S Tonin

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since Oct 17, 2015
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forest garden fungi trees food preservation cooking homestead
zone 6a, ish
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Recent posts by S Tonin

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.
3 months ago
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.
5 months ago
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).
6 months ago
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.
6 months ago
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.
6 months ago
I've found a topical application of a few drops of CBD oil helps for a few hours at a time.
8 months ago
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.
9 months ago
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.
9 months ago
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.
9 months ago
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.
11 months ago