Tag Archives: homesteading

Fermenting Foods

For me, sustainable living and self-sufficiency are very closely linked. Self sufficiency usually means growing at least a portion of your own food, which sometimes means preserving your harvest! From another perspective, buying real sauerkraut can be real expensive (and sometimes the sauerkraut from the store isn’t even actually fermented, it’s just cooked in vinegar). $8 for a pint of kraut is too much to spend on my habit. And since you know I wholeheartedly believe in DIY for a million reasons, I wanted to point out a cool DIY tool I found a while ago that I want to try out. It’s a sauerkraut/pickle making jar system. It’s called the “Picklemeister”.

The Picklemeister fermentation jar

The Picklemeister comes in 1/2 gallon and 1 gallon sizes. It’s basically a big glass jar with a seal and an airlock. You cut up your cabbage (for sauerkraut), add salt, a plastic bag of brine, and let the jar sit for 3 days. Then you have a gallon of sauerkraut!

Here’s a video that I love about making sauerkraut (with a really tasty recipe at the end!) with Mark Frauenfelder. Check it out here. He swears by the Picklemeister.

I found the Picklemeister for sale at a few different websites. It’s about $20 + $10 shipping. I feel like it’s definitely worth it and will pay for itself after just one 1-gallon batch.

Simply Natural

Wisemen Trading (and on their Etsy, which seems to have run out of Picklemeister’s today…check back)

Glass jar, with screw-on plastic lid

However, if you’re super thrifty like me, and like the fun and satisfaction of making things yourself, you might just make your own Picklemeister type tool. I’m on the look out for a big glass jar with a screw-on plastic lid. It’ll probably be one of those old fashioned glass juice/sun tea jars with the funny fruit/flower screen prints on the outside. I have seen them at the second hand store for about $2 (of course not since I’ve been seeking them out – but I’ll find one!). Then I’ll just need to buy the airlock ($1.50) and drill a little whole in the lid of the jar for it (and put some sort of gasket around the opening). Total estimated cost? My budget is $5.00! Not too bad!! I’ll do a post about my DIY picklemeister experiment when I find the jar!

Looking out for something like this!

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Natural deodorants, ancient drinks, and home-made toothpaste!

As promised, I spent some time with a few of the new books I got in the mail the other day. Actually, I ended up pouring over them for many hours because they were both better than I had expected! I always LOVE DIY books, and how-to’s, and make-your-own, but sometimes the DIY is too time intensive or asks for ingredients I’ve never heard of, which can be a turn-off. Both Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World, and Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills are straightforward and made for real people, not just DIY gurus. I was so excited too find really useful, practical recipes and DIY how-to’s in both books. Every page I read I felt like I could do the project easy, no problem, with re-used stuff I already have lying around my house. Both of these books are wonderful.

Also as promised, I picked out a few things to try out form each book. Both of these books suggest picking one project, starting small, and expanding from there. I think that’s a good idea.

Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen

From Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World, I picked out 2 recipes: one practical and one fun. The first was for home-made stick deodorant. As I mentioned in the last post, I hate store-bought deodorant (and would never use anti-perspirant) and have wanted to make my own for a while. This recipe re-uses an empty deodorant applicator, which means it’s still going to be easy to apply and use. I also picked out another recipe for an ancient vinegar-based drink – like a substitute for soda (which I don’t drink anyway). Last winter I made “Sbiten”, a hot, traditional Russian drink, and since then I’ve wanted to try making more liquid treats like that. I really like vinegar-y drinks like kombucha, so this sounds like a delicious treat. There are a few different sweet + vinegar drinks in the book: oxymel, sekanjabin, and switchel. They all incorporate things like honey, ginger, molasses, and vinegar of course. I haven’t picked which one, but I’ll probably end up trying all 3. I’ll let you know how it tastes!

Make Your Place, by Raleigh Briggs

From Make Your Place I chose a recipe for home-made toothpaste. I like the idea of home-made toothpaste, but usually recipes for home-made tooth care come in the form of a powder and I’ve tried that: it is not easy or fun to brush your teeth like that (in my opinion). This recipe is for an actual paste, and it only calls for a few ingredients. That’s the best thing about both of these books, you begin to realize that with about 5 or 6 basic ingredients (in addition to whatever flavors or scents you’d like to add) you can make basically anything for your home and body. Everything is so simple! It makes you wonder why the ingredients list on what you’re using now to clean your countertops and wash your hair is a mile long and you can’t pronounce half of it…

Anyway, those are my first projects from my new DIY homesteading books. Deodorant stick, traditional vinegar soda, and toothpaste. I’ve always been a DIY builder, maker, and doer – but these homesteading tricks are new to me! I’m really looking forward to trying them out.

Stay tuned for pictures and posts about how they turn out!

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