom stored from the past ones. As part of your soul group you do the same thing, upload your life-experiences from that incarnation onto the group server so all can learn from them. So, you increase the knowing, nouse, wisdom, for everything, including the universe itself.
When we are born, with all that past wisdom available on our hard disc for the incarnation, the trick is to learn to access it again! Samhain is a good moment for asking otherworld for help with this. The veils between the worlds are thin and drawn back at this time, good for crossing in both directions, a time to use all that otherworld offers to get more access to our useful pasts.
And there’s another thing … we may well have had many lives, some of them will be very relevant to our current incarnation and others will be not. We need to learn discernment, how to see what is worth using now and what should stay in the cupboard for other lifetimes.
Spend this time of the Guelder rose contemplating your past. As the time of the ancestors this season offers you the opportunity to contact them, ask them to help you with which of your past lives are most relevant to where you are now in the current incarnation. This helps your ability to discern what is necessary and what is “light relief”. Many past lives can offer us pleasant memories, like a good novel or film, with a few ideas thrown in maybe. But how does it help you in your current 21st century life to remember how it was to be Cleopatra or Napoleon? Or even one of their servants J. Oh, it may be useful, but likely it’s not.
It’s useful to ask the ancestors to help you concentrate on just one or two past lives. If you try to do a whole gamut you’ll only get even more confused! It’s also useful to ask for two contrasting lives, so we can see ourselves in very different roles. If you feel up to it, ask for one of the lives to be one where you were a nasty person … yes, we’ve all been nasty, and it’s worth coming to terms with that!
Spend this time of the Guelder rose considering the time of crossing … crossing between the worlds, your own time of passing from this incarnation back into otherworld to train up for your next incarnation. This happens after you’ve given up all your experience in this incarnation to your soul-group – like uploading your life onto the server for your soul-group so all your soul-friends can share in the things you learned.
This will give you, gradually, a very different perspective on life in general … a very good thing for the time of the Guelder rose.
On 29th September Paul and Jennie did the annual making of Prep 500 for all of us. I wasn’t there, I was walking on Exmoor with the 3rd year Rainbow Warrior students on their final workshop – I missed a great day but we all had a wonderful time on the moor too.
Prep 500 is cow manure which has been buried in a cow’s horn from autumn to spring equinox. As I said in a previous blog the cow’s four stomachs are magical … like the four processes of alchemy. These processes are …
albedo, whitening: purification, burnout of impurity; the moon, female
citrinitas, yellowing: spiritualization, enlightenment; the sun, male
rubedo, reddening: unification of man with God, unification of the limited with the unlimited
Although one cannot say this is exactly what happens inside a cow there are similarities that are worth taking into account in thinking about gardening and farming in a far wider sense than just growing food and flowers. Steiner certainly thought so.
The way I work with it is shamanic, through the way of the goddess, Mother Earth, the Lady of the Land.
This picture is like the ancient many-breasted Diana of Epheseus. For me, this is a form of the goddess, of the Lady Sovereignty … however you don’t have to believe this to do biodynamics J. I like this picture as amongst other things it shows the for kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and human in the form of the goddess’ dress. These four kingdoms are the four elements, and also the four processes of alchemy.
Gradually all things break down to soil, to the mineral kingdom … in gardening we call it composting. This is a return to the mineral kingdom, it is dissolution.
Vegetation grows out of the soil, is fed and watered by the soil, made of the reformed atoms of the soil. It is very much affected by the moon – as we know in biodynamics. It is a form of purification.
Animals feed on vegetation, so do we humans. We live because of the minerals breaking down into its component atoms, being eaten by animals and ourselves, and by eating the animals who have further processed the vegetables for us, made them easier for us to digest. Enlightenment and spiritualisation.
And then, after that, we come to the what happens when all these things come together … the unification of the limited with the unlimited, the unification of man with God.
Another way of doing the four processes of alchemy.
This picture shows the Lord and Lady of the alchemical wedding, the sun and the moon and the stars … the things that drive the processes of biodynamics although we don’t really know how they do this. 80-plus years of work and research show that they do, even the American Department of Agriculture has investigated it and said it found changes, differences, between biodynamic compost and the ordinary stuff.
The lord and lady hold two branches that form a horizontal cross that mark the four elements – earth, water, air and fire. These elements correspond to the four parts of a plant – roots, leaves, flowers and fruit.
All of these sets of fours correspond …
So … Paul and Jennie made prep 500, stuffing fresh cow-pats into cow horns. They buried them in the pit, the good earth, the soil that is the skin of Mother Earth. Lying there the horns will be acted upon by the four elements – the earth, the rain, the air and the fire of the sun. The pull of the moon works on them too, and the stars, the constellations that the moon focuses every month. Over the dark time of the year, from autumn to spring, the horns lie in the womb of the Mother and gestate. Come the spring they birth into the new year to give up their magic substance, prep 500, that will help the soil to exchange their goodness with the plants.
Come the spring, we’ll dig them up and use that goodness on the land.
behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …
Latest tweet: Back home again and feeling OK … so far