Homesteading, News, Preserving

Weekend news plus Lemon Syrup and marmalade recipe

We’ve had a lovely week apart from all being sick we’ve managed to get a lot done. Our trip North has breathed new life into us and we’ve been feeling inspired and making plans for the future.

The lemon tree has burst into life so the children and I have been busy preserving. So far we’ve made lemon syrup for summer cordials and as we used the cold press juicer to juice the lemons we were left with a large amount of pulp. I hate waste so I decided to experiment with a marmalade by using the pulp and adding some ginger, extra lemons and a orange. The result turned out well so I will add both these recipes to the end of the post.

Another use for the lemon peel has been drying it and then blitzing it in the bullet processor to save as zest for cakes when lemons are scarce. I’ve also been adding it to cheap white vinegar to distill for a green cleaner.

Over the next week when I’ve built up a egg supply I’ll be making and canning lemon curd. Of course this will mean a lemon meringue our is on the cards.

Over the weekend we have been out in the garden making plans, I’ve ordered a new cheapie greenhouse to get us through the summer veg production and spent $50 on seeds from a local seed seller called Seed Freaks. We’d met him at markets and he and his wife are lovely and really know their stuff. They often run workshops around Southern Tasmania. http://seedfreaks.com.au

Our other challenge is dealing with a slight emergency. We have new neighbors on one side of us who has 4 big beautiful Huskies. They are incredibly friendly but unfortunately quite keen on the chickens and have been trying to get through the top of the fence which looked not far off falling over. Mr Hunter Gatherer quickly went out and bought some chicken wire to hold the fence up. We hate spending money on a rental but our chickens who we brought from NSW with us are more than our pets and we didn’t want to risk loosing them. We had hoped this would be the end of it all but last night the dogs dug a hole under the fence and had a party in our yard.

 The chooks thankfully were safe in their coop and the owner was very apologetic but we still need to fix the problem. We’ve spent all day today trying to fix our fence charger for the electric netting working but it looks like we need to order a new charger. I really hope we don’t lose any birds as we hope to take them to our forever farm.

 

Lemon Syrup 

This recipe is for a large amount of lemons but you can reduce the quantity if you like

Juice 2kg of Lemons for every cup of lemon juice add 1 cup of sugar

add 1 litre of water

Slowly bring to boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Once boiling you can either reduce to desired consistency if you are wanting a thicker syrup or take off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of Tartaric acid.

Now you can either bottle and store in the fridge for 3-4 months or bottle for shelf life using your proffered method. Bottled correctly on the shelf it can keep for 2 years.

Use as a Cordial Syrup, dessert syrup, cake flavouring, with boiling water and ginger for a winter pick me up.

Annes Lemon pulp Marmalade

Now this recipe is using the left over pulp (not skins) from using a electric juicer to juice your lemons for the previous recipe. If you do not have a electric juicer just use 1kg fresh fruit sliced thinly.

500g Lemon pulp plus 1 orange and 4 lemons (or 1kg citrus fruit)

1.5 kg sugar

4 Tablespoons of powdered ginger and 20g fresh root ginger

Begin by slicing whole citrus fruit thinly or into small bits. Add with pulp (if using) to a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Cover with lid and boil until peel is soft.

Once the fruit is ready add the sugar and on medium heat stir until sugar is dissolved.

Leave to simmer stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or burning. When jam has reached setting point pour into warm sterized jars and bottle using proffered method.

 

 

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!

Homesteading, News

Summer Days 2017

I can hardly believe it is almost February! We have finally had some hot days here and our tomato plants have started to set fruit. The cucumbers as well and taking off and I think we are doing pretty well considering we only have a dodgy $50 greenhouse purchased on arrival to the island. Sadly the greenhouse isnt doing as well as the vegetables it’s produced. Dane and I had been taking bets on how long it would last. I thought we would at least get two summers out of it but I was proven wrong in a wind storm when the door was ripped. We have repaired it with Gaff tape but we know it only has 1 more storm left in it so we have invested in a good quality poly green house which we will set up before winter.

 

We had the pleasure of lots of our old friends visiting over New years and it was lovely to spend time with old friends and feel our soul enriched by their company. The children are really thriving in this Tassie life and I know we have made the right choice for our family.

Dane has picked up some work picking cherries. Sadly all the rain has made it a short season so there is not much work to be had but he’s really enjoying the physical work and meeting people from all walks of life. What he doesn’t like is how much fruit goes on the ground due to imperfections and he is asking his manager if we can have some bulk lots of “waste” cherries to preserve and make cider.

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Although we are no longer doing markets I am still preserving lots of what we are growing and being gifted by friends. We are lucky to live in a community with abundant fruit and I’ve traded or been given Berries and plums. Our Squash plants are going crazy so I’ve invented a Zucchini Kimchi which has turned out to be a hit and and will certainly be making more of this! I’m hoping to have a little road side stall set up this year if I can to sell the excess and save for a drum carder to make my fiber prep easier.

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I am loving learning more about fiber crafts. I started on a drop spindle which I will hand down to Nyah when she’s older and then moved up to a spinning wheel when I saw one advertised for sale by a lovely local lady. I invested in hand carders and we now have one beautiful English Angora Rabbit called MR Dandy who is our very own fibre animal. I’m debating breeding them one day but for now we are just loving him. For other fibres I’ve been spinning Alpaca and sheeps wool that I have sourced from locals. I have been very busy trying to create enough to have on my Etsy store as a way to keep saving for our own farm while I start getting ready to start our trial year of homeschooling.

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Well I think that brings us up to date for now. I hope to start sharing more recipes again soon! If anyone is interested in the Zucchini Kimchi Recipe please let me know and I will post it in to comments.

 

 

Foraging, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Homemade Cordials

We had a wonderful weekend with friends picking blackberries and enjoying delicious food. Foraging is certainly more fun with friends and the bounty at the end of the day is far greater. We hauled two big buckets and saw lots of other pickers out and about too which was a pleasant surprise.

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Most of the berries from this haul I have frozen but I reserved 3kg for making BlackBerry cordial and I will include the recipe for this after my ramblings!

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This time I decided to can in the vacola jars using the pressure canner. Usually I just pop into sterilized bottles as we go through it so quickly but this means we drink 5 litres of one flavour which can get a bit boring so instead I want to be able to shuffle the flavors around depending on what we feel like.

Homemade cordials are really easy and inexpensive to make and contain none of the nasty artificial flavours , colours or preservatives.I must confess I’ve never been a huge water drinker. I go through phases where I drink it and I try to drink it more in front of the children but sometimes I really cringe when I drink it! Awful I know. I used to make lots of cold sugarless herbal teas which I’d have on hand in the fridge but I haven’t been doing it this summer.
The flavour in homemade cordial is so strong that you really only need the tiniest amount in a large glass of water. You can make cordials out of any fruit, herbs and edible flowers even out of pineapple skins which being frugal as I am is one of my favorites.
My last batch was pineapple and lime and there’s nothing more refreshing than a tropical flavour hit on a hot summer day!

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Recently I was reading a recipe for nasturtium cordials I’m certainly keen to try it but this is one I am skeptical on but we have had some delicious experiments with cherry plums and lilac flowers.

BlackBerry Cordial syrup

Ingredients
3kg blackberry
Sugar
Tartaric acid
Water

In a large pot simmer blackberries in water for 20 mins

Strain berriers and measure liquid by cups

For every cup of liquid add 1 cup of sugar

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 2 mins

Add 2tsp Tartaric acid simmer 20 more seconds. Take off heat and pour into warm sterilized bottles or can using your preffered method.

This will keep in the fridge for 3 months or you can store in a cool dark place.
Canned it should last a year.

Enjoy!

Baking, Fermenting, Uncategorized

Sauerkraut and Zucchini Brownies

We are enjoying a few days of quiet and rest after three whole weeks of different visitors. Its been absolutely fabulous catching up with family and old friends and I have talked and laughed so much in a long time. We’ve still been keeping busy with our homesteading chores taking guests foraging and getting help planting the next lot of seeds. It makes such a difference having extra hands and I’ve half a mind to permanently have someone here to play with the children!

Now everyone has gone and we are left with the rosy glow of company and laughter and a lot to catch up on. We were very generously gifted a cabbage from a neighbor and I’ve made a second attempt at sauerkraut. You may assume I would be a expert at this considering all the other things I talk about fermenting but for some reason I always fail at sauerkraut. My last guest who was staying showed me a hilariously bizarre but informative you tube video with instructions so i thought I would give it another stab!

You can find the video “Sexy Sauerkraut” here if you’d like to watch it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8S9R34gkVM

I omitted the sexy from my own and I’ll just be happy with regular old Sauerkraut.

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Saurkraut

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Thinly shred your cabbage however you like (food processor, mandolin, knife)

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I didn’t measure ( which is probably why I fail!) but I added about 2 Tbs of sea salt and massaged it in to the shredded cabbage for about 5 mins \

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I have weighed the cabbage down with a plate and Jar and covered with a tea towel crossing my fingers! I will check it every few days and see how it’s going.

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I will ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days depending on taste.

Now I promised in my last post that I would share my zucchini Brownie recipe. These brownies are absolutely delicious and a great way to use up extra zucchinis if you have a lot growing. I unfortunately haven’t taken a photo of them as we ate them too fast and I’ve been baking other things but I will share the recipe with you now and add the photos another time.

Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients

2 Zucchini finely grated

50g salted butter melted

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence or extract

1/4C sugar (you can add 3/4 but I bake with low sugar)

2/3 C cocoa powder

 1/2 C Self raising flour

1/2 block dark cooking choc chopped

Frosting

1/2 block dark choc chopped

1/2 C cream

Method

Preheat your oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a 9″ square pan.

  1. To make the brownies: Combine the zucchini, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl and mix until smooth
  2. Add the sugar, cocoa powder and flour and mix until well combined.
  3. Add the chocolate and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it; you shouldn’t see any sign of wet batter. Remove the brownies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting: Combine the chocolate chips and milk or cream in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Heat until the milk is steaming, and the chips are soft. Remove from the heat, and stir until smooth.
  6. Spread the frosting atop the brownies. Place them in the refrigerator for an hour or so, to set; then store them at room temperature, covered, for several days though I doubt they will last that long! 
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, Foraging, gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Weekend Work and Foraging Fun

We had a wonderful day at our stall at our local Oberon Farmers market we nearly sold out of Kombucha and met so many lovely people who were new to the area and had lots of great chats about foraging and preserving. One of these chats revealed the whereabouts of a wild elder flower tree not far from our place.

This morning after our regular chores of watering the garden, chickens and animals I spent some time bottling Tepache which is a mexican beer recipe made by fermenting pineapple skins, brown sugar and spices. I will leave one bottle to do a second and maybe another to do a third ferment to be alcoholic and I can’t wait to try it at Christmas time!

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After the Tepache is was time to bottle more Kombucha I decided this time to try out a new flavor of Hibiscus, Honey and Jasmine. It will be a real struggle to wait another week to try this one as it smells heavenly.

While I kept bottling Dane went out to collect the seeds from our Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Kale. We have huge amount of seeds much more than we will need but I hope we can use them to Barter with other growers to get some more varieties of seeds later on.

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Kombucha bottled we discussed our plans for the day and decided we would go on a adventure to try and find this elder tree to forage some more flowers for cordials. I didn’t have high hopes as generally when we go on adventures to try and find things we don’t have the greatest success but this tree was exactly where we were told it was the only problem was all the best flowers we would need a cherry picker to get too!!

We collected enough to make 7 litres of cordial and 5 litres of Sparkling wine

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I had already been making fermented soft drinks last year and I discovered the process is very similar to country wine so the only thing I did differently is add the wine yeast IMG_4846

I will let everything sit for a few days in the container stirring it everyday and then I will bottle it and give it a few months where I will open a bottle in winter to enjoy the tastes of summer.

it is now getting cool enough outside that we can venture back out and collect some raspberries. I haven’t managed to get enough for my products yet as the kids keep hoovering them up as soon as they come off the bush!

Until next post enjoy the rest of your weekend