Processing Pawpaws

In this video I go over the steps I take to process the pulp and seeds from the Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) fruit.

Foraging for Pawpaw Fruit in Pennsylvania
https://roadtohomesteading.com/foraging-for-pawpaw-fruit-in-pennsylvania/

Pawpaw Ice Cream Recipe
https://roadtohomesteading.com/pawpaw-icecream/

Pawpaw Kombucha Recipe
https://roadtohomesteading.com/pawpaw-kombucha/

Books on Pawpaws: (affiliate):
For the Love of Paw Paws: https://amzn.to/2pqOjc7
Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit: https://amzn.to/2mYzKeT
The Fruit Forager’s Companion: https://amzn.to/2mYUrr7
THE POCKET PAWPAW COOKBOOK: https://www.motherearthnews.com/store/product/the-pocket-pawpaw-cookbook

Pawpaw Icecream

This year I was looking for something new to do with our abundant supply of Pawpaw pulp. One of the main options for preserving the pulp is freezing, so I decided to make some ice cream to have on hand though out the year. It turned out to be a big hit around the house. Below are the steps took, but they may be a little different for you depending on your ice cream maker.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup Pawpaw Pulp
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 6 large Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnomon
  • 1 Box Rock Salt for Ice Cream Maker.
  • 4 lbs Ice
Instructions
Preparing the Custard
  1. In a pot add your Milk, Cream, and Sugar. Set on Med-Low heat and stir until the sugar is disolved. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

  2. Whisk the egg yolks, then take a small amount of the warm milk, and slowly add it to the egg yolks, continue whisking and adding the warm milk, until you have added about 1 cup of milk to the yolks.

  3. Slowly pour the yolk and milk mix into the remaining milk. Turn the heat back on to Med-high. Whisking until the mixture thickens and the tempature is around 170F.

  4. Take the mixture off of the heat, and strain it in to a clean bowl. Set the bowl aside to cool for about 1 hour, the place the bowl in the fridge for another 3-5 hours (or overnight) to chill.

Prep your Ice Cream Maker
  1. You should follow your Ice Cream Maker Instructions. We used a old fashioned hand cranked ice cream maker. Below is the steps we took.

  2. Add your ice and salt by layers. Pour your custard mix in to the center compartment.

  3. Churn slowly for 10 mins. (It is best to have friends over when doing this part).

  4. At the 10 minute mark, remove the cap and add 1 cup of Pawpaw pulp. Replace cap. Refill ice and salt. Continue to churn for another 10 minutes. This time gradually increasing the speed of your churning.

  5. After 10 minutes, check your ice cream, it should have started to expand and look like ice cream. If not add more salt and ice, and continue to churn for another 5 minutes.

  6. Once done, remove the ice cream and eat or store in the freezer to harden the ice cream.

Foraging for Pawpaw Fruit in Pennsylvania

It is mid-September, and that means it is Pawpaw Season!!! This past weekend I took a trip to a local pawpaw patch in southwestern Pennsylvania to explore and forage for some pawpaw fruit.

Processing Pawpaws
https://roadtohomesteading.com/processing-pawpaws/
Pawpaw Kombucha Recipe
https://roadtohomesteading.com/pawpaw-kombucha/

Books on Pawpaws: (affiliate):
For the Love of Paw Paws: https://amzn.to/2pqOjc7
Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit: https://amzn.to/2mYzKeT
The Fruit Forager’s Companion: https://amzn.to/2mYUrr7
THE POCKET PAWPAW COOKBOOK: https://www.motherearthnews.com/store/product/the-pocket-pawpaw-cookbook

Books on Foraging: (affiliate):
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide https://amzn.to/3hHAAne
Northeast Foraging https://amzn.to/305784q
Foraging Cookbook https://amzn.to/304frgU
Forage, Harvest, Feast: A Wild-Inspired Cuisine https://amzn.to/3hD69OX
Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide of IN, KY, OH https://amzn.to/302akxC
Foraging with Kids https://amzn.to/2BDsrRi

Wineberry Cobbler

The wineberry is in the Rubis family like the raspberry and blackberries. The wineberry is less seedy than the blackberry in my opinion, and has a sweet hint of citrus flavor. The berries ripen around mid-July here in Pennsylvania. The wineberries have hairy bristles (unlike the hard thorns on blackberries and raspberries), a sticky bright red-orange berry that is covered by a calyx, and a large leaf in the center with two smaller leaflets on each side that are a white color on the underside. This is an invasive and non-native berry in North America, and originates from Japan and eastern Asia.

Wineberry Cobbler
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
45 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Wineberries
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 cup Self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 stick Un-salted butter 1/2 cup
  • 2 tsp vanilla flavoring divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnomon
Instructions
  1. Add your berries to a container that has a lid. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar. Close the lid, and give the berries a light shake. Set aside for 1 hour.

  2. Pre-heat over to 425F

  3. In a 13- x 9-inch baking dish add berries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp of vanilla, lemon juice, cornstarch, and sprinkle cinnamon generously over the top. Stir ingredients together. 

  4. Place the dish in the over for 10 minutes.

  5. In a sauce pan bring the water to a boil.

  6. Cut butter in to small pieces.

  7. In a large bowl combine the flour, 1/2 sugar, baking powder, salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon (or more to taste), 1 tsp of vanilla, and butter.

  8. Slowly add the boiling water and mix ingredients in to a batter.

  9. Remove the berries from the oven.

  10. With a spoon, carefully add scoops of the mixture over the top of the berries.

  11. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Check at 30 minutes and continue until the top is a nice golden color, and the liquid is bubbling around the sides.

  12. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.

Books on Foraging: (affiliate):
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide https://amzn.to/3hHAAne
Northeast Foraging https://amzn.to/305784q
Foraging Cookbook https://amzn.to/304frgU
Forage, Harvest, Feast: A Wild-Inspired Cuisine https://amzn.to/3hD69OX
Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide of IN, KY, OH https://amzn.to/302akxC
Foraging with Kids https://amzn.to/2BDsrRi

Pawpaw Kombucha

If you are lucky enough to have a supply of Pawpaw fruit or know someone who does then this is a great fruit to add to your next Kombucha batch. This mango, strawberry custard-like flavored fruit is one of North America’s largest native fruits that grows in the eastern United States. In late fall the fruit ripens, and with only a short shelf life of 2-3 days, it is usually best to freeze the pulp or find a recipe to use the fruit in right away. Making Pawpaw flavored Kombucha is one of the ways I have used the pawpaw pulp to enjoy the pawpaw flavor after the pawpaw fruit season has ended.

Pawpaw Kombucha
Servings: 1 gallon
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon Unflavored Kombucha 
  • 1 cup Pawpaw pulp
Instructions
  1. In a 1 gallon jar, add the Pawpaw pulp to the Kombucha.

  2. Give a few light stirs with a wooden spoon.

  3. Cover your Kombucha with a thin cotton cloth, and secure with a rubberband.

  4. Let the pawpaw pulp infuse for 1-2 days. Give the mix a stir 1-2 times during a day. Taste in between until you are happy with the flavor.

  5. Strain and remove the pawpaw pulp.

  6. Finally Bottle!

Blueberry, Acai, and Elderberry Kombucha Recipe

Super tart berry kombucha packed with antioxidants. If you have trouble finding Acai Berries try Aronia Berries instead. I was able to find dried Acai Berries at Fresh Thyme in their bulk herb section.

Servings: 1 Gallon
Ingredients
  • 1 Gallon Unflavored Kombucha
  • 3 oz Blueberries (can use frozen or fresh)
  • 1 oz Acai Berries (can use dried or powder)
  • 1 ox Elderberries (can use dried or fresh)
Instructions
  1. Add all the berries to the Kombucha.

  2. Give them a few light stirs with a wooden spoon.

  3. Recover your Kombucha with your cloth.

  4. Let the berries infuse for 1-2 days. Give the berries a little squeeze with a spoon to mash them up a little. Taste in between until you are happy with the flavor and strength of the herbs.

  5. Strain and remove berries.

  6. Finally Bottle.

South Carolina Mopping Sauce

South Carolina has a few styles of barbecue sauces. There is the mustard based, tomato based and vinegar based. The one I grew up with and learned to love through the years in the vinegar based sauce throughout the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina. This vinegar and pepper sauce is sometimes referred to as a mopping sauce, since it is applied or “mopped” several times throughout the cooking process.

I have had many relatives make a variation of this recipe, which I, in turn, took a little of each to make my own version. Which is what you can do as well. If you want the sauce sweeter add a little more sugar, less spicy reduce the amount of pepper or pepper flakes, want it thicker add a little more ketchup. After all, cooking is about experimenting.

Carolina Mopping Sauce
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a pot. In no particular order.

  2. Add to low heat, and stir until all contents have combined.

  3. Set aside, and let it cool.

  4. Bottle or add to a container with a tight lid and let the sauce site overnight.

First Look: Hot Process Soap

I’m not sure what piqued my interest in soapmaking, but it was just that. The whole process seemed difficult and fascinating, but I knew it was something the average DIYer could handle. One night, I picked up the book “Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps” to learn a little more about the subject. This led to late-night binges of YouTube tutorials and more reading. I wonder if this is how most people get the spark to try something new?

I purchased a few soap-making books including David Fisher – The Complete Photo Guide to Soap Making, Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps, Soap Crafting – Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps, and a few others. These books helped me better understand the process and get me to the starting line. So – I asked the kiddo if they wanted to learn to make soap. The answer was “Yes”, so I began ordering supplies and picking-up kitchenware to dedicate to the cause.

There are two main processes to make soap: hot-process and cold-process. We decided to start with hot-process soap instead of cold-process because it seemed easier. Hot-process soap becomes usable (fully cured) in a few days. Cold-process on the other hand, takes months to cure. The curing time with hot process is much faster (1-2 weeks vs. 4-6 weeks for cold process) because you literally “cook” the soap though most of the curing stages. Heating the mixture accelerates the saponification (a fancy chemistry term for turning fats and oils into soap) process. Because you need to cook and stir the mixture, you will want to have a crock-pot and other utensils strictly dedicated to making soap. Eventually, we’ll try cold-process, but we didn’t want to wait to test our product!

Here are the items I bought to get started:

Oils (Fats)
Palm Oil (Buy from a participant with the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO))
Coconut Oil
Castor Oil
Olive Oil
Sweet Almond Oil

Essential Oils
Lavender Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil

Other Ingredients
Lye
Plain Greek Yogurt
Lavender Buds
Activated Carbon (the chunkier version of activated charcoal). See notes or you can buy Activated Charcoal.

Tools
Crock-pot
Immersion Blender
Soap Mold (32oz)
Soap Cutters
Digital Scale
Digital Thermometer
Measuring Cups
Spatula

Soap is much like kombucha in that you can tweak the recipes to suit your style and tastes. It is best to stick to a recipe until you really understand how the ingredients work. Once you understand how it all goes together, feel free to get creative! The recipe below is what I used. It will fill a 32oz mold and is 5% superfat (superfat refers to the small percent of extra oil that is not saponified because there is not enough lye to change it to soap. Having superfats will ensure your soap is lye free and mild).

Ingredient Mesurments:
Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) 130.31g / 4.60oz
Water Total: 299.38g / 10.56oz **reserve 20% of the water for later use
Castor Oil 36.29g / 1.28oz / 4.0 %
Coconut Oil (76 degrees) 290.30g / 10.24oz / 2.0%
Olive Oil 272.16g / 9.60oz / 30.0%
Palm Oil 272.16g / 9.60oz / 30.0%
Sweet Almond Oil 36.29g / 1.28oz  / 4.0%
Lavender Essential Oil 0.5oz
Tea Tree Essential Oil 0.5oz
Activated Charcoal 1 tbsp
Greek Yogurt 1 tbsp
Sodium Lactate 3% weight to oils. 27.22g / 0.96oz

**Note:For this recipe we will be splitting our water.
Reserve 20% of the water for later use in the recipe : 59.8g / 2.11oz.
80% of the water will go into our lye solution: 239.58g /  8.45oz

Activated charcoal was priced at $3-$4/oz. online plus shipping. If that seems high to you here’s a pro tip – Go to a pet store and buy activated carbon (it is the same thing as activated charcoal). This is a bit more solid than what you would buy in powder form, so you will want to grind it down to a powder. I used an old coffee bean grinder, sifted and repeated. A mortar and pestle would also work. The process is a little messy and I would recommend using a dust mask to reduce the chance of inhaling charcoal powder.

Our hot-process method became a mix information from several sources.  There are a few important safety rules you need to observe when making soap:

  1. ALWAYS be careful when working with Lye and use gloves and safety goggles.
  2. ALWAYS add lye to water. Never add water to lye.
  3. Work in a well-ventilated area when mixing lye. We used the oven hood to mix our lye under, along with turning on the ceiling fan, and opening the kitchen window. You may also choose to mix your lye outside.
  4. Keep children and pets away of the area you are mixing lye. Also, keep Vinegar on hand in case of spills.

Now, onto the process.

Hot-Process Method

  1. Set-up your work area.
  2. Put down a barrier to protect your counter from spills. This can be cardboard, newspaper, plastic sheeting, etc…
  3. Set-up crock-pot and turn to LOW.
  4. Set-up emulsion blender, measuring cups, mixing bowl, scale, etc…
  5. Measure and melt each oil.
  6. Combine all melted oils into the same mixing bowl. Be sure to tare your scale before each new measurement.
  7. Add melted oils to crock-pot.
  8. When the oils reach 100°F, measure out lye and water. Set aside 20% of the water at this time.
  9. Add lye to water (the 80%) stirring until the mixture is clear. Set solution aside and allow to cool to 130°F.
  10. When the lye has cooled to 130°F, add the Sodium Lactate to the lye solution from step 9.
  11. Check temperature of the oils in crock pot. They should be approximately 130°F. When at approximately 130°F, add the lye and sodium lactate solution to the crockpot.
  12. Blend with an emulsion blender for about 10 minutes, until we had a light/medium trace

**To learn more about trace visit this article at Soap Queen. https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/trace/

  1. Once trace was achieved, cover crock-pot with plastic wrap and then set the lid on-top.
  2. Cook for 20 minutes on LOW, keeping a close eye on the crock-pot to make sure it does not overflow.
  3. Check consistency of soap after 20 minutes. At this stage called the separation stage it should look similar to custard around the edges and oil in the middle.
  4. Stir and cover with plastic wrap and lid. Cook another 20 minutes.
  5. Check the consistency of the soap. This time it should resemble applesauce. This is the time to monitor your soap the most to make sure it does not rise out of the crock-pot.
  6. Repeat step 16.
  7. Check the consistency of the soap. It should look similar to vaseline and mashed potatoes.
  8. Test the pH, stir lightly, turn off the heat, and allow to cool below 180°F.
  9. Once cooled, add the 20% water initially set aside and 1 Tbsp of Plain Greek Yogurt. Mix until combined.

Next we add the scent. For this recipe, split the soap in the crock-pot in half. You can use 2 mixing bowls to accomplish this.

  1. Bowl #1 – Add 1 oz. of lavender essential oil. Mix until combined.
  2. Bowl #2 – Added .5 oz Tea Tree Oil and 1 Tbs. (more if you want it darker) of activated charcoal. Mix until combined.
  3. Pour lavender scented soap to the mold. Then, pour the tea tree and charcoal soap on top.
  4. Give the mold a few taps on the table.
  5. If you would like, press some dried lavender buds or other décor on top of soap.
  6. Allow soap to sit for 24 hours before unmolding.
  7. Cut the soap. We used a crinkle cutter.
  8. Evenly space the soap bars on a piece of wax paper and left them cure for 1-2 weeks to allow the soap to harden.
  9. Flip and rotate the soap bars daily.

That’s it!

References and Helpful Links we used
David Fisher – The Complete Photo Guide to Soap Making
Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps
Soap Crafting – Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps
Brambleberry.com
SoapQueen.com
modernsoapmaking.com
theprairiehomestead.com

Summer Squash & Onions

When the kiddo and I were in the grocery store I asked “What do you want for dinner”, the reply was “Squash and Onions with Pork Chops”. I do not know many people that make squash and onions. Growing up only my mom and maybe one or two of my aunts made this side-dish. My mom still makes it, especially when squash is in season. I always though of this as more of a southern disk till Road To Homesteading’s co-author Crystal told me they make it a bunch when they have a garden full of squash or zucchini.

This side dish is simple and delicious. The lovely sweet flavors from yellow crookneck squash really come out when cooked in a pan. You can also use zucchini or a mix of squash and zucchini if you have both on hand.

Ingredients
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion sliced
  • 1-2 lbs Yellow Summer Squash or Zucchini sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
Instructions
  1. Cut up onion and squash

  2. In a skillet melt the butter and add olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Combine the onions and squash in the skillet.
  4. Stir and cook until the onions are slightly translucent. About 10 minutes
  5. Add pepper and salt to taste.
  6. Reduce heat to and continue to cook until the squash is soft and tender. About 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and serve.

**Cooking time can vary, especially if you use more or less of onion or squash, along with the size of your slices.

Foraging & Cooking Amber Jelly Mushrooms

**Disclaimer: Before eating any wild mushroom (or any new foraged item) check guides, spore print on species with look-a-likes, and be 100% certain of what you are eating. If you are at all unsure, do not eat it. As with any new food, be on the look-out for allergic reactions. Try a small amount the first time through. Allergic reactions can happen, even if something is known to be edible. **

It was a cool and cloudy afternoon when my friend Bob, his oldest daughter and I set off deep into the forest in search of the elusive amber jelly roll mushroom (Exida recisa). Armed with field guides, we began our search.

Okay, okay – so maybe it was more Bob’s yard at the homestead than a forest, and maybe it only took us a few minutes to wander over by an old oak tree in his yard, but you get the idea.

We found a mess of what appeared to be amber jelly roll mushrooms on fallen branches beneath an old oak tree. We consulted the Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic to confirm identification, but it was not listed in this guide. When foraging for mushrooms it is imperative to confirm identification. There is no room for error even if the mushroom is distinctive and easy to ID, which is why we brought a second field guide to the party – Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. Here we found the amber jelly mushroom listed and could check off the identifying characteristics:

  • Size: small (1-4 cm in width)
  • Color: yellowish-brown or reddish-brown to purple
  • Texture: somewhat gelatinous
  • Growth pattern and location: growing in clusters on hardwood branches and sticks.

It fit the bill. Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada describes the amber jelly roll mushroom as a small (1-4 cm wide) yellowish-brown, reddish-brown to purple colored mushroom with a somewhat gelatinous texture. It is known to grow in clusters on hardwood branches and sticks. Even though this mushroom did not show up in the Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, they seem to be fairly common in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I have seen them many times on hikes throughout the state.

At first glance, the amber jelly roll does look like something you’d want to eat, but this species is edible, like many of the jelly mushrooms. You’ll often find other jelly mushrooms used in Asian cuisine (think soups). Neither Bob or I had tried eating this odd-looking mushroom before, but that was changing today.
We gathered a few handfuls of fungi and carried them back to the house. We soaked them in water and rinsed them clean to remove any bugs or debris. We tasted the fresh mushroom. It was less than exciting – rather bland with a texture on the rubbery side.

We sautéed the mushrooms for about 15 minutes, with some Asian inspired flavors, and we decided to add them to the venison meatballs with homemade sauce and noodles Bob was making for dinner. The blandness of the mushroom worked in its favor, and absorbed the flavors we sautéed them in. The mushroom still retained some of its rubbery texture.

I was really indifferent to the mushrooms raw flavor; though it did hold the added flavors we cooked them in. I really didn’t care much for the texture of the mushroom, but would likely give it another try the future, may be added to a soup or broth which might allow the texture to be less rubbery.

Ingredients
  • 2-3 oz Amber Jelly Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • ½ tsp Rice Vinegar
  • ½ tsp minced Garlic
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Instructions
  1. On medium heat, heat up a pan with the Sesame Oil.
  2. Add the mushrooms, some minced garlic.
  3. Sautéed the mushrooms and Garlic for about 10 minutes
  4. Add in Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Salt, and Red Pepper Flakes.
  5. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

References Books:

Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada
Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic
The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms
Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America: A Field-to-kitchen Guide