Foraging, Preserving, Uncategorized

Busy Busy

It has been another busy week here. The freezer is absolutely chockers and I had no room to fit in the plums we got last weekend. Over a few days (and in between kid and animal wrangling)  we managed to bottle some whole, make a few different varieties of Jam and sauces, replenish the Worcestershire stocks and try our hand at fruit leather.

I think I have found a new addiction in fruit leather as it’s simple to make and really delicious ( If you are Australian you might know the processed version of fruit leather known as roll ups) . We first tried it in Tasmania where it is widely available at market stalls and I had been researching different ways to make it.

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The first lot we made by simply pureeing the fresh plums adding a little sugar and popping in the dehydrator. I found the puree wasn’t consistent so I tried a different method of baking the plum halves with a sprinkling of sugar on top before pureeing in the food processor. This made a much smoother consistency and resulted in a delicious leather.

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In between all this we managed another family forage for Elderberries. Miss N was kept busy taking photos of us and we filled 3 5 litre buckets and will go for more later when the tree in our other spot is ripe. We tried a few different methods of de-stalking the berries. This is a very painstaking and tedious task and we can see why the berries are not available commercially. The first de-stalking method involved  was freezing the berries on the stalk and then breaking them off this works well in the beginning but as the berries start to defrost its not really that effective.

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The most effective and fastest method for us was using a fork and using it to pull the berries off the stalk. This saved our fingers going purple and got us through the mountains of berries. Elderberries are a antioxidant, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory and is high in vitamin A,B and C

I’ve made up two versions of syrup which is a health tonic to get us through the winter and keep cold and flu at bay. My first version is Raw honey based one it doesn’t taste as good but has the added benefits of raw honey. I’ve decided not to hot process it as I was worried about damaging the benefits of the honey so this one is stored in the fridge. I’ve made enough for our supplies and enough to sell some jars.

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Version number two was sugar based this tastes a lot better and I pressure canned it so I can store it in the pantry.

Both versions contain the benefits of the berries so I really don’t know which is better and I think it comes down to personal choice.

We have also bottled up batches of Elderberry Kombucha and the last job will be making Elderberry fruit leather. Through all this chaos I’m still passionate (and obsessed) with preserving but I really do NOT want to deal with another plum until next year that’s for sure!

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Now we are off to get ready for the Tarana Farmers Markets tomorrow. We love our market days because it’s a chance to share our passion for good food and local produce but it’s also a great way to meet people in the community and we have made many friends since starting markets. If your new to a small rural community and feeling a little lost and alone get out and chat to the stall holders chances are they are looking for new friend too.

Until next post keep gathering!

Fermenting, Homesteading, Perserving

Kombucha

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Recently I’ve been researching the wonders of Kombucha and decided to try it for myself I ordered a Scoby off a lovely lady on Ebay and started my first batch. I must say I’m hooked! I like it much more than milk Keffir (which I won’t make again until we re-start milking) it’s delicious and very easy to make. We will be selling it by the cup at the Tarana markets on the 27th for anyone interested in trying it.

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I first heard about Kombucha from my friends on the NSW north coast who run Warinyan farm (https://www.facebook.com/warinyanfarmproduce?fref=ts) they sell bottled Kombucha and other delicious ferments at markets for check them out!

Kombucha is a ancient chinese femented tea beverage called “the immortal health elixer” it is made from a sweetened combination of green and black tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (a SCOBY, a.k.a. “mother” because of its ability to reproduce, or “mushroom” because of its appearance) the scoby eats the sugar so by the time it comes to drinking the sugar content is very low. Kombucha contains vinegar, b-vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic), which are tied with the following effects:

  • Improved Digestion
  • Weight Loss
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Increased Energy
  • Cleansing and Detox
  • Immune Support
  • Cancer Prevention

We use a continuous brew method because I like keeping things simple!

Ingredients
  • One kombucha SCOBY (I bought mine off Ebay for $12)
  • 1 black tea back 1 green tea bag (I use loose leaf green tea with mango and mandarin in a homemade tea bag)
  • 1/4 C white Sugar
  • Starter tea from a previous batch of Kombucha or vinegar (this came with my scoby)
  • Filtered water (preferably free of chlorine, chloramines, and fluoride- we use rain water so don’t filter ourselves)
Instructions
  1. Prepare the sweet tea. I use 1 tablespoons of loose tea, 1 tea bag and 1litre boiling water plus 1/4C sugar
  2. Let tea cool to room temperature and make sure it is really cool! This step is very important as too hot of tea can kill your SCOBY.
  3. Once tea is cool, pour into glass jar, leaving about 20% of the room at the top. Pour in the correct amount of liquid from a previous batch of Kombucha plus your scoby
  4. With very clean hands, gently place the SCOBY at the top of the jar of tea. Some float some don’t Mine didn’t so i left it to do its thing.
  5. Cover the jar with a muslin cloth and rubber band tightly so no bugs get in.
  6. Put the jar in a warm corner of the kitchen but not in direct sunlight
  7. Let sit to ferment for around 7 days, though the length of time may vary depending on your temperature. You can taste test the Kombucha to see if it is done. It should taste tart but still very slightly sweet also I like day 4 at the moment but maybe that will change in the summer
  8. At this point, Kombucha is ready for a second ferment. If you aren’t doing the second ferment, just pour the kombucha into another jar or jars with airtight lids and seal until ready to drink.
  9. For continuous brew, we dispense in to plastic soft drink bottles (no metal) leaving about 20% of the room on top.

So what are you waiting get fermenting!!!