Alfrun Unndis wrote:Easiest koji I've ever made: Instant Pot, custom yogurt setting, double conander inserts, a bit of water in the bottom pot (for humidity) remove the rocker weight and the button pressure indicator so some air gets in. I can even check the internal temp by sticking my electronic thermometer probe in the pressure indicator button hole. Works with tempeh and natto too though with different settings.
I know it's been awhile since you wrote this, but can you go a little more in depth about how you use the instant pot? How long do you set it for? Do you wrap the rice in a towel or line the colander or anything? Do you use it for the whole incubation or just the first step?
I started making miso in October, first with purchased koji rice and then inoculating my own. I've had pretty okay results so far, but I feel like I can do better. I don't want to build a fermentation chamber, but the oven isn't ideal, so the instant pot option is intriguing.
Also, I wouldn't recommend Tiger Eye beans for a white miso. They got a kind of unpleasant cheesy funk to them; I do wonder if it's because they were overcooked and pretty wet. Lesson learned either way though, I think a firmer bean is better than one described as having a creamy consistency.
For the rice bags, maybe try taking the rice out and heat it in a frying pan (like toasting it), and then putting it back in the bag. I have an old tube sock full of lentils I use for that kind of heat (I do heat it in the microwave, though), and it's pretty easy to untie the end and retie it so I can wash the sock part.
I spend a lot of time on Tumblr, and permaculture and sustainable ag are definitely having a moment thanks in part to the "cottagecore aesthetic," which is basically Instagrammers doing a Holly-Hobbie-meets-Martha-Stewart thing. Lots of weathered wood and dewy produce; it's idealism and escapism, but it's like a gateway drug to gardening/ homesteading/ farming for the nerds (full disclosure: I am a nerd).
Orefield and the surrounding area is really nice, though getting pricier and more developed every day (the greater Lehigh Valley is the warehouse capital of the world). I don't roam that far more than a few times a year (I live in SW Monroe Co.), but Crooked Row Farm is into regenerative and sustainable ag and I think most everything they sell is big-O Organic. They might have some resources as to who's in the know.
I dry most of my puree every year and haven't had any issues so far. I use an Excalibur dryer and do 2 cups puree per (lined) tray. To store I break or tear into pieces that will fit in a gallon freezer bag. I've found it's better to store this way and use a coffee grinder to powder it as needed, since the powder tends to absorb humidity and form a solid mass in a jar. The dried puree stores for about 18 months, though it tends to get darker in color and loses some flavor after a year.
Also, to speed drying in the dehydrator, I put the puree in a fine mesh strainer (not lined with cloth or anything, but you could) and drain over a bowl for like 30 min to half an hour. I use the water to cook rice or in soups etc. The puree isn't quite as sweet and has more fiber, but it dries down a lot faster.
Even though the pumpkin is low-acid, the lack of moisture prevents growth of unwanted organisms.
I'm not an expert, and I don't have any hard facts, but every pressure canning recipe I've ever used calls for 1" headspace. I think a major factor in headspace guidelines is how much bubbling is expected in the jar while it's being processed--pressure canned jars bubble violently, sometimes for an hour or two after coming out of the canner. Jams and jellies don't really do much of that, so less space is needed to accommodate the bubbling.
As for the scenario of last jar, not enough liquid, it might make the food unsafe (especially in pressure canning). Air is an insulator and food surrounded by air won't get as hot as food surrounded by liquid, so the harmful stuff might not be destroyed on foods not submerged in liquid. It'll probably be okay, but there's still a chance it might not be.
I'm not super exacting with headspace. I eyeball it using the threading of the jars. I can be off by 1/8" sometimes and it's never been a problem. My jellies sometimes end up having almost 1/2" headspace because I'm a messy canner and I don't want to miss anything I might have slopped on the rim. Ensuring the seal is more important to me than the possibility of a little extra oxidation. Sometimes I'll can half-jars of jellies and jams and just use them first, within a couple months. I haven't had any issues with that so far (knock wood), but they're high acid foods with lots of sugar, so not as dangerous as like, green beans or meat.
I'm right between the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos in PA. Where I live, we've had laternfly for three years. Last year was really bad, but there weren't as many this year.
I've talked to a few gardeners and one professional orchardist and everyone seems to have made the same observation--there were way more preying mantises this year. I noticed a lot of egg cases last winter, which was a little unusual, but weather's been weird and whatever. Then, this summer they were everywhere. I usually see one or two over the course of the summer, they've never been very prolific in my garden, but this year I had a dozen or more in my garden patches. Most seemed to hang out near the lanternflies' favorite foods--grape vines and sunflowers. The mantises really liked the bean vines, too, probably because there were a lot of stink bugs snacking on bean pods this year.
I don't have chickens, but I've been told by two different people that chickens won't eat the lanternflies at any stage. Not a good sample size, and this was in 2019 (when they were pretty new to the Lehigh Valley), so they may have learned to eat them since then.
My peach tree is 5 or 6 years old and the honey mushrooms haven't affected it yet. It's about 15' from the stumps of 3 oaks that died around the time I planted it (I think it was a combination of stress from honey mushroom, gypsy moths, and drought over a 2-year period). They haven't affected the young apricot nearby, as far as I can tell, though it's a pretty wimpy tree to begin with. I'm not having a lot of luck with apples, pears, asian pears, and quinces, but it might not be honey mushrooms killing the seedlings.
In the last two weeks I made two batches of this stuff with cucuzzi squash; it's so good! I substituted carrot tops for cilantro (I'm one of those people with the bad genes), plus used some onions, smoked paprika, cumin, and fermented garlic as well as omitted the tomato element and used lime juice for acidity. I didn't boil anything, just sauteed the vegetables in the olive oil until soft and then put it in the blender. I left mine a little chunky. Definitely going to be making this on a regular basis whenever I have any kind of summer squash around.
In anticipation of the heavy rains from hurricane Ida, I decided to harvest the bulk of my Concord grapes on Tuesday. It's a little too early, but I thought it better than losing all the perfectly ripe ones if they were knocked off the vine. I washed them and separated out the ones that just weren't ripe enough to be turned into jelly; it really seemed like such a shame to compost all that fruit (3 lbs!). So I decided to search and see if there was anything I could do with them and found a solution that not only uses up the grapes, but also reduces my dependence on something (lemon juice) grown way outside my climate zone.
I'm not very worldly, so I'd never heard of verjus or al ghooreb before. They're basically the same thing, just the fresh pressed and filtered juice of unripe grapes, made either from wine grape thinnings or from vines specifically dedicated to ghooreb (young sour grapes). It's a common ingredient in Persian cuisine and was used in France for centuries before citrus was available (or too expensive for most people). It's tart and a little sweet and astringent, really complex in flavor.
I know my grapes were a bit old to make true verjus/ al ghooreb, but the stuff I made turned out amazing.
Basic method, according to all the recipes I found:
1. Crush grapes. Can be done by hand (tedious and burns like the dickens), in a press, with a blender/ food processor (said by some to be unpleasantly bitter because of the broken seeds), or any other way you can think of. I used a Foley food mill for as much as I could, then used my hands to squeeze what was left in the hopper. Work quickly, since you don't want the juice to oxidize and lose it's color/ flavor.
2. If planning to use in a raw state, filter juice through cheesecloth and store in a bottle with as little extra air space as possible. If you don't have cheesecloth (or whatever), strain through a fine mesh strainer, put in a jar and refrigerate for 24 hours to let the solids precipitate out, then carefully decant juice to the bottle you plan on keeping it in. Keeps 1-2 months
3. For a longer shelf life, filter juice as above and then boil with a little bit of salt (quantities I saw in recipes varied; I used a scant teaspoon/ heavy half-teaspoon in what turned out to be 20ish oz). Make sure to skim the foam when it boils; it looks gross and doesn't taste great either. From here, either pour into a sterilized bottle, seal, and store in the fridge, or pour into sterilized jars/ bottles and waterbath can for 5 or 10 minutes. I don't know the shelf life of this at room temperature when canned, but I'm pretty sure it's acidic enough to be safe for a while.
I got about 20oz (18ish after all my foam skimming) from ~3lbs of grapes. So far I've used it in place of balsalmic vinegar in my spaghetti sauce and made a kind of lemonade out of it (or, y'know, basically sugar-sweetened grape juice from concentrate, but way better than something from the supermarket). I'm keeping mine in the fridge, but I may make another small batch with what's left on my grapevine right now and can it, if I can get enough.
Has anyone else made this? Or does anyone here use it in their cooking? I have some ideas of ways I'd like to try using it, but I'd love any tips or recipes if anyone has them.
Just chiming in with my experience. The stainless pot I use the most has aluminum rivets holding the handles on; the liquid regularly comes into contact with them for the duration of the pickling process. The pot is over 20 years old and the rivets are stained and visibly pitted, but it's never affected the taste or texture of my high-acid foods. I wouldn't use a regular aluminum pot for pickling, but apparently my mom did for years when she would make pickled zucchini (and stuff with tomatoes like sauce and stewed tomatoes) and said she never had an issue. Back then, she had city water, whereas all my stuff is made with hard well water (super high in copper and some iron).
Even if traces of aluminum get into the pickles, I think you'd have to eat like a full jar of them every day for years to get the kind of buildup that causes problems. I mean, soda is highly acidic and is stored in aluminum cans and, while problematic for other reasons, I've not heard of any aluminum toxicity among hardcore soda drinkers.
I can tell you what didn't work for me. I tried freezing a few nice size fruiting bodies (fresh, not dried) and the next year i made a kind of paste and smeared it on the stems right where the ears of corn were starting to develop (like baby corn size). I'm not sure, and there are probably a lot of other factors involved (timing and weather conditions especially--2016 was pretty hot and dry here), but I think freezing killed the spores.
If I were ever to try it again, I would dry the fruiting bodies first and just store them in a cool, dark place rather than freezing. And I might apply the spore slurry a little later in the development stage. And do it when the weather's going to be humid.
I bought some of these for the first time this year. I thought they might be Ume plums but they're not; luckily they can still be used to make umeboshi (salted fermented plums) and maesil-cheong (Korean plum syrup). I made some into jam, too, which I use in my iced tea (I tried to make them a 1:1 sugar to fruit syrup, but they're loaded with pectin and set into a thick jam without any help). Used in a drink is where their flavor really shines, in my opinion--they're tart enough to be refreshing, but not overpowering.
I kept the pits from the jam (the umeboshi and maesil-cheong plums are used whole), so we'll see how they germinate next year. I suspect mine were conventionally grown; I got them from a local farmstand but they were bought-in, so no idea where they came from. I hope they do well, I wouldn't mind having my own supply of them since they were pretty pricey ($3/ pint).
r ranson wrote:My Mason Jars (brand name on the jar), I've been saving from pasta sauces seem to have two different sizes of lids.
The larger of the two almost fits the 70mm but is really about 2mm too big for those lids. The smaller jar is much too small for a 70mm. I'm thinking it wants somewhere in the 65mm range (but I haven't actually measured it yet.
Is it possible to get lids for these jars?
Any thoughts on where I can get more 86mm lids and how to find out if "wide" really means this size?
I don't know if Fillmore Container ships to Canada, but they've got a huge variety of sizes of one piece screw-on lids (both for canning jars and the "lug" kind that fit disposable supermarket stuff like pickle jars). Might be worth a shot looking there.
Also, Fillmore has a blog post about how to measure a jar to get the correct size lid: Link Hope that helps.
If it were me, I would hold on to the chemical fertilizers and use them sparingly on my regular crops when they seem deficient in something, or if it's a bad year, or as a quick fix on a patch of infertile soil while waiting for organic methods to build fertility. It's not ideal, but small amounts once in a great while shouldn't disrupt the soil ecology to the point it can't rebound and I wouldn't use enough for runoff to be a concern. For me personally, I feel like "waste not, want not," and fertilizer (not pesticides) is only toxic with repeated application and in the quantities the industrial farms use. Plants don't know the difference between nitrogen derived from petrochemicals or the cleanest, sweetest pee of vestal virgins.
It's not a sustainable long-term strategy for food production, but the material already exists in your possession, so might as well use it responsibly to get a direct yield rather than laundering it through non-edibles.
I used some scraps to make small stuffed toys for my animals for Christmas. The dogs got balls and the cats got mice. I've also been thinking about making small stuffed toys shaped like food for my cousin's twins (they turn three next month), but I haven't started on that yet.
I've never had mock duck and I haven't been able to eat seitan for years, so this might not be at all helpful. I was wondering if using a stand mixer or a bread machine would get closer to the texture you're looking for, so I did some googling and fell down a rabbit hole. I found this video and it looks promising:
I think adding the oil to the dough is probably important for texture, too.
(I really wish I could eat gluten because it looks really good)
The only thing deer left alone this year was red shiso, which self-seeded from one plant last year into a dense 3'x3' patch this year. I'm thinking I might try using it around some more vulnerable plants and seedlings next year, especially the fruit seedlings that keep getting eaten down to twigs. Even mints aren't a reliable deterrent; the only one they left alone was peppermint (while eating and otherwise destroying spearmint, chocolate, ginger, and mountain mints).
Be careful of some of the sellers on Amazon, too. I was just looking for lids and some of them are charging over $12/ box (of 12 lids, no bands or anything!). Right now I'm really glad I have three boxes of Tattlers. If you're looking for jars, Fillmore Container has plenty; you'll save on the actual jars, but the shipping kills. They're a good company, though.
I think coffee grounds work pretty well, too. In 30+ years, bears have never gone near our compost (though they've destroyed bird feeders and eaten rabbits, chickens, and ducks). My mother drinks two pots of coffee a day and the scraps are always layered with the grounds.
Speedball used to sell kits for like $40 USD, but a cursory search only turned up deluxe kits for like $100 USD. Kind of a bummer that they don't have lower price points anymore. I personally haven't done any printing in almost 10 years, but in the past I've done t-shirts, patches, and onesies (one- and two-color only, and nothing requiring precision). It's one of those things I loved doing and wonder why I stopped. It really is super easy, although the actual printing part is a two-person job (though you can make or buy set-ups where the screen is on a hinge and clips down to hold it in place).
You can buy extra screen material and reuse the same frame, so you could make multiple designs while the chemicals are still fresh and just put the screens back in the frame as needed. It's not easy to get them tight after you've taken them out and put them back in, but it can be done (it's just like fixing a screen door; a splining tool helps). You can make your own frames, too, and just staple the fabric to them like you would a painting canvas. I think there's a way to remove the emulsion after it's been set so you can reuse the screens, but I don't remember the process.
An update: I decided today was the day to dry the greens, but I'm not sure if it's too early (started them June 6th). The mold was just getting out of hand--it formed a full layer almost like a scoby every two or three days. It also didn't smell right (kind of smoky, almost, but not bad), but once I scooped the mold layer off, the brine underneath smelled fresh. I'd added more brine about a week ago, so there was about an inch covering the greens. Even so, I discarded the topmost layer of greens and rinsed the rest thoroughly to make sure there was no mold stuck to them. I don't know what they're supposed to taste like, but they didn't taste bad (a little bitter) so I assumed they were fine and put them in the dehydrator. Oh, and the mold was white and powdery where it was dry and a little like a slime where it met the brine (I've heard white molds aren't usually the bad ones, but throw out anything with black or pink; I'm still a fermentation novice).
Next time I try these, I'm not going to add any brine or fool around with smooshing them down every day to try to get them covered in their own juice; that's how I got the mold in the first place. I did a very small jar of mustard greens and just let them sit and do their thing and they turned out better--less bitter and more sour.
I tried for about 6 weeks a few years ago and my hair stank like it was rotting. I couldn't even stand the smell of myself. I tried all kinds of stuff to get it clean, hoping the stink would go away--baking soda, ACV, coconut oil... It was just terrible, so I gave up. The static was insane, too, and I don't ever have static.
I decided to try it again in early April and it's not nearly as bad this time. It still smells a little like greasy hair when it's wet, but it's not the kind of thing that would gag anyone that had to ride in a car with me (at least, I don't think it's that bad). One thing--it gets really waxy. Not oily like I was used to when I'd a go a week between washings, but more like a dog's hair. And if I finger-comb it enough, my hand gets covered in that white residue like one gets after petting dogs. I did use lather from french milled soap (South of France brand, I think) once about two weeks ago, and it really took that waxiness away.
About a week ago I finally got a boar bristle brush (Goody brand, bought online from a dry goods store in Lancaster County PA) and it's about as useful as teats on a bull. Doesn't penetrate the hair except right near my hairline, where the hair is finest (the hair on the top of my head is finer and lighter than from my ears down to my neck and when I was a kid it was blonde on top and red on the bottom and people thought I had a bad dye job). Makes my hair super staticky, too. I prefer my regular old plastic brush, which just glides right through. I have buttcrack-length hair, and the tangles used to be so much worse.
I usually have my hair in a bun 24-7, but lately I've been trying to keep it down in a braid more; I think that helps my scalp air out a bit and the hair gets to move, so it probably helps distribute the oils. The scalp under the spot where my bun sits really hurt/ felt irritated for like two days and leaving it down took that right away.
I'll be honest: I have to go to the dentist soon for a long-overdue root canal (thanks, covid-19) and I'm kind of afraid that she's going to smell my hair and think I'm dirty or that the stink will give her a headache. Maybe I'll just wear a scarf and explain why. I don't want to wash my hair with shampoo and reset the clock.
Speaking of blending herbs to enhance flavor, is there something that can be added to catnip to mask that kind of... musky, I guess?... flavor? I've talked to some Amish and Mennonites (it's a really common herbal remedy in PA Dutch country) and they just add sugar/ honey or power it down straight. I've tried it with raspberry leaf (fresh) and chamomile (dried) but their flavors were so subtle it didn't make a difference. Maybe something more astringent, like willow or birch? Is there anything with that astringency that won't disrupt the sedative effect of the catnip?
Maybe it was the order you added the ingredients? Jelly recipes usually call for pectin first, bring to a boil, add sugar and bring back to a boil, let boil one minute and take off the heat. I think that's more to prevent pectin clumping, but I'm not sure.
I think a more likely explanation is that the pH might have been too low to set, or maybe tannins in the spruce tips prevented the set. Maybe temperature was a factor, if you added in cooled spruce tips and didn't bring it all back up to the boil. Speaking of temperature, did you try putting one in the fridge or somewhere cold? Sometimes pectin is weird and takes a long time to set, or just won't do it at room temp.
I would use it as-is for pancakes or just plop it in hot water for a drink or use as a meat sauce, or you could try reprocessing it.
I drink a lot of mint tea. I've got four different kinds of mint right now, but the best by far is still peppermint. I like to add a few slices of ginger (fresh or candied) and sometimes sugar or honey. Mint tea is the one beverage I can drink unsweetened without it feeling like a punishment.
Another drink I made last year that isn't exactly a tea: Fresh strawberry (or strawberry jam) and lemon basil steeped in hot water, add honey and chill. I tried it with lemon balm too, but I'm not a fan of lemon balm to begin with.
Hibiscus and chamomile (either together or separately) are also nice cold.
Also not tea, but I use a lot of jam in hot water to make flavored drinks. Just plop a couple spoonfuls in a pint jar, add hot water and lemon or lime juice to taste, drink cold or hot. Sometimes instead of jam I'll use dried fruit and some honey. Ginger, honey, and lime is also a favorite combo.
I've thrown a teabag into all of the above, too. Green for lighter and citrus flavors, black for deeper flavors like black raspberry, elderberry, etc. I try not to drink a lot of tea because caffeine can trigger panic attacks for me; decaf isn't really my thing, either.
Deer ate the two Aronia plants I bought from Baker Creek a couple years ago.
In my experience, deer will eat anything and everything, and if they don't like the taste they'll rip it out for spite (like garlic/ onions). So far, the only things they've left alone are mint, tansy, coneflower, daffodils, and bee balm. They've also let the white mulberry seedling alone, but it could be because it's very small and gets smothered with weeds every year. They usually don't bother the gooseberries and currants much (only a few nibbles), but they've gone after them harder in the past. Oh, and pawpaw, they've only browsed leaves on that like once when the plants were small and decided nope.
I watch a lot of Chinese YouTubes, and it seems like every one of them has made some kind of dried pickle like this. Everyone seems to make it a little differently, though, and I was wondering if any permies had experience with it.
A few days ago I harvested 15lbs of turnip greens. I line-dried them for a few days (we had rain right after I started drying them so I left them out longer), then chopped and massaged them with salt (probably way too much salt, but some on the videos use a handful for a bowl the size I have, so I did that) and packed them into a gallon-size glass jar. 15lbs ended up making a half gallon. It didn't make enough brine, so I added another 2c of brine; it wasn't enough to submerge the vegetables, but in the Chinese videos they're not submerged so I don't think that part is as important. I used this recipe (http://www.clovegarden.com/recipes/cpv_grnfms1.html) as a guideline.
They've got a while to go for fermentation, but then I'm wondering about my next step. Some people dry them and then steam them and dry again; others just dry them and store them. One tossed the wilted greens in a hot wok and kind of scorched them before salting them and letting them to ferment. I'm just not sure what might get the best results and store the longest while retaining the best flavor.
I have another 5lbs or so of greens that I was going to blanch and freeze, but I might try a smaller jar of these and add some ginger and szechuan pepper. If anyone has any input I'd love to hear it.
I'm not sure about any of the other stuff, but for long sleeve shirts that breathe I like men's western snap-front shirts. I usually get mine at thrift stores and rummage sales; the used ones are nice and thin from being washed and worn. Maybe try thrift stores for overalls, too.
Something I've been meaning to try but haven't yet is wearing a t-shirt and cooling/ compression sleeves like athletes wear. I'm not jazzed about the synthetic material so I've held off on buying them, but if they help me work outside longer without overheating...
When I was 18, someone gave me a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette as a joke; little did they know it was one of the best gifts I've ever received. In the book, the author talks about her "pantry principle," which is basically track prices and stock up when something's cheap and store it wherever you have room (like in closets or under beds, literally anywhere). This is how I learned about grocery store loss-leaders (hot sale items the store sells at or below cost to get you into the store). Most stores in my area don't operate on this model anymore, having switched to an "earn points for a gas discount or a free turkey/ ham/ whatever" model, but there's still one that does. So whenever there's a sale on something I would use, I buy as many as they allow and keep it in the pantry or freezer. My mom is a coffee and laundry detergent hoarder; those two things come around on super sale ever 2-4 months. When blueberries are in season they sell them for like $5 for a flat of 6 pints. Around Thanksgiving they do 5lbs of sweet potatoes for $1.50- $2.50 (depends on the year). When meat goes on sale, we buy a lot and freeze or can it. There's kind of a pattern to a lot of it, either on a cycle of every few months or special for a holiday. I mean, all this stuff is crap industrial food, so it's not a strategy that works for purists.
I always check the clearance and discount rack and look in every aisle for discontinued items. One time I got like 6 or 7 tins of Twinings loose leaf tea for $1 each, normally $5 (discontinued because the packaging changed). Ten+ years later and I'm down to my last tin (and honestly it tastes fine, I'm no connoisseur).
We also go to the local farm stands and buy baskets of seconds when they look good. Lots of times I can get baskets of wrinkly peppers or bruised fruit for like $1. Every 2-3 years we buy 100 ears of corn for like $22 (which is pretty cheap for around here) and spend a day processing it to freeze. A lot of the produce around here is still more expensive than canned or frozen vegetables from the grocery store, though.
My mom won't eat venison, so we don't pick up roadkill, but my neighbors do. That's a big savings on meat for them.
I live close enough to Amish country that it pays us to take a day trip a few times a year to go to the bulk food store and stop at roadside stands on the way home. The one I go to (Echo Hill Country Store in Fleetwood, PA) has a lot of organic and hard-to-find stuff, in smaller quantities and cheaper than I could buy online.