Wow! My last article generated the most email yet. Not to mention I actually had people stopping me on the streets to ask about Beautyberry and if it really worked or not. I assure you, it works wonderfully.
I have to laugh though, because several people wrote me with the same recurring theme, “All my friends will make fun of me if I whip out a baggie full of leaves and start rubbing them all over myself when they’re using a can of ‘Off’ or something.” My answer is always the same… “I used to be concerned when people would laugh at me for being different, but now I just laugh at them for all being the same.”
But my personal favorite email was “Is there somewhere I can buy this in a spray?” There isn’t any place I am aware of, but it’s easy to make or barter for. Heck, buy me a beer and I might trade you a bottle of this wonder potion. 🙂
While Beautyberry grows for several months, the problem comes when trying to identify this plant when it doesn’t have berries yet early in the year. Can you imagine if you selected the wrong plant? Whew! It would be just like taking the wrong medicine. That’s why I like to harvest Beautyberry this time of year (early fall) and make it into a liquid spray to use next summer (or anytime the mosquitoes or biting flies are bad).
I will be posting a video of how to make the Beautyberry spray on my website at http://AccordingToVern.com When you get to my website, search for “Beautyberry Spray” and you should be able to find the video.
To make the spray, you will need a few things…
- Gallon sized freezer bag full of fresh Beautyberry leaves with as much of the leaf steam, as possible, still intact
- Normal kitchen stock pot with a convex glass lid
- Small bowl or aluminum pie tin
- Electrical tape
- 2 cups of water
Place the small bowl (one with tall sides is best) in the bottom of the stock pot. Then crush the leaves lightly and place around the outside of the bowl in the bottom of the stock pot. Do not put so many leaves around the bowl that they crowd into the bowl. Add the two cups of water to the same area where you just put the leaves.
Remove the knob on the lid of the stock pot but leave the screw stem in place. Turn the lid upside down and use the electrical tape to tape over the screw knob stem as well as the vent hole if your lid has one.
Place the lid over the stock pot so it goes down inward toward the bottom of the stock pot. Make sure the knob stem is centered over the bowl in the bottom and place the pot on your stovetop burner. Set the burner to somewhere between low and medium heat. You do not want a raging boil and you should check on it frequently. Resist removing the lid during this process though. You are trying to generate steam and steep the leaves like you would for teas. Leave it on this setting for about three-and-a-half to four hours.
Essentially, this creates an old fashion type of “still”. When the steam rises, it will naturally run down the lid toward the knob stem and droplets will form, becoming too heavy and will fall into the bowl.
In about three-and-a-half or four hours your bowl should be full of Beautyberry essential oil. This will be a VERY potent fluid that you can then let cool and pour into your favorite spray bottle to apply next summer when the bugs are bad and your friends won’t laugh at you for bringing a sack of leaves to the beach.
Beautyberry also makes a wonderful jelly. Because I am limited on space here in the newspaper editions, I will put my favorite recipe for Beautyberry Jelly on my website as well.
Thanks for all the emails about my articles. Please keep them coming. I am most easily contacted on my website http://AccordingToVern.com on the contact form, but you are also welcome to email me your comments and suggestions at Vern@AccordingToVern.com
Harvest and clean six cups of beautyberries. Place in large pot on stove. Add four cups water and boil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
Place a cheesecloth-covered sieve over a bowl. Pour the boiled berries through the cheesecloth. Mash berries to get 3 cups juice.
Add water if necessary. Discard any particles that do not go through cheesecloth.
Pour the juice into a large pot through another sieve without cheesecloth. Add one package Sure Jell pectin and ½ pat of butter (roughly a tablespoon of butter). Bring to a rolling boil. Stir in 4 ½ cups sugar and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
Pour into 6 half-pint jars. Process the jars in boiling water for five minutes to sterilize and preserve.
Vern Six is a freelance computer programmer and entrepreneur. He is a United States Army certified survival expert and former Christian missionary. Vern has been a hobby blogger for nearly five years and now has his “According to Vern” blog published in numerous newspapers around the world. You can learn more about Vern by visiting his website at http://AccordingToVern.com