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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query pineapple vinegar. Sort by date Show all posts

Wild fermenting - making vinegar

25 November 2009
You would have noticed some pineapple in a jar sitting next to the beetroot yesterday. That is the first stage of pineapple vinegar I'm making from scratch. It's another great skill to have because it will mean you use the entire pineapple, not just the juicy, sweet inside. Pineapple vinegar is made from the bits you usually throw in the compost bin, but here you can put them to work for you instead of wasting a lot of the pineapple.


Start with a good pineapple - if it's organic, that's great, but you can use an ordinary pineapple from the market. Cut the top off - if you're in a warm climate, you can plant the top and grow your own pineapple - they take two years to fruit. But back to the kitchen, get your vegetable brush and thoroughly clean the pineapple skin. Rinse off and cut the skin from the pineapple. Cut the pineapple in quarters and cut out the core. You can use the pineapple flesh for any of your usual dishes, you don't need to add it to the vinegar jar.


Chop up the core and skin and put the pieces into a large jar. Mix ¼ cup of sugar in a litre/quart of water and pour it over the pineapple skin. Cover with a cotton cloth. This is a recipe where you're using the wild yeasts and bacteria in the air to help ferment the fruit and sweet water, so you don't want to put a lid on it, you want to keep bugs out and allow the yeasts in. Leave the pineapple jar sit to on the kitchen bench for a few weeks.


After two or three week, this mix might turn brown and then go clear again. That's good! It might also develop a little mould on top, that's fine too. Just scoop it off with a clean spoon. If a greyish gelatinous blob forms on the top of the vinegar, either as it's sitting on the bench or after it's bottled, that's excellent, you've made mother of vinegar. And you can use that mother as a starter to make more vinegar.

Two things are important in vinegar making - the temperature in the room it's made in and oxygen, another reason not to put a lid on the jar. The ideal temperature is between 15C - 25C degrees (60F - 80F). If the temperature is too low, it will take longer to make and won't be as good, and if it's too high, I doubt you'll make mother, but the vinegar will still be fine to use. You can introduce oxygen into the vinegar simply by stirring it every day.


Taste the vinegar after a couple of weeks, it should already be vinegary, you can then remove the pineapple pieces and put them in the compost. Leave the vinegar on the bench for another two weeks to develop the complex character of good vinegar. When you're happy with the taste, strain the vinegar through a clean cotton cloth two or three times and store it in a clean bottle with the lid on. It's perfectly okay to use this as it is, in fact it's a healthier alternative to the regular store bought vinegar. However, if you want to store the vinegar for a long time, you'd best pasteurise it. You do that simply by boiling it in a water bath, the guidelines for pasteurising at home are here. I keep my home made vinegar in the cupboard and use it within about two months.


Pineapple vinegar is excellent as part of a salad dressing and especially good to make a salsa dressing. You could use it to preserve your beetroot or bread and butter cucumbers. It's also a nice gift for someone who likes to cook. This is really easy to make and I encourage you to try it. I'm sure you'll be surprised at the results you get, and it's one more step on the self reliance trail.
39

How to make raw unpasteurised vinegar

5 March 2014
As you know, we like giving our chickens apple cider vinegar in their water. It boosts their immunity and has a mild antibiotic effect and therefore the ability to clear up minor infections. The dosage is 25 mls per litre or 2 - 3 tablespoons per quart. They don't need it all the time. If you clean out their drinking water every couple of days, put it in every second time. About half the month they should have it in their water and half the month, just plain water.


The type of vinegar you use should be an unpasteurised  and unfiltered vinegar. These are most likely going to be apple cider vinegars and usually they contain mother of vinegar. Mother of vinegar is a jelly-like susbstance made up of yeasts and bacteria called Acetobacter. The vinegar most often used is Braggs but here in Australia, in addition to Braggs, you can use Melrose. Both are expensive because it is fermented the traditional way and not mass produced like salad or cleaning vinegar. Melrose unpasteurised vinegar is currently $6.37 for 500ml at my local IGA.

So how do we frugal folk get around that high cost? We make our own. In the unpasteurised bottles of vinegar you often find mother of vinegar and if you have a piece of it, you're on your way to making your own raw vinegar. If you don't have mother of vinegar, I did a post about making pineapple vinegar years ago, it's here, and you can use those instructions to make fruit vinegar. You don't need the mother for that process but your success will depend on the floating yeasts in your home, and maybe a passing vinegar fly - the ones most people call fruit fly that colonise rotting fruit. Vinegar flies carry tiny bits of mother on their feet.  Doesn't that sound lovely. ;- )

Yesterday I started making raw vinegar to use in our chicken water. To lessen the risk of the wrong yeast invading the liquid, you must use sterilised one litre or quart jars or crocks. Take the lids off the washed and clean jars, put your jars or crock into the oven on 150C/300F for about 15 - 20 minutes.

 This gelatinous mass is the mother I got out of the Melrose vinegar bottle. 



To make fruit vinegar using mother:
  1. Decide on the fruit you'll use, wash it thoroughly and place it all in the sterilised jar.  If you have organic fruit or fruit from the backyard, a quick rinse will do just to remove any dust. Most soft skin fruit is okay - pear, apple, plums, grapes, or take the skin and core from a pineapple and use that.
  2. Add one litre/quart of filtered or distilled water, or tap water that has stood in a bowl for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate off. 
  3. Add ¼ cup of sugar or slightly less than ¼ cup of honey. Stir.
  4. Add the mother, to the jar, cover with a clean cloth and leave it in a dark cupboard. 
I started two different type of vinegar yesterday. My second darker liquid is old white wine that I've added mother to in the hope of making white wine vinegar.

Above: the mother added to the pear liquid. 
Below: the mother added to white wine. 

Please note that fermenting is an aerobic process - it must have air to thrive. Never put an air tight lid on the jar. Stir the liquid at least once a day to incorporate air into the liquid.


Fermenting works best in darkness so either store the jar in a dark cupboard, use a stoneware crock, or tape brown paper around the outside of the jar if it's to sit on the kitchen bench.

The ideal temperature for this process is between 15C - 25C/60F - 80F degrees. It may take two weeks, it may take six months. You'll have better vinegar if it takes a few weeks rather than a few months. The liquid may turn brownish and become clear again, it may develop yeasts on the top. If it's simple grey yeast, simply remove it with a clean spoon. If it's pink mould, throw the vinegar out and start again. Cleanliness is important in this process - start with sterilised jars, wash your hands before and after touching the vinegar, and always use clean utensils and cloths.

After a couple of weeks, taste the vinegar and if it tastes like weak vinegar, you've been successful. Remove the fruit from the liquid and put it in the compost. Keep the jar of liquid going in darkness with the cloth cover until the flavours develop more. If the liquid doesn't taste like vinegar, keep stirring every day, keep it in the dark with the cover over the top and taste it again in a week or so.

I can't tell you how long it will take to make vinegar. I can't even say you'll be successful, it will depend on the yeasts and bacteria in your home. I can tell you that if you use anti-bacterial wipes or clean with bleach, you've got little chance of the beneficial yeast and bacteria being there.  But if it does work for you, you'll have a cheap but very good raw vinegar to give your chickens.

Good luck my friends.

Food security ✔︎
Self-reliance  ✔︎

FURTHER READING

29

Making vinegar the old way

23 May 2011
A warm and sincere thank you to everyone who visited Sarndra yesterday. We are both delighted with your lovely and encouraging comments. I have no doubt Sarndra will have many excellent organising ideas in the future and I'm looking forward to seeing how she leads us towards better organised homes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have been reading the wonderful Wild Fermentation book by Sandor Ellix Katz, with foreword by Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions fame.  If you have a chance to read this from the library, or better still buy it - it will make an excellent reference and recipe book - do so. It is a sensible and intelligent guide that will lead you on healthy food pathways. This post comes partly from reading Wild Fermentation and The Vinegar Book by Emily Thacker, partly from making vinegar the past couple of years and partly knowing that without fermentation there will be only lifeless food. You can read my old post on pineapple vinegar here.


I love good vinegar. Hang  on, I like the cheap cleaning vinegar too. I guess I love all vinegars. I love that sharp acid taste, it's health properties and being able to clean with it is just the icing on the cake. Vinegar is really easy to make and anyone can do it.  Can I entice you to give it a go? You have to get rid of all those notions of having sterile food because vinegar, along with cheese, sourdough, yoghurt, wine, beer and many other foods and drinks, rely on bacteria and yeasts to give the flavour. But remember, you have control over every part of this process. I reckon if you saw behind the scenes of many food making factories you wouldn't touch their food. If you try this, it will show you a natural process that has been used for hundreds and probably thousands of years, that will deliver a wonderful product to you. This is gourmet food making at its best.

You can make excellent vinegar at home using old wine, apple cider or fruit. It requires no special equipment. Today we'll be focusing on apple vinegar, because I still have an over-abundance of apples, but you could make this with any fruit or fresh fruit juice you have on hand. You will need a glass or crockery wide mouthed container that will hold about one litre/quart, and a net, cheesecloth or muslin cloth covering to keep out the visiting vinegar flies and other insects. If you want to make a large amount of vinegar, use either a water crock or a food-grade plastic bucket.

Air is very important to vinegar making - it is an aerobic process. Your vinegar must have air contact all the time to allow the airborne beneficial yeasts and bacteria in your home to colonise the liquid. Stirring the vinegar during the making of it will increase the amount of air being introduced to the mix and will increase your chances of making good vinegar. It also needs to be stored in the dark, so keep it in a dark cupboard during this process.

If your first attempts at vinegar making fail and you've been using glass, you can give it another go using a container that doesn't let in any light. If you routinely use anti-bacterial wipes or soap, you may have knocked out all the good guys. According to Mr Katz in Wild Fermentation, "Your skin, your orifices, and the surfaces of your home are all covered with micro-organisms that help protect you (and themselves) from potentially harmful organisms that you both encounter. Constantly assaulting the bacteria on, in, and around you with antibacterial compounds weakens one line of defence your body uses against disease organisms.  Microorganisms not only protect us by competing with potentially dangerous organisms, they teach our immune system how to function." (Page 9) I agree with him wholeheartedly.


If you don't have access to rainwater, the day before you make your vinegar, save a litre of tap water and allow it to sit un-covered to let the chlorine evaporite off. You don't want to introduce anything into this process that will inhibit the growth of the yeasts you are hoping to capture.  Some tap water is heavily dosed with chlorine which kills bacteria and like antibacterial wipes, it kills the bad as well as the good yeast and bacteria. If you use it, you may well kill off any hope of making your own vinegar because the water will kill the colonising yeasts and bacteria.  I was going to add some leftover Scrumpy cider to my vinegar but I checked the label before adding it, saw that it contained sulphides, and left it out.  Sulphides are added to some food and drink to stop bacterial contamination, it would have killed off the beneficial yeasts and any chance I had of making vinegar. Had I known this Scrumpy contained sulphides, I wouldn't have shared the bottle with Hanno for dinner last night.

Start with a clean jar - wash it just before you use it - warm soapy water and a good rinse. Add ¼ cup of sugar and a litre/quart of filtered or distilled water to your jar, then add any cut up fruit or fruit scraps you have - apples, bananas, grapes, mango, pineapple - whatever and fill the jar. Then pour enough water in to cover the fruit. Cover the jar with an open weave cover, fix the cover down and leave it in a warm place (around 23 - 28C/73 - 82F)  to ferment. And that's it. Stir the mixture at least once a day and recover it. 


I have a number of vintage and new coverings for the wide variety of fermented foods I make here, if you don't have something similar, here is an easy way to make one. Take a piece of open weave cotton or a double layer of net and cut it to the size you need, with about two inches overhang.  Zig zag around the outside with your sewing machine, or hand stitch it. Now cover the top of your container and fix it on with either a rubber band or one of those canning lids without the centre piece.  See the photos below.





If you're a keen crocheter, you could copy this style of cover which were in most kitchens up until the time we stopped making all those delicious foods like sourdoughs, sauerkraut, ginger beer and vinegar.

I'll be following this vinegar along over the weeks, so if you decide to join in, we'll troubleshoot along the way if there are problems. If you've ever longed for the days before cheese slices and sterile food, now is your chance to win back forgotten techniques that will allow you to make food the way your great grannies did. Our first vinegar checkup day will be this Thursday.


52

Respectful. Economical. Productive.

1 December 2010
We say a lot about respect when we use the full measure of what we grow or buy. In the old days it was common practice to use every part of a slain animal; and many people who slaughter their own livestock still do it today. From the horns being broken down and used as a fertiliser, or filled with cow dung and buried to produce the magical biodynamic Formula 500, to using bones for stocks and gelatine, and the meat, including the offal, for nutrition and the hide for warmth. Crafters do a similar thing with patchwork. They don't waste any scraps and by taking the time to piece the fabrics together, either randomly or in time honoured patterns, they produce beautiful quilts, bags and clothing that are sometimes featured on the walls of galleries, but always yield their true qualities of warmth and comfort.

Respect is expressed in those actions of honouring the life of the animal or the work involved to grow the cotton and produce the fabric, by using every part for a worthwhile purpose and by making sure there is no waste to pollute or be part of a landfill dump.

We can carry those principles on very easily when we use our fruit and vegetables too. Again, they can be either grown at home or purchased, the respect for the work and resources involved in producing what you have before you is clear and unambiguous if you use every part of what you have. Take our pineapple, for instance. That pineapple was grown from the top of a local pineapple we bought a few years ago and it will continue on because I will plant this top to grow two more pineapples.


Growing pineapples is simple, it takes a long time, but you will be rewarded for you patience when you taste that sweet juicy organic fruit. I sliced ours down the middle and cut it into chunks. We've feasted on it twice now after our tea and we will finish it off tonight. It is so sweet! When I tasted it I forgot about those years of growing and thought only that we grew it, it was organic and we used every part of it - no waste, everything was used. So how do we get to that point?


Take the top from your pineapple - if you have a choice, use the best pineapple - the juiciest and the sweetest. You will be passing on those genes to your next fruit. Remove all flesh from the base of the top, then peel off several layers of leaves. You want a cutting that is clean and undamaged at the base. Allow it to dry out for a few days, then plant it in the garden in a sunny spot where it can grow for at least two years. Don't put it where you plan on planting tomatoes next season. If you live in a colder climate, I believe you can plant pineapple tops in large pots, at least the size of a bucket, filled with good quality potting mix. Keep the top in the sun for as long as possible, then move inside to a sunny window during the cold weather. Pineapples don't need a lot of water but you'll need to water it in well and water every couple of days for about two or three weeks until the roots start reaching out into the soil.



We didn't fertilise our pineapple much. It got some liquid fertiliser occasionally and natural rainfall, otherwise it was sat quietly doing its own thing. They do take up a fair bit of space when the top has fully developed so if you're planting a number of tops, make sure you give them a metre / three feet space in which to develop. When it's been in a year or so, you'll notice a tiny pineapple emerge from the centre. That slowly develops for about six to nine months and ripens to a perfect fruit. It is ready to pick when, instead of standing upright, it falls over while still attached to the centre. Cut the pineapple stalk off the main plant and leave the plant in the ground. Fertilise with liquid fertiliser and continue as before - this same plant will produce a second pineapple and will take the same amount of time doing it.

When you harvest your pineapple, cut the top off and replant. Eat the fruit and make the skin and the off cuts into pineapple vinegar. I've written about that here. Wonderful! No waste at all. You've used the entire fruit and that one top will continue producing pineapples for as long as you continue to plant the tops.

Respectful. Economical. Productive.

11

Respectful. Economical. Productive.

14 March 2013
This post is from 2008

We say a lot about respect when we use the full measure of what we grow or buy. In the old days it was common practice to use every part of a slain animal; and many people who slaughter their own livestock still do it today. From cow horns being broken down and used as a fertiliser, or filled with cow dung and buried to produce the magical biodynamic Formula 500, to using bones for stocks and gelatine, and the meat, including the offal, for nutrition and the hide for warmth or furniture. Crafters do a similar thing with patchwork. They don't waste any scraps and by taking the time to piece the fabrics together, either randomly or in time honoured patterns, they produce beautiful quilts, bags and clothing that are sometimes featured on the walls of galleries, but always yield their true qualities of warmth and comfort.

Respect is expressed in those actions of honouring the life of the animal or the work involved to grow the cotton and produce the fabric, by using every part for a worthwhile purpose and by making sure there is no waste to pollute or be part of a landfill dump.

We can carry those principles on very easily when we use our fruit and vegetables too. Again, they can be either grown at home or purchased, the respect for the work and resources involved in producing what you have before you is clear and unambiguous if you use every part of what you have. Take our pineapple, for instance. That pineapple was grown from the top of a local pineapple we bought a few years ago and it will continue on because I will plant this top to grow two more pineapples.


Growing pineapples in a warm climate is simple, it takes a long time, but you will be rewarded for you patience when you taste that sweet juicy organic fruit. I sliced ours down the middle and cut it into chunks. We've feasted on it twice now after our tea and we will finish it off tonight. It is so sweet! When I tasted it I forgot about those years of growing and thought only that we grew it, it was organic and we used every part of it - no waste, everything was used. So how do we get to that point?


Take the top from your pineapple - if you have a choice, use the best pineapple - the juiciest and the sweetest. You will be passing on those genes to your next fruit. Remove all flesh from the base of the top, then peel off several layers of leaves. You want a cutting that is clean and undamaged at the base. Allow it to dry out for a few days, then plant it in the garden in a sunny spot where it can grow for at least two years. Don't put it where you plan on planting tomatoes next season. If you live in a colder climate, I believe you can plant pineapple tops in large pots, at least the size of a bucket, filled with good quality potting mix. Keep the top in the sun for as long as possible, then move inside to a sunny window during the cold weather. Pineapples don't need a lot of water but you'll need to water it in well and water every couple of days for about two or three weeks until the roots start reaching out into the soil.



We didn't fertilise our pineapple much. It got some liquid fertiliser occasionally and natural rainfall, otherwise it sat quietly doing its own thing. They do take up a fair bit of space when the top has fully developed so if you're planting a number of tops, make sure you give them a metre / three feet space in which to develop. When it's been in a year or so, you'll notice a tiny pineapple emerge from the centre. That slowly develops for about six to nine months and ripens to a perfect fruit. It is ready to pick when, instead of standing upright, it falls over while still attached to the centre. Cut the pineapple stalk off the main plant and leave the plant in the ground. Fertilise with liquid fertiliser and continue as before - this same plant will produce a second pineapple and will take the same amount of time doing it.

When you harvest your pineapple, cut the top off and replant. Eat the fruit and make the skin and the off cuts into pineapple vinegar. I've written about that here. Wonderful! No waste at all. You've used the entire fruit and that one top will continue producing pineapples for as long as you continue to plant the tops.

Respectful. Economical. Productive.
13

Preserving food the old fashioned way

22 October 2012
I had an email from seagreen last week asking:

I am getting more and more interested in preserving. I've always done a bit, jams and such, as well as drying tomatoes and apples, but this year, thanks to your blog and the forum, I've been making salsa and pickles, using just vinegar, sugar and/or salt to preserve.

I don't have a water bath kit but read on the forum today that the water bath is the only way to preserve vegetables. I hope to do much more preserving of vegetables this year so I wonder if you could either advise me, or perhaps write on your blog, if it's necessary to preserve vegetables that way.

A water bath is one of many ways to preserve food. You can use salt, sugar or vinegar to preserve food and you can dry it. Most bacteria need moisture to survive, if you remove it, by drying the food, bacteria can't grow. Traditionally meat and fish have been dried to keep it going over long winters when people were unable to hunt due to the weather. There are instructions here on how to dry meat, fish and chickenand here. You can pressure can meat and fish but you can't water bath it.

You can also smoke meat, fish and chicken although this is similar to drying, it also adds its own unique flavour.  And for those who like to make things, here are instructions on how to make a smoker using a steel barrel.

If you're going to do a lot of preserving, it's wise to find a good modern book on the subject. You need to follow specific instructions using the correct processing times or amounts of vinegar and/or sugar for all your jars to be safely stored. In Australia you can use either British or Australian books, if you're in the USA or Canada, use local books - we do it differently here and in the UK. I rarely use my water bath if I'm making jam, relish or chutney and I like the River Cottage Handbook No 2 for recipes.

If you're looking to preserve vegetables, you can pressure can almost anything - that preserves food by sterilising it. If you're using a water bath, which never reaches the high temperatures of a pressure canner, you'll have to use only high acid vegetables, such as tomatoes, or fruits or vegetables with vinegar and/or sugar added. Again, read about doing this before you start; you have to have a good understanding of it before diving in.


You can also add flavour while preserving by making chutneys, relish, jams and sauces. Again each item you make has to have enough sugar or vinegar in it to act as a preservative if you intend to not water bath at the end. You follow a recognised recipe to know how much vinegar or sugar to add. Sugar and vinegar act as a preservative because bacteria cannot grow in that environment. If you make sauces, jams, relish etc, you must make sure they are added to hot, sterile jars with sterile lids, as soon as they've finished boiling on the stove. This gives the sauce, jam etc, a bacteria-free environment, and the sugar and vinegar added to the recipe, along with the boiling, will help preserve it.

Wine is one way to preserve a summer harvest of grapes and you can preserve lemons, oranges, passionfruit, pineapple juice as cordials that will keep because of the added sugar content. There is also the age old and various techniques of fermenting a huge range of foods. Sauerkraut and kimchee are the German and Korean traditional ways of preserving cabbage. See here for instructions on how to make them. If you're looking for good books on fermenting, I like Wild Fermentation and Nourishing Traditions.   Here is the Wild Fermentation recipe for sauerkraut.

Fruit and vegetables can both be dried for preserving using a dehydrator, slow oven or microwave, or out in the sun under wire gauze to keep the insects off. Click here for an article on how to dry vegetables without a dehydrator.


Cheese is so commonplace now we rarely think of it as a way of preserving milk. With the addition of beneficial bacteria, the removal of the fluid part of the milk and sometimes the addition of salt to the outside of the cheese, it can sit in a cool room for many months, developing flavour.  Milk can be made into kefir or yoghurt and both can be made into cheese.  See instructions for kefir here and kefir cheese here.

I wrote this post a while back about processing food in a water bath using equipment you've probably already got in your kitchen. If you want to try this method of food storage, it may be a good idea to test your skills and methods this way first and if you choose to, you can buy a water bath unit later on.

How do you go about storing small amounts of food or preserving vegetables without a water bath?



23

Freezing pineapple and pickling eggs

23 October 2013
If you can't grow vegetables due to having no time, bad health, young children, or no space, the answer for you might be to buy local seasonal fruit and vegetables. You might have a vegetable garden but not for the full year and buy your local vegies when the garden isn't growing, like we do. As you know we grow a fairly large garden but no matter what time of year, I'm also on the lookout for cheap, good quality, seasonal produce that we can use to supplement what we grow. Sometimes it will be a box of produce; at other times it will be smaller amounts of something we don't eat a lot of. I think this is one of the best ways of maximising the quality and nutrition of the food I put on the table as well as paying the lowest price for it. We all know we can but cheap food, but buying fresh, local, nutritious food, well, that's a challenge. You need to keep your eyes open for the bargains.

There are so many things you can bring into this category but let me show you an example of something I did here yesterday. I live in an areas surrounded by pineapple farms supplying Golden Circle. Often at this time of year in pineapple season, there are a lot of local pineapples for sale at roadside stalls. I just checked the Woolworth's online store and a fresh pineapple is selling there for $3.98 each. At a nearby roadside stall, local pineapples are selling at two large for $1.80 or three small for $3.00. When we drove passed the other day, I bought four large pineapples for $3.60 or 90 cents each. I have no need for fresh pineapple now, the season will go on for a while yet, but as soon as the holiday makers arrive, the prices will go up. They'll never be as high as the supermarket prices, but they'll be higher than they are now. I wanted to preserve some pineapple for later in the year when the prices will be higher, it will be hotter and the idea of local pineapple and passionfruit on a pavlova, or a glass of pineapple crush, will be very appealing. The passionfruit is already in a sealed container in my freezer. I've been putting aside our home-grown passionfruit so I'll have it on hand over Christmas when I know they'll be expensive. Oh my! I just checked the price of passionfruit at the local Woolworths and they're $1.98 each! How can they justify that? I wonder how much they paid the growers for them.





As you can see, you have to outdo the supermarkets at their own game. We're all on budgets and we are all hoping to get the best value for money. I think this is a very intelligent way to buy. It's similar to having a big canning/preserving session with boxes of produce or buckets from the backyard, but it's on a smaller scale for the food you don't eat a lot of. If you're in a food producing region, you'll be able to do something similar.

The entire pineapple processing exercise took me about 20 minutes. All I had to do was top and tail the pineapples, skin them, chop them into chunks, and put them in the food processor to do the heavy work. They'll sit in the freezer quite nicely until needed, probably sometime in December when pineapples will probably be five dollars each. And what did I pay? Ninety cents. If you're in Brisbane, or on the Sunshine Coast, I bought these sweet and delicious pines at the Matilda service station. If you go by in the next week or two, drop in to see if they're still there.

I know there are homemakers - women and men, who are in dairy regions and they buy large quantities of cream when the price is much lower than normal. As soon as the cream gets home, it's made into butter. This is such a excellent way of getting good produce at a low price. I make cultured butter when we can get the bulk cream.

PRESERVING EGGS
Here is a pickling liquid recipe for boiled eggs from Mother Earth News. This is great for preserving eggs for a month. This amount will cover eight hard-boiled duck eggs, 12 hard boiled hen eggs or 20 hard boiled quail eggs.

Golden Pickling Liquid for Eggs
  • 1½ cups cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons pickling or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Fill a sterilised litre/quart jar with peeled, hard-boiled eggs.
Boil the pickling ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes then pour it over the eggs. Screw on the lid. Store in the fridge for up to a month.

Do you have any handy hint to share about the storage of eggs?

Andrea left a comment here yesterday, and when I checked her blog, she'd written an excellent post on this same subject, here is the link so you can read what she has to say as well. Andrea's experiences with her group of women in a buying group might give you some good ideas about how to do something similar in your neighbourhood.

I'm sure there are many other examples out there, please share your story so we can all build our skills in this important area. What have you been able to do in your region? 

22

Doily jug cover and answers to comments

18 February 2009
I must have done something good in the past to deserve the wonderful group of readers I have here. I was overwhelmed by the response to yesterday's post and the jump in visitor numbers. Thank you. Those of you who read here regularly know that Mondays and Tuesdays are the days I do my voluntary work and on those days I'm always busy, rarely able to comment during the day. Usually, all I can manage is to read the comments and okay them for publication. I sometimes have good intentions and resolve to answer when I come home, but when I get here and there are emails waiting and a husband to talk to, I walk away from the computer so I can relax and recover from what are always mentally and physically challenging days.



But now I've had a good night's sleep and I'm ready to face the world again. Today's post will be a bit of a patchwork affair. I want to show you a very quick milk jug cover made last week and I hope to answer the questions asked in the comments this week. Before I go on though, Sharon will be posting on Friday, after the deadline closes on the swap on Thursday. She will then give you all the details you need about the swap and let you know when the list of partners will be ready.

I made this little cover to show you how to make a jug cover using something you might already have at home. I used a small old doily, stitched this little posy of roses on it and tied on some weights in the form of pearlised dangling buttons. You could also use shells from the beach that you drill a hole in, or just your average buttons. I think buttons of different sizes would be fine. The stitches used here are backstitch and French knots; the entire thing was finished in an hour. It's just right for a weekend craft or a weekday one for those of you who are working outside the home or have littlies and need a small project that you can pick and and put down.



Now, to answer some queries. Sarena, I grew the pineapple by cutting the top off a bought pineapple. I let the top dry out a little and then just planted it in the vegetable garden. Hanno fed and watered it, and, I have to tell you, complained about it for two years. He didn't like it in the middle of the vegie patch where he wanted to plant other things. But for those two years, he cared for it. In Spring of the first year it sent up a spike that turned into a fat pineapple. It took a long time to ripen and when I picked it, after it had fallen over due to its weight, it sat on the kitchen bench for about a month. It slowly turned that lovely golden yellow that screams ripeness, but I kept testing it by trying to pull a leaf from the top. That is the true test of a ripe pineapple. When I could pull a leaf out, I cut it open. And yes, it was worth the wait.

CM, I'll ask Hanno to help me with a raised bed post. Just last week he took photos when he cleaned out one of the water tanks and he'll help with that post soon too.

Carmell, don't aim for perfection, love. Nothing needs to be perfect, just good enough for you to enjoy your home. And get the kids to help you, it is their home too and they should at least keep their rooms clean and tidy, depending on their ages, of course. When my boys were very young (4 and 5), I taught them to get their own breakfast - just cereal and milk, not toast or anything cooked. They enjoyed that independence and it lead to other things. I think children benefit from having to help in the home. It teaches them how to look after themselves and it allows them to contribute to the home, and that gives them self respect. I hope you find some enjoyment in your homemaking. I send you warm hugs.

It's good to see you back, Gail. I was wondering where you were.

Attilathehen, I too like seeing others living as we are. It's comforting to know there are many others out there who are doing it or working towards it.

jenniepowell, I'm sorry to hear of your illness and hope today is a bright one for you. I don't claim to understand depression but I have a couple of people very close to me who suffer from it and I see others at my work. I send my best wishes to you and hope you find true and lasting happiness in your home life. Don't ever expect, or aim for, perfection. All you need is to do what needs doing on that particular day and if you can't manage that, there is always tomorrow. Look after yourself, love.



Joanne, thank you for your thoughts and for reaching out. Yours are wise words and I appreciate you sharing them here.

Hello Colleen, yes, I get the picture. I had days and weeks like that when my sons were little. As I said before, don't aim to be perfect, just do what you can do and be satisfied with that. Everyday strive to do a little more, if you can't, then you can't, but try again the next day. Big hugs to you. I hope you like your hot chocolate today.

Alecat, thank you for the award. I appreciate you thinking of me. However, I have to tell you that I stopped accepting awards a few months ago because I never have the time to pass them on. Thank you anyway. I left a comment on your blog.

Sarah, yes that's fine. :- )

And to all of you who needed the encouragement of this post, to those who stopped and reflected on how they do their work, and to those who are struggling with illness, I send my best wishes to you and hope today is a good one.

SOAP POST
Rachel, I've never tried soap nuts but I've heard of them. I'd be interested in knowing how you go with them. Good luck growing them too.

Hi Donetta, it's good to hear the sourdough is a great success. I'll start another one as soon as I can.

Blossom, leave the borax out if you use your grey water. It can build up in the soil. Make sure you use the washing soda with the soap, you might even like to increase the amount. I'm sure it will be fine.

Ajoyfilledlife, you can use water from the washing machine on your garden but don't add borax to your washing powder or liquid. However, you can't store grey water because the bacteria, which quickly die in the garden, will multiply in a rain barrel. Many people in Australia, run a hose from the laundry straight onto the garden, and move the hose to different areas in the garden when they do the laundry. So if you drain the grey water into a barrel, make sure you use it that day or the next. And good luck with your gardens.

Jan Hatchett, adding caustic soda to your laundry mix is not a good idea. It will clean, but it will also harm your clothes, sheets and towels. It's too strong. The caustic soda in soap is neutralised in the process of soap making, and that removes the ability of caustic soda to burn - both clothes and skin. You may not notice it straight away but the fibres in your fabrics will be weakened by it. Use washing soda, not caustic soda. Vinegar is not necessary as a rinse aide. I rarely use vinegar in my washing machine and my clothes are fine. If you do use vinegar, usually the smell goes when the clothes/sheets/towels dry. If you're concerned about soap buildup in your washing machine - and usually the addition of washing soda and borax stop that build up - run an empty short cycle with a cup full of vinegar. That will clean everything out.

Hi Angela, Hanno used to be a diesel mechanic so I know about greasy work clothes. There is a heavy duty laundry powder recipe in the green cleaners link that should work for you. Make up two batches of powder - one for your normal washes, and one for your husband's work clothes. The ingredient in the heavy duty mix that makes the difference is it uses as stain removing soap and if you can let the load soak for an hour or two, all the better. Our stain removing soap here is called Napisan but I'm sure there is a similar overseas if that's where you are. Another way to deal with this is to make up the normal washing powder and add a cup of powdered oxygen bleach. That is also called Napisan here but I use the Aldi verson of it because it's much cheaper.
Here is that recipe:

HEAVY DUTY WASHING POWDER
For use on worker’s greasy or dirty overalls, football and sports uniforms or fabric that has food spills.
  • 2 cups grated Napisan soap (or one cup of powdered oxygen bleach like Napisan or Clorox)
  • 2 cups grated soap or soap flakes
  • 2 cups borax
  • 2 cups washing soda
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use two tablespoons per wash. The powder will not make suds.

For a very heavily stained load of washing or tradesperson’s clothes, if you have a top loader turn the machine off when the powder is completely dissolved. In a front loader, operate the machine to dissolve the powder and then stop the machine for an hour to soak the clothes. Leave to soak for an hour, or overnight, and then turn the machine on and continue washing as normal.

If there are any readers who have a good and reliable source where you buy washing soda and borax, would you please share that information with us. There are quite a few readers, particularly in the US and UK who have trouble finding those products.

Leann, the ingredients for soap making do need to be accurately weighed. I use an old postal scale and it does a very good job but any scale that is accurate would do.

Linda, washing soda is sodium carbonate. Does anyone know where Linda can buy washing soda in South Africa?

Hi Kim, it's good to see you tried the soap and it's working well for you.

Elaine, the homemade soap is more expensive than commercial "supermarket" soap, but less expensive than the natural soaps you buy online or in little stores.

I was interested to read your comment, Billie. I sometimes use emu oil or olive oil as moisturiser on my skin, both work well. I'll be experimenting with some lotions soon so I hope you keep in touch and let me know how yours work out.

Hi Ellen, yes, I really like rice bran oil. Adding it to soap makes a noticable silky difference.

Maureen, I'm sorry I can't help you with an air freshener, I never use them. I wonder if any of our readers here have something to share with us. Hopefully there is someone who can help.

Barbie, it's good to see the family on board with this!

Kim, how great your dad is helping. I think the soap will be good for your baby's skin. I have two washcloths and some homemade soap ready to give my next door neighbour who is due any day now.

Lady Katherine, it's fine to share the recipe, the more people using it, the better. Hopefully we'll have some readers today who will tell us where they buy their supplies for soap making. I love the Back to Basics book too and have written about it somewhere way back. It's a great book with a lot of very helpful information.

Robyn, I've written above about leaving the borax out, it's fine. Cornstarch and water makes a good starch but you could also use wheat flour and water. I used to love making the starch for my mother when she did the washing. In those days, almost everything was starched. LOL!

Que, you can't use the aluminium forms unless they are lined (with plastic) - it will ruin the soap and the forms. The soap makes about 10 or 12 cakes, depending on how large you make your cuts.

This post is very long, I'd best stop. Thanks for the comments. It is really interesting reading about the lives being lived in Australia and far off places.


40

Food security - taking control of your food supplies

21 October 2013
In the next few posts about food security I'd like to write about what we grow for our own fresh food needs, and how we grow food for storage and drying. When you grow food in the backyard, you have to increase your skill level in several directions because everything you grow will have to be harvested at the correct time, processed in a certain way such as cooking, preserving, drying, and then stored safely, either in the fridge, freezer, in a jar, a bag or hanging in a braid/plait. Growing the food is just one part of this. You will let yourself down if you know how to grow great fruit and vegetables but don't know how to process and store it correctly.

Even though we have four seasons, we generally have cold crops and warm crops. We're currently in our warm season now so let's do that first.

Food to grow in warm seasons

FRESH: In the warm seasons the obvious category for fresh food is salad and all the vegetables that can go into a decent salad. We change from year to year but usually grow: tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot, radishes, capsicums/peppers, chilli, mushrooms, green beans, snake beans, Madagascar beans, corn, eggplant and various herbs. We grow lettuce until it starts to get bitter. As soon as the hot weather sets in, or if we have a hot day out of the blue, the lettuce will go bitter. When it does, we start buying our lettuce.  I grow various types of sprouts in the kitchen and yesterday put a bag of freshly grown mung bean shoots in the fridge.


We also grow daikon, Asian greens, Welsh onions, silverbeet/chard, sweet potato and zucchini. We sometimes have a crop of potatoes in at this time of year but we don't this year. We're just about to plant up a few pumpkin seedlings in the compost heap. The rest of the garden is starting to dry off now but those pumpkins will, hopefully, grow over summer and give us a dozen or so pumpkins to store for the next year.

PRESERVING: If you have the room, grow extras to put up in jars. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot, onions can all be preserved in a water bath and if you have a pressure canner, you can do up jars of green beans, corn, carrots.  Making up jars of sauces will use up all your extra vegetables because you can either make jars of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, or you can mix it all together and make chutney or relish. Don't forget to use tried and tested recipes if you're water bathing - they'll have the correct amounts of lemon juice or vinegar and sugar to add for long term storage.

 
 Pickled beetroot ready to go in the fridge.

FREEZER: Don't forget your freezer - you don't have to worry about the acid level of the vegetables you put up if you freeze them. Learn to blanch first, there are very few vegetables that will freeze well long term if they're not blanched. Frozen vegetables include beans, peas, chard and spinach. onions, Corn, capsicums/peppers, chillis and tomatoes don't have to be blanched, and tomatoes, if you want to use them in soups and stews after freezing - freeze them whole and store in a plastic bag. They'll be mushy when thawed.

DRYING: Although I don't have a dehydrator, I do sometimes dry food and store it. Usually it's beans because they're easy to grow, full of protein and they store well. You can grow borlotti beans, lazy housewife beans, haricot beans, or ask your supplier which beans they have for drying. It's simply a matter of growing them as instructed and letting them dry out. You can let them dry on the vine, but the plant will not produce more pods if you do that. Pick the beans as they mature and place them undercover to dry out. When they're completely dry, strip all the beans from the pods and add them to your jar.

 Sprouting sweet potato ready for planting.

Dried pigeon peas in the pod.
Sprouting ginger ready for planting.
This is one of the pineapples we're grown here.
ODDS AND ENDS: If you're in a warm climate, try growing some pigeon peas, they're a really useful crop. They're high in nitrogen, love hot weather and the chickens will eat the fresh young green leaves and the green peas.  You can harvest the peas green or brown. If they're green just steam or boil them, if they're brown and dry, store them in a jar for use later. One tree will give you at least one or two kilos/2 - 5lbs of peas. You use them in the same way you use lentils or split peas, they make an excellent pea soup. The leaves of pigeon peas can be cut back and used as mulch. Sunflowers are also a good crop during the warmer months. They're great for snacks and the chooks love them. Ginger and tumeric are easy to grow in a warmer garden. Just buy some organic ginger and tumeric from the green grocer, break it up and plant it. Sweet potatoes are also easy to grow. They need to shoot first, as soon as they do, plant them. And don't forget your herbs. Whichever herbs you use, they need to be planted in the warmer seasons. Make sure you dry some herbs to store in the cupboard too. I have some bunches of thyme drying out now that are almost ready to put into a jar. In a warm climate, pineapples are the ultimate in recycled fruit. Simply remove the top off a good, sweet pineapple, remove the bottom leaves and let the head dry out for a week or so. Plant the head into enriched soil full of organic matter in an area of the garden that you don't need for the next three years. In the first 18 months the head will grow a pineapple (see the photo above), then it's ripe, harvest it and leave the plant in. Fertilise with comfrey tea and in the following year, another pineapple will grow. Pull the plant out after the second pineapple. If you live in a warm to hot climate, you can keep pineapples growing like this, simply by using the heads, for years.

Tomorrow we'll talk about colder crops and later in the week we'll talk about extending your seasons by creating microclimates.

Please add to this by telling us what you're growing and how you process and store it.
26

I can provide

23 November 2009
Picture this. It's Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting in my workroom in an old skirt, blouse, apron and Crocs. I'm such a dag when I'm at home but if home is not the place for being daggy and comfortable in old clothes, where is? Beetroot is boiling on the stove, I have already made spiced vinegar to pour over the beets and that will be one more thing I have ready for our Christmas lunch. This year, because of the work commitments of some of our family, we're celebrating on the Sunday before Christmas, 20 December. I'm looking forward to it very much.


Food for today and tomorrow - beets, silverbeet, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes and capsicum/peppers.

It's hot outside - thirty six degrees when Hanno last looked, so we're all staying indoors out of harm's way. Gardening and watering was done early this morning, vegetables were harvested. I filled a basket with food to be eaten during the day and some for pickling, so it's inside tasks now, or relaxing in an armchair, knitting, which is what I'll be doing as soon as the beetroot is cooked. Hanno is on the other computer, probably reading the German newspaper or catching up on the blog or forum. A relaxed Sunday full of this and that, or nothing at all, depending on how the mood takes us.


Very soon we'll have too many eggplants.

Thank you all for your kind and loving messages about Alice. It does make a difference, you know. I'm very pleased to be able to tell you that Alice has recovered quite well. She initially had two very bad days when all she did was sleep, but yesterday she started perking up and now she's back to her old happy self. We are still keeping her quiet, as per the vet's instructions, but the truth of it is she doesn't want to be outside, she wants to be with us. We're very happy with that, we are pleased she is safe here with us because she might not have been.


New tomatoes are coming along.

We have a visitor. Koda is here for a sleepover - many weeks of sleepovers. Koda is my step-son's and DIL's Airedale. Jens and Cathy are leaving for Christmas in Europe next week and we're looking after Koda while they're away. Alice and Koda get on very well and after the initial sniffing and jumping, they settled down and now they're both asleep on the kitchen floor. The calmness of this house and the way we are here settles them.


Giant sunflowers waiting for the first sun.

I started writing this post yesterday, Sunday, and now it's Monday morning. I work at my voluntary job today and I'm looking forward to an interesting day, jam packed with things to do. First up I'll write an article for the local newspaper, then I have a meeting with my good friend Beverly, elder of the local indigenous people. She and I and a few artists will be talking about the art works we want at the new Centre. After lunch I'll answer all the emails that have arrived since I was last at work and prepare the materials for the Frugal Home workshop I'll be doing tomorrow. People will wander in and out, the phone will ring too many times and hopefully few of the calls will interrupt my work.


New space for my jars and bottles, and a spare dishrack.

All that busyness is a sharp contrast to my work at home. Here it is peaceful and quiet and although I work to a list I make up in the morning, generally it doesn't matter if the work is done today or tomorrow. I do what I feel like doing, slowly, so I know my work and it's not part of a mad rush that I won't remember. I want to remember my days here. I want to look at the new curtain I made to cover some of the jars I've moved from one cupboard to another. I want to see the curtain open and closed - it's new and it pleases me. I want to look at the newly bottled beetroot sitting beautifully in its dark pink brine, it's next to the bright yellow pineapple vinegar, fermenting under a cotton cloth. I made them both, from scratch - I didn't have to buy them at a shop, I can provide.


30

This day's work

9 December 2009
I had a lovely afternoon tea with most of my Neighbourhood Centre volunteers yesterday.  The one day of the year when we get together to socialise rather than to work.  I took the opportunity to stand before them and speak about every person, thanking them for the individual jobs they do at the Centre, then gave everyone a stainless steel water bottle as a small token of gratitude.  After that we relaxed and enjoyed strawberry and mango ice  cream cake from the local ice-creamery, little quiches, local cheese, crackers and drinks.  It was a nice way to bring the working year to a close.  We have one more week, then we close for the holidays.



One of my wonderful volunteers brought me in this spectacular bunch of fragrant roses from her garden yesterday.

Today I have a day of catchup at home.  Soon the sun will be up, I'll check the chooks, feed the animals and start my day's work.  I'm saddened to tell you that we lost a chook, probably to the snake, yesterday.  Hanno phoned me at work to say that Quince, our little half blind buff Sussex girl was missing.  She always stayed by Quentin's side, and Quentin is still there, safe and sound, so we're guessing the snake came back late last night and took Quince.



When Hanno gets up we'll have breakfast, I'll wash up and make the bed.  Hanno is doing some errands for the Centre so he'll be out most of the morning while I bake bread and tidy up here.  I want to clean out my work room again, get it organised in there so my work is easier to get to, and joyful.  I love working in a clean and organised space.  I also love messing it up again by working on  simple domestic projects that help us live without buying commercial versions of items easily made with my own hands. At some time during the day I'll also bottle up some pineapple vinegar, sweep, dust and clean out the fridge ready for Christmas food and cold drinks for the visitors we're expecting.  And I know at times I'll just sit and knit, or do nothing but watch the dogs or the landscape, and breathe it all in.


Who!  Me??

I have two Down to Earth forum prize parcels to pack up and send - one to Canada and one to West Australia, and a small collection of Christmas gifts to wrap.  And Sarndra emailed last night to say they have a home line connected again so I'll phone her and catch up on their news.  I brought home my 2010 work diary yesterday and want to write it up to make sure I'm organised before the new year. There are writing deadlines as well as birthdays and special days to enter. I'm really pleased that this year's diary has monthly planners as well as a fold out yearly one. I find I can't get by without a diary now - there was a time though when I kept it all in my head.

I can hear birds squawking outside so I know the sun has risen.  Time to get to and start with this day's work.  I wonder what you're up to today.

26