Hike Soda

Adapted from Pascal Baudar’s The Wildcrafting Brewer.

Equipment

  • 4L (1 gallon) glass jar (plastic will do)
  • measuring cups
  • thin towel or cheesecloth
  • rubber band
  • large mixing spoon
  • funnel
  • resealable bottles

Ingredients

  • 4 L (1 gallon) of de-chlorinated water (you can pour the water out the night before and leave it on your counter—the chlorine will evaporate by morning)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup starter (e.g., ginger bug)
  • foraged (edible!) ingredients such as: flowers, herbs, bark, leaves, needles, cones, seeds, berries, etc.

Notes on Foraging (aka., Wildcrafting or Gleaning)

  • Never eat anything you don’t know or recognize. Some plants are poisonous.
  • To ensure its health and longevity, and to share with others, take no more than 1/3 of each plant.
  • It is not recommended that you forage plants from along roadsides. 
  • Forage plants from areas where people do not use pesticides.

Flavours

The flavour (and colour) of your hike soda will change with the seasons. Experiment with flavours by combining multiple plants—it’s fun to figure out what plants taste good together…and which ones do not.

Steps

  1. About a week before you make the soda, you’ll need to make a ginger bug. You can also get a ginger bug starter from a friend.
  2. Go on a hike to gather your ingredients. You will want enough ingredients to fill 1/2 of your jar (that’s about 4 cups).
  3. If needed, separate leaves/flowers from stems, roots, and other inedible parts.
  4. Wash your ingredients, shake out excess water, then stuff everything into your jar.
  5. Put 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. 
  6. Once sugar is dissolved, add the starter (ginger bug).
  7. Add the sugar water, ginger bug, and the remaining water to your jar.
  8. Stir everything together.
  9. Cover the top of the jar with cloth and rubber band.
  10. Place jar in a warm place to ferment. Active fermentation (seeing bubbles) should start within 48+ hours. Let the jar ferment for 2-5 days. The longer it ferments, the more bubbly and less sweet it will be.
  11. Once it has fermented in the jar, strain the liquid through a sieve and compost your ingredients.
  12. Pour soda into resealable bottles. Put in a warm place and ferment another 1-3 days.
  13. Place bottles in the fridge to slow fermenting. 
  14. Enjoy within 2 weeks.
  15. Caution: open bottles over a sink or outside. Hike soda often continues to ferment in the bottle so can become very explode-y.


Dandelion Spruce Tip Beer

Adapted from Pascal Baudar’s The Wildcrafting Brewer.

Not much maple syrup flavour remains after fermenting. This beer tastes a lot like a straightforward ale—dandelion is quite bitter. Experiment with sugars. I’ve substituted syrup for molasses, which resulted it a more porter-like beer. 

I like to add something slightly floral like spruce tips or yarrow or chamomile to offset the dandelion.

Pick dandelions just before the flowers open—though you can add a few flowers to the recipe, too.

So far I’ve found I haven’t had to prime before bottling as fresh dandelion residue continues to ferment once bottled.

This ferments to about 3.8 – 5% ABV.

To learn more about the basics of home brewing, equipment, and terminology, check out Charlie Papazian’s The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing.

Makes about 1 gallon of beer.

Wild Yeast

Before you make your beer, you’ll have to make a wild yeast. Learn how on the Wild Yeast page.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon de-chlorinated water
  • 1 lb maple syrup
  • 1/2 lb fresh dandelion greens
  • 14 g dandelion root, toasted/dried 
  • 6 g dried spruce tips
  • 1/2-3/4 cup wild yeast

Brew the Beer

  1. Clean dandelions. Separate leaves from roots.
  2. Chop dandelion roots. Roast in oven at 300˚F, stirring often, until the root is dark and crispy (about 15-20 minutes or so).
  3. Combine ingredients in a big pot—reserve 2 g of spruce tips. 
  4. Bring to a boil. Boil for 25 min. At 25 min, add remaining spruce tips. Boil for 5 more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and cool wort to 21˚C (70˚F).
  6. Strain. Pitch wild yeast.
  7. Pour into fermenting vessel and add an airlock. Ferment in a warm place (15-27˚C) until bubbling subsides significantly (about 10 days after active fermenting starts).
  8. Bottle. Enjoy after 1-3 weeks.

Wild Yeast

If you are making a wild yeast for (beer) brewing, be sure to start it about a week before you brew your beer.

  1. Combine 1 part sugar to 4 parts (de-chlorinated) water. I like to use unpasteurized honey as it contains a lot of yeast. 
  2. Add some yeasty ingredients such as berries, flowers, leaves, bark—whatever you can find around your yard or kitchen.
  3. Cover with a cheesecloth and put in a warm place. Stir at least 2-4 times a day until it becomes active.
  4. After 2-5 days, bubbles and foam will appear at the top of your jar. Active fermentation has begun.

Cultural Revival

Making fermented foods to preserve the harvest, while adding nutrients and zippy flavours

Monique Vassallo remembers asking her mom what Grandma Amirault had in the big crocks in the cellar. Under the wooden lid and heavy rock were vegetables: string beans and passe-pierre – wild Goose Tongue greens – that her Acadian grandmother had picked along the Petitcodiac River in Memramcook, New Brunswick.

Read more

How to Garden in January

Harvesting vegetables from a winter garden takes a bit of planning: gardening in January really means doing the bulk of the gardening before January. That means planting the right veggies at the right time of year. It means paying attention to maturity dates and hours of sunlight each day. Once sunlight drops below 10 hours per day (usually around mid-November in Cape Breton until mid-February), everything stops growing. The trick is to get everything in the ground with some growth on before then.

Read more