We finished up our lessons late one afternoon, I had a half hour before I needed to start dinner. Not enough time to start many projects and too much time to allow my self the luxury of sitting around. So I decided to head out to pick spice berries.
Me: Girls, I am going up top for spice berries. Do you want to come?
Grace: Sure, if I can drive!
Beth: I'll get some bowls.
Me: Great! but we only have a half hour, so let's get going.
We headed up with Grace in the drivers seat of the Rhino. Shortly she stops to look at a turtle...
Me: Grace, half hour, sis.
On she goes... till we hit the cow pasture and she has to stop and chat with the cows and scratch the new calf behind the ear.
Me: Maybe, you should get out and when you are done checking the cows you can join us....
Giving a big old sigh, she takes off again. Around the corner there are two LARGE cedar trees that have grown close together making passing between them next to impossible. A new road is starting to form going around them. Everyone else uses the new road, not Grace. Giving a sharp punch to the accelerator, she plows through the branches and I let out a groan of complaint as the branches drag across my face and dry out my eyeballs, scratching and tearing at my hair.
Me: Grace! Normal people go around you know?
Grace: Say's the woman who only has a half an hour! I'm making up for lost time here!
Even minus my eyeballs we still managed to get a good picking of spice berries in a short amount of time, next time I won't hurry her like that. LOL!
If you are not familiar with the spice berry bush, you are in excellent company. I staggered onto them quite by accident. I found the berries while making my rounds checking the cattle pastures. Not knowing what they were or if they were poisonous, I broke off a branch and sent it with the menfolk to the county extension office. Such a pleasant surprise to find that the berries, bark and leaves are all useful!
Just a few fun facts:
Spice berries were substituted for allspice during the civil war.
The fruit, bark and leaves all have medicinal qualities.
The bark and leaves make a wonderful aromatic tea.
After we harvested the berries we rinsed them in cool water and placed them in our dehydrator over night.
The smell is heavenly! To preserve the quality of the berry we freeze them after dehydration but it is not necessary and they do look pretty in a jar on the shelf.
Using spice berries is not as convenient as picking up ground allspice from the store. They need to be ground fine and are a bit sticky after being ground. I place them in the blender and once they are pulverized I add the sugar required in the recipe to the blender and pulse it a few times. This will draw it all together and help clean the blender.
The inconvenience is minor, however, when one thinks that A) the berries are free, while spices are expensive and B) It is natural (non GMO, non hybrid, non anything if you will) and organic, growing on our place with no other hands touching it but ours. I am sure that should have a C,D, and E in there but you get the picture.
I wanted to try the new berries right away so I sent Andrew to the garden to find a ripe pumpkin..
Pumpkin pie can take a long time when you make the ingredients from scratch...... :)
But once the pumpkin was cooked down and the berries dehydrated we were in business!
I am not a winter person but I see many cold days spent experimenting with our new found gift in our future! Thank you Lord, for making your creation so much fun!