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Daily blog #1 Its icy!

I’m going to see how I go with a daily blog. I feel it might be simpler than my sporadic posts and as I move away from Facebook and social media a bit I’d like to keep documenting our happenings.
Every day we do a little something what with homesteading, preserving and starting to homeschool so the daily blog I hope will also serve as a record come homeschool inspection time.
We shall see how I go as I always set out with good intentions then get distracted and forget!

This morning we rose VERY early just before 6am. We are early rises most days but today Mr Hunter Gatherer was working a orchard further south and needed to leave earlier than usual. It was quite icy last night so I wasn’t surprised when Mr HG came in to get water to defrost the wind screen. I popped another log on the fire to keep us warm until the sun came up.
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I had prepped English muffin dough last night to cook on the griddle. It was well worth the little bit of effort as it meant we were fed and happy early on.
After breakfast the children played and I cleaned up the breakfast stuff.

Now It was time for chores. First up our English angora rabbit needed checking. His cage had been cleaned yesterday so he just needed some fresh food and water. His grooming came later in the day and needs to be done daily now as his new coat is coming in.

Next was outside to feed the chickens and water the garden. The broadbeans are popping up now and lots of the winter veg starting to look good. Little miss HG has been looking after a pet caterpillar which we’ve identified as a grass anthelid. It’s big and fuzzy and after reading up on it she decided the habitat she’s made made needed some more soil and fresh grass so we collected it and brought it in. The caterpillar seemed happy and was extremely active after this. Little miss HG set him up on the table and drew pictures of him.

After this I needed to process another bucket of Apple’s. I’m getting pretty tired of Apple’s to be honest but my desire to avoid food waste is great so we got on with it using a slinky Apple machine to peel and slice. Then I popped them in the food processor to blitz before putting them in the dehydrator to turn into Apple sugar. The kids lost interest as they’ve helped with many Apple jobs this year so I set up a painting craft for them while I got the job finished.
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After this we hit a afternoon slump everyone was exhausted so we stuck to folding washing and story time, lots of games together and then dinner prep. We had meaty baked beans which was mince, bacon, beans mixed with homemade plum bbq sauce and roasted home grown potatoes. Simple and delicious!

Foody things, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Mid February 2016 and summers over already!

I always do this. I start the preserving season off with so much enthusiasm, Accept fruit left right and centre, excitedly pick the cucumbers and zucchini bringing them in with grand plans then realize the actual preserving HAS to be done before things rot or there’s no room left in the freezer before the next crop is ready (which is right around the corner!!!)

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I’ve picked bags of sugar and blood plums from my neighbors house and I am quickly trying to pick the greengages off our tree in the chook pen. I’ve dried a bunch in the dehydrator, made plum bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, vanilla plum jam , plum vanilla bean with pepperberry, sweet and sour plum sauce and have plans for greengage jam, spiced plum jam and plum chilli sauce. I might also bottle a few jars of whole and stewed plums for cakes and crumbles in the winter. Last season I made a plum chutney but I wasn’t a fan so decided not to make it this year.
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Greengage plums are the most amazing plum I’ve ever tasted completely unique in their flavour and if you ever get a chance to make the jam or eat one fresh I highly recommend it. I have included my recipe below for anyone who’d like to try.
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Soon our apples will be ready and the few fallen ones we’ve eaten have been absolutely delicious! I’ve invested in a cold press juicer and will be making and freezing our own juice. I was considering ‘canning’ it but I think the pressure canning would make the ‘cold pressing’ pointless so ill stick o freezing and fill the second fridge. I’ll also be making lots of country alcoholic cider as I did last year but I’ll be using the juiced apples over the food processor. The apple ‘waste’ will be used to make Apple cider vinegar and Apple scrap syrup or Apple stroop. Nothing will go to waste!

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We have 4 very large pumpkins ready for picking unfortunately not as many as I’d hoped for but we are still getting used to a new climate. The blackberries are ripening and the tomatoes are still not ripe which I think shows how topsy turvy this summer has been. I’ve noticed the smell of woodsmoke a lot on the crisp mornings and feel so out of tune with my suffering friends and relatives on the mainland who are dealing with heatwaves.
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Greengage Jam

2.5kg greengage plums
1 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
1.5kg sugar

As I freeze my plums whole before starting the jam I steam them in the cup of water in a saucepan with the lid on then cut the seed out with a fork.
After this I add the lemon juice and sugar then bring to boil over medium heat until setting point (about 20 mins) once set pop into warm sterilized jars and process using your preffered method. For small batches I just pop boiling jam in sterilized jars and turn the sealed jar over for 20 seconds for large batches I pressure can but waterbath canning is fine too.

Happy jamming!

Fermenting, Foody things, Foraging

Homemade Hard Apple cider without a press

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We have been enjoying the fruits of our Labour testing and tasting the cider from the apples we have been foraging. I really wish I knew what variety of Apple’s we are using as I’ve searched and searched and I can’t find any information. The tree is over 50 years old possibly closer to 100 so we will be saving some seeds if we can’t find a young seedling underneath the tree. The apples as absolutely scrumptious – sweet and crunchy but deceptively green at first sight and take on a slight yellow tinge once ripe looking a little like a cross between a golden delicious and a granny smith.

As we don’t own a press or a juicer I’ve been hunting for recipes I could follow without these.
I had seen a post on how to convert a old washing machine into a giant juicer and if anyone is interested in this I’ll post the link. It’s something I will definitely consider doing for the future or I will save up for a manual press.

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Our first lot of cider was successful but the recipe I followed said to cook the apples and I found the finished product a little grainy. We did a second strain before serving and while it tasted good it didn’t taste right.

The next lot of cider I decided to use the food processor to crush the raw apples. I used about a kilo of Apple’s and after crushing them as fine as I could I popped them in a 5litre food grade bucket with 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cider yeast and 4 litres of water. Then I covered with a muslin cloth and rubber band and popped them up on my fermenting shelf.

I left this mix for 4 days stirring daily. After this I strained off the pulp squeezing to get as much of the liquid out as possible.

I then bottled and left for a second ferment so it carbonated. You don’t have to carbonate and can drink it still but I like the bubbles. I only needed to leave it for two days to get the level of carbonation I wanted.
After this make sure you store in the refrigerator.

Now I’m sure more seasoned home brewers would disagree with this method but it worked for me and I’m happy with the results.
We are now experimenting with flavours and maple cinnamon is a definite favorite. Next I’ll be making a pumpkin and Apple spiced cider that I won’t carbonate so I can heat it in the cooler months for a instant winter cider!

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Foody things, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Cheats maple pancake syrup

I’ve been busy processing all the apples we are collecting and have been awash with apple scraps. Last year I made Apple scrap jelly which was delicious and Apple cider vinegar is continuously brewing here so I felt like trying something new.

I had been reading about Apple scrap pancake syrup and I thought I would try and adapt the recipe to make some of my own. I LOVE maple syrup but getting the good quality stuff here is expensive.
A while ago I scored a cheap bottle of maple extract from Aldi and I’ve been waiting for a reason to use it.

For the syrup I placed all the cores and skin scraps into a big pot covered them in water and boiled until they were mushy

Next I strained off the apples and for every cup of liquid I added a cup of sugar put on the heat and stirred until dissolved.  Next I added 4 drops of maple extract and 2 tsp of cinnamon.

I then boiled for about 3 hours reducing and thickening the syrup.

You could try adding lemon juice too but I was happy with the thickness and consistency I got.

I didn’t can this batch but if it’s well received I will be making more!

Enjoy X

gardening, News

Goodbye summer

Autumn has blown in for sure! Although the season official started weeks ago I have been enjoying the warm weather and extended growing season but two days ago a heavy frost was predicted and since it has been chilly indeed.

We decided rather than risk losing the tomatoes we would pick them all green to ripen inside.

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We picked around 50kg which I plan to chop and pressure can to use in soups, stews and sauces in winter.

We have also been continuing with our Apple preserves canning more for pies , fermenting some that we will sell at market and making bucket loads of cider! The favorite we bottled last night was Maple and cinnamon Apple cider. I have found a great way of making it without the use of a juicer or press and will share the recipe in the comments if anyone would like to try it.

The zucchinis have been hit with blight. Another sign summer has ended so they have mostly been pulled up and the cauliflowers popped in to replace them.

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Now it’s time to get our winter seedlings going and we have lots of new vegetables to try out. I’m looking forward to lots of Kale and I will be making lots of organic Kale powder to sell at markets this year as well as the fermented Kale pesto which is a definite favorite.

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In other gardening pursuits I have managed to grow a eggplant! We were really doubtful about it due to having such a cold climate and short growing season but now I’m covering it at night and watching my little baby grow. Now one else in the family like eggplants so I don’t even have to share!

Easter is fast approaching and we will be at Tarana farmers market I’m looking forward to making delicious Easter bread at home to start our day and sharing more products with our friends and followers.

Now I’m off to snuggle up , drink a chai and enjoy grass roots magazine while I procrastinate over the housework!

Fermenting, Foraging, Homesteading, News, Preserving

When life gives you apples..

I’m finally sitting down to write this week’s blog post. I’ve accepted they will be weekly if I’m lucky!

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Blogging is a funny thing, If I could plug into my internal monologues there would be so much content to share! I keep telling myself I will keep a note book handy to jot down ideas for posts but the reality is I often write my most interesting posts when I’m somewhere random like weeding the garden so for now you will just have to put up with nonsensical ramblings whenever I squeeze time in between animals, babies, gardening and home chores!

Right now I am enjoying a glass of the blackberry sparkling wine I made last week. The warm weather means that it has fermented a lot quicker than my recipe stated so I need to amend that(especially since my friends who used my recipe had some exploding bottles!!!)

Our market last weekend went well we had some surprise visits from old friends which was wonderful. We survived with no Nanna help by bringing a travel cot to make a extra play space for the kids.

Dane has picked up some extra work so the homesteading chores have greatly fallen on me which has kept me busy. I’ve still had to squeeze in getting products ready for the Bathurst riverside market this weekend and Taste of Bathurst on the 12th. I’ll be trialling a new fermented summer garden pesto which I’m excited about.

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Kisses calved and it was exactly what we wanted a little bull calf that Miss Nyah has named Seaweed (our last calf was stingray). I’m so excited about having our own beef and although it is always hard taking the life of a animal we have grown attached to we know it’s had a good life and we truly appreciate the gift.

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I have been going well on my personal challenge of processing all the fruit in the freezer.
I did set myself back a little though by taking the kids on a spontaneous foraging adventure to this tree I had been eyeing off for a while nearby. I suspected they were apples but wasn’t sure until we got there to confirm it. On legs with Nyah by my side, Banjo on my back, Gypsy on the leash and Haggis the tortishell cat following behind I felt like we were characters in a story book heading off on a wild adventure! The apples were delicious and we filled the bag to the brim and struggled back home. I’m sure we looked a sight but we were all in good spirits and I have been merrily processing the harvest and will be back for more apples!

So far I have fed a bucketful to kisses with molasses which she greatly deserves, made two buckets of experimental hard cider, canned some Apple pie filling and used the cores and ‘waste’ materials to start another batch of cider vinegar which I will share the recipe for below. You can also save all your Apple cores and discarded toddler apples in the freezer to make this when you have enough but organic is best if you can get it.

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        Apple cider vinegar

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Ingredients

5-10 apples or cores,skins ect
Filtered water
1 cup honey or Sugar

Method

Put all your ingredients in the  jar or bucket (I use a 5L food grade bucket) and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Cover with a cheese cloth or tea towel and secure with a string or elastic band

Leave on the counter for at least a week mixing once a day. The sugar will ferment into alcohol and start to bubble.

Once the Apple/scraps sink to the bottom you have made hard cider!
Strain the apple/scraps off and recover the bucket or pour into a fresh bucket to continue fermentation.

Leave for another 3-4 weeks to allow alcohol to turn to acetic acid. The small amount of sediment at the bottom is normal this is the ‘mother’

After 3 weeks start tasting and once it is to your liking bottle. It will never go ‘off’ but may produce extra mothers that you can use to speed up future batches.

We use ACV all the time. We make it continuously whenever we have enough apple cores saved. It’s great for our health and well being but also great for treating animals as well.