How to Raise Monarch Butterflies – Supply and Resource List

IMG_7312www.minnesoafromscratch.com raising monarch butterflies

Many of you have followed my journey of raising monarch butterflies over the last several years on my Instagram. And many of you have expressed interest in raising them yourself, and that’s why I’m writing today. I learned everything about how to care for monarch butterflies from egg-to-butterfly from helpful blogs/videos. I’m putting together a list of resources that I feel will help you learn as well. But before that, I must mention that raising butterflies in habitats does end up feeling like a part-time job. It is a lot of work and requires daily care. If you are not up for the task, then perhaps plant pollinator-friendly flowers and milkweed in your garden instead.  Though, be sure to find out if the flowers are indeed safe for pollinators. You’d be surprised at how many nurseries receive pre-treated plants, that ultimately do more harm than good.

Also, when I talk about raising butterflies indoors, it is raising the eggs that are laid on milkweed, found outside my front door. I do not get shipped eggs/caterpillars to release into the wild. I am purely caring for the caterpillars to increase their odds of survival. In nature, less than 1 in 10 eggs laid will successfully transform into a butterfly. The caterpillars surprisingly have a lot of predators, such as bees, spiders and flies. And humans tend to poison or mow down their habitats. I’ve been raising butterflies for 5 years now and last year we successfully raised and released over 100 butterflies, which would have only been maybe 10 if left outside.

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I’ve compiled a list of supplies needed:

  • Milkweed. We grow common in our yard but there are many varieties. Try to pick a variety that is native to your area. You can order seeds here.
  • Butterfly habitat. I have owned 5 habitats in my 5 years of raising monarchs and this one is my favorite. I like it because one side unzips, which makes it easy to clean and another side is clear, which is fun for better viewing. The only con of this is that it is lightweight and therefore a little unstable. I fix the issue by putting a few clean rocks on the bottom of the enclosure so that it does not easily tip over. I do not support using jars or glass tanks for butterfly raising – I see people doing it all the time. The reason I don’t like it is because once the butterfly encloses, it needs to hang to dry their wings. They cannot climb on glass. If they fall before their wings are dry, it could cause them to never be able to fly properly. So, I stick to the netted enclosures and have had amazing success with them.
  • More milkweed. You will not believe how much milkweed the caterpillars go through as they grow. Each day, I clean up the butterfly habitats and clip off fresh milkweed leaves from the garden to feed the caterpillars. Be sure not to rub the milkweed milk in your eyes – it’s poison. If I leave town for a couple days, I create a vase-like set up where I can poke milkweed stems through a mason jar lid and screw the lid onto a water-filled mason jar. This allows the milkweed to stay fresh while I’m away, without the risk of the caterpillars falling into the water and drowning. The con to doing this on a daily basis is that if you are cutting away an entire stem (or many stems), you are removing that plant from the garden. I like to leave the stems outside so that more butterflies can lay eggs. If you don’t want to make a vase as I described, you can buy these.

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Here is a list of helpful resources to get you started:

  • Watch this video to learn how to find monarch eggs.
  • How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-step Guide for Kids book. I haven’t personally read this book, but I came across it while shopping and after reading the reviews, it seems like it’s been a reliable resource for many.
  • The Joyful Butterfly blog has a wealth of information about the topic.
  • Deanna at Homestead and Chill has a very in depth post here with additional resources linked.
  • MrLundScience on YouTube has detailed videos, just search the topic “raising monarchs” on his channel.

www.minnesoafromscratch.com

The entire process is pure magic. If you aren’t interested in raising butterflies at a large scale like we do, then caring for a couple is simple. Children will be in awe of the transformation process. If you have specific questions, feel free to comment on this post or DM me on Instagram.

If you have other helpful resources, please leave a link in the comments.

Good luck!

This post includes affiliate links.

Sweet Maple – Book Review

Maple Syrup Canned

A photo of our homemade maple syrup from spring 2019. The color intensifies throughout the tapping season.

We have tapped the silver maple tree in our backyard for the last three or four years now. Each year we learn a bit more about the process of making syrup. The 2019 tapping season exceeded all of our expectations, leaving us with more syrup then we’d use in an entire year. That’s why when I connected with Michelle Visser on Instagram, and learned about her recently released book Sweet Maple, I was eager to get my hands on it to see which delicious recipes she included. To my surprise, this book is so much more than just recipes, this book is your complete resource for everything maple-tapping. It’s filled with detailed directions and helpful tips. And lots of personal details about her family, farmhouse and acreage, which are endearing and enjoyable to read about.

sweet maple
Now, I’m off to order a hydrometer (I never knew there was such a thing for syrup-making before reading this book). And I’m hoping that when my daughter gets home from school, she’ll bake up Gina’s Maple Snickerdoodles, included on page 105!

Other delicious recipes I can’t wait to try:

  • Maple-Infused Butter
  • Maple Cream (I have tried before, and failed miserably – so I hope this recipe teaches me the proper way because it sounds heavenly!)
  • Jill’s Maple BBQ Sauce
  • Maple Popcorn
  • Maple Cinnamon Rolls
Thanks for reading,
Stephanie

Homemade Peach Shrub Recipe

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Homemade shrub is one thing you’ll always find in my refrigerator, all year round. There are many methods and recipes for how to make shrubs (all great, I’m sure), but I share my preferred method in my cookbook, WECK Small-Batch Preserving.

Though shrub can be made in a matter of a few minutes by cooking fruit with sugar (or other sweetener of choice) and making a syrup, I prefer to make fresh fruit shrub, without applying heat. The cooked method is great for when you are in a pinch. But, cooking the fruit makes it taste completely different, giving it a cooked flavor. By macerating the fruit for 3-4 days, as I direct in my cookbook, the fruit syrup retains a fresh fruit flavor and ultimately tastes better.

My method of shrub making can be applied to any fruits or fruit and herb combinations. Some fruits make better and more flavorful shrubs than others, but I’ve never made one I wasn’t pleased with.

Peach Shrub

Yield: 2-3 cups finished shrub

1.5 cups peaches, pitted and chopped (fresh or frozen)

1.5 cups organic or non-GMO granulated sugar (or other sweetener, such as brown sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup)

1.5 cups organic apple cider vinegar (or other vinegar of choice)

Combine peaches and sugar in a quart canning jar, shake or stir to mix. Place canning lid on jar and screw ring on the jar tightly. Place the jar on a counter at room temperature (out of direct sunlight) and allow the mixture to macerate over 3-4 days, so that a thick and delicious syrup is made. Shake the jar vigorously at least once a day, or use a spoon to stir up the mixture.

After 3-4 days, when a syrup is made and the sugar is dissolved, use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the solids, reserving the syrup in a measuring cup. Once strained, measure the amount of syrup made and add in the same amount of vinegar (about 1-1.5 cups) and stir to mix well. Store in a clean airtight jar and refrigerate.

To serve, I mix about 2 ounces of shrub with 6 ounces of water (or carbonated water), and drink over ice. Shrubs can also be used as a zingy and unique cocktail mixer. And don’t toss those solids! They are great to mix with plain yogurt for a quick smoothie or poured into popsicle molds for an easy, homemade popsicle.

 

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For more stone fruit inspiration, follow:

Facebook: @WAStoneFruit

Twitter: @WAStoneFruit

Instagram: @wastatestonefruitgrowers

Website: https://wastatefruit.com/

Canning Recipe: Drunken Peach Jam (No Added Liquid or Powdered Pectin)

Drunken Peaches minnesotafromscratch.com recipe

I have been so fortunate to receive fresh peaches from the Washington State Fruit Commission this month. When they were delivered, it was an unseasonably cold September day in Minnesota, that felt like the onset of winter was near. So, it really brightened up the kitchen when we tore open the box of fresh yellow peaches.

I went straight to work by washing, chopping and simmering the peaches, making small batches of different flavored jams. I did have a few “OK” outcomes and a few winners that dazzled our tongues.  I spent eight hours straight in the kitchen, preserving all but 10 peaches that I kept aside for fermented recipes. I’ll be keeping a couple recipes a secret for now. But I had to share a couple of the winning recipes with you, and I’m starting with this drunken peach jam recipe.

Peaches are one of my favorite fruits to preserve with because they don’t require much prep work and they boil down to a jam consistency in a timely manner, which means it’s a quick and easy fruit to preserve – and that makes them favorable to me. I’ve seen tons of peach jam recipes that require added pectin to set, but that is totally not the case with this recipe… no need to take the extra step by adding pectin, this will set perfectly without.

I leave the skins on the peaches in this recipe because leaving them on makes the prep work even that much easier. I do not mind the skins in my jams, in fact I hardly notice them. And if anything, I think they offer a prettier colored jam in the end.

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Drunken Peach Jam

Yield: 3 – 8 ounce jelly jars

4 cups diced yellow peaches, pitted, skins on (or off if you prefer it that way)

1 1/4 cups granulated organic or non-GMO sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup whiskey (you will taste the flavor, so pick one you like)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup finely chopped apple, peeled (optional – I like the additional crunch, but they are not required)

Wash peaches, remove any bruised or flawed areas from fruit. Remove pits and rough chop into chunks (bite-sized). Add peaches to a large heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot and use a potato masher to carefully breakdown the peaches somewhat. Add sugar, vanilla, whisky, apple chunks (optional) and lemon juice and bring the fruit to a medium-high simmer. Simmer until the peaches breakdown and the mixture begins to thicken (about 20-30 mins). Stir often to avoid burning, especially as the mixture thickens and is close to being done. If you aren’t sure how to determine when your jam is set, click here.

TO WATER BATH CAN: Ladle the hot peach jam into warm prepared jars. Use a funnel to safely transfer the mixture, leaving ½” of head space. Wipe the rims of the jars with a dampened, clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel and again with a dry towel. Place the canning lid over the rim of the jar, and screw the ring on until just-snug on the jar. Process in the water bath canner for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the water bath with canning tons and place them on a towel-covered surface for 12 hours without touching. Once completely cooled, remove the ring and test that the lid has securely sealed onto each jar. Refrigerate after breaking the seal.

SKIP WATER BATH CANNING: Allow the jam to cool, add the lid and ring and store in the refrigerator. The jam will keep for several months refrigerated.

For more stone fruit inspiration, follow:

Facebook: @WAStoneFruit

Twitter: @WAStoneFruit

Instagram: @wastatestonefruitgrowers

Website: https://wastatefruit.com/

Candied Jalapenos AKA Cowboy Candy RECIPE (Water Bath Canned or Refrigerated)

Sweet with spice, and everything nice. This condiment has it all. It is one of the most high-in-demand canned goods that I make (the other being pickled jalapeno slices). You can pop the candied jalapenos right into the refrigerator if you intend to gobble them up quickly, or water bath can them for shelf stability – I provide directions for both options below. I do not include this recipe in either of my cookbooks (Can It & Ferment It or WECK Small-Batch Preserving), so I’m sharing my version here.

I first made this recipe about 6 years ago and of course I cannot find the recipe I used anywhere. I have scanned all my preserving cookbooks and looked all over the internet, and the closest recipe I found to the original I made is written by Rebecca Lindamood. I tweaked her recipe quite a bit, so I am sharing the recipe with my adjustments incorporated. Enjoy!

Candied Jalapenos AKA Cowboy Candy

Yield: about 6-7 jelly jars (8 oz jars)

Ingredients:

16 cups sliced jalapenos (about 3 pounds whole jalapenos)

Syrup:

1.5 cups apple cider vinegar (organic)

4 cups organic or non-GMO sugar

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric powder

1/2 tsp. celery seed

1 tbsp. granulated garlic powder

Directions:

Wash jalapenos, remove stems (discard). Slice jalapeno peppers 1/4-1/8″ thick, and collect them in a large bowl. In a nonreactive pot, bring the syrup ingredients together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Carefully add all jalapeno slices to the syrup, stir together, and turn heat back up to a boil. Boil for a minimum of 5 minutes. I prefer to “over-cook” my jalapenos until they begin to shrivel (this can take 15+ minutes). Determine length of cook time based upon your personal preference. I like the jalapenos shriveled a bit because I prefer the texture that way.

IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH WATER BATH CANNING, FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS: Ladle the hot syrup and pepper slices into warm, prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4″ head space. I find it easiest to attempt to scoop mostly jalapeno slices into the jars (a slotted spoon can be useful here), and then go back and top off syrup where needed (that way you avoid a jar of syrup with few slices). Use a stainless steel butter knife or other clean tool to remove any air bubbles trapped within the peppers and the side of the jar. As the syrup settles, you may need to add in more syrup.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a dampened, clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel and again with a dry towel. Place the lid with sealing compound side down, in place over the rim of each jar and carefully twist the canning ring on the jar until it’s just-snug on the jar. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes (15 minutes if using pint jars instead). Carefully remove the jars from the water bath with the canning tongs and place jars on a towel-lined surface for 12 hours without touching.

Store in the refrigerator after breaking the seal.

**If you do not have experience with canning, I fully explain the method in Can It & Ferment It. Or, you can skip the hot water bath canning step and fill jars with the jalapenos and syrup, cover with lid and ring and allow the jars to cool on a towel-lined surface. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator and eat within 2 months.

I serve this condiment with crackers and goat cheese. Though, these jalapenos are a good addition to just about anything you can dream up. 🙂

Feel free to message me with any questions.

 

 

 

Tune into the Living off the Land Interview Series I’m part of! Learn to Source Your Own Food!

Hey Friends!

Do you have a desire to be more self-sufficient and live off the land? Such as, growing your own fruit and vegetable gardens, raising animals, fishing, hunting, or foraging for your own food? Many of us feel a desire to live this way, but we may feel we don’t have the time, money, knowledge, or live in the wrong area, or maybe you’re just intimidated?

Good news: with the right tools, information, and advice, you can learn to lean into the lifestyle of sourcing your own food no matter where you live!

My friend Nichole Teering, Health and Lifestyle Coach, has compiled a complimentary interview series with 20 different experts to show you how. It’s called Living off the Land, and it brings together a variety of experts to discuss topics to help you learn how to live more self-sufficiently —without needing to move. This interview series includes ME, Stephanie Thurow, and I’ll be talking about canning and fermenting!

My portion of the interview will be available November 14th.

Listen to the interview series here, at no cost: Living off the Land

Specifically, you’ll learn about:

  • Safely foraging for local edibles
  • Raising your own animals
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Preserving food
  • Growing gardens of all kinds!

I hope you’ll tune in and be inspired by one of the guest speakers!

It’s Fresh Cranberry Season in Minnesota!

Fermented Cranberry Relish from Can It & Ferment It, by Stephanie Thurow

Cranberry season in Minnesota is almost as exciting to me as apple season is for most home cooks. Why? Because they are so incredibly versatile. Most people initially think “cranberry sauce” or, if you were really lucky growing up (like me!), you’ll think of that canned cranberry sauce that falls out of the can, molded into the shape of the can — mmmm, appetizing 😉 . But, cranberries can be used for so much more than just the traditional cranberry sauce. They are delicious dehydrated, juiced, used in holiday cocktails (or mocktails), made into chutney, jams, jellies and salsas, or even a relish. Cranberries are also healthy! They are high in antioxidants, low in calories, good for the urinary system and they are high in vitamins C, A and K.

Plus, when you live right next to the state that produces the largest crop of cranberries in the country, and supplies nearly half the world with them — thank you, Wisconsin –, you may as well embrace the beautiful, vibrant, red gems.

Beginning in October, us Minnesotans start to see fresh cranberries trickle in at the markets. Yay! Lakewinds Food Co-op in Richfield offers them seasonally as well as the Downtown St. Paul –  Lowertown Farmers’ Market. They are inexpensive and incredibly delicious.

I already purchased my first box of 10 pounds and have made a double batch of cranberry sauce for the holiday season, as well as a new recipe I’m working on for Cranberry Coulis.

Here is a recipe that I developed for FERMENTED CRANBERRY-ORANGE RELISH, published in Can It & Ferment It (2017), Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. I hope you give it a try!

This sweet and citrusy cranberry ferment is full of flavor. The deep red color of the finished fermented relish will surely brighten up any plate!

Yield: 1 pint jar

Ingredients:

3 cups whole fresh cranberries

½ tsp. organic orange zest

2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice

2 tbsp. raw honey

Directions:

Pick through the cranberries and discard any damaged, soft or unripe berries (pink or green colored). Rinse thoroughly and strain. Use a food processor to chop the cranberries; it will only take 2-3 seconds. Transfer the berries into a pint jar and add in the orange zest, juice and honey. Mix together well. Use a canning jar lid and ring to tightly shut the jar.

Keep the relish on the counter at room temperature, preferably between 68-75°F to ferment. Once a day, open the jar, stir the ingredients, pat them back down and tightly shut the jar. This is a 3-day ferment. Once complete, refrigerate relish for up to two weeks. Enjoy!

I have many more recipes for cranberries in Can It & Ferment It as well as WECK Small-Batch Preserving.

Can It and Ferment It – Canning and Fermenting Class in Minnesota

Last month I taught a 2.5 hour cooking class about canning and fermenting to 10 local adults. It was a lot of information to squeeze into a short time frame, but we managed to do it.

I taught the class all about the canning process, terminology and the materials needed and then they got to get hands-on in the kitchen. Each student cleaned, prepped, packed and water bath canned their own pint of colorful carrot pickles. I brought a variety of spices for them to add to their jars including fresh garlic clove, black peppercorns, coriander, pickling spice mix, crushed red pepper flakes and dried dill seed. Each student seasoned their jars to their liking. Once everyone’s jars were water bath processed, they cleaned up and we started the second part of class.

For the next portion of class, I briefly talked about the process of fermentation and the benefits of fermenting food. I explained the different terminology and the various fermentation vessel option. Then, the students got to once again get hands-on by packing their own pints of cherry tomatoes with basil and garlic and made a salt-water brine to ferment them in. I also provided each student with a little WECK jar glass lid to use as a weight, as they are the perfect size for small-batch jar fermenting.


At the end of the class, I shared some canned and fermented goodies that I had made, so the students could taste a variety of things. You never know what to expect when you get a group of strangers together, but each person was a fantastic addition to the class. Everyone had a great time and I look forward to the sauerkraut-making and fire cider classes I’m developing for the winter session!

To get on an e-mail list to be notified of future canning and fermenting classes in the Twin Cities, shoot me an e-mail at:  minnesotafromscratch(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject “Future Classes”

Thanks,

Stephanie

 

What is a Certified Master Food Preserver and How Do You Become One?

Certified Master Food Preserver Graduates (and instructors on the ends) – Summer 2018 ~Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

I’ve received so many messages and e-mails from people asking where they can take a class like I took in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii this past June (2018), so here are some answers. The Master Food Preserver course is offered ALL OVER the place, but unfortunately Minnesota and Wisconsin have cancelled their courses for now and that’s why I went to Hawaii. Other states around the country are also phasing it out, due to “lack of funding”. This seems like an essential course to have, especially for us Midwesterner’s, that live in a frozen tundra for a good chunk of the year. There is nothing like cracking open a jar of food preserved in the summer when it’s the dead of winter, I tell ya….

But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about what a Certified Master Food Preserver is. A Master Food Preserver (MFP) is someone that has completed the intensive certification course (usually offered) through the Extension Service in their county. They have received in-depth training of up-to-date USDA-approved methods of food preservation for preserving food safely and successfully at home. A MFP must also have a desire to teach others how to preserve, because a MFP is required to volunteer 40+ hours (varies per program) within their community each year and teach others how to preserve food. Each program is a bit different, varying from county to county. For example, Maine offers a course that is 10 Fridays in a row and New York offers the course in 3 days, back-to-back.

The course I took in Kona was spread out over 3 weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so I had to go to Kona for 2.5 weeks — OH, SHUCKS ;). Though the class layout and the cost of the class varies location by location, the material taught should pretty much be the same. At the end of the course, there is a long test with multiple choice, fill in the blank and essay questions (they gave us 4 hours to complete it) and as part of passing our class, we even had to present a 20-minute demo in front of our class and instructors, on which we were graded. Oh, and we had quizzes every night too and there was tons of reading and hands on kitchen time. It was A LOT OF WORK but I loved every single minute of it.

Why did I want to become a MFP? Well, because I teach people how to can and ferment pretty much every day. I write books about it and I want to learn everything I can possibly can so I can be an even better resource for YOU. Plus, the course not only teaches you about water bath canning and fermenting, but also goes into topics that I’m not as well versed in, such as dehydrating, pressure canning, freezing and charcuterie. It also has a large emphasis on food safety and proper food handling to avoid food borne illnesses (which is completely avoidable by the way!).

So, how do you become one? I’d start with a general search on google. See what comes up near you. If you need to travel a state or two, be sure to check with the director of the course to make sure you are allowed to attend before purchasing the class.

If you have any questions I didn’t answer, post in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

If you missed my blog posts about being in Hawaii, here is my summary of Week 1 and my summary of Week 2.

To be notified of future food preservation classes in the Twin Cities, please e-mail me at: minnesotafromscratch(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject line “Future Classes”.

7 Days Until Release of: WECK Small-Batch Preserving: Year-Round Recipes for Canning, Fermenting, Pickling and More

The countdown is on! My second book will officially be published in just one week from today. I am so excited to share it with everyone. I know many of you have questions about how to can with WECK jars and I hope that I have successfully answered all your questions with my step-by-step guide. In addition to canning with WECK jars, I have also included recipes on how to ferment, pickle and infuse with them. I even breakdown the variety of jars and explain which style is best for what method of preservation and include a quick reference guide to help you translate your standard canning jar recipes over to WECK jar sizing.

I started using WECK jars over a decade ago because I liked the fact that they have a glass lid. The only material touching my food is glass, no questionable toxic lining to worry about, as with other canning jars. A huge part of why I enjoy preserving food at home is because I have control of what ingredients I include in my preserves, so knowing that there are no toxic chemicals leaching into my preserve is incredibly important to me. Plus, with the lid being glass, I can reuse them over and over.

Last week I processed 20 pounds of tomatoes and turned them into homemade Bloody Mary Mix, one of my favorite recipes included in the new book. It’s hard to pick just one favorite because I included so many, such as fermented escabeche, homemade fruit shrub recipes, homemade alcohol infusions (you won’t be buying flavored vodka [or any infused liquor] ever again) and there are also 5 delicious guest recipes, contributed by amazing women, ranging from Canada to Florida.

If you haven’t reserved your copy yet, click here.

Also, my first book, Can It & Ferment It is still in a price war with other online retailers, and is available at the low price of just $11.55, it’s a great opportunity to stock up on a few copies for the holidays. You can order it here.

Be sure to use hashtags #CanItandFermentIt and #WECKSmallBatch when posting on social media so I can find your cookbook posts.

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