Friday, July 30, 2010

Tokyo Blueberry Jam

The first batch of farm blueberry jam is finally done. All the jars gave out resounding pops as they sealed, and now simply await a lovely piece of toast. I used the recipe on the back of the box of pectin, but I'm hoping my next round will use this tasty concoction from Food in Jars. It sounds utterly magnificent, and I'd have a use for the lavender in the garden. I'm also wondering if I could use yuzu in place of lemon to round out the local flavor.

Basic Blueberry Jam Recipe
4 cups crushed blueberries
4 cups sugar
1 box of pectin

Wash and destem the blueberries, and then crush them one cup at a time. Stir in the pectin packet while bringing the mixture to a good rolling boil. (A rolling boil is one that doesn't let up even when being stirred. Mind you, the stirrer gets a periodic painful splash.) Once the rolling boil is going stir in all of the sugar all at once, and keep stirring. Boil and stir like this for one minute. Remove from heat, and dole into jars.

Jar Processing and Filling
Since I don't have a water bath canner here, I just use a big pot. Fill a pan with water and place the jars (also filled with water) inside, and bring them to a good boil to sterilize. I leave them on a low hum while processing the fruit, which makes me feel like they're super sterile. Sterilize the lids (or rings and lids) by placing them in a rather large bowl, and pour a kettle of boiling water iover them lids until they are well submerged. Leave them there until you need them.

A basic rule is to fill jars to about an inch (two centimeters) of the top. Once the jars are filled, wipe the lip and mouth to make sure there's no jam in the way of a good seal. Carefully fish the hot lid out of the bowl, screw it on, and gently plunk the jar back in the water bath canner/pot. Repeat until all the jars are full or the canner is full of jars, whichever comes first.

Put the lid back on the pot/canner and bring it back up to a good boil. Once it's boiling, let the jars process for a good ten minutes. Then, turn off the heat, and remove the jars. Place them on a flat surface to cool. As they cool that tell-tale pop signifies that they have sealed. The jars should hang out there for roughly 24 hours to settle, and then store them in a relatively cool, dark place. They should keep on the shelf for about a year.

A potato masher is the perfect crusher, but I just used a fork since I don't have one. A food processor might also work, but don't puree the berries. Jams are chunky by nature, and a puree is a different consistency and might change the canning time.

I don't have a canner, so as I mentioned before I just use a big pot. A canner is preferable as it has a rack inside that elevates the jars, which keeps them from heating up too quickly and exploding. (As I understand it, anyway. I haven't found something that fits inside my pot that doesn't raise the jars up too high, so I just risk it.)

I look for jars that both fit in the canner/pot and have lids with that little raised bit in the center that will depress when sealed. The best I've found that don't cost upwards of 500yen each (I'm not kidding.) are at Tokyo Hands in Shinjuku for just under 100yen. They also sell replacement lids, so I can reuse the jars. That said, I'm giving serious thought to getting a canner over here some way or another along with jars. If you've read this far and are interested, let me know. We'll get canning!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cucumber Delight

It's been way too hot to cook and salads suffer from a lack of garden greens. Our new favorite dish of green beans is fast and easy, and thankfully the tomatoes are at last making it to the table to add a fancy dash of color and taste.

Cucumbers are in full swing as well, and seem to be nearly taking over just about every vegetable stand in the area. I usually serve them straight up or with miso paste for dipping. Well, thanks to Kitchen Garden Japan and this nifty little recipe we've just added another dish to our standard summer fare. (Kitchen Garden recommends serving them with beer, so we followed suit.) Tweaked a bit to match what was on hand plus some creativeness - paprika, sesame seeds, and a dash of soy sauce - we finished a big bowl in no time. I feel cooler already.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

American Heirloom Tomatoes in Tokyo

We harvested these lovelies this morning from the greenhouse. Started from Project Grow seeds, we had no idea what to expect. Heirlooms, like my Brandwines, tend to have great names and good flavor. These are no exception. The larger of the two (pictured above) are called Snow White, and have a soft, sweet taste. They're about the size of ping pong ball. The other variety - Lemon Drop - is much smaller and always makes me think of a gooseberry when I look at it. The flavor, though, is pleasantly smooth.

Monday, July 26, 2010

First Brandywines Harvested in Tokyo

I confess to being on pins and needles about my tomatoes. It's been a bit of a rough year in the garden so far, which means plenty of lessons learned. It also means some heartbreak. Some crops didn't pan out and others simply never made it to the pan. Bugs, a little bit of disease, a little bad timing, and weeds that nearly took me down with them have been a few of my teachers this year.

The tomatoes - four Brandywines and four Black Zebras - are American heirlooms that I'm growing for the first time in my Tokyo garden. I'd grown Brandwines in Michigan and dearly loved them. (Frog Holler Organic Farm did turn me on to a couple early ripening heirlooms, but Brandywines remained near and dear.) Growing these tomatoes and anticipating the joy of sharing a taste of home with friends here gives me more pleasure than I can describe.

Seeing the plants under stress and attacked by critters literally wakes me up at night. Did I do something wrong? Did I forget to do something? Did I do something too early? Too late? The list goes on, and I toss and turn. Then there are the warnings about birds, urban wildlife, and general concern about attempting to grow American vegetables in a totally different climate.

Well, in spite of (or despite) my worrying, the tomatoes just gave up their first fruits. Harvested a little early, these misshapen beauties are all that I could have hoped for and more. Burly fruit that tastes of home and all the best of summer, I can barely wait for tonight's dinner where we'll devour them sliced with a bit of sugar or just plain. A feast for homesick taste buds.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Inspired to Recycle

Nearly as ubiquitous as the vending machines they usually stand adjacent to, this adorable trio of recycle bins proved irresistible. Mottainai!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Green Curtain Examples Around the City

Well, now that I've planted my own green curtain I'm seeing them absolutely everywhere! Here are a few examples from a recent afternoon bike ride. Now that summer is officially here, folks will be glad for all this greenery!

The first picture shows a massive green curtain covering the south wall of a large office building on the west side of Tokyo. As the day moves along this side of the building surely bears the brunt of the afternoon sun. Just next to it as well is a busy roadway that offers no relief from the heat.

The vines scramble up simple green netting as well as the metal shuttering on the walls. They grow from large pots evenly spaced along the base of the wall, and each one appears to have it's own water source. (See detail photo below.)

The other two green curtains pictured below are simple home curtains. The thicker of the two already has a very nice sized goya on it, and the window behind is well shaded. The thinner one might be as much for the fruit as it is for the shade, I think.

Both of these it should be noted were started well before I even put my pots in place. My thought, of course, is that it's probably better to get this whole process started in early June rather than mid-July. If starting from seeds, I'd recommend potting them up in late April at the latest. (Mine were a gift that I started a bit later. It could still work, though, if all your rigging is in place.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Community Garden Photos

Scattered amongst the farms and vegetable stands in our neck of Tokyo there are, thankfully, a handful of community gardens. Bustling places, the plots measure roughly three meters by three meters, and gardeners undoubtedly make the most of the space allotted to them.

Last year, we noticed a farm literally just paces south of the train tracks partitioned in half. (The photo at left of a passing train was taken standing about three-quarters of the way to the end of the garden space.) Fearing the worst (another high rise or series of prefab homes) we waited with baited breath. Much to our pleasure, this most fantastic community garden was born! We've watched its progress over the course of the past few months - plowing, marking, planting, and now tending - with great pleasure. Last Sunday we ventured in for a look around, and here's a bit of what we found.

A personal favorite because I dearly love its cold, crisp taste in summer is this watermelon tee-pee. The best part? The adorable fruit cradled in a hammock made out of old stockings. If that's not true love, I don't know what is.

A tiny bed of baby asparagus that speaks to me of a long-term commitment to the space, optimism, and tasty spring meals.

One of the largest bean trellis' ever! I made my favorite spouse stand in for scale, and he truly feared an attack from those vines.

Hot peppers growing in a bed literally covered with what looked like arugula. I assumed it was bad form to sample uninvited from someone else's garden, but I thought it a quite clever idea for a living mulch. Plus, I imagine the bright red of the pepper with those brilliant green leaves will be as much a delight for the eye as it is for the tummy.

A squash trellis not quite as big as one spotted at a nearby farm, but still quite a good one. Based on the manic state of my own squash, I may try something like this next year.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Baby Chestnuts on the Branch

There is a nice little chestnut orchard on the farm, and luckily it sits just north of my garden. As the seasons roll along I get to watch the trees flower, set fruit, and then watch the green fuzzy balls increase in size. By late August or early September, they will have almost doubled in size and turned a lovely brown color. We'll gather them up carefully, peel off the spiky coat to reveal smooth brown nuts inside.

The farmers taught me how to cook them, and we savored them in just about dish we could last fall. A little different from its taller and more storied cousin, these chestnut trees tend to live only about nine or ten years. Their fruit is just as delicious, although easier to harvest. Right now, I'll simply savor the shade they offer on hot summer afternoons of work.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Squash Trellis - A New Favorite

As a self-confessed vegetable geek who helps at an organic farm in Tokyo and has a garden, I still get an irresistible urge periodically to head out to the local vegetable stands to see what's on offer. Inevitably a good deal, I usually come away with a little Japanese practice, a recipe, and sometimes a new vegetable. The other day I came away with a new idea.

Reminiscent of the kiwi carport, this squash trellis is my new favorite find. (Ok, it's not really a new idea, but it's the biggest trellis of its kind that I've ever seen.) Full green leaves fluttered along strong vines sporting not just the usual showy squash blossom but lovely, lovely squash in various stages of growth. Hanging at about head height they did seem like a bit of a hazard, but still stunningly beautiful. Surprisingly, there were no supports for the squash as I thought there might be, although I'm planning to head back again to see how it progresses. Metal poles with sturdy netting running across the top and down the sides made for a perfect little alcove. (I confess I was so transfixed by the squash that I didn't look to see if anything was growing underneath.)

The trellis itself runs along the south end of what is now a large and busy garden, but at one time must have been part of a much larger field. (I surmise this based on the size of the adjacent farmhouse and bamboo grove, both of which are some of the largest I've seen in this area.) A grape arbor with the ripening clusters in little white bags at the moment to protect them from greedy birds and bugs runs along the north end as does a rather long row of sunflowers. The associated vegetable stall while a bit out of the way, is still one of my favorites and always worth a visit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rhubarb Harvest: Wind-Tumbled in Tokyo

Heavy winds over the past day or so wreaked only the tiniest bit of havoc. The green curtain held its own, and only a stalk or two of popcorn gave in to its gusty shoves. One surprise victim, though, was the rhubarb. A few leaves of one of the largest plants broke off, and I couldn't bear to see them go to waste. I know I'm not supposed to harvest the first year, but it seemed criminal to not make the most of the situation.

So, the massive stalks and leaves got cut off, and joined bunches of basil, swiss chard, and kale all riding home in my bike basket to be processed. The basil will, of course, become pesto frozen in ice cube trays for easy meals. The greens will be blanched and frozen for use as an unconventional addition to winter meals of houtou udon or oden. The rhubarb's destiny though, was not clear.

While rhubarb may have originated in China and Mongolia, I have yet to find a local recipe for it. The little picture on the plant tag shows a jar labeled jam, a knife, and a piece of toast. Fair enough, but I know it best as a pie filling, a favorite childhood ice cream sauce, and paired with strawberries for jam. I've got no oven here, we don't buy ice cream in bulk very often, and my few strawberries finished up some time ago.

After a fair amount of scouting about and drooling on my computer, I found this recipe for rhubarb butter via Tigress in a Jam. A small batch with only a few ingredients it seemed like the perfect fit for my four stalks. Four jars are cooling even now on the counter, and samples throughout the process convinced me it's a winner of a recipe. (I've got one stalk left that I think I'll just blanche and freeze for another rainy day.) Now, I just need another wind storm so I can see how a wee bit of ginger might taste mixed in...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Field of Pots

Tokyo is full of gardens large and small made up of vegetables, ornamentals, tiny trees, and perennial flowers. It's been a pleasure to find each and every one, and I marvel at the creativity and ingenuity that fashions them. Next to the kiwi carport though, was a garden that was simply stunning. Eggplants, squash, and tomatoes were just a few of the crops (it's the only word that really suits the volume here) grew in tidy rows in the courtyard each one blooming and fruiting.

What's so amazing about that? Each of these plants sat in a container. Big pots neatly arranged with trellised or stabilized plants filled the cemented over space. One set (see photo above) acted as a sort of green curtain for the downstairs windows, while the trellised squash sheltered smaller seedlings. Just behind the eggplants in a back corner (again, see photo above) and covered with floating row cover were four rows of long, large pots. Without trespassing, it was impossible to see what they might contain. Another well-beloved vegetable seems a safe guess.

I wondered at the amount of effort it must have taken to haul all that dirt and keep the plants watered. Why not just take up the cement? Clearly, there's a farmer-at-heart in that house that wants at least a garden to help feed the family. But it doesn't really matter. A love affair with dirt knows no bounds, rules, and follows a logic of its own. Right on, I say!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Last of the Hydrangea for the Year

Last year I fell in love with hydrangeas. I admit that before coming to Japan I thought they were ridiculous plants. In America they just seemed like another high maintenance ornamental with big blooms. I saw little that was redeeming.

Perhaps it is their ubiquity here (nearly every home has at least one) and the fact that they're a native plant. (I was astonished to see them growing high on a cliff ledge during our visit last summer to Hokkaido's Daisetzuan National Park.) Their colors range from pink to mauve to blue to purple to white with densely clustered blooms as well as airy clusters of flowers that look like they orbit a galaxy of other tiny blooms.

And now, the blooms are coming to an end. Most of the bushes in the area are heavy with fading poms whose edges are turning brown and curling in more each day. Tucked it seems in every corner, I've enjoyed again their sparks of light along shady paths and peeking over fences. Until next year, Ajisai.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kaki on the Way!

Last year was the first time I'd ever laid eyes on kaki, a.k.a. persimmon. A strange, thick-skinned orange fruit, the kaki comes in two kinds. A short fat stubby kind as well as a longer kind usually dried and later soaked in sake or eaten in tasty desserts.

Part of the vast variety of fruit trees on the farm (biwa, yuzu, and mikan to name just a few), the two kaki trees stand out in the fields where the crops grow. Both are about 20 feet tall, and provide not only wonderful fruit but welcome shade between chores.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to Construct a Green Curtain

The weather in Tokyo seems to be getter hotter by the minute. Tsuyu (the rainy season) is set to finish shortly, and we're preparing for the hot sunny days ahead. Unlike the energizing bright cool winter months, the summer sun paired with high humidity is wilting. Hoping to reduce our desire to run the air conditioner and inspired by a multitude of neighbors with lovely vines full of cool green leaves, we thought we'd grow a green curtain of our own!

Here is how we did it - from thought-process to equipment to construction - and, as usual, a few caveats. This "recipe" can easily be tweaked to suit any situation, but will hopefully be a good starting point for cooling summer days.

The Logic

Nets, vines, and pots abound at the moment in the city, and little tendrils of goya (Okinawan bitter melon), fusen (a flowering vine), morning glories, and even cucumbers wend their way upward. These often fruitful screens do double duty. Their shade prevents sunlight from heating up the space behind - whether for outdoor seating or a room in an apartment or a whole building - and sometimes provide something tasty for the dinner table, too. It seemed like a fun choice to help us keep our cool!


  • Pots - One big one, a couple medium-sized ones, or medium-small pots for each individual plant. We used one big one set in brackets that hangs off our balcony. This allowed us to position the pot, plants, and netting where it would offer the most shade, and still left room behind for access.
  • Netting or a bamboo shade - The plants need something to climb on that can be attached to or strung in front of a window, wall, or whatever area it is to be covered. We choose netting, but many of our neighbors use a combination of the two.
  • Dirt - A combination of bagged compost and composted cow or chicken manure should do the trick. I used leftover dirt from other projects, mixed in some bagged compost, and some composted cow manure. If I had to do it over again, I'd add some calcium (ground up seashells, etc.) to give the vines added strength.
  • Plants - Just about any vine or tall plant should work. I'd been given some seeds for goya and fusen, and I am also trying out Jerusalem artichoke. The latter should grow quite tall to make a leafy screen that doesn't require netting, etc., and I can still eat it at the end of the season.

The Thought Process

1. Where did we most want shade?

Our apartment gets heaps of sunshine, which we love. However, this also means it gets mighty hot in the summer months. Blocking some of the intense afternoon sunshine coming in one set of sliding glass doors seemed like a good choice for cooling the apartment.

2. How much shade did we want and how much was feasible?

Certainly, we'd like to cover the whole building in a green curtain, but that's not very practical. Based on where we decided shade is most desirable and where the afternoon sun is, we figured out roughly how large of an area we needed to cover. Green curtains can cover just a window, a wall, or the entire side of a building. It doesn't really matter. It simply depends on what you think you can reasonably create. Certainly, the more shade you make the cooler your summer months will be, but your neighbors may not appreciate your vines climbing over their balcony. (Then again, they might!)

3. Edible or ornamental? Vines or taller plants?

Green curtains can be made of anything, really. I'm a big fan of mixing edibles with ornamentals, because both are beautiful and extraordinarily complimentary. Goya (Okinawan bitter melon) is quite popular, but if that doesn't suit your taste buds consider morning glories, fusen, or cardinal climber. (I started mine from seeds I received as a gift, but these are all available at local nurseries, too.) Other edible vines to consider are cucumber, squash, or watermelon. Keep in mind though, that the heft fruits of the latter two will require some support. A simple system of rigging could help hold the fruit in place and keep the vine and netting up, too. My guess is that it would be well worth the effort, though!

Other plants worth considering are tall ones like sunflowers, Jerusalem Artichokes, or yakon. Each of these grows quite tall and would probably provide enough of a screen to make lovely shade. Plus, with the Jerusalem Artichokes and yakon you could enjoy a tasty little harvest at the end, too!

  • Measure the space to be covered. This will help determine the number of plants and pots required to cover the space. Our doors are roughly 170cm wide and 180cm tall. The netting is also about 170cm at its widest point, and 180cm high from its base at the railing to the top.
  • Plant the vines. We planted about six fusen and goya vines total (about six plus a cucumber I threw in because I couldn't bear to pitch it) in the pot, and positioned it in the brackets. (See Caveats for a little more detail.)
  • Hang the climbing apparatus. We ran twine between a pole just off our balcony and a bracket for the air conditioning unit. We then tied the netting to the same pole and bracket and clipped it to the cross twine. We also ran twine vertically from the balcony railing to a metal loop on the roof. (No, we don't know why there's a metal loop on the roof.) This will offer additional support as the vines get bigger and heavier with leaves and fruit. I should also mention that we cut our net in half so it would cover from the topmost point to below the railing.
  • Gently train the vines to start clambering up. The vines won't need much training, but they do surprisingly have their own ideas at times about where to go. Check on them daily for awhile to make sure they're heading up and not venturing onto other plants or just winging wildly in the air.
  • Water. Container plants tend to dry out rather quickly. Drooping leaves mean thirsty plants. If the container (like ours) is suspended out a bit, make sure extra water will not drip on a downstairs neighbor, their laundry, or airing bedding. If the container(s) simply sit on the ground, position saucers underneath that will hold excess water. The plant will just absorb it later.

Caveats and Ideas

I've also seen green curtains used to create an arbor of sorts for outdoor areas, or to keep a wall from getting too much direct sunlight. Based on this year's experiment, we'll refine things for next year and put one up on our front balcony to help block light from our front door and a bank of wall that soaks up the intense morning light.

We planted the vines well before we put up the net. While I don't necessarily recommend doing that, there are some benefits. While the top of the pot looks like a tangled mass of vines (Ok, it is.) it's created a sort of self-mulching effect that keeps the pot from drying out too quickly. The real test, of course, will be in the upcoming months as temperatures increase and rainfall drastically decreases, but I have high hopes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Umesboshi Update: Reducing the Weight

Stewing away happily in our apartment these past couple weeks, the umeshu, umeboshi, and hachimitsu all seem to be doing well. The umeboshi are fully submerged in their own ruby red brine, and it's time to reduce the weight on them by half. The recipes I've been consulting recommend this step once they're under about two centimeters of fluid, and I thought I'd share a photo of what they look like at the moment.

I can find no definitive answer on why the weight should be reduced. My hunch is, based on the tiniest of allusions in a variety of articles and recipes, that the fruit becomes increasingly fragile as the pickling process continues. Reducing the weight by half increases the chance of fully intact plums. Regardless, the plums should remain submerged. This prevents them from being exposed to air, which keeps a yeast mold or film from growing.

Sometime in the next week and half the rainy season should end, and that's when I'll start looking for three consecutive days of good weather for drying these little gems. Fingers crossed it all goes well!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Squash as Big as and Cute as Buttons

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! Pictured here is a tiny, tiny Shishigatani, and the Chirimen are just as small and cute.

It's been a tricky growing season so far - aphids everywhere - and I'm hoping things go better than they did last year for the American pumpkins. The vines look quite healthy so far, and are taking over everything as is their wont. I'm hoping to have plenty to share come fall!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kiwi Carport Turns Driveway into Mini-Orchard

Completely covered with kiwi vines, this carport is clearly the envy of the neighborhood. We spotted it while walking to a nearby park, and it took all we had to not settle in the shade for a nice fruity snack.

Most orchards in our area trellis trees and vines in this manner, which makes for easy pruning and harvesting. Using the same concept on a smaller scale over the driveway is utterly brilliant, although not unusual at all for Japan. The two to three well-established vines transform otherwise dead space into a mini-orchard, and takes the concept of a green curtain to a new level for homeowners.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Motor Scooter Veggie Momma Video Up!

The story about the woman selling her vegetables via scooter was too good to just leave for one post and one photograph. Here's a video that really captures the whole experience - from her amazing cackle to the heft of that 18 kilograms of rice!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tokyo Garden Update

Despite an aphid problem on my zucchini, the garden is going great guns. We're in the midst of Tsuyu (rainy season) and so everything is growing exponentially.

The lavender, in it's second year, is a magnet for pollinators and beneficials these days. (Top photo)I confess I find it hard to resist simply brushing past it myself just to release a bit of that smell.

When I left for Chiba on Friday, the popcorn was perhaps to my waist. Today when I took these photos it's past my shoulders.

The squash are taking over and are even sneaking tendrils into the covered row of kale and chard. I'm hopeful this crop of Japanese varieties fare better than the American pumpkins that broke our hearts last season.

The tomatoes - burly Brandwines and possibly wonderful Black Zebras - seem to be doing pretty well. I'm using my new pruning skills on them in an effort to create a tidier plant.

The kale and swiss chard are happy enough, but I feel relatively certain that I need to think of them as winter crops here. Abura mushi love them as much as I do this time of year, but they'll be out of the picture in winter.

The rhubarb, planted early this Spring, is utterly magnificent. I drool just looking at it, and I'm looking forward to jam, chutney, and sauce next year.

This little plant deserves a post of it's own, but for now this will have to suffice. Given to me by a farmer I met in Chiba a couple weeks ago, it's called Tsuru Murasaki. It's an edible green that gets fairly large, and according to Iori-san is super tasty!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ume Hachimitsu Sour: The Final Installment of the Ume Chronicles

While researching recipes and information about making my own umeshu and umeboshi, I stumbled across any number of sites that recommended making Ume Hachimitsu. A non-alcoholic drink using ume, vinegar, and honey it sounded like a nice refresher for these already steamy days. (My Japanese tutor also served up a glass during one of our recent meetings, and that pretty much sealed the deal.)

The basic recipe is quite straight-forward, and I whipped it up in no time. There is, as with all good things, a waiting period, but by the time it's ready the weather will be even warmer. A tall cool glass will be the perfect complement to a steamy Tokyo summer day!

1 kilogram ume
1 kilogram honey
1 liter vinegar

A 4 liter bin or jar
A bowl big enough to soak the ume
Sharp stick or shishkebob skewer

Soak the plums overnight, drain, dry, and remove the stems. (Read up on the why's and wherefore's of this part over at the umeshu post.) Sterilize the jar using shochu or a kettle of boiling water like I did. Place ume in the jar, pour in the honey, and pour in the vinegar. Cap and wait three or four weeks. Give it a good shake periodically to help it mix, and to give you an excuse for peeking at it.

I put the honey in first, which may or may not matter. I'm thinking, though, that for mixing purposes it might be better to do what I recommended above instead. It's only a hunch, though. When I visit the jar for it's weekly shake, I notice the honey mostly settled on the bottom which may mean poor mixing. Hence, my hunch.

As usual, I used a combination of recipes but relied most heavily on this one and notes from my tutor. She used plain old white sugar for hers, and it was super tasty after only a week.