Paul Fookes

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since Jun 27, 2015
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My wife Fran, and I live in a compressed earth brick house that is completely off the utilities except for NBN wireless internet. We have had solar power since 1986 and a backup wind turbine. In 2020 we upgraded our system to 2 dual axis trackers with 4 Kw power output. As far as possible we try to grow as much as we can and live with a low to neutral carbon foot print. We are in the process of putting in a geo-heat exchange system for cooling our home in summer. My next project is to refurbish the hydrogen gas generator in our car or the out doors kitchen, honey room and larder - which ever I can organise time for.
Any one coming down under to NSW is most welcome. Send an email to hook up
Gulgong, NSW, Australia (Cold Zone 9B, Hot Zone 6) UTC +10
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Recent posts by Paul Fookes

I refer you to Wheaton's Law of Reflective Douchbaggery -
Whether a Douch or Arsehole one must be aware of the seat upon which they sit and frame the argument accordingly.
Refrigerate after opening is a way of manufacturers shifting the responsibility to the consumer.  Use by dates have increased the sales of some products by up to 25%.  Since when did honey go off? It was found in the pyramids and tasted OK, apparently, after 2000 years.  Manufacturers are finding new ways of making jams and spreads that will drop the input costs.   As pointed out in previous posts, preservatives are being removed from manufactured products because of public pressure.

So to the home made jams, the making of jam is both an art and a science.  There is a relationship between acids, pectin and sugars.  Fruit contains fructose and small levels of sucrose.  Sugarcane sugar is 100% sucrose Sugar will not gel in a low acid environment.  Think Toffee - the sugar turns to toffee with the addition of a tablespoon of vinegar (the acid).  The other bit of science is a gel factor so the jam is not toffee like. This is achieved through pectin.  Some fruit such as apples, citrus and raspberries are very high in pectin.  By combining fruits and sugar, it is possible to achieve the the right balance to achieve "Jam-set."

The art is knowing how to manage the heat and knowing how to tell when the jam is done.  This can be done by a few ways.  We use the frozen saucer method: take a saucer that has been in the freezer for a few hours and place a drop of jam on it.  Wait 20 seconds until the drop is cold and press a fingernail against it.  The Jam is done if a skin appears to wrinkle on the surface of the jam drop.

We have taken to adding apples at a rate 2 parts fruit to 1 part apples.  EG: 1 Kg Strawberries, 500 G Apples and 1.5 Kg sugar we add 100 ml Lemon juice for acidity.  This gives about 6 X 250 ml jars of jam when finished.
Apple gives both pectin and fibre plus tempers the sweetness.  We always grate the apple and add immediately so it does not go brown (oxidise).  The mixture less the lemon juice is soaked for 12 hours to draw the juice from the fruit.  Stir the mixture and put on the stove to cook.  Add the lemon juice after the sugar is dissolved and the mixture boiling.  Continue to cook at the highest setting, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Once the mixture stays on the pot side, start testing for setting.  Jam needs to be cooked quickly to achieve gelling or it becomes  toffee-like.
Bottle in small jars and place lids on ASAP.  By turning the jars upside down, the lids are sterilised.  Wait 5 minutes and turn the jars right way up and leave to cool.  The jars will seal.  Label once cooled.  Jam is much better once it has had time to mature.
Make sure that only a clean knife or spoon is used to remove the jam from the jar and the lid is replaced as soon as possible.

The mould that forms on the jam is easily removed and does not detract from the taste of the jam.  A mould layer acts as a barrier to bacteria and other yick.  It is removed with a spoon by scraping.  We have kept home made jam for over 5 years sealed and it was still in good condition.  

Hope that this adds another dimension to your jam making.  We make 900 jars per year to sell at a local co-op.
1 day ago

Jason Manning wrote: Thanks for taking the time to respond to my thread. I'm still surprised when someone does and the message isn't something along the lines of "What on Earth are you doing, fool!" 😄
I didn't know about SKIP, so thanks for bringing that to my attention. I have downloaded the eBook and will investigate.
I am aware that parts of it are not applicable to me (as in I can't will land that I don't actually own - my wife owns everything!), but it has reignited the thought I once had (before the world shut down) of maybe having like-minded (or better still, knowledgeable) people come here to learn and share with us.
The two main obstacles are visas for Thailand (realistically visitors would be here for 2 or 3 months at a time maximum) and my aversion to most other people, especially overexcitable people (I'm a miserable Limey/Pom after all).
Food for thought - thanks for the heads-up!

My father was a Limey so all over it.  Poms are not miserable, it is the weather that is.  You are measured in your considerations and only like people who enable further consideration.  I am creatively lazy so work towards my redundancy on this earth.  Permies enables this to materialise through better practices. Your Banana Circles has me considering a fig circle.  So thanks for that.

To further enable your journey further into Permies, can I suggest that you go into your profile (the circle in the top right and click on view profile.  There are a number of tools there.  One is the scavenger hunt.  As you complete one hunt, another one comes up.  Each is designed to help you to navigate the Permies website.  I have been a member since 2015 and am still learning skills and how to drive my bit of land better.  I have just completed the garden master course and now understand why things work so for me it will be less hit and miss - creative laziness at its optimum.  Happy to keep in touch.  If you need help with the site just send me a purple moosage.  I note that there is an emerging group up your way.  If you get into the Regional forum you can set up a Thailand specific Thread.  With Pie, you also have access to more stuff.  Each pie piece expires after a month - just a warning.
1 day ago
Congratulations on your detailed postings of your journey.  A lot of what you are doing is highly adaptable to other climates and situations.  Have just found your Undone in Udon and am fascinated, if not a bit envious.  A lot of what you are doing are Badge Bits in the SKIP journey .  If you were to submit them, they will be great examples for other SKIPers.  Doing the SKIP is also a great way of keeping track of your journey.
Again, congratulations, I am learning so much from your posts. Your efforts need PIE.
1 day ago
R, the attention to detail in the walking skirt is amazing.  And the hand stitching bring forward an almost lost craft, words cannot express how really good it because superlatives would undersell it.
In such a project, supervision is mandatory.  I have two making sure I do not stuff this post up 🙀😸.   A couple of questions if I may?

How heavy is the material?  I am assuming it is linen?
1 week ago
This with no doubt is the best overview on how to fix my garden I have attended.  Answered a huge number of questions and through observation, I no doubt will be able to solve others using the information supplied by Helen and Alan.  Paul has a fabulous way of engendering critical thinking by always asking "Why" and then lets them off the hook after some discussion by saying "I agreeeeeee".

My biggest take home from this week is that I have some good plans in place and some I need to adjust BUT I now know how and why rather than guessing and seeing if it works in the long term.

Thank you every one who put it together the attendees and the VAs for great background chatter.
1 week ago
Some times it is difficult to calculate when an online activity such as a Zoom call will occur.  There are several different factors and in particular, daylight savings.  The World Time Buddy will do this for you.
Copy and Paste the link in your own browser
Never miss a Permies online activity again
1 week ago
Really happy with that.  Even if it is half as good as the tour vid, it will be fabulous👍👍👍
1 week ago
This is so mind blowingly fabulous.  Just learning so much each day.  Thanks Paul for getting this off the ground.  Thank you to the crew for keeping it going.  A special thanks to Helen for giving so freely of her thoughts, time and wisdom for us mere and humbled  learners.
1 week ago