Homestead Junction

Picnic Basket Fermented Vegetables (by Emillie of August 15, 2016 14:25

Quick Fermented Veggies: A Guide

Fermented snacking vegetables are the one thing that I always have bubbling away on my kitchen counters.  I love them for so many reasons.

  • It's a great way to make sure that I'm getting my daily dose of probiotics.
  • Everyone loves them.
  • They are hugely flavourful, salty and perfect to eat without any dips or sauces.
  • It allows me to "process" my farm box ahead of time so that nothing goes off before we get a chance to eat it.
  • But the main reason why I always have fermented snacking vegetables kicking around is because I'm lazy.

Delicious Fermented Vegetables - Perfect for Packed Lunches!

I know that seems backwards, how could anyone who is devoted to fermenting be lazy?  But... at 6:30 in the morning when I'm scrambling to fill my kids lunch boxes, it is so awesome to have already prepared vegetables in the fridge ready to dump into the lineup of waiting snack containers. Or when we all get home at the end of a busy day and we're starving for something to eat, I can always reach for my jar of snacking vegetables in the fridge!

However, since the season is switching from the hectic school year to summer vacation-land, I have named this recipe Picnic Basket Fermented Vegetables, because in the summer there will always be a jar of fermented veggies in my picnic basket!


  • 1 L glass jar (I usually use a fido. You could also use a mason jar with an airlock or pickle-nipple lid.  Or if you want to go low tech, just use a mason jar with the metal lid floating on top, without the screw band.  The goal is to allow gasses to escape without letting any unwanted bugs into the ferment).
  • Mixed firm vegetables. Softer vegetables are great to ferment too... but they will go soggy, and are better off eaten with a fork than with your fingers. I recommend using: carrots, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, green beans, sweet peas and cauliflower. You could also use pickling cucumbers, but you won't end up with a pickle with this recipe!
  • Water (filtered to remove all chlorine)
  • 1 tbsp of salt (non-iodized or pickling salt)
  • 1 tbsp of starter culture (cultured whey, sauerkraut brine, purchased vegetable culture, or kombucha.) You don't need a starter to get vegetables to ferment, but you want these veggies to ferment quickly in order to avoid going soft, so a starter is recommended.
  • Optional flavour additions: you can add any herbs or spices that you want. In general you want 1 tsp of a spice or 1 tbsp of a herb. My favourite flavours are garlic & dill for a traditional pickle flavour, or garlic & ginger for something tangier.


  1. Wash and cut the vegetables into sticks.
  2. Pack the vegetables into the jar making sure that they are 1" below the top.
  3. Add in the salt, whey and any additional flavours that you're using. Then cover with the filtered water.
  4. Use a weight to keep the vegetables below the brine.
  5. Place the jar in a bowl (to catch any liquid that might bubble out) and allow to ferment for 3 days. It's best to ferment somewhere around 18C and out of the light. I usually stash my ferments in a cool closet.
  6. After 2-3 days the vegetables will have developed a nice flavour, and they will still be crisp.
  7. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy!

Fermented vegetables make delicious snacks. 

By Emillie of

Kombucha: A Comprehensive Guide August 15, 2016 13:36 1 Comment

Kombucha: A Comprehensive Guide

Kombucha is a probiotic beverage that has been consumed for centuries, perhaps millenia, by people in China and Russia. It is made by fermenting sweetened green or black tea with a culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast); the result is a tart and delightfully effervescent beverage loaded with beneficial microorganisms. Kombucha can be served warm or cold and custom flavors can be created with the addition of different fruits or fruit juices.

The Basics 

Make a pot of black or green tea, add sugar and a scoby, and wait while the scoby microorganisms convert the sugar into acids and effervescence.

Quick Reference

Batch Size Tea Sugar Starter Tea
1 qt. 2 bags (or 2 tsp. looseleaf) 1/4 cup 1/2 - 1 cup
1/2 gal. 4 bags (or 4 tsp. looseleaf) 1/2 cup 1 - 2 cups
1 gal. 8 bags (or 8 tsp. looseleaf) 1 cup 2 - 4 cups


The Perfect Kombucha Guide


  • fermentation vessel (glass jar or plastic pitcher)
  • breathable jar cover
  • large pot for brewing tea
  • steeping bag or strainer (if using loose leaf tea)
  • stirring spoon (preferably wooden or plastic)
  • tea (black or green)
  • sugar (real cane sugar, no artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes)
  • starter tea reserved from previous batch or vinegar
  • swing-top glass or plastic soda bottle(s)
  • funnel with tip narrow enough to fit bottlenecks
  • SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)


  1. When using a dried scoby, follow the manufacturer's instructions for activation. (The first few batches will require the use of vinegar to acidify the tea, since sufficiently acidic starter tea won't be available.) Once you have a fully active scoby, you may proceed to brew regular batches with the following instructions.
  2. Make pot of tea using water and tea amounts according to desired batch size.
  3. Add sugar while tea is still hot and stir to dissolve.
  4. If using loose leaf tea without a steeping bag, strain leaves out once tea has steeped.
  5. Let tea cool to room temperature. Cover if cooling overnight, or place pot in large bowl of ice water and stir to cool quickly.
  6. Once tea has reached room temperature, combine it with reserved starter tea and SCOBY in fermentation vessel. A SCOBY can ferment any size batch of tea, it just might take a little longer for larger batches.
  7. Cover with breathable jar cover (or use muslin held in place with a rubber band) to keep out dust and flies and store at room temperature, out of direct light.
  8. Allow to ferment undisturbed for 7-14 days, depending on how tart you like it. If you're totally new to this, pour off a small amount after 7 days and every other day after to taste it.
  9. When the balance of sweet and sour is to your liking, it's ready to drink! Or, if you prefer a bit of fizzy effervescence, funnel kombucha into swing-top glass bottles or plastic soda bottles and leave out for another 2-3 days. Remember to save some of your completed kombucha to use as starter tea for your next batch! As the tea continues to ferment, carbon dioxide (carbonation) will build up in the bottles.
  10. Refrigerate the completed kombucha and enjoy!

The Perfect Kombucha Guide

Where to Find Your SCOBY

Often, people who have a thriving batch of kombucha will be overjoyed to cut a chunk of their SCOBY off to share with friends. So ask around - perhaps some friend or acquaintance in your life is a benevolent kombucha-brewer.

If that is not practical, you can always pick up a SCOBY from homestead junction! Come by our physical location at 649 East Hastings in Vancouver.

Those of you outside of Vancouver can have a dried SCOBY shipped to your doorstep. We have entire kombucha-brewing kits that can be happily mailed to any address around the world. Check them out here!

Kombucha Kit - Everything you need to brew your own kombucha!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use alternative sweeteners to make kombucha?

Understandably, many people are trying to reduce the amount of sugar in their diets, but SCOBY microorganisms are not in this camp. They depend for their survival on an intake of real sugar (not sucralose or saccharine, etc.) and they're the ones actually consuming the sugar, not you. Depending on how long you allow it to ferment, your finished kombucha will only have a gram or two of sugar per cup; it will become progressively more sour the longer you let it ferment, as more sugar is converted to acid.

Is there any risk of glass bottles shattering due to the pressure of carbonation?

Glass bottles are plenty strong enough to contain a few day's worth of built up carbonation pressure. However, if you forget how long they've been out, you can't gauge the pressure inside except by opening them, which can lead to an explosive mess on your kitchen ceiling. When in doubt, open bottles outside. With plastic bottles, you can give them the "squeeze test." When they're firm, they're ready to refrigerate. If you forget to refrigerate carbonated plastic bottles in time, the seal in the cap is more likely to fail than the bottle itself and you'll just end up with leaky tops.

Can I use fruits or fruit juices to flavor kombucha?

Absolutely! To avoid possible contamination or damage to the SCOBY, it's recommended to brew the kombucha as described above and add fruit or fruit juice when you bottle it for the second stage of fermentation (carbonation). As a rule of thumb, use 1 tablespoon fresh fruit, frozen fruit, or fruit juice for each cup of kombucha.

What's the starter tea for?

The starter tea is already acidic from being previously fermented and serves to acidify the new batch of tea, which prevents contaminants from moving in before your SCOBY microorganisms have time to take hold. If you don't have enough starter tea, such as when starting with a dried SCOBY, vinegar may be used to acidify the tea. Starter tea also boosts the number of microorganisms: the more starter tea you use, the quicker your kombucha will ferment.  Vinegar does not add microorganisms.

More Resources An awesome reference for all things culinary. Easy-to-follow instructions from the author of True Brews, Emma Christensen. A detailed guide to using fresh fruits, fruit juices, and dried fruits to customize the flavor of your kombucha. Also discusses the use of extracts, infusions, and medicinal herbs in kombucha.

Christensen, Emma. True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home. An excellent reference for making all kinds of fermented beverages. Great ideas for fruit flavor combinations, as well as instructions for growing your own SCOBY if you can't get one from a friend and/or don't want to buy one.

How to Make Tempeh at Home August 10, 2016 14:30

How to Make Tempeh at Home

Traditionally made from soybeans, tempeh originated in Indonesia and is used in many dishes to replace meat such as burgers, stirfrys, or on it’s own. The fermentation process of the soybeans give tempeh a higher protein content and more dietary fibre and has a subtle mushroom-y flavour. Yum!

Ingredients for Making Delicious Homemade Tempeh


Tempeh can be made from soybeans, chickpeas or other legumes if you feel like experimenting. Some people don’t like to use soybeans for various reasons and other beans give different flavours and textures. For example, chickpeas are slightly firmer and drier, whereas green peas make a very soft, almost mushy tempeh.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 ½ cups dry legumes (chickpeas)
  • 1-2 tbsp vinegar (apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 packet of tempeh starter
  • Glass baking dish/plastic container
  • Perforated aluminum foil or plastic bag
  • Cube shaped dehydrator or low temp oven
Soaking Chickpeas for Delicious Homemade Tempeh
  1. Prepare beans by soaking them overnight or cooking on low in a crockpot for 6 hours.
  2. If the beans were just soaked overnight, boil the beans for 1 hour to cook.
  3. Lightly crush the beans and place in a bowl with water to scoop out as many of the hulls as you can. Don’t worry about this too much or else you’ll be spending 2 hours manually hulling chickpeas like I did the first time I made this.

Hulling Chickpeas for Delicious Homemade Tempeh

  1. Strain the bean chunks and let cool until about skin temperature and mostly dry.
  2. Thoroughly mix in vinegar and tempeh starter.
  3. Spoon into containers so there is a 1 - 1 ½ inch layer of beans and cover with perforated aluminum or plastic bag (it’s important to have holes in the cover so there isn’t too much moisture in the container).
  4. Take out all the trays in your dehydrator and put the containers on the bottom.
  5. Set to 88°F and let it run for 24 hours.

Incubating Tempeh in the Dehydrator!

  1. Check after 12 hours since the fermentation can cause enough heat that the tempeh can be incubated without a heat source (I left mine on top of the running dehydrator for another 12 hours).
  2. Once there is a dense coat of white mycelium you know your tempeh is fully incubated and ready to eat raw or cooked!
Mycelium Growing on Homemade Tempeh!

Storing Tempeh:

  • In airtight containers, fresh tempeh can be stored in the fridge for 1 week
  • If you steam the tempeh for 20 minutes and store in an airtight container it can keep in the freezer for 3 months

Amazing, Beautiful Tempeh

How to Make Kimchi - a Comprehensive Guide July 28, 2016 14:41

How to Make Perfect, Spicy, Delicious Kimchi!

Kimchi originated in Korea centuries ago and is popular today in many Asian countries. In Western cuisine, it is frequently compared to sauerkraut because both are products of lacto-fermentation (so-called because the microbes involved produce lactic acid, not because of any association with dairy products). Fermentation has been used for centuries by cultures around the globe to preserve fresh foods: fermenting microbes create an acidic environment that prevents contamination. While the process for making sauerkraut and kimchi are similar, their flavors differ drastically. Kimchi is heavily seasoned, incorporating hot peppers and fish sauce (another fermented food!). One of the benefits of making your own kimchi is that you can play around with the flavors and tone down the spice level to your taste.

A traditional Korean kimchi fermenting vessel is called an onggi.
The Basics: To make kimchi, napa cabbage is first soaked in a strong brine, rinsed, drained, and then combined with a red pepper spice paste. After fermenting for several days, the mixture softens and takes on a complex and tangy flavor.

Quick Reference:


1-qt. Batch

1-gal. Batch

5-gal. Batch

Napa Cabbage

2 lbs.

8 lbs.

40 lbs.

Sea Salt

1/4 cup

1 cup

5 cups

Daikon Radish

1/2 cup

2 cups

10 cups

Green Onions

1/2 cup

2 cups

10 cups

Garlic, minced

1 tbsp.

1/4 cup

1 1/4 cup

Ginger, grated

1 tbsp.

1/4 cup

1 1/4 cup


1 1/2 tsp.

2 tbsp.

1/2 c. + 2 tbsp.

Fish Sauce

2-3 tbsp.

1/2 - 3/4 cup

2 1/2 - 3 3/4 c.

Hot Pepper Powder


1-3 tbsp.

1/4 - 3/4 cup

1 1/4 - 3 3/4 c.

Materials You'll Need to Get Started:

  • Napa Cabbage
  • Sea Salt (non-iodized)
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Large bowl
  • Colander
  • Plate
  • Weight
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Fermentation vessel (ceramic crock or glass jar)
  • Cheesecloth and rubber band (optional)
  • reCap mason jar lid and airlock (optional)
  • Instructions (see table above for ingredient amounts for different sized batches)

Homestead Junction Kimchi Supplies:

Browse Homestead Junction's Fabulous Fermentation Supplies!



  1. Quarter and core cabbage(s). Rough-chop into 1" - 2" pieces.
  2. Alternate layers of cabbage and salt in large bowl so salt is evenly distributed throughout cabbage. With hands, massage salt into cabbage until cabbage starts to soften.
  3. Add water to bowl until cabbage is submerged. Cover with plate and use weight to keep cabbage from floating. Leave for several hours.
  4. Strain cabbage and reserve some of the brine to use later.
  5. Rinse the cabbage three times in cold water and drain in colander while you make the seasoning paste and prep the veggies. Rinse and dry bowl to use again later.
  6. Mix garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, and hot pepper powder into a paste and set aside.
  7. Cut daikon radish into matchstick-sized pieces and green onions into 1" segments.
  8. Combine cabbage, green onion, and radish pieces with spice paste in large bowl. Mix well with hands. Wear gloves if you're using a lot of hot pepper.
  9. Pack tightly into jar or fermentation vessel. If you have a crock with weights, insert them now; if you're using a jar or other food-grade container, use a smaller jar or a saucer to weigh down your kimchi and pour some of the reserved brine over it so it's fully submerged. Another technique for weighing down the kimchi while it ferments is to use a clean plastic bag filled with brine (rather than plain water, which would dilute the salinity of the kimchi if it leaked).
  10. If you have a crock with an airlock rim, remember to fill it with water. If you're using a mason jar, we recommend a reCap lid and airlock combo that works great for keeping out contaminants. It's also perfectly acceptable to ferment without any kind of airlock, as long as you check regularly that the kimchi solids aren't floating up to the surface of the brine. As long as the veggies stay submerged, they won't be in contact with air or air-borne contaminants. Cover the fermentation vessel with clean cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band.
  11. Allow to ferment for 3 days to a week (or more depending on the temperature and how sour you like your kimchi). The microorganisms involved in fermentation are more active at higher temperatures, so fermentation proceeds quicker in warmer weather, and vice versa. Taste your kimchi (with a clean fork and don't double-dip!) after a few days and every other day after. When it's to your liking, move it to the refrigerator where fermentation will slow waaaaay down. Kimchi will store in the refrigerator for several months.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make a vegetarian kimchi?

Absolutely! Just replace the fish sauce with an equal amount of water to make the spice paste. Try using kelp powder for a vegetarian seafood-y umami flavor.

What kind of hot pepper flakes should I use?

The hot pepper powder typically used in Korean cooking is called Gochugaru and can be found in Asian food markets. The pepper itself is fairly mild, as peppers go, and isn't usually smoked, so cayenne and the Mexican hot peppers more common in North American stores aren't great substitutes. If you can't find Gochugaru in a store in your area, it may be worth purchasing it online.

What if I see white scum or mold on the surface of my kimchi?

If you monitor your kimchi every day, you should be able to catch something like this at an early stage. If it's an isolated spot just on the surface, then go head and skim it off. Molds form on the surface where they have access to air, so if your kimchi is well below the surface of the brine, it may not be affected at all. A white scum on the surface of fermented foods is also common: it's just residue from naturally-occurring yeasts (like the lees in unfiltered beer). Though harmless, white scum isn't exactly appetizing, so just skim it off with a clean spoon whenever you see it. Fermented food should taste and smell pleasantly tangy; if yours smells "off," trust your nose and don't eat it.

Can I alter this recipe to customize my kimchi?

Of course! The recipe presented here is only a starting point for making a basic kimchi. There are literally hundreds of recipes for kimchi and their ingredients can change seasonally and from region to region. Some are seafood-heavy, incorporating minced dry shrimp, fish, or octopus. Some are really spicy or not spicy at all, such as "white" kimchi, which contains no hot pepper. You can try different vegetables: carrots, beets, garlic scapes, seaweed, a different type of cabbage, whatever you have an abundance of!


Resources for Going Further:

Katz, Sandor Ellix. The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes From Around the World. 2012. See pages 112-114 for an overview of the qualities of kimchi in all its variety. An excellent guide to making kimchi, which differs from the recipe presented here in two major ways: the spice paste is rubbed into the cabbage leaves whole and rice flour is used to make a starchy porridge to bind everything together. Both techniques will add to the work involved, but result in a much more authentic kimchi.

How to Sprout Seeds - an Infographic! July 27, 2016 14:55

How to sprout seeds! So you can enjoy delicious, nutritious greens with ease.


Sprouting is easy, and loads of fun! Here's a quick, handy guide to get you started growing delicious, nutritious, plentiful greens - for many thousands of eclectic uses.

When a seed sprouts, enzymes present in the seed “wake up” and begin making the nutrients and energy in the seed ready for the growth of the plant. By sprouting a seed and then eating the plants when they're still tiny, you capture this nutrient-rich stage of the plant's life-cycle. Sprouting at home grants you access to way more varieties of sprout than you can find in the grocery store at significantly lower cost. The seeds keep for a long time, so you can always have some in your pantry and make a batch of sprouts every few days, or whenever you crave something green. It's a great way to get some local veg in your diet in the cold months.




  1. Choose a seed packet and empty its contents into the jar. Each contains one tablespoon of seeds.
  2. Add about half a cup of water to the jar and leave the seeds to soak for about 12 hours. As few as 8 or as many as 24 hours should be OK – fit it to your schedule.
  3. Pour off the soaking water. You'll probably find it easiest to carefully decant most of the water with the lid off, then replace the lid to drain out the last little bit without losing seeds down the drain.
  4. Rinse the seeds immediately and again at least twice daily. You may find it most convenient to do when you get up and when you go to bed. To rinse, fill the jar halfway with water and then pour off in the same manner as the soaking water. After rinsing, lean the jar up at angle in the cereal or soup bowl. This will allow drainage and catch the small amount of water that will drip out. 
  5. Keep at it for several days. Remembering to rinse regularly is the true crux of sprouting successfully!
  6. After a day or two you'll see little white tails starting to form on the seeds. These are the roots! A little later you'll see the baby plant start growing from each seed. After this point, your sprouts are ready when you say they are; eat them when they're half a centimeter long or wait until they're 3-4 cm long. Generally, smaller seeds are best as shorter sprouts, and vice versa.
  7. Before eating, give the sprouts a good final rinse and drain them completely. Once the sprouts are ready you can refrigerate them in a separate container for a week or so.

Going Further


  1. Other sprouting methods include multi-tray units for having several batches sprouting simultaneously, and hemp or cotton bags that you can hang over your sink. You can even improvise your own method- all you need is a way to rinse the seeds without loosing them and a way to keep them damp without cutting off all air flow.
  2. The seeds provided in this kit are just the tip of the iceberg of varieties. You can sprout nearly any vegetable or salad green seed to great effect! Sprouting is a great way to use home-saved seeds that are cheap, abundant, and possibly cross-pollinated (and hence less suitable for growing into adult plants)


Where to Buy

You'll want to get your sprouting seeds from a reputable source. This eliminates the likelihood of getting sick from contaminants such as salmonella and e-coli - which may be present in seeds that have not been prepared specifically for sprouting. 

Homestead Junction has sprouting kits made up that include several varieties of Canadian-grown, delicious sprouting seeds. So you can discover which type you like best!

Get started here.

Sprouting Kit! Includes several varieties of delicious, specially prepared sprouting seeds.

Making Pickled Sea Asparagus July 26, 2016 15:16

How to Make Delicious Pickled Asparagus! A little taste of the ocean in your salad.

Over the weekend I went to Nanoose Bay to spend some time soaking up the sun and dipping my feet in the water.

A Beautiful Day at Nanoose Bay

I frequently walk along Wall Beach looking for things that have washed up on the rocks like shells, bones, and bits of metal. So I set out with my backpack filled with bags and a water bottle (something I usually forget) and headed down to the water.

I forgot that it was the perfect season for sea asparagus and was pleasantly surprised to see so much of it when I went around the point!

Panorama of Nanoose Bay

Salicornia (sea asparagus, sea bean, glasswort, pickleweed, samphire) is a species of salt tolerant succulent found in North America, Europe, South Africa, and South Asia. The best time to harvest (in my experience) is June - September. When eaten raw, sea asparagus basically just tastes like solidified ocean water (very salty, kind of seaweed-y).

It can also be boiled and served like land asparagus or chopped up and used in soups or stews and pairs nicely with seafood.

Sea Asparagus in Natural Wilderness

I figured I would try something new this time and ferment them since I had seen many recipes for pickled sea asparagus. I was able to find a couple recipes through the internet and combined them.

Fermented Sea Asparagus Recipe

You will need:

  • Enough sea asparagus to fit in a 1L mason jar
  • 2 cloves garlic (quartered)
  • ¼ cup of salt
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • A two-piece fermentation weight (or boiled rock that can fit through the mouth of the jar)
  • Something to cover your jar (airlock, pickle pipe, fabric cover, plastic lid)
Ingredients for Pickling Sea Asparagus


  • Cram the sea asparagus and garlic into the jar
  • Dissolve the salt in warm water
  • Cover sea asparagus with the brine
  • Place weight on top making sure all the sea asparagus is under the brine
  • Cover the jar opening
  • Wait for 3-6 weeks
  • Enjoy!
Pickled Sea Asparagus

Sea Asparagus Salad


  • 3 cups roughly chopped sea asparagus
  • 2 cups chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (or other small tomato)
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper (to taste)

Toss everything together in a bowl and take to a picnic!

Common Urban Herbs and Their Uses - an Infographic! July 18, 2016 14:47

Common Urban Herbs and Their Uses
Here's a handy guide to some of the commonest herbs you'll find while foraging your urban neighborhood. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the full infographic!


 You'll see this urban herb contorting itself into strange places: trees, walls, staircases and alleyways are good places to look. Many consider it to be an invasive species.

This plant is a friend to urban wildlife: birds love their berries, deer love their leaves and small mammals love to burrow in their roots. Humans commonly use their extracts as a cough medicine - take caution however, as some folks have severe allergic reactions to Ivy.

Medicinal Uses of English ivy | Hedera helix


These beautiful, recognizable plants grow all over the lower mainland and have a variety of uses. Boil the shoots as you would asparagus, make tea with the rhizomes, or dry the roots and mash into a flour.

Medicinally, some herbalists claim that the plant helps with cartilage issues such as osteo-arthritis. Others claim that it is a general restorative, promoting good mental fortitude.

Medicinal Uses of Solomon's seal | maianthemum Spp.


If you open your eyes to them, you'll see these adorable herbs springing from all corners of your urban landscape. They are hardy and will thrive in cracks in the sidewalk and heavily trafficked open parkland.

Pineappleweed extracts are effective insect repellents - and they smell delicious. In fact, this plant's soothing aroma is often utilized as an anxiety reducer in teas or tinctures. Herbalists also use this herb to treat unruly stomachs.


Medicinal Uses of pineappleweed | Matricaria discoidea


This plant is everywhere! From roadsides, to parks, to cracks in the sidewalk, you can count on this herb growing voraciously in tough conditions. 

You can use the young leaves as you would lettuce, with the added benefit of a high nutrient and mineral content. Older leaves can be used to make small cords, fishing line, sutures, or braids.

Medicinally, common plantain is often used as a poultice to treat skin conditions and open sores, such as sunburns, insect bites, and small cuts. 

Medicinal Uses of common plantain | Plantago major


These small, pretty little plants grow prolifically in all sorts of grassy, urban settings. Bees love them. As well, they fix nitrogen and provide good forage for browsing animals. Children enjoy plucking and sucking the nectar from the small flowers.

Clovers are edible and high in protein, leading many to regard them as a 'survival' plant. Dried and ground, the plant makes a decent flour.

Some herbalists utilize clover extract as a blood cleanser and as a protection against colds.

Medicinal Uses of White Clover | Trifolium repens


Kelsey Says Goodbye - For Now! July 12, 2016 12:13

For the past year and a bit, I've been working most hours of the week with the incredible staff at Homestead Junction figuring out ways to better engage with the many communities we intersect with. The position of Community Engagement Coordinator at Homestead Junction has taught me a lot about ways a small business can impact people personally, and I can't tell you how many ways that has inspired me. 

For myself, as a transgendered person, I never imagined to find acceptance so easily among staff and an employer at a workplace. I am incredibly lucky and privileged to have not only been hired in the first place, but to be respected in my identity - one that is too commonly rejected by greater society. Not only that, but I was granted tons of freedom to input systems to better welcome others into our space whose identities in society often leave them marginalized and invisibilized by default. My position as Community Engagement Coordinator was one based on trust and relationships, and an understanding that everyone is different - so how can we better accommodate each other in our differences? As anyone who gardens using permaculture principles knows, or anyone who has been witnessing the effects of climate change specifically in places where there is a lack of biodiversity (for example, the devastating pine beetle), we must intentionally do the work and take the time to input new systems to grow diverse ecosystems. The default may otherwise look like a whole lot of morning glory strangling your backyard - or a huge dependence on scarce resources like fresh water just to keep our own gardens alive. We need diversity to grow together and support one another.

I am very sad to leave a workplace that makes so much room for this kind of work to be done, though I am incredibly grateful for the kindness that has encouraged me to keep learning and practicing my job all the way through. Over the course of my time here, I've worked with an incredible diversity of humans connected to the store, and learned so much from each of them. With our community, Homestead Junction has built an incredible roster of instructors teaching all sorts of skills that would otherwise be next to impossible to learn in the city. From fermentation to making herbal medicine, to learning how to tan deer hide, this store is an incredible resource for city dwellers. It's probably not realistic that we will all tan hides to make our next pairs of boots, but it's very probable that learning the many steps to making leather will impact how we think when we purchase our next pair of boots.

Within our local communities, we have been building solid relationships with our neighbours and neighbouring organizations like the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, and Briarpatch Community Garden. As a small business, we too have limited resources, but we do have an abundance of social capital and knowledge. Being able to share that with folks that reside in our DTES neighbourhood has been incredibly inspiring, and a huge reminder of all the work so many people are doing every day to make finding support accessible in the DTES.

So with that, I am incredibly pleased and grateful for my time spent at Homestead Junction. I learned way more than I could have imagined. HJX's owner Rick Havlak has taught me continuously about leadership through generosity and trust. Those are definitely two of his most consistent traits and I can't even tell y'all how many times I was surprised and caught off guard in the best ways by this. It makes him real good employer. And these are values I will hold on to and remember for a very long time as I head into new projects of my own.

With Love,

Kelsey Cham Corbett

 we'll miss you, kelsey


Making a Baby Bib From Scratch! July 05, 2016 13:24

DIY baby bib: you can save money while having fun and being creative!

My friend just had a baby and after leaving the fourth baby store without finding a good gift, I got frustrated. Spending a lot of money on something that seems to have no use other than to ‘look cute’ makes no sense to me and I started thinking about a DIY project.

‘Well, babies get dirty all the time’, I thought to myself, and came up with the idea of sewing a bib. The perfect gadget to keep your baby clean - at least for a little while.

First, I started searching a pattern online. After a while I gave up, merged two that I found and made some changes to it and then ended up with something like this pattern right here.

It turns out you do not need much material for a bib and you can also upcycle old towels if you have any. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Front fabric (preferably PUL)
  • Back fabric (terry or something soft)
  • Thread
  • Velcro
  • Pins
  • Paper clips
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Ballpoint twin needle & single
  • Sewing machine

I usually have most of these supplies at home. Here’s the material I went out to buy:

Beautiful fabric for making a baby bib!

Step 1: Cut fabric

Using PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) has the advantage of being waterproof and instead of having to wash the bib after each meal, wiping it usually is sufficient. However, No pointy needles should be used with this kind of fabric.  As you can see in the picture below, I just used paper clips and electrical tape. You can certainly use regular tape; I just didn’t have any at home. But like any true engineer I always have electrical tape laying around somewhere.

Fold the fabric (right on right) and clip or tape it together. Place the pattern on the fold and fix it to the fabric. Seam allowances are included so you only need to mark the outlines with chalk.

Prepping fabric for making a bib for babies.

Repeat the same procedure for your back fabric. Note that you can use regular pins here.

Then go ahead and cut along the marked lines.

Cutting up fabric for a baby bib.
  • Step 2: Sew on Velcro
  • Cut two matching pieces of velcro and fix them where you want them to be. This may vary depending on the baby’s neck size and you could also consider adding multiple pieces so the bib can ‘grow’ with the baby. Initially, I tried gluing on the velcro to hold it in place. However, it didn’t really stick together and I ended up using a pin instead.

    Put them on the same side on both fabrics. I.e. if you want them on the left side on your front fabric also put them on the left side of your back fabric. Since the back fabric will be flipped 180 degrees, the velcro will end up on the opposite side.

    Both sides of fabric for crafting a baby bib.

    Go ahead and and sew on the velcro using a relatively small stick length like number 2. I recommend using the following sewing pattern for your velcro:

    Sewing pattern for crafting a homemade baby's bib.

    Using a clever pattern to craft a beautiful homemade baby's bib.

  • Step 3: Sew Back & Front together

    Take the two fabrics and place them with the left side on the outside on each other. Use paper clips to hold them in place and leave a gap of about 15 cm on one side.

    Sewing the back and the front pieces of fabric together to create a baby's bib.

    Start sewing on one end of your gap, along the outside of your bib approximately 1cm from the edges. You can use a longer stitch here. I used a length of 3. Then cut back your seam allowance except for where you left the gap.

    Sewing together a beautiful baby's bib. Takes some skill!

  • Step 4: Sew outside Seam
  • Turn your bib inside out and fold extra seams inside where the gap is. Hold fabric in place using office clips.

    Sewing together the outside seam of a homemade baby's bib.
    Using your twin needle, sew along the edges of your bib. Make sure to have the front fabric on top!
    Twin needle utilized in the making of a baby's bib.
  • Step 5: Enjoy!
  • That’s all; your bib is finished! 

    You can download the patterns here. Have fun!

    A beautiful, homemade baby's bib!



    By Reni Diggelmann

    Yummy Goumi Berry Syrup June 28, 2016 15:27

    Homemade berry syrup, for those hot summer days! Mix it into cold water for a quick, refreshing drink.

    This was my first run-in with the widely acclaimed goumi berry. This little fruit grows like crazy in the Cascadian climate, and looks almost exactly like a goji berry when picked. Like the goji, it's loaded with vitamins - but instead of many little tiny seeds it has one big olive-like pit.

    A kindly gardener brought a whole gallon by the shop. After munching a few fresh (puckering our mouths to the sweet-and-sour taste) this is what I did with my share.

    fresh goumi berries

    2 cups of fresh goumi berries go into a pot (yes, I used a camp stove!)

    goumi berries with cane sugar

    The berries are pretty tart, and a bit of sugar helps pull the moisture out and get the pot bubbling with just a few tablespoons water added.

    goumi syrup

    It took about 15 minutes at a good boil for the pulp to break down enough to fall off the pits.

    straining the goumi syrup

    When the berries were well-broken down and the whole mix reduced by about 1/3, I transferred it to a waiting cloth-lined colander. The mix was very pulpy and I squeezed the cloth bundle quite a bit to help push the pulp through.

    goumi syrup stains gloves

    I got my mozzarella gloves all red with all the squeezing! The leftover pulp is tucked up in the cloth on the left. It was mainly pits at this point, so into the compost it went.

    goumi syrup is very thin

    With the volume reduction, I'd hoped whatever natural pectin the goumi contains would help thicken the syrup to spreadable consistency. It was even runnier than pictured here though.

    transferring goumi syrup to a swing top bottle

    so I transferred it to a nice swing-top bottle for easier pouring!

    Homemade  berry syrup, for those hot summer days! Mix it into cold water for a quick, refreshing drink.

    A splash of syrup in a glass of water made a nice refreshing drink for this hot day! I also enjoyed a few tablespoons in a mug of milk kefir (although delicious, the ladder took on the appearance of clotted vomit).

    by Rick Havlak

    Spicy Chai Syrup for Homemade Lattes June 21, 2016 12:15

    Making Homemade Syrup for Chai Lattes!

    I love a good chai latte. No better way to warm the soul on a cool ‘June-uary’ day.

    Lately, however, I’ve been becoming extravagant. I’d rather not dwell on how many several hundreds of dollars I’ve spent at my local coffee house. Enough to make me cry cinnamon-flavoured tears, no doubt.

    So I’ve stepped up to the fantastic challenge of being a mature and responsible adult. No longer shall I waste billions of dollars on chai lattes; rather, I shall make my own from scratch, with my own sweat and blood and tears and also perhaps some sugar and spicy things.

    Upon some internet perusal, I acquired this recipe for chai syrup. It is as follows:

    • 5 cups water
    • 10 black teabags or 10 teaspoons looseleaf black tea
    • 1/3 cup sugar or honey (or more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
    • 10 whole cloves
    • 8 cardamom pods, crushed to release seeds
    • 2 star anise
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


    herbs, sugar, and spices for homemade chai syrup

    The idea is that you’d mix the syrup into milk to emulate the deliciousness of a coffee shop chai latte.

    Here is the process. It is fairly straightforward.

    Step 1:

    Toss all of the ingredients into a pot.

    all the beautiful components of a homemade chai syrup

    Step 2:

    Bring the contents to a boil. If you’re after a gooey syrup consistency, let it reach 110 to 112 °C. Then, turn the heat down and simmer for fifteen minutes or so, until the mix is dark and strongly aromatic.

    to make gooey chai syrup: bring the spices, sugar and water to 110 - 112 °C

    Step 3:

    Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain all the chunky bits out through a fine sieve of some sort (in this case a du-rag).

    straining chai syrup, for use in homemade chai lattes

    Step 4:

    Funnel the syrup into a container of your choosing. I like the swing-top bottles because they make everything look sophisticated. You could fill them with cheese whiz and they’d still look sophisticated.

    funneling spicy chai syrup into a swing-top bottle

    Step 5:

    You’re done! Pour it into milk, and enjoy.

    making a chai latte with homemade chai syrup!

    The syrup will last a couple of weeks if refrigerated – if you take care not to guzzle it too quick!

    spicy chai syrup for homemade lattes

    By Tarras Adams

    Weaving Your New Favourite Shawl June 15, 2016 08:30

    Weaving & Dying Your Next Shawl Using an Old-Fashioned Loom

    I definitely didn’t need a new craft to do but when there’s a loom sitting in the back of the store and I have permission to use it, what else was I going to do?

    Like many things, I’ve only ever started weaving projects and then let them sit and collect dust because of frustration or no motivation. This was going to be an adventure.

    First, I wanted to know what loom I was working with. Turns out it is a LeClerc Bergere Rigid Heddle Loom. From my research it appears to be a great quality loom that is perfect for beginners (like me!).

    My problem with other weaving projects was that I didn’t have a shuttle. Neither loom I am borrowing came with one! I figured if I really wanted to finish this, I would have to make one. It’s not that they’re hard to make, it’s more that I was lazy and didn’t feel like it.

    Here’s how I made my shuttle:


    • Sandpaper
    • Scissors


        • A thin, flat piece of wood (I used a slat from a set of blinds)

        So I just cut out a v-shaped notch on each end of the slat and sanded it down so it wouldn’t snag the yarn. Super fancy, right? At least it works!

        So I just cut out a v-shaped notch on each end of the slat and sanded it down so it wouldn’t snag the yarn. Super fancy, right? At least it works!

        Now time to get weaving!

        It probably took me around an hour to warp this loom. I was quite surprised how quick it was and how little frustration it gave me. I used some cotton yarn I probably bought from Michael’s forever ago.

        Working with the LeClerc Bergere Rigid Heddle Loom is perfect for beginners (like me!).

        Then, with my brand new shuttle, I got to start weaving! I used some lopi yarn from the store as weft.

        Lopi yarn from Homestead Junction used as weft.

        Once everything was all woven and finished I decided I’m too messy to own anything white, so I went outside and picked a bunch of ivy leaves and dandelions.
        • 100% weight of fibre used when picking fresh plants

        While I was gathering dye materials, I let the shawl soak for an hour in an alum bath (available in bulk at Homestead Junction).

        • 8% weight of fibre when using alum as a mordant

        Soaking a shawl for an hour in an alum bath - keeps the colour from fading!

        After I had prepared the dye by simmering the plant matter for about an hour I soaked the shawl for about two hours on very low heat (just hot to the touch).

        Shawl dyed with ivy and dandelion - weaved with an old-fashioned loom

        Overall I’d say this took about 10 hours including warping and dyeing.

        Happy weaving!

         By Cassy Allan