Drink the Harvest – Making & Preserving Juices, Wines, Meads, Teas & Ciders
Have you ever wanted to create your own fresh beverages? Then growing a beverage garden is for you. Luckily, this new book, Drink the Harvest, gives you all the tools you need to create spectacular drinks. A big yard isn’t necessary, just use as much as you can pick, pluck, snip or dig from your own garden or purchase fresh produce from local vendors.
This book gives you actual cooking methods, not just blender juices, allowing you to process fruits and vegetables in different ways and then use them for long term storage. Drink the Harvest has opened my eyes to another world of preservation and I’m thinking about my garden in a different way.
You will enjoy Drink the Harvest if you…
- -Are someone who wants to save money in their grocery budget
- -Want to control the content of your drinks and reduce the amount of sugar and preservatives
- -Are striving to be self-reliant with your food
- -Are a gardener looking to maximize every bit of your yearly crop
- -Are a cook, using fresh ingredients
- -Are working on your food storage plan
First, you will discover an extensive section about things to grow in your own beverage garden, including harvesting tips for Herbs, Vegetables, Fruiting vines, Berry bushes, Orchard fruits and Trees & shrubs.
Next comes a discussion about equipment – from stainless steel bowls to wine-making equipment. A person could go broke if they purchased every recommendation, but luckily you don’t need extensive equipment to be successful with juices, fermented beverages, syrups and teas. For the most part, you can use what you already have in the kitchen.
Then there are in-depth chapters covering all aspects of liquid preservation. From creating wines, mead, and specialty drinks, to syrups, teas, kombucha, and of course juices!
Was There Anything I Didn’t Like?
I honestly couldn’t find one thing. The pictures are beautiful and every page has character. This book is full of side notes, cooking tips and juice stains. It is a useful and unusual addition to my cookbook library. Here are two (among many) tips I found useful:
- -Why Filtered Water? Using filtered water minimizes any unpleasant off-tasting characteristics that could settle in the finished product: salts, bacteria, metals, chlorine, minerals, anything. What you are striving for in a homegrown beverage is the flavor of the fresh ingredients and nothing else.
- -Is it necessary to use ascorbic acid? Ascorbic acid is used to minimize the oxidation that can happen with frozen juices. Add a teaspoon of ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C, or six crushed 500-milligram tablets, per gallon of juice before freezing.
There are clear, easy to follow instructions that gave me confidence that I can accomplish the recipes myself. The creative recipe combinations had me digging right into my first recipe.
Mint Syrup (page 183)
The taste of mint has never been so perfectly fresh and sweet as in this syrup. Garden mint really sings when boiled with sugar, and whatever this syrup is added to will be energized with minty goodness.
Mint syrup can be used in several beverages. Add it to mojitos, mint juleps, mint flavored iced tea or lemonade. It also works well in hot chocolate or fudge sauce.
Ingredients – makes one pint
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid
1. Bring the water to a boil
2. Place the mint leaves in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
3. Strain the liquid into a saucepan to remove the mint leaves.
4. Add the sugar and bring to a boil, skim off any foam.
5. Remove from heat.
6. Add the ascorbic acid and stir.
7. Pour the contents into sterilized containers, seal, and label. This syrup will last for up to one year if ascorbic acid is added or 6 months without it.
My Next Mouthwatering Project – Peach Juice
You can capture some of that summer enjoyment for the whole year when you bottle this beverage from your local harvest. Peach juice works well as a mixer for other fruit juices too. It can be used to extend richer juices like blackberry or blueberry, stretching the berry yield.
Be sure you use only perfectly ripe, unblemished fruit for this juice. It may be necessary to cut out some spots to accomplish that. Processed peaches tend to darken once they are exposed to oxygen and the flavor can change. It is imperative to add ascorbic acid during the canning process to stop any discoloration.
This recipe makes 4 quarts and will take about 2 hours, plus overnight for the juice to settle, plus canning time.
- 12-15 pounds of peaches – about 25-30 medium – cut in half and pitted
- Filtered water
- Ascorbic acid, ¼ teaspoon per quart of juice (for canning)
- Sugar, 4 tablespoons per quart of juice (optional)
1. Put the peaches into a large non-reactive stockpot, and then add filtered water to barely cover the fruit. Bring the contents to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing or blending the peaches as they cook. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking and skim off any foam
3. Line a large colander with two layers of cheesecloth that have been dampened with filtered water. Set the colander over a large bowl, making sure that the colander sits well above the bottom of the bowl so that the juice can flow freely.
4. Slowly pour the hot peaches into the colander. Be careful not to splash the hot liquid.
5. Leave the juice to strain for 24 hours. Do not squeeze or force the peaches through the cheesecloth or the juice will contain extra pulp and be cloudy.
6. Refrigerate the juice overnight to let solids settle to the bottom. The juice will clear somewhat, but it remain slightly cloudy due to the natural pectin haze that forms.
- Measure the juice by carefully ladling it off the sediments. Pour the measured juice into a non-reactive stockpot.
- Simmer the juice at 190 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add sugar if using (2-4 tablespoons per quart) and stir to dissolve.
- Add ascorbic acid to sterilized jars – 1/4th teaspoon per quart
- Fill the jars with liquid, leaving ¼ inch of head space. Apply sterilized lids and bands, being careful not to over tighten. Process both pint and quart jars in a water bath canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
Drink the Harvestby Nan Chase & DeNiece Guest is more than a cookbook. It has everything that a serious, self-reliant, gardening, cook -needs to have at their fingertips to make the most of their harvest.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a review. These opinions are entirely my own. You can find it at Amazon and be sure and visit Nan & DeNiece at their website Drink the Harvest for more exciting recipes not found in the book.