God’s Perfect Bounty: Our Natural Survival Garden- Part 2

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I have been telling you about God’s provision for our survival through nature and specifically writing about the many uses of the American beautyberry. They are edible, medicinal, and decorative berries. In part 1, I shared a recipes for insect repellent, tea for skin ailments, and more using various parts of the American beautyberry plant. I also told how I made juice with the berries. Now, let’s move on to more culinary uses for the American beautyberry and take a look at another multipurpose plant as well.

American Beautyberry Jelly

After much experimenting with several jelly recipes (some twice), I kept getting glaze instead of jelly (due to the humidity, altitude, and other factors). Finally, I came up with one that actually jells. This pursuit is how I happened to experiment with the syrup and glazes. You can see now why it’s important to experiment!

Recipe for American Beautyberry Jelly

The following is the recipe that actually jells:

  1. Wash and sort berries
  2. Put berries into a pan (about 10-1t), add water, cover, and bring to a boil.
  3. Boil 20 minutes, mashing occasionally with potato masher.
  4. Turn off heat and cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. Run berries through a strainer, mashing remaining berries as you go.
  6. Run strained juice through three layers of cheesecloth into a clean pan.
  7. Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil.
  8. Continue to boil for 3 minutes.
  9. Add sugar and lemon juice.
  10. Bring back to a rolling boil and continue heating until candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees; then continue to boil for 5-6 minutes more.
  11. Pour into sterilized canning jars, leaving ¼” headspace (following the Ball Canning Process).
  12. Put on sterilized lids and the rings.
  13. Water bath can for 10 minutes.

Making Jalapeno Beautyberry Jelly

I experimented making Jalapeno beautyberry Jelly by adding five (de-seeded and membranes removed) jalapenos that I chopped and put in a spice bag and then added that bag to the jelly mixture while cooking. My family loved both types of jelly. I caution you to wear gloves while working with the jalapenos, because during this experiment I didn’t; my hands were on fire for over six hours. I tried soaking my hands in milk, running under cool water, and putting aloe vera gel from my plant on them. Nothing helped. That was one learning experience that I’m saving you from.

A Plant That Lives Up To Its Name

The American beautyberry lives up to its name. Its beaded branches make beautiful dry arrangements and decorations. Berries can also be used as a dye. What a great survival plant God’s perfect bounty supplied.

American Beautyberry Research References

I’ve tried to reference my research on the American beautyberry, but there are simply too many to list. These are some of my favorite sites: Garden.org, Lifewithkeo.com, Authenticflorida.com, Flicker.com, Herbpathy.com, and Chron.com.

Seminole Squash

Another example of God’s perfect bounty is Seminole squash, which is also known as Seminole pumpkin (Cucurbita Moschata). I was first introduced to it by a cousin in North Florida. She grew it in her garden and gave me what she called a Seminole squash. Then she told me to cut it in half, clean out seeds and strings, and cook it similar to a butternut squash. She didn’t say much else, only that it was a good squash that was drought resistant, pests didn’t seem to bother it, and they were easy to grow.

Cooking Seminole Squash

I cooked it by cutting it in half, scooping the string and seeds out, adding butter, and microwaving it until it was tender, about for 4-8 min. It had a buttery rich flavor, and I saved some seeds for spring planting.

Volunteers Came Up In My Garden

In March, I was getting my garden ready using our compost. A couple of weeks later, two volunteer squashes came up. At the time, I didn’t know what kind of squash it was. I’d forgotten about the Seminole, but I decided if God put it there I’d leave it. It turned out to be Seminole squash. By May, it had taken over my garden. So, I decided to do some research about it and found it to be another wonder plant, also known as a pumpkin.

Resistant to Problems and Superior to Other Squash

Seminole squash, like the American beautyberry, is drought-, disease-, and pest-resistant. Furthermore, it has multiple uses. This plant possesses qualities that make it superior to any of the other varieties of squash and pumpkin. It’s heirloom and non-GMO, almost extinct, and self-seeding. (arkoftaste.com)

Seminole squash survives when other squash fail, due to winds from rainstorms and bugs. In my garden, it was the only variety of squash that produced well and survived the invasion of the bugs. I got very little zucchini, crookneck, or spaghetti squash this year.

Grows In Sun Within Zones 1-8

It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 1-8. Seminole squash likes full sun, although the leaves tend to wilt during the day, perking back up at evening time. Closer to a butternut squash, it’s shaped like a pumpkin, except more of a tear drop shape. Hence, its being called a squash or pumpkin. However, the shape can vary as much as the big green leaves do.

Colors of Green, Variegated, Yellow, or Buff

Young squash can be green, variegated, or have yellow spots on them. You may or may not have grey spots on the leaves. When fully ripe, the fruit is a buff color with flesh that’s a yellow orange color. It has a rich, buttery sweet flavor.

Planting

It takes about 95-120 days, and in warmer temperatures can be planted anytime except the dead of winter. The vines love to climb trees, fences, trellises, and upright objects climbing over other plants. A portion of vines that have produced fruit die back, but runners, which root at the nodes, will keep growing and producing. The vines grow up to 30 ft. I also planted seeds at the base of a 5 1/2 foot tall dead oak stump; it grew up and over the other side.

Flowers and Fruit Quantity

The yellow flowers are as big as your hand and have both male and female flowers. The female flower grows a squash on the vine before the flower; the male flower doesn’t. I got over 30 squashes off of those two volunteer plants.

Harvest

You can leave the fruit out long after the vines have died, or you can harvest when the stems turn yellow. Cut leaving 3-4 inches of stem, and it will store for up to a year at room temperature. Leave sitting after you harvest for three weeks before eating, and it gets even sweeter. We date ours with permanent marker.

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